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The Eight Best Things to See at Brisbane's MELT Festival 2018

Brisbane's celebration of queer arts and culture is back for its fourth year.
By Sarah Ward
May 15, 2018

The Eight Best Things to See at Brisbane's MELT Festival 2018

Brisbane's celebration of queer arts and culture is back for its fourth year.
By Sarah Ward
May 15, 2018


Brisbane's celebration of queer arts and culture is back for its fourth year.

It has been four years since Brisbane Powerhouse added a new festival to their events calendar, giving the Brisbane Queer Film Festival a multi-arts sibling celebrating all things LGBTIQ+ beyond the screen. And while BQFF and MELT no longer coincide, they're both still going strong — with the latter back for another round of diverse theatre, comedy, dance, art, circus, music, burlesque and more from May 17 to 27.

Taking place a little later in the year compared to previous fests, 2018's MELT actually kicks off on IDAHOT, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. To mark the occasion, it'll unleash 11 days filled with more than 20 different events, making Brissie an even more vibrant place than it already is. Prepare for pop, drag, parties, pride and plenty of fun.

Top image: Savannah van der Niet.

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    Everyone has a go-to duet, even if you’re not a singer or a karaoke fan. Yes, even if you just hum tunes in the shower, you do too. There’s a thing about duets, though, particularly when they’re love songs. Usually they’re shared between heterosexual pairs — but not at Coupling at MELT on May 19.

    Especially for Brisbane, this one-night-only show won’t go breakin’ your heart as it reclaims everyone’s favourite two-handers for same-sex couples. Camerata, aka Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra with  special guest vocalists Sean Andrews, David Ouch, Luke Hodgson, Greg Moore, Monique Dawes, Emily Gilhome, Jessica Mahony and Ellen Reed, will lift pop classics up where they belong and make sure you have the time of your life — with endless love, of course.

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    Turbine — Collusion Music and Dance Ensemble

    Across MELT’s 11-day program, the festival blends a whole heap of different art forms into one ace event. At Turbine, one performance combines music and dance styles into a queer fusion of ballet, classical music and electronic tunes, in what promises to be an intimate yet epic piece.

    Running from May 23 to 26, it’s the work of Collusion, a music and dance ensemble that’s getting personal with its latest effort. At the heart of the performance is a probing of freedoms and their price, as set to a score by composer Thomas Green, plus original music directed and performed by Collusion’s Camille Barry and Benjamin Greaves.

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    MELT Beauty Pageant 2018

    Prepare to forget everything that’s traditionally creepy and awkward about beauty pageants, and embrace the sequin-studded, sashaying side of things instead. That’s the aim at the MELT Festival Beauty Pageant — which is about as close as Brisbane is ever going to get to having its own version of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

    In this May 18 show of diversity and a celebration of drag queens, kings and transgender beauties, competitors will battle it out to be crowned the city’s most fashionable figure. Expect wigs, glitter and many a jaw-dropping outfit, courtesy of categories such as Graceful Glamourzons, Tremendous Talent and Costume with a Message. Plus, afterwards there’s a free after-dark dance party.

    Image: Dylan Evans.

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    Like Mariah — JD Enterprises

    If all your want for MELT is a celebration of Mariah Carey, then you’re luck — and no, Josh Daveta’s Like Mariah isn’t just a sweet, sweet fantasy. The Brisbane talent channels his inner Mimi for an hour-long exploration of the music sensation’s career, impact and hits. He had a vision of love, and it’s all that he’s giving to Brissie audiences across May 17 to 19.

    Yes, he’s the hero that’s come along with the strength to carry on — or to try to hit the diva’s multiple-octave range, at least. There’ll be no shortage of songs given Mariah was only the biggest-selling female artist of the 90s. And, the show does promise that her spirit will be made known in other ways, too.

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    Robert Webb and Benjamin Law: How Not to Be a Boy

    Life. Love. Losing your mum. Becoming a husband and father. Grappling with society’s expectations of masculinity. As Peep Show fans know, they’re not the kind of topics you’d expect to get any sensible answers on from the hapless Jeremy — but Robert Webb, the actor behind the character, is obviously a completely different matter.

    The British comedian, writer and That Mitchell and Webb Look star heads to MELT on May 20 to chat with Benjamin Law about his new book, How Not to Be a Boy. Expect a personal discussion filled with insightful anecdotes about becoming a man, finding comedy and navigating existence — and laughs, of course.

    Image: Matt+Crockett.

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    Gayming Night

    MELT doesn’t just celebrate diversity on the stage or on its walls — it also showcases all things queer in the gaming space, too. Welcome to Gayming Night, where inclusivity isn’t literally the name of any of the games on offer, but it’s definitely the event’s underlying motto.

    For four hours from 6pm on May 24, attendees will play games made by queer developers, chat to them about their work and trial in-progress titles, all across both tabletop and digital platforms. Or, give Virtual Drag a whirl, which is exactly what it sounds like — just with digital sequins and sparkle.

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    All-male burlesque troupe Briefs are coming back to Brisbane for MELT with their latest show Close Encounters. For anyone who hasn’t seen one of their performances, expect something unlike anything you’ve experienced — glamorous cabaret and performance mixed with humour and just a little raunch. Oh, and this one is futuristic.

    Formed back in 2008, the crew has moved from club shows to selling out stages in London, Berlin, Paris, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. Holding performances from May 23 to 26, and then again on June 1 and 2, their latest effort includes dancing, acro-balancing, trapeze, lip-syncing and frocks — and, of course, plenty of social commentary about masculinity, plus a whole lot more.

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    MELT Visual Art

    MELT may be overflowing with fantastic shows, but the festival isn’t just about the performance side of things. Simply take a look at the walls of the Brisbane Powerhouse, and you’ll see what we mean. For the duration of the May fest, their foyers will play host to an array of MELT art pieces.

    In Unique Exotic, the work of artist Hillary Green is once again thrust into the spotlight, capturing Brisbane’s queer arts scene alongside her own self portraits. Sophie Reid-Singer’s The Cave operates as a single-player game, questioning the functioning of storytelling and identity. Explorations of queer relationships, depictions of men revealing their pain through tears and larger-than-life images of LGBTI+  artists also feature. Yes, this creative showcase lives up to its aims, highlighting not only artistry, but diversity too.

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