MUDFest 2013: Australia’s largest student arts festival

GET ready for ten days of creative, inspiring, and innovative art by student artists! MUDFest is back this year with more artwork, music, and films for you to enjoy. Regina Karis fills you in. 

Image: MUDfest 2013

Image: MUDfest 2013

With more than 500 artists and 10,000 patrons, MUDFest is the largest student arts festival in Australia, a stepping stone for young, emerging artists as well as an opportunity for them to showcase their work to an audience, build networks, and gain the expertise of professional mentors.

MUDFest originally emerged from the University of Melbourne’s student theatre scene in 1990 — the Melbourne University Drama Festival and their tradition of independent performance on campus. Several years later, the name was changed so the letter ‘D’ stands for ‘Diversity’, reflecting the wider variety of art displayed at the festival.

“Over the years there has been a definite shift towards including a greater range of artistic forms in the festival,” says Eric Gardiner, one of two of MUDFest 2013’s co-Artistic Directors.

“It’s difficult to characterise how the artwork of the students’ itself has developed over the 23 years, but what’s been consistent is the passion, risk, and sense of playfulness that student artists embody.”

“What’s been consistent is the passion, risk, and sense of playfulness that student artists embody.” – Eric Gardiner

Other than having a platform to showcase their work, students also benefit from being able to express themselves creatively, thanks to the support from the festival’s artistic directors.

“The kind of practical and financial support we provide means that there is a real opportunity for taking creative risks with original work,” says Eric.

“We also wanted to encourage students from all artistic walks of life to be involved.”

When asked which program will stand out for international students, Eric cites Felix Ching Ho’s Trans.

Trans is a series of multidimensional performances exploring how various languages are understood and perceived by non-native speakers, and aims to look at the possibilities of multilingual theatre in Melbourne.

“Felix is an incredible performer and director who’s passionate about ensuring that Melbourne audiences can see multilingual performances,” Eric says.

“For MUDFest, her project involves Vietnamese, Indian, Mandarin and Korean languages.”

An art enthusiast himself, Eric also advises student artists to have faith in presenting their own work.

“If you miss out on an opportunity like a grant, or a prize, or a place in a festival, then put on your project yourself! I’d also encourage (you) to seek out meaningful collaborations with other artists from other disciplines, as this can be a great way to not only expand your own artistic horizons but to build networks too.”

With the theme ‘Make It New!’, MUDFest 2013 features student artworks from across five mediums – visual art, film, theatre, music, and interarts (a mixture of mediums). Here are a couple of highlights that we’re excited about:

Visual Art: Blindness
Free Event
August 21 at 10 pm, August 22 & 23 at 7.45 pm and 10 pm
Melbourne University Underground Carpark, University of Melbourne

How do we react and interact in moments of great and personal, yet shared, trauma? Photo credit: Sarah Walker

When sight is lost, how do you see the world? It is this question that Blindness attempts to answer as visitors immerse themselves in a journey through an apocalyptic world where we have all gone blind. An adaptation of Portuguese novelist José Saramago’s work, Blindness explores the nature of the human spirit in crisis.

Film: Curious/Furious
Free Event
August 16, at 7.30 pm
Union House Theatre, University of Melbourne

Whatever your subject is should make you either curious or furious. Anything less and you’ll fail. Photo credit: Sarah Walker

Whatever your subject is should make you either curious or furious. Anything less and you’ll fail. Photo credit: Sarah Walker

The Victorian College of Arts has recently introduced a two-year Master of Film and Television degree with a dedicated documentary stream. Curious/Furious will be a free event showcasing 8-10 of the works of both past and current students, including investigative, docu-drama, observational, adventure-driven, poetic, and experimental documentaries. After the screenings, the directors will talk more about where they are now, how their experiences as film students have shaped their work, and the future of Australian documentary.

Theatre: Man Zoo
$15 Full, $10 Concession
August 15 & 17 at 8 pm, August 16 at 2 pm
Guild Theatre, University of Melbourne

Man Zoo

Explore what it means to be a father, a son, a brother, a lover, an outsider. Photo credit: Sarah Walker

One of the big questions of life, as it happens, is this: what does it actually mean to be human? An original work, Man Zoo transports the audience to a moment in time where men are caged rarities protected by a conservation effort.

Music: Benny and the Dukes Orchestra
Free Event
August 15 & 17 at 8.30 pm
Union House, University of Melbourne

Music as a form of art. Photo credit: Sarah Walker

Since forming in January 2012, Benny and the Dukes have been playing regularly at various venues in Brisbane and Gold Coast. Now it’s Melbourne’s turn to indulge in their music!

Just for MUDFest 2013, the band has chosen a selection of their original works and rearranged them into a 17-piece orchestra, from lyrical ballads to upbeat dance tunes, bringing together classical and contemporary music into a musical experience not to be missed.

Interarts: Conjunct
$15, or $10 Concession
August 15 & 17 at 6.30 pm, August 18 at 8.30 pm
Union House Theatre, University of Melbourne

Conjunct’s a special one — it’s a traditional art exhibition by day, and an interactive dance, art, design, music, and light show by night. Featuring works from about twenty student artists, Conjunct aims to show art in its truest form: an experience for all five senses.

Art as an experience. Photo credit: Sarah Walker

Art as an experience. Photo credit: Sarah Walker

MUDFest 2013 will be held on campus at the University of Melbourne and various art spaces in Melbourne from August 15 to 24. The complete program can be found hereFor ticket bookings and more information, check out the festival’s official homepage, Facebook, or Twitter.

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