Midsumma, Melbourne's annual festival celebrating queer arts and culture, today unveiled the 24th annual Festival Program at Melbourne’s Thousand Pound Bend.

The 2012 Midsumma Festival will run from Sunday January 15 to Sunday February 5 and continues to build on its standing as a progressive, engaging, inclusive and exciting festival including over 30 Premier Events that encompass live performance, visual arts and film along with sporting, social and community events. The 2012 program further cements Midsumma as a highly anticipated annual feature on the Melbourne cultural landscape.

Carnival will once again be the opening event of the festival at Birrarung Marr on January 15 followed by T Dance, the ultimate out and proud party by the Yarra River as the sun sets over Melbourne’s cityscape.

Performing arts feature prominently in the program for Midsumma for 2012. Chapel Off Chapel, Gasworks Arts Park, La Mama and Theatre Works will be hosting live performance based works as well as providing spaces for festivalgoers to meet and socialise.

Chapef Off Chapel’s highlights include the critically-acclaimed Britney Spears: The Cabaret starring Christie Whelan and MIDSUMMA’S PLAYING-IN-THE-RAW @ THE CHAPEL, an in-your-face, mouth-watering series of provocative plays and playreadings by some of the best exponents of global queer writing for the theatre.

Gasworks Arts Park’s performance works include SPONTANEOUS BROADWAY, a comic musical improvisation experience in which the audience assists the cast to create a world premiere musical on the spot, complete with costume and character changes, dance sequences and much musical theatre mayhem and hilarity.

The iconic La Mama Theatre will host Midsumma at La Mama, a season which comprises works including Metamorphosis, an exploration of survival and zoological study of the inevitable journey from life to death and the mess created in between, which draws on influences from the Japanese contemporary avant-garde Butoh Dance Theatre form. Company White Wolf, the acclaimed Melbourne theatre company devoted to creating physical, transformative and image-based works of theatre will present Landscape Dreaming, a fresh original Australian farce filled with sharp, witty dialogue, physical comedy, evocative music, projection images and outrageous costumes. La Mama’s highlights also include The Pineapple Sorrows, an absurd tragi-comic new work from Melbourne theatre company – CrossDitch, performed by Jake Preval and Sherilee Kahui.

Theatre Works Premier Events offer something for everyone with UNANSWERED!, Paul Malek’s acclaimed dance work and The Year of Magical Wanking, a brave and heartbreaking exploration of porn addiction, destructive sexual behaviour, Catholic guilt and family heartbreak, written and performed by Irish performer, Neil Watkins. Theatre Works will also have an angry homosexualist in residence, Ash Flanders, who suggests that If you're not angry you're either heavily medicated or not paying attention in Negative Energy Inc.

Other Midsumma 2012 Premier Event “must sees” include Girls Do Gertrude, a celebration of queer icon, Gertrude Stein, In Vogue: Songs By Madonna with Michael Griffiths as ‘Madge’ expressing herself and recounting her life’s journey, the 10th anniversary production of the queer coming-of-age comedy Love in a Cubicle, and Catherine Alcorn’s bawdy, brash and fabulous cabaret, The Divine Miss Bette.

The Australian Same-Sex Dancesports will see the sequins fly as same sex couples ‘trip the light fantastic’ and Leggings Are Not Pants will offer a hilarious exposition of the notion that the way to reveal all is not through lycra.

The Word is Out celebrates iconic Melbourne queer literary institution Hares and Hyenas 20th anniversary in a spoken word celebration of queer culture and at ACMI, After ‘Homosexual’:The Legacies of Gay Liberation will bring together key international figures in queer history and politics to discuss Dennis Altman’s 1971 seminal text, Homosexual: Opression and Liberation.

With many more performance, visual arts, community events and the always anticipated parties within the Midsumma Festival, 2012 is set to celebrate all things queer in the most exciting program to date, which culminates in the annual Pride March on February 5.

Midsumma Chair, Lisa Watts said "There's a growing sense of excitement building within the community about Midsumma. It's a chance for us to celebrate living in one of the greatest cities in the world. Midsumma and the way it celebrates diversity makes our society stronger."

Full program details and tickets are now available at www.midsumma.org.au.

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