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Undercover Artist Festival 2023 Opening Night

The curtains have risen, the spotlight is on, and Undercover Artist Festival has officially returned for another unforgettable year.


The opening night of Undercover Artist Festival 2023 was nothing short of spectacular, with a crowd of over 200 people, including industry colleagues and emerging artists all eagerly filling the foyer of Queensland Theatre, ready for the first display of what was in store.


Now, there’s a lot to unpack from this evening, so stay with us as we delve into the key highlights: 


The evening began with a breathtaking Welcome to Country by the talented performers from Cairns based group, Deaf Indigenous Dance Group (DIDG). Their performance not only acknowledged the traditional custodians of the land but also invited everyone to connect with and appreciate the rich culture. It was a powerful way to start the evening, setting the tone of unity and respect for the voices and talents that Undercover Artist Festival with showcase.


In true comedic style, Oliver Hetherington-Page stood behind the mic as the evenings’ MC unleashing a string of witty jokes and infectious humour. Laughter filled the room at every moment he spoke, solidifying that fact that Oliver Hetherington-Page’s authentic representation deserves a place on any stage.

Image: DIDG performing Welcome to Country at Opening Night in Queensland Theatres foyer. There are three male performers with white body paint. There are two female performers standing behind them interacting with each other. There is a crowd of people behind them and to their right. 

Criena Gehrke, Executive Director of Queensland Theatre welcomed Undercover Artist Festival to Queensland Theatre and shared in our excitement for this year’s program. Louisa Bezzina, Brisbane Festival Artistic Director, graced the event with her presence and expressed her excitement about Undercover Artist Festival return this year. In a surprising twist, she even promised Oliver Hetherington-Page a spot in the 2024 Brisbane Festival program…yes, you have heard it here first. Rhys Kennedy, CEO, of CPL – Choice, Passion, Life, shared words about CPL’s ongoing commitment to supporting talented disabled artists through Undercover Artist Festival. Rhys’s word proved that Undercover Artist Festival is more than just a festival; it’s a testament to the power of diverse voices and creativity in our community and on our stages. Madeleine (Maddie) Little, Undercover Artist Festival Director, provided a sneak peek into what the Festival has in store – promising captivating performances and ground-breaking art from Brisbane beyond artists.

With the formalities concluded, attendees were ushered into the Bille Brown Theatre for, Emma-June Curik’s powerful performance, Sleep and the City. 

Armed a cosmopolitan in hand and donning pyjamas and slippers, Emma-June Curik led the audience on a fun and playful journey through song and theatre, about the misconceptions of narcolepsy, the challenges of seeking diagnosis, and how all of this intertwined into her dating life. Emma-June’s powerhouse vocals and storytelling had the audience fully engaged in her journey, finishing in a well-deserved standing ovation.

Following this, the spotlight shifted to, Sheltered. Performing to an almost sold-out crowd, Sheltered, left the audience in deep contemplation one moment and roaring with laughter the next. Kathryn Hall, the lead artist, brilliantly incorporated her access requirements on stage with audience, showcasing a powerful display of access dramaturgy. Her storytelling was both tongue-in-cheek and emotional, drawing the audience into the performance to the point where they joined in on some of Kathryn’s repeated lines.

Image: Kathryn Hall on stage performing Sheltered. She is sitting on a grey stool with A4 pieces of paper neatly placed on the ground in front of her. Andi Snelling is kneeling towards Kathryn and they are taking with each other. Kathryn is wearing a pink t-shirt, black three quarter pants and pink shoes. Andi is wearing a pink t-shirt and a green and yellow long skirt. 

Image: Emma-June Curik on stage with blue theatre lighting. She is wearing black pyjamas, with a white tool, four post bed and piano on stage too. There is a red drum kit behind her to the right. She has her left hand in the air signing into a microphone she is holding with her right hand.

Emphasising the Festival’s commitment to inclusivity, various accessibility features were thoughtfully incorporated, including an Auslan interpreter, audio description, live audio description, and braille resources. These resources ensured that all attendees could fully engage with the Opening Night experience.


Undercover Artist Festival 2023 has set the stages of Queensland Theatre, promising raw, creative and incredible talent that will leave audiences eagerly anticipating what other hidden gems are across the 2023 Festival program.


For a full list of what is in store, check out the full program here.

Presented by Access Arts in association with CPL – Choice, Passion, Life, Undercover Artist Festival promises to dazzle audiences with an electrifying showcase of theatre, comedy, dance, music, poetry and more from 20 to 23 September at Queensland Theatre.


Thank you to Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Festival, Truis, Brisbane City Council, Creative Partnerships Australia, Vision Australia, CFC Foundation, Veracity, Spicers Balfour Hotel, Cairns Regional Council, Ningana Trust, Pure Catering and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and the Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships for their ongoing commitment.