Week one highlights of fun, fearless and fabulous shows at Melbourne Fringe Festival

Melbourne Fringe Festival is upon us for a two-and-a-half-week celebration of independent art, made in the most impossible circumstances. The Festival runs 12-29 November and here’s just a few highlights the first week has in store:

Shake off the isolation blues and kick off with Fringe’s banging Opening Night PartyPush the couches to the wall, crank out the fairy lights and get ready to party, Fringe-style. It’s also NAIDOC week, and Melbourne Fringe has partnered up with YIRRAMBOI to curate an incredible all First Nations line-up of back-to-back performance art from some of Melbourne’s best independent makers, including rapper Deejai and vocalist Breanna Lee, Arrernte drag artist Stone Motherless Cold, electro-tribal pop duo The Merindas and energetic dance floor icon DJ Soju Gang. 12 November

For those missing the fun of meeting mates at the Festival Hub before or after a show, head into the Virtual Foyer where festival-goers can rub (virtual) digital shoulders with one another; chat about Fringe shows, or just hang out and explore. Create an avatar, grab a drink, and mingle with the Fringe community virtually. 12-29 November.

Remember at the start of lockdown we said we’d make sourdough, learn Spanish, and knit next winter’s wardrobe? Let’s be honest – we didn’t. But don’t worry, because Tell Me Something I Don’t Know brings together some of Melbourne’s adventurous creatives to help us upskill. For five minutes each day of the Festival, a different Fringe artist will teach something new, from dance and make up lessons to how to reverse park. Featuring Ivan Aristeguieta, Clementine Ford, Jude Perl, Geraldine Quinn, Malia Walsh and more. 12- 29 November. 

The first events in the Fringe Focus Taiwan series, Something About Skin, sees choreographers and dancers Lee Tsung-Hsuan and Chang Chien-Hao in a duet between man and machine. Watch this one-of-a-kind contemporary dance piece direct from their loungerooms to yours – through the eyes of a moving camera on a robotic vacuum. 12-13 November.

Experience New York’s weird cabaret underbelly that’s not often seen outside of the Big Apple, with MacábaretInspired by a 1920’s fortune teller’s shop in New York, Macábaret invites Melbourne audiences to peer through Zoom into a dusty crystal ball and see a variety of acts filled with spooky, strange, silly and downright sinister spirits. Acts never seen in the light of day – performing until 8am in NYC for a Melbourne, Australia night-time audience. 13-27 November.

Feeling like 2020 can get in the bin? Check out Trash Talk by the multi-award-winning cabaret dynamo Tash York. After a year where the bin has literally been out more than she has, Trash Talk is ready to take the stage after a socially distant year of stewing in her own thoughts. 12-15 November.

The way we engage with the world and connect with others has changed overnight; Project Intimacy is a two-week long pervasive experience which aims to combat isolation and form new connections with people around the globe. This is a durational experience that will see participants receive one text per day from a stranger somewhere in the world, and each text will offer suggestions, conversation starters and tasks to complete. 15-28 November.

Writer, director, producer, performer and indecisive lady Maeve Marsden hosts a mixed bag of artists, writers, comedians and musicians for an experiment in intimate entertainment, ready to deliver story, song and catharsis for Queers on the Fringe. Charmingly chaotic, with a pocket full of heart, wit and rage, Maeve will draw on her work as

a theatre maker, curator of Queer stories, creator of award-winning cabaret and improviser of terrible dad jokes, to offer up the unexpected, equal parts playful, personal and political. 9-15 November. 

Such Is Now – Isolation Diorama Project 2020 is an installation by Australian contemporary artist, Jacqui Stockdale. It is a peep show for all ages, painted on the window of the Rose Chong Costumiers shop. As a direct response to lockdown in Melbourne, in March this year Stockdale started making miniature versions of her recent solo exhibition based on the re-telling of the Ned Kelly myth. She placed them in hand made dioramas based on Mexican folk art. 12- 29 November.

A Red Square jams nostalgic narratives, cartoons, and cultural taboos into a semi-biographical PowerPoint about the life of a red square. A USB is delivered to your home. Your name is on the envelope. Inside is a hilarious, touching, filthy f*ck storm of a story. 14-29 November. 

Get ready to spin that wheel in Fringe Roulette with award-winning musical comedian and ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ starGillian Cosgriff. Odds are you’re in for a treat with a rotating line-up of mini snippets, tid-bits and tasty morsels from across the festival. Performances from Anna Lumb, Jonathan Homsey, Eliza Hull, Harry Clayton-Wright, Gracieuse Amah and more! Coming to Club Fringe at Home on 15 November.

Also coming to Club Fringe at Home is Fringe-O-Vision, where artists from across Melbourne battle it out for their suburbs in a Eurovision-esque performance spectacular. Featuring the likes of Lou Wall (representing Carlton), Two Little Dickheads (for Fitzroy), Juniper Wilde (South Yarra) and Scout Boxall (Coburg). Hosted by Die Roten Punkte’s Otto & Astrid.14 November.   

Dazza and Keif Go Viral in Space with Ya Mum (pictured right) sees the duo become intergalactic heroes who are going to save the world, starting by being the first blokes to breakdance on the moon. 13-15 November.

If taking in all these shows works up a thirst, Fringe-goers can visit the Fringe VCR Bar and order drinks to be delivered direct to their doors within two-hours. The Fringe VCR Bar is powered by Diggin’ In The Cellars, and open between midday and 9pm every day of the Festival.

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.