Polite Society’s Social Diary – July

A cat-led art tour and
an Olympic Village in Sydney dispel the chill.



If you’re a bibliophile with a penchant for the pre-loved, clear your diary and save your cents: Sydney’s biggest second-hand book fair takes place over three glorious days this month. The fair is now in its 20th year and takes place in the Great Hall of Knox Grammar School, where 110,000 titles will be stacked on tables neatly ordered by category. With everything from crime fiction to cooking, we’re sure you’ll find a book to suit your reading taste. July 18-21, Knox Grammar School, Wahroonga, Sydney

For fans of all things Jane Austen, By Jane’s Hand is a must-see when it returns to Melbourne’s La Mama theatre after its spectacular 2023 run. Offering a whimsical glimpse into Austen’s extraordinary mind, the play – a three-hander – explores how the author’s life was constrained by the patriarchy and romanticised by popular culture, while also questioning why her family burned her letters. 17-28 July, La Mama, Carlton 

Based on Lars von Trier’s psychological melodrama, Breaking The Waves takes on a new gripping reality in composer Missy Mazzoli’s opera. The story is heart-breaking: Bess McNeill falls in love with Jan, a charming foreigner and oil rig worker, who is paralysed following an accident shortly after their wedding. When he asks Bess to sleep with other men and recount her experiences to him, her love is challenged like never before.

While Mazzoli’s adaptation of the film is just as emotive as von Trier’s – showcasing her talent as one of the world’s more creative composers – it’s the dream cast of local soprano Jennifer Black and baritone Duncan Rock that really cements this production as world class. July 26, Hamer Hall, Arts Centre, Melbourne

If you’re looking for a day out for the whole family (and a way to exhaust the children during the holidays), look no further than Tuff Nutterz, Australia’s most extensive inflatable obstacle course. Taking up residence in Sydney’s Centennial Park, it’s designed to challenge the climbing, jumping, sliding and crawling skills of children – and adults. For those with little kids (under-fives get in for free), there is also a mini obstacle course and a visit from the friendly vegan dancing T-rex, “Tuffy”. 11-21 July, Centennial Park, Sydney

Polite Society’s mascot might be Hugo the loveable dachshund – you can see him in our logo sporting a jaunty mustard sweater – but we also have a soft spot for cats. So, too, does LA-based interdisciplinary artist Candice Lim, who has engaged Kovu the cat as a feline art guide for her first solo exhibition, the Sex Life of Stone, at Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) this month. Sign up for one of Kovu’s tours, with help from MUMA curators Pip Wallis and Francis E. Parker, to see Lim’s work from a perfectly different perspective. Cat tours on July 6 and 20; exhibition until 7 September; MUMA, Melbourne

For those of us stuck in Australia while everyone is in Europe, the Bastille Festival in Sydney – now the largest French cultural event held outside of France – is certainly a great way to experience the Gallic feast day. In anticipation of the 2024 Paris Olympics, the festival has created its very own Olympic Village, transporting visitors to the City of Light via oversized 3D sculptures capturing the essence of iconic Paris landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower. Also on offer: more than 100 free shows including French jazz, swing dancing, DJs, French cinema, and food and wine masterclasses. Vive la France! 11-14 July, Circular Quay and surrounds, Sydney



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