A theatre production has cancelled its run at this year’s Sydney Festival due to concerns over the city’s air quality.
French screen superstar Isabelle Adjani was due to star in Opening Night, a stage version of the 1977 cult movie classic, at the Sydney Opera House from January 21, but the production has now been cancelled.
The play had been scheduled to take place indoors, inside the Opera House’s Drama Theatre, and was the festival’s flagship production.
“Naturally, on behalf of the people of Sydney, we are extremely disappointed,” Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch said in a statement.
“We have been in constant communication with all international and Australian based companies in relation to any concerns arising from the current fire situation in NSW and we have been buoyed by their responses.
“Overwhelmingly, individual artists and companies – both local and from overseas – have responded by asking how they can help or what they can do to support relief efforts once they are on the ground in Sydney for the Festival.
“The arts community understands the importance of carrying on and also acknowledges the powerful role that art, culture and the act of coming together can play at a time like this. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and assurances, the Opening Night team has chosen not to come.”
‘NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS’
Sydney’s air quality was moderate on Monday, but is expected to deteriorate to hazardous levels later this week.
On Twitter, some theatre fans defended the play’s decision to pull out, saying actors had a right to avoid working in unsafe conditions.
“Artists should not have to risk their health to ‘divert’ your attention,” one person wrote.
But Mr Enoch described the decision as “galling” and said it was a missed opportunity to help bring people together during the bushfire crisis.
“We’re not happy about this at all. Someone on the other side of the world is taking this decision against expert opinion,” he told ABC News.
“This is incredibly heartbreaking for me given the commitments of all the other artists coming together for the bushfire support concert this weekend,” he said.
All ticket holders will be refunded by January 11.
The Sydney Festival will kick off on January 8 with more than two weeks of events.