Creating a world from an empty space is one of theatre’s prime appeals, but the mind-bending concept of building “invisible” cities in a vast suburban warehouse presents this challenge on a gargantuan scale.

Invisible Cities Invisible Cities. Photo © Tristram Kenton

It is a risky one that the festival ethos and structure makes possible, providing opportunities to commission cutting-edge collaborations between leading international artists at the forefront of various performing arts disciplines.

This month, Brisbane Festival audiences will be amongst the first to experience the transformative multi-artform vision of Invisible Cities, an ambitious spectacle interweaving dance, theatre and music with architectural design and digital projections, as well as natural elements including water and sand.

While the international co-commission premiered at Manchester International Festival in July, the nature of the work dictates that each incarnation will be site-specific, created from the ground up in a purpose-built “pop-up” venue. Entering a cavernous warehouse space in Yeerongpilly, Brisbane audiences will experience an array of civilisations magically manifested, mirage-like, from the darkness.

The production was conceived by English director Leo Warner and his company 59 Productions – whose names readers might not know, but whose work on the 2012 London...