Celebrate Midsumma at the Victorian Pride Centre

Piano-Bar-Andy-Pobjoy-photo-by-Peter-Foster-PhotographyExperience, create and celebrate at the Victorian Pride Centre this summer with a huge Midsumma Festival program! Featuring cabaret, comedy, life drawing, science talks, spin classes and more.

Australia’s purpose-built home for LGBTIQ+ communities is joining the party with its first full season of Midsumma Festival programming. 47 sessions of 26 different events will be taking place throughout the Victorian Pride Centre’s Theatrette, Forum, gallery spaces and gorgeous Rooftop.

With everything from art workshops to panel discussions, plays, parties, spin classes, and even a late-night piano bar – there’s something for everyone this Midsumma Festival.

The diverse program features a mix of free and ticketed events that showcase LGBTIQ+ artists and performers, foster social connection, facilitate important conversations, and enable active participation in fun and interactive classes and workshops.

Talks, Workshops and Interactive Experiences:
The Victorian Pride Centre (VPC) is excited to co-present a series of talks and workshops with resident organisations, that explore important topics and issues facing LGBTIQ+ communities.

Thorne Harbour Health will present two panel discussions, the first No Pride In Racism will feature LGBTIQ+ community leaders sharing their thoughts and perspectives on sexualised racism in the community.

Wise Words will welcome a line-up of some of Australia’s most prominent and talented LGBTIQ writers, performers and activists talking about their experiences of what it is to be a queer woman (trans and non-binary inclusive).

The Australian Queer Archives welcome special guest, ‘accidental archivist’ and trans icon Julie Peters on a creative and interactive journey through queer and trans histories and community archives at Archive Armour.

Transgender Victoria will host an evening of trans writing and storytelling in Holding Space. Meanwhile, friends of VPC, Queers In Science, are presenting Science At The Edge, a lecture series displaying the amazing work of queer scientists for the general public.

For folks looking for a creative outlet, the Crafty Queers program provides opportunities to learn or refine creative skills in a social and welcoming space.

Each Monday a different expert will run an interactive workshop: Jean-Luc Syndikas will take life drawing classes on 23 January, Ruby Slippers will teach the art of drag make-up on 30 January, and Sasha Starr will lead a fabulous painting class on painting your inner queen on 6 February (all materials are supplied for this one)! Tickets include a drink on arrival, and everyone is welcome to BYO snacks.

Want to get the blood pumping? Get active with Bhodi & Ride, who will be bringing a special edition of Pride Ride to the rooftop! Join for a spin class while taking in the gorgeous views of the bay and the Melbourne skyline.

Rainbow Families and Markets:
Rainbow families and young people are a vital part of the Pride Centre and we are excited to welcome them to Frock Hudson’s Storytime Sing-A-Long, a colourful choose-your-own adventure where the kids are driving.

People of all ages are also welcome to visit the rooftop Gay Stuff Markets on Saturday 4 February to peruse the amazing line-up of vendors featuring speciality goods from a collection of Melbourne’s queer and allied artists, creatives and style makers.

Need a new outfit for Victoria’s Pride party? The free Trans & Gender Diverse Clothes Swap on Saturday 11 February (10.00am to 4.00pm) is a great opportunity to bring along some clothes to swap or simply browse the range of free outfits. Presented by the Pride Centre and the Ballarat Trans & Gender Diverse Clothes Swap.

Comedy, Theatre:
There will be a diverse performing arts program at VPC throughout Midsumma, showcasing emerging and established LGBTIQ+ artists and amplifying the lived experiences of people from a range of backgrounds.

Cheers, Queers! is an all-queer comedy line-up show which makes a return after a hit season at the Pride Centre as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival. Including Kirsty Webeck, Aurelia St Clair, Aysha Buffet and many more of Victoria’s best comedic talents.

On 25 & 26 January, writer-performer Ben MacEllen will be taking to the Theatrette stage with his one-man show Transmansplaning, based on his experiences as a self-described ‘short, balding, bearded, gay trans man’. Using humour, video diaries and intimate disclosures, he will reveal his unique perspective on life as a transgender man.

For music theatre lovers, Adrian Barilà & Adam Canny are starring in Stephen Sondheim’s Off-Broadway review Marry Me A Little, marking the first time this bittersweet tale of love and survival has been performed by a same sex cast in Australia – it promises to be a beautiful evening of music with a live band.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Midsumma program without appearances by  queer cabaret stars Dolly Diamond & Tash York who will be titillating audiences with feel-good tunes and hilarious stories in their show Attention Seekers.

Rounding out the theatrical offering, Demetra Giannakopoulos will be presenting her live radio play A Worthy Rival for one night only on 4 February. Performed by three actors with an evocative soundscape, the play is set in the locker room of a grand slam final where two female tennis players are preparing for the defining match of their careers.

Finally, for those looking for a touch of magic, join storyteller Em Chandler as they breathe new life into queer folk and fairy tales from around the globe in Over The Rainbow And Through The Woods.

Visual Arts:
The Pride Gallery and Forum space will be abuzz with three exhibitions. Queens Of The Pub by Gerard O’Connor and Marx Waisak features striking images of the characters and survivors who have helped create the places where we gather and celebrate today through the use of recycled materials, heritage buildings, and residents of St Kilda.

The Making Of The Victorian Pride Centre presented by The Pride Fund explores the last 100 years of LGBTIQ+ history in Victoria and the development of the iconic Victorian Pride Centre.

The Pride Centre’s Mezzanine Level will play host to The Glad Project, part of the Arts Centre Melbourne Frank Van Straten Fellowship, awarded in 2022 to Angela Bailey. This exhibition acknowledges legendary musical theatre singer Gladys Moncrieff, her popularity and her ‘long term companion’ of 46 years Elsie Wilson.

Live Music and Social Connection:
Melbourne Rainbow Band will return to the Pride Centre after appearances in 2022, with a very special performance in the Theatrette on 2 February, featuring a mix of popular and classic songs.

Meanwhile in the Forum, the regionally-based, award-winning institution Piano Bar x Pride Centre, brings its showcase of fabulous drag artists, special guests, singalongs and song requests to St Kilda from 27 – 29 January and 2 – 4 February. Hosted by Andy Pobjoy.

If you’re looking for social connection without the alcohol, check out Spill The Tea from 1.00pm – 5.00pm on Sunday 29 January. Co-hosted by VPC, the Australian Queer Archives and JOY Media join a laid-back afternoon with a free tea or coffee and sweet treat, listen to a live broadcast by JOY 94.9 and visit the Australian Queer Archives.

And as if all of that wasn’t enough – the jewel in the Pride Centre’s Midsumma program will be the Pride March After Party edition of VPC’s monthly Sunday Sizzle, held throughout the entire building on Sunday 5 February from 12.00pm -8.00pm.

Entry is free, there will be fabulous music and performances, drinks and a fundraiser sausage sizzle. No need to book but come straight after the march or you may need to queue!

The Victorian Pride Centre team is brimming with pride and excitement to present such a multi-dimensional program that amplifies the voices and experiences of LGBTIQ+ performers, writers, scientists, photographers, makers, archivists and everything in between.

For more information about Midsumma at the Victorian Pride Centre, visit: www.midsumma.org.au The 2023 Midsumma Fesatival runs 21 January to 12 February. For more information, visit: www.midsumma.org.au for details.

Image: Andy Pobjoy – photo by Peter Foster Photography