Australia’s premier LGBTQIA+ arts and cultural experience, Midsumma Festival, is set to take place across metro Melbourne and regional locations for 22 days from 23 January through to 13 February 2022 with a program sure to delight.
Bigger and better than ever before, Midsumma Festival is the most glamourous time of the year in the queer calendar and will make its return with an incredible line-up of spectacular performances, exhibitions, visual arts, live music, theatre, spoken word, cabaret, film, parties, sport, social events, and public forums.
The Festival aims to shine a spotlight on preeminent queer arts and cultural festivities with leading international, national, and local artists. Celebrating LGBTQIA+ diverse journeys, culture makers and communities, Midsumma Festival will present an impressive 161 open-access events made for, and by queer communities who live with shared experiences around diverse gender and sexuality.
Alongside the Festival, Midsumma will host its carefully curated program, Midsumma Presents, presenting 34 events that highlight the unsung heroines and unheard voices of queer intersectional communities of this time.
Offering arts events for everyone in every body, Midsumma Festival will focus its 2022 major project AND/OR on breaking a new artistic ground by shining the spotlight on the disability communities and centring own voices.
AND/OR is a platform for artists who are queer (and/or LGBTQIA+, and/or rainbow people, and/or…) and disabled (and/or Deaf/hard-of-hearing, and/or Blind/low vision, and/or neurodiverse, and/or autistic, and/or living with chronic illness, and/or…).
The program of works are disability-led and from multiple perspectives, ranging from unapologetic to vulnerable, celebratory to questioning, reflective to riotous.
To kick off festivities, the opening weekend of the three-week Festival will launch with the renowned Midsumma Carnival – a one day, 11-hour festival taking over Alexandra Gardens on Sunday 23 January 2022.
With the return of audience favourites, plus a stunning line-up of lip-syncing, drag dazzling, stellar acts, this will give audiences a sneak peek of the glamourous performances taking place throughout the Festival.
The iconic Midsumma Pride March will parade and party down Fitzroy Street, St Kilda on Sunday 6 February celebrating Pride March’s 27th anniversary, demonstrating that marching for pride is more important than ever before. Audiences can tune in virtually or by visiting a participating venue on Fitzroy Street.
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Victoria, Melbourne Pride takes place on Sunday 13 February in the Gertrude Street Precinct. Melbourne Pride will celebrate with live performances, music, circus, interactive activities, community stalls and demonstrations.
“After such a challenging few years we are thrilled to once again deliver such a broad range of events that highlight the talent and diversity of our artists, and our communities, in such a vital way,” said Midsumma CEO, Karen Bryant.
The 2022 Midsumma Festival will showcase a line-up of audience favourites and remarkable up and coming acts including:
Pride and Joy
Joan Hammond Hall: Saturday 29 January
A celebration of queer composers across time and place. The voices of LGBTQIA+ composers can be heard in music throughout history, yet this is often omitted from historical retellings, and so from our collective memories. Join the musicians of Orchestra Victoria as they celebrate queer luminaries of the past, and contemporary voices lighting the way into the future.
Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne: 7 February – 5 March
Based on Alison Bechdel’s bestselling graphic novel about growing up and coming out, this groundbreaking multi-Tony Award-winning musical arrives in Melbourne following its acclaimed Sydney season. Directed by Dean Bryant (Torch the Place) and featuring a stellar cast that includes Lucy Maunder (Ladies in Black) and Silvie Paladino (Mamma Mia!), Fun Home promises to make you laugh, cry and love until your heart is full.
An Intimate Evening With Granny Bingo
Comedy Republic: 27 & 30 January
Melbourne’s nastiest nans are back, and they’re not happy! After a sold out season at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Edith Vale (Thomas Jaspers) and Maureen McGillicuddy (Kyle Minall) are back for two nights only with their hilarious show An Intimate Evening With Granny Bingo.
The Art Hunter presents, Twilight Salon!
Alex Theatre, St Kilda: 29 January & 5 February
Veteran JOY 94.9 presenter David Hunt is passionate about the arts and supporting artists. David is always thinking of other ways to support the arts and now here comes a live show – The Art Hunter presents, Twilight Salon! Think panel show with performing and visual artists along with an arts journalist. Hosted by David Hunt who will interview each member of the panel. The panel consists of two performing artists who will perform on the night (cabaret, opera, musical theatre, jazz) and the visual artist who will disuse their style of art on huge screens.
The Night Cat: Friday 28 January
A one-night-only celebration of David Bowie, the Bowie Ball is back! Glam it up and get ready for an anything-goes extravaganza bringing together the best in music, art, fashion, and entertainment. Douse yourself in glitter at our makeover booth, take in the creation of Bowie-inspired art pieces, gather your squad for an other-worldly photo, win a prize for best dressed, and dance the night away to the full catalogue of David Bowie’s songs performed live by some of Melbourne’s most talented bands, singers, and provocateurs. Let your inner lightning bolt fly!
Seamen! The Sea Shanty Spectacular
The Curtin: 9 – 11 February
Join Melbourne’s newest cult choir sensation for a bounty of seafaring songs and nautical naughtiness. Inspired by TikTok’s #1 viral trend which saw sea shanties catapulted back into popular culture and rocketing up the charts, ten of Melbourne’s finest indie choir performers are putting a modern pop spin on these folk classics. With music direction and arrangements by Alex Morris (Shania Choir, Bae Marie), and featuring original remixes from Beatrice (Haiku Hands, Kardajala Kirridarra), Victoria Falconer-Pritchard (People of Cabaret, Fringe Wives Club), and Will Hannagan (WILLING), this is sea shanties as you have never heard them before.
The Toff in Town: 3 – 6 February
Queerly beloved. We are gathered here to worship all the glitter, all the shade, and those that are not afraid! We’ve prepared a service that will have kings, kweens and everyone in betweens feeling born again, and have you gagging for more. This is your explosive celebration of ground-breaking circus, burlesque, sideshow and cabaret that will leave you dripping with sin. Because let’s face it, sin is in. As always the show is backed by our live choir, with offerings from Australia’s queerest and dearest circus creeps and fabulous freaks! .CHURCH. is nothing short of a spiritual experience.
The Seven Gins of Pride
The Laird: Saturday 12 February
Get your gear on, explore exotic tastes and community spirits (literally) distilled into seven bottles of magic. The Seven Gins of Pride will take you on a colourful, twisted journey though… the history of Gin (hint: it’s all thanks to the gays!). Presented by the brilliant threesome of the Decadent & Divine Frock Hudson, Rubberman & Spirit Expert James Harvey-Fiander and Leatherman & Spirit Drinker Adam Bold – all seasoned drinkers of gin! – this unique experience includes a two-hour masterclass on Gin, with seven special coloured gins to sample, along with mixers and garnishes selected to complement each particular blend. Expect plenty of innuendo, laughs, quips and tips, plus a few camp songs from Frock!
Abbotsford Convent: Friday 4 February
A party for grown-ups inspired by Mini Beast Disco‘s research play, Composting Cabaret is a joyful landscape of performance offerings sprung from the collaborative critterdom of children’s vision and wisdom. A reflection, rekindling and re-wilding for our grown-up and maybe worn-out hearts. Dance floor, deep dive, disco destiny – enjoy shows by subversive showgirl/whirls Dandrogyny and Betty Grumble whilst enjoying the stretch, the goo and the hopeful ground sewn by our sonic guides.
Comedy Republic: 11 – 12 February
Charlie Lewin never felt like a magpie. Which is probably a good thing, because they’re all full of shit. From Catholic boy’s school all the way to Grindr, Cockatiel is a hilarious and heartfelt snapshot of the life of a queer kid from Melbourne trying to find his flock. Bending genre and gender, stand-up and song, Best Newcomer (MICF 2021) Charlie Lewin makes his hotly anticipated Midsumma debut in this whip-smart and relatable coming-of-age tale that will speak to every strange little drama kid trying to figure it all out.
Coming Back Out Tea Dance
Collingwood Town Hall: Sunday 6 February
Join All The Queens Men for a sumptuous, social afternoon event celebrating LGBTIQ+ communities of ALL ages – inspired by the acclaimed Coming Back Out Salon and LGBTIQ+ Dance Club. For young and old, The Coming Back Out Tea Dance featuring a stunning constellation of rainbow and allied performers from Naarm including: Maude Davey, Simone Page Jones, Ronan Chapple, Miss First Nations 2021 Cerulean, Nefertiti LaNegra, Skunkworks Productions, Tanzer and many others. Revel in sparkling music, trip the light fantastic on the dance-floor and enjoy cheeky chats as we come together and feel mighty real!
50 Years: Queers & Pioneers
Cracked Actors Theatre: Saturday 5 – Sunday 6 February
2023 will mark 50 years since PM John Gorton put forward a motion in Canberra that “in the opinion of this House homosexual acts… should not be subject to the criminal law” – 50 Years: Queers & Pioneers will showcase artists who will present their work for the chance to be selected for a fully produced season at CAT for Midsumma Festival 2023 to celebrate this milestone!
The Shy Manifesto
Bluestone Church Arts Space: 1 – 5 February
Seventeen-year-old Callum is proud to be shy and he thinks you should be too – because what this noisy, crazy world needs right now is a bit more self-restraint. Tonight he is to address an audience of radical shy comrades and incite the meek to finally rise up and inherit the earth. But memories of the previous night’s drunken escapades at a classmate’s end-of-term party keep intruding, and threaten to upend the fragile identity he has so carefully created for himself. Jake Matricardi stars in this bittersweet coming-of-age comedy/drama about a shy boy who is fed up of constantly being told to come out of his shell.
And She Would Stand Like This
Meat Market Stables: 3 – 12 February
Greek tragedy meets Queer ball culture in this fierce and fabulous new play, adapted from Euripides’ The Trojan Women and inspired by the seminal documentary Paris is Burning. Set in a hospital waiting room during a mysterious plague, the play is a modern observation of HIV/AIDS and reimagines the Greek characters as Queer bodies of colour fighting for survival.
Becoming You: An incomplete guide
Immigration Museum: 23 January – 13 February
Explore hilarious and heart-wrenching coming-of-age stories from more than 70 storytellers including performance artist and writer Adolfo Aranjuez, model Andreja Pejic, disability activist Jax Jacki Brown, drag queen Karen from Finance and actor Noel Tovey among many more. These personal experiences traverse landscapes of time, gender, orientation, culture, age, and distance, reflecting Immigration Museum’s commitment to celebrating our shared humanity.
The 2022 Midsumma Festival runs 23 January – 13 February. For more information and full program, visit: www.midsumma.org.au for details.
Image: Becoming You: An incomplete guide – photo by Tony Empire Collective