Art crosses cultures, languages and borders at the Melbourne Fringe Festival

In a year that has kept us all very close to home, the Melbourne Fringe Festival is crossing national and international borders with a curated program of work from Taiwan, as well as a bumper line-up of shows and artists from diverse backgrounds. 34% of the performers in the 2020 Melbourne Fringe Festival identify as culturally and linguistically diverse, presenting works that take us on around-the-world journey with Benin, Aotearoa, Bangkok, New Delhi, Venezuela, Colombia, Taiwan and Turkey just some of the stops on the way. Performances will traverse continental divides while speaking to this very city – talking of the jarring disconnect we all find ourselves in in a COVID-19 world of distancing and closed borders.  

For the first time, Melbourne Fringe and the Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan) present Fringe Focus Taiwan – an exciting digital program of world-class art and performance direct from Taiwan. This new international collaboration is a coming-together across borders, inviting audiences from all backgrounds to explore art from around the world, right from their living rooms.


Something About Skin (pictured right) is a bold new work by choreographers and dancers Lee Tsung-Hsuan and Chang Chien-Hao. This spectacular contemporary dance piece sees the artists in a duet between man and machine –  streamed to audiences through the eyes of a moving camera on a robotic vacuum. 12-13 November.

Transhumanism: A Fair – Following a massive hit season at the 2020 Taipei Arts Festival, artists Sean Chou, Chen Yu-Dien and Wei Wang invite guests to witness the extraordinary in Transhumanism: A Fair. Discover the power of hypnosis, illusion, mind-expanding games and body manipulation as these world-class artists discuss, play and experiment, delving deeper into the world of illusion. Presented in Mandarin with English subtitles. 19-21 November.

In Is(o)Land Bar: Cloud, guests can join artists from Taiwan and South East Asia for an  intimate digital interaction over a drink in cyberspace. Visitors may experience a tarot reading, be guided in meditation or discuss deep personal truths over a cocktail. Just like a real bar, other guests will be enjoying Is(o)Land Bar in artist conversations, or just watching as a voyeur and taking it in. 25-28 November.

Fringe Focus Taiwan is supported by The Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan) and Cultural Division, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Sydney.

Kwabo means “welcome” in Fon, a dialect from Benin. Beyond its literal meaning, Kwabo From Benin encompasses the welcoming spirit of guests by members of the villages in both Togo and Benin. Kwabo from Benin is a five-day series of interactive workshops that culminate in a final ceremony. The three art forms are Afrodance (modern African dances), spoken word; writing and visual arts. The purpose of the project is to create a safe space for healing and coming together as a community. Created and directed by Gracieuse Amah and featuring Tariro Mavondo, Atong Atem, Wendy Swiss and Gracieuse Amah. 16-21 November.

Yes we Tan! (pictured left) Sunanda is a New Delhi born, Bangkok queer comedian who moved to Melbourne last year. Sunanda won Magner’s Big V competition in 2016 in Bangkok and has performed in over 15 cities around the world. Sam is a Venezuelan migrant and frustrated engineer, who’s been in Australia for the last 10 years, and become a regular at Melbourne open mics since 2019. Together they talk about their multicultural identities, sex, and the expectations of women. 11-20 November. 

Palmar is an acoustic duo formed by a couple from Bogota, Colombia. Featuring the soulful vocals of Isabella and beautiful harmonies and energetic guitar of Juan, Palmar’s music shares their Colombian folk roots, fusing rhythms and languages that identify Palmar’s sound. The duo brings their Colombian influence to genres such as R&B, pop, tropical and funk. 22 November

In a collaboration between Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Australian artists, Let Fall (pictured right) is a trio between the camera, dancer and musician. Let Fall invites guests to take a breather from the stresses of everyday life and be immersed in a moment of serenity with Jareen Wee (NZ Fringe award-winning “Flying Down Sand Dunes). Accompanied by a mesmerising soundscape by Anita Clark. 26-29 November

Muse 90401is a one-woman show written by, and starring, internationally acclaimed actress Fadik Sevin Atasoy. Ingenious, humorous and bold, this non-stop tour de force re-envisions the lives of famous women from art and literature, giving new voices to the likes of Anna Karenina, Cleopatra and Mona Lisa. Once described as “The Meryl Streep of Turkey”, Fadik Sevin Atasoy is an award-winning actress and activist. Her post-modern musical Muse 90401 has toured across Turkey and the USA, and made its UK debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 11-27 November.

To view the full list of events on sale now, head to melbournefringe.com.au.  

Melbourne Fringe empowers anyone to realise their right to creative expression through the Melbourne Fringe Festival, year-round venue Fringe Common Rooms and a range of sector leadership programs. For 2.5 weeks each year, the Melbourne Fringe Festival allows audiences to discover the unexpected with art being made and created across the city in theatres, galleries, venues, public spaces, homes, studios and everywhere in between. Its open access framework means that anyone can register to be part of the Festival, bringing voices from the margins and amplifying them across the city. Melbourne Fringe believes that access to arts and creativity are fundamental rights, and encourages artistic participation through large scale public artworks, experimental children’s art, design exhibition Fringe Furniture, Fringe Common Rooms at Trades Hall and late-night Club Fringe programming. Melbourne Fringe keeps access and inclusion at its heart, actively working to remove barriers to participation and develop artists skills through First Nations commissioning program Deadly Fringe, Deaf and Disability arts programs, mentorships, workshops, residencies, forums, awards and touring support. 

Melbourne Fringe Festival                                                                 

12-29 November 2020

melbournefringe.com.au