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Melbourne Fringe Festival Kicks Off Its 2021 Program Next Month

Fringe's 2021 program has the culture fix you've been missing with theatre, dance parties, interactive art, cabaret and side-splitting comedy.
By Libby Curran
August 27, 2021
By Libby Curran
August 27, 2021

Life's been a little short on art, performance and general sparkle of late, but that's all set to change next month when Melbourne Fringe Festival returns for a bumper 2021 edition. Yep, not even the relentless threat of lockdown can stop this bad boy from doing its thing. The iconic arts festival is set to host a record 470 events from Thursday, September 30–Sunday, October 17, carefully designed so that a decent chunk of the program can be enjoyed safely regardless of any lockdowns or restrictions.

As Victoria's longest-running multi-arts event, Fringe will this year see over 2500 Aussie artists, designers and performers come together to deliver a jam-packed serve of music, art, theatre, comedy, dance and more. They'll take over venues, stages, galleries and screens all across the state, pushing boundaries and treating locals to a much-needed dose of creative flair. This year's festival is also as committed to accessibility and inclusivity as ever before.

As usual, festival hub Trades Hall will be abuzz with a dazzling offering of performances, dance parties, artist hangouts and pop-up bars, kicking on till late each night. Expect everything from talks and tours, to rollicking K-pop parties.

Taking over Queensbridge Square, you'll catch Matthias Schack-Arnott's immersive public artwork Groundswell — a giant playable instrument that responds to audience interaction with shifting sound and movement, inspired by the global climate crisis. In the CBD, Loop Project Space & Bar will have you tripping between worlds as it plays host to a crew of Taiwan's most groundbreaking virtual reality artists. Pop on a headset and dive into an evening of cocktails, digital art and some wildly immersive VR experiences.

'Multiply', Melbourne Fringe Festival 2020, by William Hamilton Coates

Large-scale musical work Town Choir is set to give the minutiae of everday life a dramatic makeover, as a huge 200-strong outdoor choir shares peoples' intimate experiences and minor observations out loud, in booming four-part harmony. Coburg RSL will be the unlikely setting for an eight-hour dance and karaoke marathon dubbed Crystal Touch, while Beyond Paradise sees an inner-city carpark reborn as a vibrant art playground and skate arena.

Dedicated First Nations-led program Deadly Fringe will serve up a showcase of powerful performances and gallery commissions; including a contemporary jewellery exhibition and a commentary on Australian power dynamics in the form of a self-defence experience. And the festival's cutting-edge furniture exhibition will celebrate its 35th birthday with the new name of Design Fringe, hosting a curation of avant-garde works at the Victorian Pride Centre.

Elsewhere, audiences will be invited to build their own giant cardboard box town for the Polyglot Theatre's We Built This City project; new program Springboard will dish up a slew of world-class circus shows; and a documentary about Fringe 2020's participatory dance event Multiply will screen at ACMI. Plus, the fun continues out of town, as Geelong Arts Centre hosts a pop-up taster of some of the happenings going down at Trades Hall.

Melbourne Fringe Festival 2021 will run from Thursday, September 30–Sunday, October 17. Check out the full program and grab tickets over at the website.

Top Images: 'Real Hot Bitches' Melbourne Fringe Festival 2020, captured by Duncan Jacob. 'YUMMY Deluxe' Melbourne Fringe Festival 2019, captured by Theresa Harrison. 'Cultural Renegades' Melbourne Fringe Festival 2019, captured by Tanya Voltchanskaya. 'We Built This City' 2011, captured by Ponche Hawkes.

Published on August 27, 2021 by Libby Curran


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