With over 300 productions across 60 venues covering everything from theatre, music, comedy, cabaret, dance and visual art, the annual Sydney Fringe Festival promises to be better than ever. This year’s program showcases the quirky and alternative culture that Sydney’s arts scene has to offer.
While occasionally the term ‘fringe’ may lend itself to images of esoteric productions held in random back laneways, this year’s new festival director, Kerri Glasscock, is making sure every experience at the festival will be cohesive and illuminating.
“This year we’ve made a concerted effort to partner with other arts organisations and to collaborate more with local artists,” said Ms Glasscock. “We’ve also taken more care in where events are taking place. So while we’re still an open access festival and don’t curate the art, we have curated where everything goes to make sure the right shows are in the right venues.”
As a force of nature in Sydney’s art scene and co-founder of trendsetting underground performance space, Venue 505, it’s important to Ms Glasscock that everyone involved – the venues, the performers and, of course, the audiences – are getting the most out of the festival. After all, festivals like Fringe are vital to Sydney. “It provides local independent artists an opportunity to collaborate with other artists, develop and try out new works, and find new audiences,” said Ms Glasscock, adding that it also gives “small- to medium-sized venues a chance to reach more people.”
Fringe ambassador Ngaiire strongly echoes this sentiment. As an independent soul singer in Sydney, she’s noticed, “most of my gigs have been outside of Sydney, which says to me Sydney needs more platforms to showcase what we have.”
Ngaiire is thrilled to be one of the six ambassadors for Fringe alongside curator Ilan Kidron of The Potbelleez. “A lot of the artists on the bill are people that I’ve watched do the hard slug in Sydney for a long time,” she said. “They’re incredible at what they do, so it’s just nice to have a platform to showcase what Sydney actually has to offer.”
With so many events to choose from, here is our Alternative guide to the best shows at the Fringe. (MT) sydneyfringe.com
Before the Vegas residencies and world tours, before the sold-out gigs and the sordid divorces, long before the all-night mescaline benders and court-ordered rehab, Gigi Fontaine was a young girl living in the shadow of Hollywood’s most bankable silver-screen siren – Fifi Fontaine. Gigi Dearest is an explosive cabaret full of scandals, sauce and songs.
Sep 14, 17, 18 & 21, The Imperial Hotel, 35 Erskinville Rd, Erskinville, $22+bf
A mix of butoh (a form of Japanese dance theatre) and live art production, HIM reflects on the nostalgia of past lovers and loves. Created and performed by Coleman Grehan, his work asks, “How do you remember the one you used to love?” Featuring influences from visual artist Matthew Barney and modern ‘splatter’ artwork.
Sep 24-27, PACT, 107 Railway Pde, Erskineville, $15
Handle It – A One Woman Play
For Gen Y, relationships and sexuality have become inextricably connected to the internet. But what are the impacts of this obsession with social media on our emotional and sexual health? Laura Jackson’s one-woman play (though she plays many characters) confronts this question head on. There’ll be laughs, gasps and many unanswered questions.
Sep 4-6, Tap Gallery, 45 Burton Street, Darlinghurst, $15-20
Edgar Allan Poe is one of the greatest writers of the mysterious and macabre, but as the saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman. In Poe’s case, there were women. Edgar’s Girls will take audiences on a salacious journey where they’ll meet the beautiful ladies who inspired his work. Weaving in letters and writings of Poe himself amongst song, burlesque, and abstract performance art, Edgar’s Girls brings Poe’s work to life.
Sep 17-18, The Vanguard, 42 King St, Newtown, $24
Jade Empress Discovers Australia
Join Jade Empress as she discovers the Aussie outback from crocodiles, tinnies, utes, and the good ol’ meat pie. However, when she meets some of Pauline Hanson’s friends, her adventure takes a dour turn as she wonders if she can still call Australia home. Featuring some reimaginings of classic Aussie songs by Kylie Minogue, AC/DC, The Church, Cold Chisel and many more.
Sep 16-21, Imperial Hotel, 35 Erskineville Rd, Erskineville, $10-15
If you’ve ever been an intern (which in this day and age is likely) or died (which sometimes might feel preferable to interning), you’ll love this show by comedians Shane Addison and Paige Hally. With their deadpan humour and observations on topics like dream catchers, prostitution and hurting children for cheap zoo entry, it’s sure to be a whole heap of fun.
Sep 11-14, Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Rd, Marrickville, $9
Aaron Flower (Guitar) and Oliver Miller (Cello) are part of Sydney’s improvising chamber ensemble Amphibious. For the Fringe Festival, the duo has broken off into their own world, playing everything from Couperin to Gotye. The music promises to be spontaneous, beautiful and expressive.
Sep 7, Old 505 Theatre, 342 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills, $15
BY MELODY TEH