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Fringe Launch Brings Promise Of Sizzle To Dunedin’s Art Scene

Established artists and emerging talent will grace 45 performance and visual arts spaces across Ōtepoti as the Dunedin Fringe Festival celebrates 20 years in 2020. And to mark the Fringe 20th birthday, a high-octane, fun-fuelled street party will help kick off the celebrations in the Octagon.

“Freak in the seats, freak in the streets – we’re bringing fringe flair to the centre of the city and creating something really special for our residents and visitors,” said Festival Director Gareth McMillan.

The street party initiative was announced at the Fringe programme launch at the Petridish shared creative space last night, officiated by Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins, and attended by sponsors, artists and arts lovers.

The one-day event -- involving Fringe performances, buskers and children’s entertainment, ethnic food and entertainment by community groups -- will promote the wider fringe festival, delivering increased economic activity and lending weight to the aspiration that Dunedin is one of the world’s great small cities.

McMillan describes March 21 as the “ideal date” with a perfect alignment of Otago Anniversary weekend, the Crusaders V Highlanders rugby game at the Forsyth Barr stadium, and a cruise ship in port. It’s also international Race Relations Day and the Fringe is partnering with the Dunedin Multi-Ethnic Council and Computer Concepts Limited to share a message of celebrating culture, diversity and inclusion.

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“The high calibre of shows and the sheer range of what’s on offer is helping to turn Fringe in to a destination event which is good for local business and good for tourists,” says McMillan.

The Festival programme features around 75 acts from across New Zealand and around the world from March 19 to 29.

The Polson Higgs Opening Night Showcase on March 18 is another key opportunity for arts lovers to enjoy a smorgasbord of what’s on the artistic menu for the 11 days of the Festival.

This year’s hosts Michele A’Court and Jeremy Elwood will bring their own inimitable styles of comedy to Dunedin after a sell-out tour across the country. Joining them on stage will be other hot-ticket comedians Chris Parker, James Nokise and James Mustapic. Music, queer cabaret, circus and other fringe delights will round out this R16 event.

The Emerson’s Festival Theatre is also back, just two doors from the Octagon and features a top-shelf selection of daily shows from 6 – 8 pm, and late-night comedy Thursday through Saturday nights. Award-winning UK comedian Simon Cain will perform there, fresh from his 5-star sold-out run in the Edinburgh Fringe, along with comic poet Kate Spencer, and Butcher Holler Home We Come direct from New York.

The full Dunedin Fringe Festival programme is available in hard copy and online, and includes other highlights:

  • The New Zealand premier of Eurydice (UK) a searing mix of spoken word and live electronica from the creators of international smash hit Orpheus, and winner of the Best Theatre award at the Adelaide Fringe 2019;
  • Dear Boobs… on Stage produced by Dunedin company Suitcase Theatre, sharing real stories of women affected by breast cancer;
  • Lamentation (Sydney) in which countertenor-actor Glenn McKenzie presents a contemporary-classical chamber chantata exploring the emotional landscape of displacement and homelessness;
  • Nothing (Auckland) in which four actors, four venues and eight characters come together to produce a completely different show every night. All venues are within 10 minutes’ drive of the Octagon and will be shared with attendees only after ticket purchase.
  • For dance, Thursday transforms the Dunedin Railway Station into a scene of high romance and nostalgia in a duet full of grace and drama;
  • Playround 2020 by Dunedin’s Prospect Park Productions brings a selection of works, from the ground up. It involves play-readings-with-breakfast through to full productions, at different times of day, and different stages of script to stage including development showings.
  • The Secret Woodland Circus, an ultra-violet tale old by circus artists swinging and juggling magical puppets, finishing with a circus show.
  • Ōtepoti Hip-Hop hustle, a super-charged line-up of MCs, DJs, dancers and graffiti artists competing in three heats and a final showdown. This high-energy event whanau-friendly involves crowd participation, spot prizes, food and drinks.
  • Dunedin Race Relations Week events organised by the Dunedin Multi-Ethnic Council which will include a presentation by new Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon.

© Scoop Media

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