Visit us backstage at Dressing Room 34

Barbara Angell admiring her ‘dressing table’ in Dressing Room 34, Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne.

This weekend we have a special treat in store for those of you in Melbourne. As part of the New Hamer Hall opening celebrations and Open House Melbourne we have curated a special display offering a rare opportunity for you to experience the behind-the-scenes magic of the performer’s dressing room.

Dressing Room 34 features items from Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection and pays tribute to a diverse cast from a variety of eras and performing arts styles. Featured performers are rope spinner and juggler Tex Glanville, vaudeville singer and dancer Barbara Angell, operetta star Suzanne Steele, 1980s band Split Enz, contemporary dance duo Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon, and much-loved special guest Ossie Ostrich.

Also keep an eye out for costume items worn by icons of the Australian stage: Dame Edna Everage, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave, Peter Allen and Reg Livermore.

Dressing Room 34 will be open Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 July from 10am to 4pm. Further details here. Come one, come all!

Festival Giants

It’s a massive weekend for music, as we celebrate 20 years of the Big Day Out and remember the Sunbury Music Festival on its 40th anniversary.

Now an institution in the Australian music calendar, the Big Day Out began in 1992 as a Sydney-only show featuring the Violent Femmes and Nirvana at the Hordern Pavilion. The day was a hit, and since 1994 the Big Day Out has travelled annually throughout Australia and to New Zealand, eventually reaching the 100 shows milestone in 2010.

Big Day Out 1996
The Big Day Out, Melbourne Showgrounds, 28 January 1996. Photograph by Shellie Tonkin. Purchased, 1996, Performing Arts Collection.

Over the last 20 years, the Big Day Out has hosted some of the biggest names in rock, including Metallica, Bjork, the Ramones, Tool and the Beastie Boys. The festival has also been a platform for many Australian artists such as Silverchair, Powderfinger, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Nick Cave, the Big Day Out, 1996
Nick Cave at the Big Day Out, Melbourne Showgrounds, 28 January 1996. Photograph by Shellie Tonkin. Purchased, 1996, Performing Arts Collection.

This weekend also marks the 40th anniversary of the Sunbury Music Festival, staged over the Australia Day long weekend from 1972-1975. Sunbury became one of Australia’s most well known music festivals and is often compared to the Woodstock Festival in the United States (1969). For three days the audience, numbering around 40,000 each year, experienced the heady mixture of rock, blues, soul and R&B music, while living communally and camping outdoors. The festival eventually folded in 1975 due to financial losses incurred when the concert was rained out.