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Culture and heritage

Discover new performance art in North Melbourne this summer

9 February 2024

Nestled in the North Melbourne Town Hall, Arts House is a treasure trove of dance, theatre, music and visual art with a year-round program for adventurous art lovers and people looking to experience new worlds.   

If you’re at home, endlessly scrolling through streaming services looking for something new, press pause. Arts House offers something you’ve never seen before and opens the door to intrigue, reflection and excitement.   

“These wild, joyous and sensitive works illuminate the margins, push at the boundaries and affirm our shared humanity. Through troubled times, the experimentations of these artists challenge and celebrate other ways to live and hold potential to transform communities.”

Olivia Anderson, Acting Artistic Director at Arts House

Here are just a few of the unmissable performances in store at Arts House in the coming months. Meet your friends at one of North Melbourne’s fabulous eateries and then sit back, watch the show and set your imagination free.   

Dissent

20 to 24 March  

Roll the dice, make your choice.   

Explore how, where and why we take civic action. Four players are invited to take on the role of a fellow community member and interact in an unnerving world created through imagination and experimentation.    

Presented by Māori storyteller Daley Rangi, Dissent is an irreverent exploration of everyday resistance. Each roll of the dice and subsequent consequence shapes the story and reflects relationships with authority.   

Discover more about yourself and your community in this warm-hearted, playful and imaginative study of ethical and social dilemmas.   

Figure sitting at a table wearing a purple beanie with rough-cut holes for their eyes and mouth. They're holding neon purple dice.
Choose your adventure. Photo: Tiffany Garvie

ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala

3 to 27 April  

As an expression of Arts House’s Equity—Builder, Vishal Kumaraswamy returns to curate ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala (‘from the depths of one being’). In combination with ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಣೆ nireekshane (‘the act of seeing’ – at Arts House from 1 March to 27 April), this exciting and unique exhibition brings together Australian and international artists to examine histories of caste, migration, gender and sexuality through contemporary expression.  

ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala is a multi-format activation, featuring an exhibition, public programs, talks, screenings, communal meals and curator and accessible tours. It includes two new major commissions: ALAM/ مَلَ ع from Elyas Alavi and a new performance installation by Sajan Mani, the first Indian person to be awarded the Berlin Art Prize in 2021.  

ALAM/ مَلَ ع spans a large-scale sculptural work, videos and performances that look at the intersections of Islamic ritual and marginalised queer identities. Sajan Mani’s new performance installation explores colonisation, missionary-led education and growing up in a Dalit community of rubber tappers.    

White background with a person sitting down, cross-legged, under a red box.
Examine history through contemporary expression. Photo: Marion Vogel 

The Bridal Lament

8 to 19 May  

A lush and electrifying bi-lingual song cycle that has taken Sydney and Adelaide by storm, The Bridal Lament is a glorious audio-visual experience by award-winning vocalist, pop icon and visual artist Rainbow Chan 陳雋然.   

Drawing on her Weitou ancestry (first settlers of Hong Kong), Chan reimagines a ritual known as the bridal lament, a public performance of grief in which a bride wept and sang in front of family and friends, expressing bitterness towards their arranged marriages and patriarchal rule.   

With new songs by Chan and direction from Tessa Leong, this lavish work pays homage to ritual in a vibrant presentation of movement and colour.    

See it in combination with The novice, fry and fledging from 6 to 24 May. This free installation of silk paintings and sound composition has been created by Rainbow Chan 陳雋然 to accompany The Bridal Lament.

Rainbow Chan in profile, looking to one side. She is standing in front of neon lights that bleed red and purple colour into the background. She has large, glistening tears made from wax that sit on her cheeks beneath her eye. Rainbow is adorned with an ornate bejewelled headpiece that shimmers with gold and pearls.
Explore grief, love and defiance in the face of change. Photo: Rainbow Chan

ANITO

5 to 9 June

Did you know that ancient Filipino ritual and funerary gold objects were melted down by the Spanish colonisers and moulded into crucifixes?

In ANITO, the iconic Justin Talplacido Shoulder shares his latest fantastical creations, queering the mythologies of his Filipino heritage and imagining a Future Folklore where this raw material is re-moulded into new forms both sacred and profane.

A mythic world of hybrid creatures is brought to life through dance, theatre, installation, visual arts and elaborate costumes.

Two performers lie entwined. They are wearing bright purple and are dappled with light.
Watch as a mythic world of creatures comes to life. Photo: Liz Ham

GURR ERA OP

12 to 16 June 

What would you do if you could never go home? What happens to your identity when the physical place that holds your ancestral foundations disappears?   

Join four mainland-born Torres Strait Islander women as they battle against the rising tide of climate change threatening their home, culture and identity.    

GURR ERA OP (“the face of the sea” in Meriam Mir) is a celebratory sharing of culture and a call to action in the face of climate devastation, interweaving hybrid Torres Strait Islander contemporary storytelling, movement and spoken word. 

Four Torres Strait Islander women wearing all white stand in the ocean. They are holding symbolic masks.  
A call to action on the devastating effects of climate change. Photo: Ashley de Prazer

Art for everyone

Many Arts House shows feature accessible performances, including Auslan interpretation, relaxed elements, tactile tours and audio description. Check each event page for more access information including visual ratings and warnings. 

Arts House’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan is taking positive steps towards accessibility and inclusion. It was created in conversation with Deaf and Disabled people alongside Arts Access Victoria. Arts House’s Equity—Builder is a commitment and roadmap to anti-racism and justice in the arts.  

Explore all current and upcoming events at Arts House.

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