Eight unmissable events at Melbourne International Arts Festival

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Eight unmissable events at Melbourne International Arts Festival

The Flaming Lips
Photo: George Salisbury
Words by Kate Streader

For 35 years, Melbourne International Arts Festival has been a centrepiece of our city’s cultural calendar.

An all-you-can-eat buffet of performance art, live music, dance, theatre and more from around the globe, the Melbourne International Arts Festival program looks to connect us with art forms that exist outside our bubbles. This year’s instalment offers yet another eclectic collection of showcases bound to delight, perplex and entertain. There are too many must-sees to mention, but here are a few you’d be remiss to miss.

Kamasi Washington

Cutting his teeth as a session musician, Kamasi Washington is now a name recognisable to any music fan and holds his ground as one of the fiercest forces in contemporary jazz. A fusion of Afrobeat, soul, electronica and trance, Washington’s sound is rich, theatrical and made for the stage. With a tenor saxophone and undulating groove at his whim, the modern jazz powerhouse will lead Melbourne on a funk excursion when he comes to Hamer Hall on Tuesday October 8.

The Flaming Lips

It’s been two decades since The Flaming Lips unleashed the aural ambush that is The Soft Bulletin on our unsuspecting ears, and across the band’s 36-year strong career, it stands as one of their strongest works to date. Over two nights, the US rockers will bring their seminal masterpiece to life on stage, reminding us of their unwavering power. The Flaming Lips will perform The Soft Bulletin in full at Hamer Hall on Thursday October 3 and Friday October 4.

The End of Eddy

Homophobia, poverty, bullying and alcoholism are just a few of the themes which shaped Édouard Louis’ upbringing. Coming of age in rural France, Louis’ family were poor, his mother was miserable, his dad was constantly drunk and all the while, he was coming to terms with his sexuality. An autobiographical adaptation seemingly too painful to be true, The End of Eddy is devastatingly moving. It comes to The Coopers Malthouse from Wednesday October 16 until Sunday October 20.

What Girls Are Made Of

After riding a teenage pipe dream of pop stardom to its inevitable end, Cora Bissett relives the ambition of her youthful years with What Girls Are Made Of. Performed alongside a live band, Bissett will visit a curated catalogue of songs by the women who lit the fire in her belly, from Patti Smith to Dolly Parton. Now a mother, Bissett wants to ignite the same hunger in other women and girls. Catch her at The Famous Spiegeltent from Thursday October 3 until Sunday October 13, excluding Tuesday.

Joan As Police Woman

With six studio albums and upwards of 1000 live performances under her belt, Joan Wasser’s latest collection, the three-disc Joanthology, is acutely fitting. To launch the album, Joan As Police Woman will strip her work back to its bare bones to let the heart of her music shine through with a rare, intimate solo show. Featuring a career-spanning setlist comprising delicate reimaginings, you’ll want to catch Joan As Police Woman when she comes to Melbourne Recital Centre on Thursday October 10.

Gender Euphoria

In the biggest lineup of Trans and gender diverse performers Australia has seen, Gender Euphoria shines a positive light on gender dysphoria through documenting the joys that come with being Trans. The ten-piece ensemble features Mama Alto, Amao Leota Lu, Miss Bailee Rose, Fury, Harvey Zeilinski, Mahla Bird, Mx Munro, Ned Dixon, Nevo Zisin and Quinn Eades – along with special guests – and will highlight the complexities of gender and identity through music, dance, comedy, poetry, circus and more. Gender Euphoria hits The Famous Spiegeltent from Tuesday October 15 until Sunday October 20.

Rite of Spring

Known in China as the ‘Peacock Princess’, choreographer Yang Liping joins Oscar-winning designer Tim Yip for The Rite of Spring. Traditional Tibetan music combines with the stunning sounds of Igor Stravinsky in a striking performance chronicling the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Set to be a visual spectacular driven by artful movement and extraordinary costumes, The Rite of Spring will entrance audiences at Arts Centre Melbourne from Thursday October 3 until Sunday October 6.

The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes

The state of the modern world is a catalyst for anxiety, and while some may opt to band aid their fear with blissful ignorance, The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes is laying it all out on the table. Five activists with intellectual disabilities discuss some of the world’s most pressing issues – from mass food production to human rights – to remind us that we’re all accountable, whether we want to see it or not. Tune into the conversation at Arts Centre Melbourne from Wednesday October 9 until Sunday October 20, excluding Monday.

Melbourne International Arts Festival takes over the city from Wednesday October 2 to Sunday October 20. For tickets, the full program and more information, head to the festival website.