By Madison Behringer.
Each year the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival gets a little bit bigger, a little bit louder and attracts thousands more people each year to the city’s celebration of the LGBTQI+ community. The 2020 Mardi Gras in Sydney will undoubtedly be the largest festival yet, with the organisation stating: “From the sensational spectacle of the Parade to poignant panel discussions, phenomenal parties and pioneering queer performers, Mardi Gras 2020 is a diverse showcase of talent and diversity with events to involve every walk of LGBTQI life.”
This year the Mardi Gras theme is WHAT MATTERS! and festival goers are encouraged to vocalise and stand up for what’s important to them both personally and on a much larger scale. A huge range of events will be held across Sydney from the Rainbow Flag Raising Ceremony in Sydney’s Town Hall on Feb 14 to the annual Parade on Feb 29. Over 100 events will be held across Sydney as part of the 2020 Mardi Gras including parties, theatre shows, community events and workshops. Businesses and venues across the city will also feature Mardi Gras themed events that will run across the two-week festival period.
Proudly supported by Destination New South Wales, the annual Mardi Gras Parade will kick off at 7:30pm on Feb 29 in Darlinghurst. Featuring over 200 floats and groups, the Parade is the biggest night of the year on the LGBTQI+ calendar and brings thousands of festival goers to Oxford Street each year. The Parade is a free event and remains a movement of protest to honour all those that have walked the same path over the last four decades. Vantage points for the Parade fill up quickly, so it’s best to arrive earlier in the day to save a spot for later in the evening.
Retailers across the city are getting into the festival spirit including Glebe’s Broadway shopping centre. Broadway are hosting Mardi Gras themed events and specials throughout the festival period stating, “We’re host an array of free fabulously fun events, insta-worthy installations and retailer specials that celebrate the significance of the festival, which is a beacon of diversity, inclusivity and LGBTQI rights.” Events including drag, bingo and comedy nights will be held right through until Feb 29.
The Star, Sydney’s largest casino and entertainment venue will for the fifth year in a row enter a float during the 2020 Mardi Gras Parade. In addition, The Star will host the CHUUKA & Chill Mardi Gras Takeover on Feb 23 in the venue’s newest dining outlet featuring Drag Queen hosts Ivy & Vybe and DJs Beth Yen and Generik. With views looking out to the harbour, the event is an unmissable party on the festival lineup.
When it comes to entertainment and shows, the Sydney Mardi Gras festival has a reputation for attracting the best of the best in the entertainment industry. This year the UK’s acclaimed queen of comedy Myra DuBois will bring her newest show Dead Funny to the Sydney Opera House as part of Mardi Gras. Celebrating her debut Australian tour, Myra will open Dead Funny tonight and can’t be more excited to welcome audiences to her…well, to her funeral.
“Well it’s a funeral. It’s my funeral. It’s probably the only funeral you can go to where the deceased is present because they’re not deceased,” said Myra. “Basically I just wrote my own funeral – it’s a marvellous way to make sure it’s done right. And then of course, when I actually do die, they’ve got a blueprint.”
Myra has attracted a committed and loyal fan base in the UK, who she affectionately refers to as the ‘admyras’ and she hopes her Australian fans are just as adoring, saying: “It’s almost a badge of honour to receive the beam of my attention at one of my shows. So I’d like to see if that translates to Sydney.”
Myra is quick-witted on and off the stage and shared her personal take on her upcoming Australian tour.
“How I’m thinking about this in my head is that I’m going on a journey to let the Commonwealth say their goodbyes. Harry and Meghan aren’t going to make an official visit to Australia anytime soon so I’ll just have to do it.”
Having Dead Funny tour as part of the 2020 Sydney Mardi Gras festival holds a great deal of importance to Myra, with the comedian saying, “I’ve got quite a wide appeal with the acronym-ed community. The Ls, the Gs, the Bs, the Ts. A lot of them come to my shows in the United Kingdom so it’s important for me to go out and make that connection on the other side of the world.”
Myra’s identity as a performer has been criticised and misrepresented in the past by the media and she is quick to clarify her stance by saying, “there has been a lot of talk that I’m a female impersonator which I think is a very gross example of misogyny and sexism in 2020. That people cannot see a successful woman without assuming there’s a man behind it.” Myra then laughed and said, “I am a concept and a phenomena. I’ve got nothing to hide!”
Sydney audiences can expect a show like no other when they head along to Myra’s Dead Funny, with the star explaining, “everyone will feel like they know me, it will be very conversational, it will be very direct and of course there will be singing. I have a voice like no other!”
Myra went on to say, “There should be some songs, there should be some conversation and there’ll be a little bit of talk about death and about mortality. Maybe if someone’s buried a hamster in the last week they might want to give the show a miss. It might be a bit raw.”
Until Feb 29. Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney. $39.9.-$54.90+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyoperahouse.com
Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras
Until Feb 29. Various venues & prices. Tickets & Info: www.mardigras.org.au