The Sydney Fringe announces The Essence of Fringe

Little-Egg-Collective-Symphonie-Fantastique-photo-by-Patrick-BolandThe Sydney Fringe has announced The Essence of Fringe – a digital program that will be presented from 10 September – 1 October 2021 to support and create new opportunities for artists in the wake of the cancellation of the 2021 Festival.

The program will feature nine highlight music and theatre events from the planned 2021 physical program, three Australian premieres by award-winning American performance artist Brian Feldman and two works by acclaimed Australian artist Jon Bennett, alongside a masterclass program of seminars and workshops focused on artist career development.

With both free and ticketed events, The Essence of Fringe forms part of Sydney Fringe’s ongoing advocacy work supporting the independent arts community affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic including their new We’ll Fringe Again fundraising campaign, which asks the community to ‘buy a ticket’ to the cancelled festival to support local artists via a programming fund for their 2022 festival.

“As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our sector, Sydney Fringe knew it was important to bring our artists and audiences together digitally,” said Sydney Fringe CEO and Festival Director Kerri Glasscock. “The Essence of Fringe offers a glimpse into the incredible 2021 program but more than that, it showcases the wide range of work we do all year round supporting artists and organisations.

“We are delighted to be able to present this program of brilliant international and Sydney made performances as well as important discussion and education opportunities. We hope that they can bring some relief to all those in lockdown as well as a fantastic opportunity for audiences to engage and support artists right from their living rooms.”

The Essence of Fringe digital program runs from 10 September – 1 October 2021. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Symphonie Fantastique by Little Egg Collective – photo by Patrick Boland

The Essence of Fringe program includes:

GLOBAL FRINGE | Tuesday 14 – Sunday 19 September | Ticketed
Drawing on the highly successful Global Fringe program in 2020, Sydney Fringe will present the Australian premieres of three live-streamed works by internationally acclaimed performance artist Brian Feldman and two works by celebrated Australian storyteller Jon Bennett including:

  • #txtshow (on the internet) by acclaimed American performance artist Brian Feldman is a crowd-sourced, immersive, multi-screen performance featuring a mysterious character called txt (pronounced “text”) who recites a script written anonymously in real-time by a live audience (on the internet). Created and performed by Feldman, this LIVE, interactive performance takes place on Zoom, originating from his home in Washington, D.C. – a 4-km walk from the Embassy of Australia, and marks his Sydney debut and a final stop on his 12-country, 35-city, 175-show virtual world tour (during a global pandemic).
  • The Feldman Dynamic: Brekkie for Dinner is the Australian premiere and latest instalment of a long-running performance piece that sees performance artist Brian Feldman virtually have dinner with his real-life family. Currently separated by a distance of 1,349-km, Brian in Washington and his family and special guest Mitzi the Dachshund in Florida, present performance art that is Organic, Gluten-Free, No Added Sugar, Wild-Caught and Vegan.
  • VFF by award-winning American performance artist Brian Feldman explores friendship through one-hour video chats. Only seven people can take part in these one-on-one experiences (one per day), hanging out over FaceTime with Feldman as he explores the worth of friendship, how we make friends and what being friends actually means.
  • Award-winning Australian artist Jon Bennett presents the celebrated How I learned to Hug, which is not a love story but a true story of love, loss, sex and hugging told to an airport security guard resembling a combination of the rapper Jay-Z and Beyonce while detained as a suspected terrorist in the Montreal Airport.
  • Fire in the Meth Lab by renowned Australian storyteller Jon Bennett tells the amazingly sordid and bizarre story of his brother’s life. A sometimes shocking and chaotic tale, featuring drug dealers, bikers, high-speed car chases, fights, crime, prison, vomit, exploding houses and cancer, Fire in the Meth Lab explores brotherly relationships and how siblings with the same upbringing can choose very separate paths.

MADE IN SYDNEY | Monday 20 – Sunday 26 September | Ticketed
Building on the success of the inaugural 2020 Made in Sydney season presented as part of Global Fringe, this program showcases new and celebrated tour-ready work by leading independent Sydney based theatre-makers including:

  • Weird Nest’s new dance work Infinite Item powerfully communicates, through visceral dexterity, some of the pressing and increasing concerns around marine environmental pollution and what we, as individuals and community, may do to mitigate them.
  • Symphonie Fantastique is a dark symphony from the 1800s made contemporary by Little Eggs as a live queer theatre work exploring party-culture, psychedelia, and violence. Composed and devised by the company, this pre-recorded performance will be followed by a live panel discussion with the creative team.
  • Musician Alice Terry and cabaret artist Billie McCarthy join forces to present a Live from Lockdown that will stimulate and soothe audiences in lockdown across Australia.
  • Physical theatre company Clockfire present their hit 2020 production We, the lost company – a poetic tribute to the migratory nature of the ocean and the power of recollection, inspired by Brett Whiteley’s beach paintings.
  • Part monologue, part performance art and part essay, award-winning author Oliver Mol’s celebrated 2020 theatrical debut Train Lord is a true, funny and heartbreaking tale about a 10-month migraine, his recovery in Brisbane and job on the railway when he couldn’t do anything else.

FRINGE IGNITE | Sunday 12 September: 4.00 – 6.00pm | FREE
Curated by the same team who presented the Allowed and Local as part of Sydney Festival in January, this free concert program will feature live-streamed intimate, acoustic solo performances by leading Sydney musicians including Robbie Miller, KYVA, Ella Haber, Billie McCarthy and more.

ACOUSTIC RITUAL FRIDAYS| Friday 17 & Friday 24 September: 3.00 – 6.00pm; Friday 1 & Friday 8 October: 3.00 – 6.00pm | FREE
In partnership with George Place, Sydney Fringe presents four acoustic concerts curated by the legendary Sydney venue 505. Each concert features four musicians from different practices and is the perfect lockdown unwind. The full program will be announced in the coming weeks but the first concert line-up includes: Hamed Sadeghi, Alister Spence, Bonnie Stewart, Jason Noble

A series of live-streamed conversations hosted by The Women’s Club with Fringe CEO Kerri Glasscock and performers Ayeesha Ash and Madeleine Stewart.

FESTIVAL OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT | Saturday 18 & Saturday 25 September: various times | FREE
Building on the Festival’s highly successful Masterclass program, which provides artists and producers with the tools they need to bring their work to the stage for Fringe, Sydney Fringe will present an entirely online and covid-safe Festival of Professional development.

Presented over two weekends, the Festival of Professional development will bring together experienced Fringe producers, presenters and other industry experts to facilitate workshops, roundtables and seminars. Across the festival, artists will develop skills that can assist them in making the practice more rewarding and sustainable, learn about touring and development opportunities, deep dive into ensuring that they are creating accessible and inclusive work – both for audiences and within their ensembles, and most importantly at this difficult time, develop tools for resilience in an uncertain arts and cultural landscape.

Highlight events include:

  • MAKING THE MOST OF THE FRINGE MODEL (Panel Discussion)| Saturday 18 September: 2.00pm
    A panel discussion with Fringe directors from across the country, exploring the Fringe models around the world; unpacking the development, networking and touring opportunities provided by Fringe, tips on how to find the right work for the Fringe model and more.
  • DIVERSITY AND CULTURAL SAFETY ON THE FRINGE (Roundtable) | Saturday 18 September: 4.00pm
    A public discussion exploring how the Fringe model can be decolonised, what do Fringes need to know about working with IBPOC and other disadvantaged artists, and what do IBPOC and other disadvantaged artists need to consider when deciding whether to present in a Fringe?
  • WHAT MORE CAN FRINGE DO FOR YOU? (Roundtable) | Saturday 25 September: 2.00pm
    An industry wide discussion about advocacy and collective action in the sector, Fringe’s place in the NSW landscape, sector frustrations and issues that Fringe can aid in addressing.
  • RESILIENCE: MAKING ART IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD (Roundtable) | Saturday 25 September: 4.00pm
    A discussion with Arts mental health professionals and producers about how artists can use their artistic practices as a mental health practice, find other fulfilling ways to use their skills and make money during shutdowns; and more.