In the year of the impossible, Melbourne Fringe Festival will deliver a festival full of weird, wonderful, thought provoking and boundary-pushing art. From 12 – 29 November, audiences can choose from 250 shows, all taking place either outdoors, digitally, in the home, via audio, behind glass or over the phone.
Many artists in this year’s Festival created their work in the most impossible, mid-pandemic circumstances, and the ingenuity and creativity of artists is in full swing. Big Day In sees Fringe music legend Ian Pidd create work inspired by the true story of his parent’s COVID-19 diagnosis while they were in an aged-care home. Recovering in isolation, Ian brought the music to them, playing outside their window. For Big Day In, a live band will play outside aged-care homes across Melbourne, also livestreamed online. Showing 24 – 29 November.
GB24: The Improvised Variety News Channel is a nightly news spoof comedy show by comedy duo Game Boys, featuring character interviews, sketches, unexpected surprises and special guests from the festival. Showing 12 – 29 November.
Such Is Now – The Isolation Diorama Project 2020 is an installation by Australian contemporary artist, Jacqui Stockdale. Expect a peep show for all ages, to be viewed through two large eyes and a Ned Kelly Helmet painted on the window of the Rose Chong Costumiers shop. As a direct response to lockdown in Melbourne, Stockdale started making miniature versions of her recent solo exhibition at Linden New Art based on the re-telling of the Ned Kelly myth. She placed them in handmade dioramas based on Mexican folk art. Showing 12 – 29 November.
Losing Touch will take place at Abbotsford Convent as one of the first in-person events post Melbourne lockdown. This new performance artwork investigates touch, distance and technology in a dialogue-come-performance created in a long-distance collaboration between composer Antonia Barnett-McIntosh and performance artist Sara Cowdell. The show investigates the impact of touch in our lives and the lack of physical contact and connection we experience while socially-distanced. Showing 25 November.
Welcome to Bunt is a warm and silly sketch show about a small town of Aussie oddballs coming to grips with potential tourism and opening up their quiet outback town, by Elly Squire (aka Clara Cupcakes). Showing 24-29 November.
Creepy Boys features two Canadian queer artists who came to Australia for the Adelaide Fringe… and thanks to the pandemic have been stuck here ever since. Twin orphans, The Creepy Boys, are throwing their very first birthday party. It will have everything, games, gifts, possibly Satan, and probably cake. Showing 17 – 22 November.
Tomás Ford:… Come Have A Bath With Me is a live electronic pop performance performed from a bath, while audiences watch from home, also in a bath! Set up the laptop somewhere safe and join this Perth cabaret cult icon for some bath time fun. Showing 14 – 28 November.
The People of Cabaret’s variety gala will showcase of cabaret artists of colour, featuring a dazzling array of performances beamed in from interstate and around the globe. The People of Cabaret collective aims to uplift, celebrate and empower brilliant performers of colour from the worlds of cabaret, burlesque and circus. Showing 10, 17 and 24 November.
PLATFORM is a techno party inside a digitally-scaled recreation of The SUBSTATION building in Newport, hosted inside a private Minecraft server. Staged over five hours, players will choose avatars and explore brand new landscapes, attend exhibitions across galleries and select works by Western region artists from the Woods Street Youth Art Prize. Showing 20 November.
Conservatory is a one-off, live-streamed, durational performance-installation. From within a greenhouse, single physical performer Niow creates playful theatrical images to a live soundtrack. Limited live audience can view the work onsite through the greenhouse windows, physically distanced for short periods at a time. Set against the backdrop of COVID-19 and the climate reality, the performance has themes of identity, fluidity, grief, loss, joy and transformation. Showing 21 November.
The late-night party atmosphere synonymous with Fringe will continue with Fringe Club at Home – a series of Club Fringe events designed to have audiences pushing back the sofas, painting on the glitter and busting a move.
Events include a suburb-by-suburb performance war in Fringe-O-Vision – Fringe’s answer to everyone’s favourite European spectacular; a Karaoke Knockdown with Bae Marie; and Powder Room, which will see the ineffable Reuben Kaye get intimate with Fringe artists in a series of confessional conversations, peppered with lo-fi performances, DIY pantry make-up tips and other things better left unsaid.
The 2020 Melbourne Fringe Festival takes place 12 – 29 November. For more information, and full program, visit: www.melbournefringe.com.au for details.
Image: The Creepy Boys – courtesy of Scantily Glad Theatre