With a jam-packed program of events, performances, exhibitions and community activities, there’s something for everyone at the world’s biggest, and most spectacular celebration of LGBTQI+ pride and diversity, culminating with the iconic Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on Saturday 6 March at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The 2021 Mardi Gras theme is RISE a poignant message during the challenge and hardship that the last 12 months has presented. The theme is a call to action that now is the time to rise again through love, compassion, respect and understanding, and to work together to make the world a better place for all.
Highlights of the 2021 Festival includes:
5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche
Giant Dwarf Theatre: 25 – 27 February
It’s 1956 and The Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein are having their annual quiche breakfast, where the motto is “no men, no meat, all manners”. As the ‘widows’ await the announcement of the society’s prize-winning quiche, chaos strikes when the atomic bomb alarm sounds and threatens to end their beloved quiche breakfast. Is it a drill? Has the Communist threat come to pass? How will the widows respond if their idyllic town and lifestyle faces attack?
New Theatre: continues to Saturday 6 March
When Jonathan Harvey wrote this tender, open-hearted play about two damaged boys and the love that heals them, the age of consent for gay sex in the UK was still 21, it was illegal to ‘promote’ homosexuality in schools, and civil unions and same-sex marriage weren’t even on the radar. Yet, nearly 30 years on, it still holds remarkable power, because so much of what it explores is timeless: discovering your sexuality, finding love and acceptance, fighting your demons, surviving against the odds, being an outsider, and the importance of community.
El Rocco, Potts Point: continues to 7 March 2021
Fag/Stag follows the lives of two twenty-something guys – one gay, one straight – as they navigate their sex lives, friendship and ongoing first world problems. Corgan and Jimmy are BFFs. Their lives are filled by Tinder, Grindr, white lies, big nights and too many pints. Lawn bowls, Donkey Kong, wiping vomit into the shower drain. Unanswered texts, bad sex, moving back in with Mum and Dad.
Laugh Out Proud
Enmore Theatre: Friday 26 February
After a sold out inaugural event in February 2020, Mardi Gras’ comedy gala is back for a night of belly laughs with Australia’s best and brightest LGBTQI+ comedians. Featuring a stellar line-up of hilarious queer stand-up talent, Laugh Out Proud is Mardi Gras’ comedy event of the year! Hosted by the award-winning Nath Valvo, Laugh Out Proud has loads of comedic talent for one incredible night only – including: Geraldine Hickey, Mel Buttle, Thomas Jaspers, Rosie Piper, Margot Tanjutco, Selina Jenkins, Jake Howie, Nina Oyama and Jay Wymarra.
Seymour Centre: continues to Saturday 6 March
Fixed Foot Productions presents the Australian premiere of John Donnelly’s critically acclaimed play, The Pass – a powerful, timely drama that asks: how much are you willing to lose in order to win? A hit at The Royal Court Theatre in London and later adapted into a BAFTA-nominated feature film, The Pass deftly explores the corrosiveness of high-end celebrity culture and the consequences of toxic masculinity. It shines a light on the prejudice that still runs rampant in the world of elite sport, and as Jason and Ade navigate this world for themselves, it powerfully illustrates the cost of repressing your identity, and asks what’s lost when you win.
Mardi Gras Film Festival
Various venues and online: continues to Thursday 4 March
With 90+ films in the program and over 50% being available to stream on-demand Australia wide, there are so many ways you can experience Queer Screen’s 28th Mardi Gras Film Festival. Highlights include, Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci in the moving Supernova; the very timely The Obituary of Tunde Johnson that brings to the forefront the issue of racism and police brutality; the incredible chemistry of rising star Vanessa Kirby and Katherine Waterston in The World to Come, and one of the most celebrated films of the last year Suk Suk.
My Drag Story
NSW Teachers Federation Auditorium: Saturday 27 February
With Priscilla, Queen of the Desert stamped on our national identity and Drag Race sashaying across screens there’s no doubt Drag has sunk its six-inch heels into the mainstream. From the high-glam era of Les Girls and Capriccios to the diverse fabulousness many decades later – our nation’s alumni of drag artists have proudly carved a cheeky and quintessentially Aussie path through our cultural playbook. My Drag Story uncorsets seven queens, kings and gender defying royals to reveal what’s beyond the painted façade, including Amelia Airhead, Cindy Pastel, Nana Miss Koori, Sexy Galexy.
My Trans Story
NSW Teachers Federation Auditorium: Friday 26 February
At a time when the trans experience is becoming more visible we still rarely see stories by trans and gender diverse people on a screen, in theatres, a bookshelf or in popular culture and when we do, they focus on coming out and surgery or discrimination and hate crimes. From the personal to the political My Trans Story features proud trans and gender diverse storytellers from Sydney and beyond, including Tea Uglow, Andrew Guy, Rusty Nannup Joel Murray, Olivia Stewart and Victoria Anthony, celebrating their complex, sometimes funny, often fearless, always fierce histories.
Queer Nu Werk: Werk Harder
Universal Sydney: Wednesday 3 March
In a special edition, Performance Space curates a lineup of Sydney’s leading queer contemporary and experimental artists in a raucous celebration of queer performance, queer bodies and queer perspectives. Line-up includes Okenyo, House of Slé, Betty Grumble, Gareth Ernst, Aaron Manhattan, Deborah Kelly, Daley Rangi, Demon Derriere and Tommy Misa.
NSW Teachers Federation Auditorium: Saturday 27 February
Queer Thinking is Mardi Gras’ program of talks where audiences are invited to unpack a range of issues faced by the LGBTQI+ community both in Australia and abroad in thought-provoking conversations about the world we live in, with panels curated by Julie McCrossin AM, Benjamin Law and Patrick Abboud.
National Art School: continues to Sunday 7 March
Presented by NAS Queer Contemporary, SKIN DEEP is an interactive exhibition that presents intimate and personal stories of LGBTQI+ people through their tattooed bodies and stories, celebrating diversity, defiance and body art. The exhibition is made up of several unique components – presented as one integrated audience experience or as separate experiences. LGBTQI+ community participation is central to all components of SKIN DEEP – as narrators, models, story tellers and performers.
Tim McKew toasts Noel Coward
Claire’s Kitchen, Darlinghurst: 23 & 24 February
Come and celebrate one of the Twentieth Century’s great iconic performers with Australia’s Noel Coward, the legendary Tim McKew. Acclaimed from Melbourne to Shanghai and New York, his shows set the benchmark for interpreting the comic wit and genius of Noel Coward. Enjoy such classics as Mad Dogs and Englishmen, London Pride, and Don’t Put Your Daughter on X Factor Mrs Worthington! Piano accompaniment by Peter De Ryk.
Image: 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche – photo by Louise Reily