Melbourne Fringe Festival 2023 Award Winners Announced

MFF23-Moira-FinucaneAfter a mammoth 20-day Festival that featured over 470 shows across the city and suburbs, Melbourne Fringe has celebrated the artistic excellence, risk-taking bravery and sheer creativity of the 2,600 artists participating in the 2023 Festival with its annual awards ceremony.

The honorees in the 40-strong list of awards received praise from judges, industry and audiences alike with Best in Category nods to each genre, touring awards sponsored by sister festivals at home and abroad, and a series of special awards acknowledging potential, innovation and artistic brilliance in the Festival’s enormous program this year.

“This year’s cohort presented a challenge to our panel of judges – in the best way possible,” said Melbourne Fringe CEO & Artistic Director Simon Abrahams. “Artists in every genre and practice brought their best to the Festival in a particularly strong program that made the judging process equal parts delightful and incredibly difficult.

“I am so proud of this year’s awards winners that includes phenomenal works of art that embody everything that Fringe is and aspires to be,” said Abrahams.

The annual ceremony also included the announcement of the 2023 Melbourne Fringe Living Legend, Moira Finucane. “Moira Finucane is a true Melbourne icon, trailblazer and a tireless champion of the independent
arts,” said Abrahams.

“As a writer, director, performer and creator of legendary salons, incredible variety and bold theatrical spectacles, she has defined and redefined cabaret around the world with her arresting mix of provocation and entertainment.

Moira has been involved in the Fringe for decades and this extraordinary human has truly dedicated her life to our sector – it seems only fitting that she join our incredible Living Legends,” said Abrahams.

For more information about the Melbourne Fringe Festival, visit: for details.

Image: 2023 Melbourne Fringe Living Legend – Moira Finucane (supplied)


Best In Category Awards:

Best Cabaret: Spunk Daddy – Darby James
Best Circus: In Common – One Fell Swoop Circus
Best Comedy: Stickybeak – Kimberley Twiner, Jessie Ngaio, Laura Trenerry and Patrick Dwyer
Best Dance & Physical Theatre: LUSH – gemma + molly
Best Experimental: Enemies of Grooviness Eat Sh!t – Betty Grumble
Best Kids: The Listies present ROFL – Final Season! – Rich and Matt
Best Music: Walking Songs – Milly Moon
Best Theatre: Someday We’ll Find It – Karla Livingstone-Pardy and Zachary Sheridan
Best Visual Arts & Film: Sky Symphony – Shaun Rigney and LASER-VISION
Best Words & Ideas: Yalinguth LIVE by the Birrarung – Jason Tamiru and Storyscape

Artist Development Awards:

Best Emerging Indigenous Artist
Supported by the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts & Cultural Development (VCA & MCM)
Amelia Jean O’Leary for STAUNCH ASF

Best Emerging Producer
Supported by MILKE
Olly Lawrence for Le Freak, T4T: A Transgender Showcase and An Evening with JK

Comedy New Work Award
Supported by Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Success in Everything – Noah Szto

Emerging Company Incubator Award
Supported by Monash University’s Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and Performance
Full Cream – Em Keagan, Ryan Hamilton, Georgie Wolfe, and Jonno Graffam O’Meara

Headroom Award
Supported by RISING
Burnout Paradise – Pony Cam

Innovation in Circus
Supported by Theatre Network Australia
Le Freak – Themme Fatale and Elle Diablo, with Sarah Birdgirl, Dale Woodbridge-Brown, and Bella de Jac, produced by Olly Lawrence

Innovation in Dance
Supported by Theatre Network Australia
~~~~~ “…derelict in uncharted space…” – Fayen d’Evie and Benjamin Hancock

Innovation in Theatre
Supported by Theatre Network Australia
A Dodgeball Named Desire – Bloomshed

Market Ready Award
Supported by Regional Arts Victoria
NIUSIA – a ry presentation with Beth Paterson and Kathryn Yates

2023 Touring Awards:

The New Zealand Touring Award
Supported by New Zealand Fringe
Sam Kissajukian: 300 Paintings – Sam Kissajukian

The NSW Touring Award
Supported by Sydney Fringe
A Dodgeball Named Desire – Bloomshed

The QLD Touring Award
Supported by Brisbane Comedy Festival
Am I the Drama? – Andy Balloch

The SA Touring Award
Supported by Adelaide Fringe
Hot Fat Crazy – Tommy & Eadie

The WA Touring Award
Supported by FRINGE WORLD Festival
Le Freak – Themme Fatale and Elle Diablo, with Sarah Birdgirl, Dale Woodbridge-Brown, and Bella de Jac, produced by Olly Lawrence

Special Awards:
Access and Inclusion Award
I Am (Not) This Body – Leisa Prowd

Best Work by an Emerging Artist
The Coconuts – Brown on the Outside, White on the Inside – The Coconuts

Director’s Choice
Zaffé – Stéphanie Ghajar & Collaborators

People’s Choice Award
Mechorstra – Scimm. Dance Company

Sound and Technical Excellence Award
~~~~~ “…derelict in uncharted space…” – Fayen d’Evie and Benjamin Hancock

Spirit of the Fringe
Burnout Paradise – Pony Cam

Venue of the Year
Abbotsford Convent

2023 Melbourne Fringe Living Legend
Moira Finucane