From an all-day festival spanning 40 different pop up locations to a three-night film takeover and an exclusive performance from Ziggy Ramo, these are just a few of the highlights of YIRRAMBOI Festival 2021.
City of Melbourne have unveiled their massive festival program for YIRRAMBOI Festival. With over 150 events going down, the 11-day festival, running from Thursday May 6 to Sunday May 16, is set to be a mammoth celebration of First Nations culture, diversity and creativity showcased through art and entertainment.
With a jam-packed festival in store, we’ve helped you with some of the heavy lifting, breaking down ten unmissable events you can’t miss as part of this year’s occasion.
Keep up to date with all the festival features, news and reviews here.
Presented by Harley Mann (Wakka Wakka), Arterial is a stunning acrobatic performance that sees four performers from the Na Djinang Circus exploring the ancient connections between people, country and culture that tie First Nations people together. Running for three dates across the weekend of Friday May 7 to Sunday May 9 at the Meat Market, Arterial is a breathtaking performative experience that will bring you closer to the beating heart of the land.
Meaning ‘we all walk the path’ in Boonwurrung and Woiwurring language, BARRING YANABUL is a cultivation of Blak culture, encompassing the diversity of Blak tradition in the arts space. Taking over more than 40 pop up locations across the city, BARRING YANABUL declares a city-wide all-day Blak Out. Experience art, music, dance, theatre and fashion through the Blak gaze whilst celebrating a rich cultural history.
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Branded as a pre-colonial flirty, filthy and passionate exploration into the sensual history of Australia, BRED is a variety show presented by the eminent Briefs Factory. Through theatre, drag, music, dance, performance art, BRED tackles Australian and Oceanic relationship meanings, identity intricacies, embedded belief systems and the bearing of superiority dysmorphia.
From Dirty Pearl Productions comes Coconut Woman – a theatre performance led by Maryanne Sam. Running Wednesday May 12 until Saturday May 15, Coconut Woman is a touching tale that tackles the topic of identity and the meaning of ‘belonging’. With a Torres Strait Islander-fronted cast and crew, including Melbourne Fringe’s Best Emerging Indigenous Artist Laila Thaker and AFI Nominee Charles Passi, Coconut Woman begins in Melbourne but leads audiences on a journey to the Torres Strait.
Deadly Funny Showcase
Hosted by Gurindji showgirl Constantina Bush and boasting a lineup of all Blak talent from across the country including Dane Simpson, Kimmie Lovegrove, Ben Moodie and Shiralee Hood, the Deadly Funny Showcase is just that – deadly funny! The event comes in conjunction with Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s national comedy comp and workshop program and will be happening on Friday May 14 at Malthouse Outdoor Stage.
Melbourne venue Signal welcomes Arrernte drag artist Stone Motherless Cold from Thursday May 13 until Sunday May 16 for the whimsical, fluttering performative tale, The Fae. Capturing the similarities between the origins of fairies, queer Blak people and early colonial writings on Blak people, The Fae is the intersection of the Motherless Collective’s masterful performance art, dance, spoken word and visual art.
Miss First Nation 2021
A true standout on the YIRRAMBOI program, Miss First Nation 2021 is Australia’s only national competition for First Nations drag entertainers. With two heats covering categories, Best National Costume and Miss Talent on Tuesday May 4, and Lip Sync Superstar on Wednesday May 5, Miss First Nation 2021 is both serious business and sequin boldness, whilst being a true celebration of pride and Blak power. Find out who will take home the crown in the Grand Finale on Friday May 7.
Be the first to see the world premiere of James Henry’s Madhanbaa Mayrraa. Going down at Melbourne Town Hall and incorporating the venue’s Grand Organ, Madhanbaa Mayrraa is an extension of Henry’s work over the past ten years, exploring the intertwining of tradition and modernity, and art of genre-bending. Presented on Saturday May 8 across three transportive hours, Henry will reach glorious heights alongside special guest, Tongberang’i Ngarrga.
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NGARNGK; Giver of Life
With NGARNGK; Giver of Life, NazAree Dickerson presents her debut playwright, a powerful matriarchal story about Blak motherhood and returning to traditional practices. Happening at La Mama Courthouse, NGARNGK; Giver of Life runs from Sunday May 9 until Friday May 14.
YIRRAMBOI Blak Fillums
YIRRAMBOI Blak Fillums is an epic three-night takeover of The Capitol featuring First Nations-created feature and short films. The program kicks off with Servant or Slave on Tuesday May 11 – a true story about five women who were stolen from their families and forced into slave labour, with four films to follow on Wednesday May 12 and three on Thursday May 13.
Last but certainly not least, hip hop artist Ziggy Ramo will be taking over the Melbourne Recital Centre stage for an exclusive performance on Friday May 14. Playing his groundbreaking debut album Black Thoughts in full – labelled ‘2020’s most important Australian album’ by NME due to its fearless dialogue on racism in Australia – Ramo’s performance will be one of historic proportions.
YIRRAMBOI Festival goes down in Melbourne from Thursday May 6 until Sunday May 16. Explore the festival program here.