And that was all they wrote… We can’t tell you how weird it was to run a festival post pandemic. However we can tell you about some of the great things that happened!
HIGHLIGHT ~ WELCOME TO COUNTRY
On Saturday July 4th, Larrakia Elder Aunty June Mills guided members of the public through an intimate Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony in Civic Park. It seemed only right to light a second cleansing fire to process some of the pain, confusion and sorrow that is currently surrounding our lives. The second fire was ignited by a year already full of unruly bushfires, an upheaval of the world we knew and the dire need for our society to stop ignoring the inequalities that we feed. This year we wanted to sit a bit more. To sit together under the trees with the wind and to know that we are here.
A huge thanks to Aunty June Mills and her grandson for cleansing us as we properly entered into the festival and for allowing the Darwin Fringe to continue presenting your stories and culture. The afternoon was captured and documented all thanks to Pete Garnish and Rick Knight, you can check this out via our youtube.
SELL OUT COMEDY NIGHTS
Can Territorians get enough comedy? Pre COVID19 we had already teamed up with Dom’s Bar & Lounge to program 5 full nights of back to back laughs. After restrictions lifted the incredible Will Crawford reached out as he was determined to help make something possible. And thanks to another 6 local funny people we were able to present 1 night of stress relief worthy lols!
Conceptually it was a tight fit creating a performance space and seating in the old Aralia St Arcade but it was an incredibly special night for the scene and our community. Everyone performed extremely well and presented beside a local grocer which can only really happen at a Fringe Festival. We heard jokes about Bunnings from every angle of the spectrum and about the weirdly surprising difficulty that can come with pointing out racism. There was sass, some raw truth and a few things you wouldn’t want the neighbours to over hear.
Shoutout to emerging comedians Shalom Kaa, Darren McCallum, Kelly Gulliver, Garry O’Sullivan, Micah Kickett and Danica Jenner for stepping up to the stage. And if that wasn’t enough Dom and the crew were incredible assuring that everyone had tasty drinks and fresh popcorn all evening.
We’d also like to stop and congratulate the Deadly Darwin Comedy Crew for hosting two back-to-back weekends of sell out shows in Brown’s Mart Theatre. Two of these shows were hosted during the Fringe and it’s just incredible to see the continued thirst for local laughs in our community!
On the first night of the festival four exhibitions launched which included two youth shows that presented 60 new works by emerging creatives aged between 12-25. Both exhibtions were initiatives that were specifically designed to be a part of the 2020 Fringe Festival. There was also an incredible textile collection that paid Ode to Cracker Night and the showing of Pandamonia which featured works by local visual artists done during the lockdown.
We couldn’t run a Darwin Fringe without highlighting another four exhibitions that were open around the city as well as pointing out a brand new piece that was painted for the Darwin Street Art Festival. For us, programming this year’s festival was all about highlighting that there is always amazing things happening in our community year round and that there’s always artists producing something new.
Overall close to 150 artists had work on display in 8 locations during the 10 days of Darwin Fringe alone. And that’s just the shows that we highlighted! A huge range of mediums and implications were made. Ideas were suggested and we were able to explore our own understanding of the world by exploring various different spaces.
Hug congratulations to every artist that exhibited.
DISCUSSIONS & WORKSHOPS
Thanks to Corrugated Iron we were able to start off with a workshop that helped participants through the initial writing of a potential show. Fringe doula Kyle Walmsley walked creatives through resourcing from what you have to constructing an idea into something real. Darwin Community Arts offered up a unique opportunity to do some ceramic painting and we had local all round talent Felicity Wardle run two weird Witches and Wizards yoga sessions for those who just needed more of a moment to breathe. All the whilst looking fabulous in costume.
Liz Archer from Artback NT hosted an intimate zoom session early in the week that looked at Touring the Territory. How to do it, who you can talk to and how things will be during the new normal. The eclectic Darwin Free University community came forward and hosted two separate events that included Art in the Time of Survival and a comedy debate about politics in the NT. There were laughs, disagreements and Donald Trump even showed up at some point.
We stopped on Thursday to host an Industry Speed Dating Session which included sharing a draft resource that we are slowly developing that acts as a road map to who’s who in Top End arts. This was followed by a 2021 Artist Info session and some Drag Queen Bingo down at the Deck Bar. The final weekend offered up a moment for reflection and inspiration with some Artist Networking and Post COVID chats in Civic Park. Hosted by Scott Gooding and then The Art Oracle, these 2 different sessions were extremely usefull for local creatives looking for connection.
ISOLATION PERFORMANCE & CLOSING EVENT
On the closing night of Fringe we created a unique, super cute community stage in our green home that is Civic Park. On the stage local performers Sarah Rueben, Kyle Walmsley and Scott Gooding took us through some frustrations and allowed the audience to chuckle about the previous few months. There was crowd participation, a pop-up group sing along that even we weren’t prepared for and one special, kind of dodgy award.
Usually we would give out almost 20 golden crocodiles except this year we gave out only one and that was to Kyle Walmsley who submitted the most ever Fringe applications for one festival! Unbeknownst to most of the community Kyle entered 4 applications for the 2020 program and was included in another making the total: 5. For us this is a mammoth effort (especially considering that they were submitted on time) and we wanted to highlight, and celebrate this with you all as we look towards the future.
There were at least 55 local shows programmed for the hub this year when we pulled the plug which makes us soooooo excited for the future that is a 2021 Darwin Fringe festival. Thank you to all who supported this year’s Fringe and to those who were a part of it. To Brown’s Mart Theatre for continuing to give us a home, emotional support and infrastructure to create magic. To the City of Darwin and LAUNCH Darwin for their financial support of local independent arts. To Off The Leash and ABC Darwin for spreading the good word. To venues who gave us space to explore our own potential and take new creative risks.
There were some amazing people including Bill, Jasmine, Kat, Courtney, Jo, Nick, Jane, Carmen, Claire, Cindy, Belinda, Kacie, Thom, Paz and others who helped out around the sites to make sure that everyone had a lovely experience. You guys were everything! Special mention as well to our two home grown techs Tiff and Asher. Also shoutout to the Happy Yess who assured that you had somewhere safe to party during the festival with 3 nights of groovin tunes and First Nations magic. As well as the DCA Out Rural group who hosted a women’s art making session over cups of tea and Babes Paint darwin who have created the space to learn about spray painting.
Keen to take home some of the 2020 beast? You can still get a limited edition shirt or donate to our From the Fringes campaign.
Stay weird xoxo Darwin Fringe
IMAGE credit Hannah Illingworth, Beth Caird, Darwin Community Arts, Paz Tassone and Kacie Austin.