Kicking off on Friday 17 February, the 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras features a bumper program of more than 80 events, exhibitions, music and theatre – in a glittering celebration of Australia’s LGBTQI community.
2017’s theme is Creating Equality – a poignant message that has been a cornerstone of Mardi Gras’ ethos since its humble beginnings in 1978. Equality means many things, and in 2017 Mardi Gras want to celebrate how far Australia has come in accepting and embracing its LGBTQI communities, and what positive steps there are still to make.
New Creative Director Greg Clarke is thrilled to present the program, “With over 80 events in store, Mardi Gras is going to be one amazing celebration. We’ve got some incredible new events including Koori Gras @ 107 a festival within the festival where people have the opportunity to discover the history of First People’s involvement in Mardi Gras,” said Greg Clarke.
“We’ve collaborated with the Art Gallery of NSW to present a number of special events around the Adman: Warhol before pop exhibition as well as partnering with Frontier Comedy which will see huge international and local comedians alike come together for the Mardi Gras Comedy Festival.”
“And of course the jewel in the crown of Mardi Gras, the Parade will take place on Saturday 4 March and offer a chance for over 200,000 LGBTQI people and their supporters to come together and celebrate the community,” added Clarke.
Cultural highlights of 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival include:
Koori Gras @ 107
A new addition to the program, Koori Gras @ 107 is a week-long festival all of its own, and a look at the First People’s of Mardi Gras. From a special exhibition providing a truly breathtaking glimpse into the shared stories and history for First People’s gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, Sista girl, brothaboy, inter-sexed and queer community to a special one off cabaret night packed with black drag performers and DJ’s.
Throughout the week Black Point will invite strangers to sit, connect with one another before becoming the backdrop for a communal “feed” and open mic night on Saturday 25 February. Koori Gras @ 107 is produced by Moogahlin Performing Arts in association with 107 Projects, Intimate Spectacle and Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras Comedy Festival
It’s gags and giggles galore with the Mardi Gras Comedy Festival. The festival kicks off with the Mardi Gras Comedy Gala featuring an array of local and international queer and queer friendly comedy talent including America’s most famous Tupperware Lady, the gorgeous Dixie Longate. Then across various Sydney venues, sides will be split with a line-up of International stars such as Ireland’s First Lady Panti Bliss, and Inside Amy Schumer’s raw and riotous Bridget Everett. Home grown laugh merchants Em Rusciano, Joel Creasey, and Rhys Nicholson join in on the fun ready to charm crowds with witty banter and audacious anecdotes. Mardi Gras Comedy Festival is presented in partnership with Frontier Comedy.
In Difference by Craig Bary and his exceptional artistic team express the debate surrounding marriage equality through graceful yet powerful choreography with glimmers of passionate and tender narrative. In short a fascinating look at the human psyche and the pursuit for connection.
New Theatre presents Douglas Carter-Beane’s bitingly funny tale of sexual ambiguity and immoral values, The Little Dog Laughed – a scathing attack on Hollywood double standards and a moving portrayal of people yearning to connect. Mitchell is an actor, a rising star and firmly in the closet. Diane is his take-no-prisoners agent and awards-night beard. On a business trip to New York, Mitch calls for a rent boy and young hustler Alex turns up. Within days, Mitch is declaring he’s in love and planning to ‘come out’.
Celebrating Dame Shirley turning 80, Diamonds Are For Trevor is the most fabulous two act show and tour of Shirley’s life complete with flash and frequent diva tantrums. Multi-award winning cabaret darling Trevor Ashley performs hit after hit, accompanied by a stunning 24 piece orchestra. Get ready for big jewels, big hair, big lungs and an even bigger attitude.
Cabaret The Musical will awaken your inner Sally Bowles! This new Australian revival of the 1972 cult classic has all the high kicks and hair flicks you can handle. This production has attitude for days, but isn’t around for long so get your tickets quick mein heir before they all go too-da-loo!
From the writer of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Showtime’s Masters of Sex comes a tender and funny lesbian and gay story about love in all its forms, and that blurry space between friendship, romance and erotic desire. Darlinghurst Theatre Company produces and presents the Australian premiere of Bathsheba Doran’s The Mystery of Love & Sex. Charlotte loves Jonny, but lately she’s been loving Claire. Jonny loves Charlotte, but lately he’s been having casual sex with men. Charlotte’s parents Lucinda and Howard try not to judge, but they just can’t help themselves.
If you like a lady who’s good with her hands, we’ve got just the ticket for you. Lesbian folk pop superstars Bluehouse, Hussy Hicks and the unbelievably talented Christie Lee are all performing at Girrlz with Guitarz. Strumming strings and breaking hearts are what these ladies do best, so get your sing-a-long game face on and rock out like a champ Friday, 3 March at Leadbelly, Newtown.
Visual Arts, Film and Design
A visionary and an icon, Adman: Warhol before Pop takes us back in time, pre-pop, pre-mad men. Adman is a rare opportunity to encounter the formative years of one of the world’s most influential artists, providing deeper insight into the making of an icon, but hold on there’s more. Queer Art After Hours is a free pop-up at the Art Gallery of NSW, celebrating Warhol and Mardi Gras with some of the most outrageous and ostentatious performers in town.
For all you queer cinephiles, Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival is your excuse to ditch the gym and grab that jumbo bucket of popcorn. Whether you love a good tear jerker, or laughing so hard your tinder date bounces before the credits roll, this year’s program is a homage to all things rom-coms, drama, and thrillers.
A platform for all members of the LGBTQI tribe, My People | My Tribe #barenakedtruth is an amazing community art project that endeavours to create a platform where LGBTQI community member’s secrets, vulnerabilities and ambitions are laid bare. The project has been woven into the Mardi Gras creative and hopes to foster growth and understanding of LGBTQI communities around the world.
Colours of Our Community by photographer Markham Lane is a ten year retrospective, celebrating the diversity of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Intersex community in Sydney, Australia, from 2006-2016 from the vista of Markham’s lens, preserving the visual stories of the Sydney LGBTQI community, leaving a historical legacy for future generations.
Ross Watson brings his distinctive artwork to Sydney for the first time in two years, presenting an exhibition of original paintings, photography and limited edition prints at the exclusive Yellow House Gallery. Watson showcases his distinctive ouvre in celebrating the male form in this must see exhibition of his most recent work presented alongside some of his most iconic images painted over his 35 years as a professional artists.
If Oxford Street took human form she would be called Oxtravaganza. This colourful community event will be broadcast by Mardi Gras partners Gay Radio and BBR, and is full of free events, localised art happenings, street stalls and even a window dressing competition. Let local musicians serenade you as you rub shoulders with drag royalty perusing the wares of Sydney’s LGBTQI subcultures in the historic gay precinct. All proceeds are donated to the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation so dig deep guys and dolls.
Marrickville we hope you like a handful, because Welcome to Breastiville is coming to town. A celebration of LBQ women, with photo booths and complimentary mammograms and dashings of live music from bands Bluehouse and That Red Head. Presented by fabulous sponsors ACON, BreastScreen NSW and The Cancer Institute of NSW to name but a few, this community initiative is one breast friendly event you won’t want to miss out on.
“This February we welcome you to Sydney, which sparkles a little bit brighter every year during Mardi Gras,” says Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO, Terese Casu. “Our festival resonates around the world, as we welcome LGBTQI visitors and friends from all over Australia and every corner of the globe. We’re very excited to present an eclectic program of events for all ages designed to bring us together in celebration.”
The 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras runs 17 February to 5 March. For more information, visit: www.mardigras.org.au for details.
Image: Craig Bary’s In Difference – photo by Matt Cornell