We recently took some time to chat to one of the stars of Midsumma Festival, recently awarded lifetime member Dolly Diamond about her upcoming show ‘Bl*ankety Bl*anks’ and to find out just why Midsumma continues to be one Melbourne’s most popular festivals.
- You’ve called Australia home since 2009, what is it about Melbourne you love the most? It’s always felt like home from the moment I arrived. It’s the people that make this city what it is, they’re warm & welcoming. Whenever there’s a festival on and it feels like there’s a new one happening every 20 minutes this city turns it on big time.
- In 2014 you were awarded a lifetime member of Midsumma Festival because of your long-running involvement with the organisation – what’s your favourite parts of this festival and what do you think keeps people coming back and supporting in increasing numbers year to year? My first Aussie gig was part of Midsumma at Chapel Off Chapel in 2003. The show was called “Songs that I like and shows that I didn’t get”, the title was too long to print on the ticket. Midsumma have been really good to me over the years and I’ve enjoyed every show I’ve done with them. They’re inclusive and diverse in what they present and I think people like that mixed bag of entertainment, I know I do.
- Can you describe your ideal way to get a full Midsumma Festival experience? I think it’s the same with any festival, pick a few of your favorites and then take a stab in the dark…who doesn’t like that every now and then.
- Tell us about your upcoming Midsumma show Bl*nkety Bl*nks? I’ve always been a fan of the show, you never know what you’re going to get from the contestants or the various celebrities. I can think on my feet pretty quickly when it comes to improvising, so this is right up my alley. I’m so excited to reveal some of the famous/infamous names taking part but not yet….I’m hoping for a few brainless celebrity responses.
- You’ve also been appointed as the Artistic Director of the 2017 Melbourne Cabaret Festival (congratulations), where do you see this festival going in 2017, how do you want to make your mark on this iconic event? Well I’d like it to be a financial success, that’s really important or it won’t be able to continue. I guess the best way for that to happen is to try and find new and interesting acts (I’m trawling the bars as we speak) and I also want to try and get some familiar names from the cabaret scene to break out of their comfort zone and try something new.
- With so many performing arts festivals in Melbourne (Comedy, Fringe, Cabaret and now the recently launched Musical Theatre Festival to name a few) why do you think Melbourne keeps successfully sustaining more and more support for the arts community and these festivals continue to improve in popularity? The standard of productions and the performers in them is very high and that’s what we appreciate. The moment the standard drops the audience just won’t support it, as a producer and a performer I know my work must be of a certain standard. I see a lot of shows and I’m a great audience member. I’m always grateful to be there and I want to be entertained but if you serve up lazy, unimaginative dross then don’t expect to do well. Melbourne audiences are honest and I like that…. they don’t clap for crap.
- You recently travelled with LGBTI Equality Roadshow through Swan Hill, Shepparton and Mildura? What were some of the highlights for you and what sort of an impact do you believe this roadshow had on these regional communities? It was such a great week and I was thrilled to be asked. I think the Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality Ro Allen and LGBTI advocate Daniel Witthaus are inspiring in the work they do. There were a lot of highlights but the final night in Mildura was my favourite. The small group of 4 singers who guested during my show, they called The Rainbow Pandacorns and they brought me to tears. So young , so brave. I’ve worked alongside a great number of performers but these were just teenagers who wanted to be accepted in their own community just for being different, it’s not too much to ask really.
Midsumma Festival runs from 15 Jan to 5 Feb in and around Melbourne CBD. For more information, check out midsumma.org.au
Dolly’s Midsumma show Bl*ankety Bl*nks runs from 20-28 Jan at Chapel off Chapel in Prahran. For details and ticket information check out dollydiamond.com.au