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Stretch Yourself

Limber up folks, Darwin Fringe Festival is back and biting! With over 150 innovative, hyper-entertaining shows – expanding your horizons, and imagination, is what it’s all about.

By Anna Dowd

Due to developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fringe team has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 Darwin Fringe Festival. Read the full statement here

Have you ever seen a circus performer do something called Iron Jaw? Or watched someone dance to Western classical music inspired by Hindu temple sculptures in the nude?

MetamorphosisWe haven't either! That’s what the Darwin Fringe Festival is for – a chance for artists, producers and audience members to create, appreciate and stretch themselves in all the best ways.

Festival Director Hannah Illingworth says there’s most definitely something in the program for everyone, with new and cutting-edge shows spanning theatre, circus, dance, physical theatre, music, comedy, spoken word, cabaret and visual arts.

“We’ve been on for a few years, so artists really know how they can use Fringe to try something new. The opportunity to entertain ideas, entertain yourself and explore yourself is just a unique thing that the festival provides.”

Playwright Hanada Ghazala’s solo show Baklava and Balaclavas is a shining example of the artistic incubator that is Darwin Fringe – with baklava, in all it’s layered honey and pastry glory, served to audience members to boot.Baklava and Balaclava

“She did a comedy work with us a few years ago,” says Illingworth, “but this is her first ever full theatre show. It’s an important, brilliant story talking about how, according to the world, she is too Australian to be Egyptian and she’s too Egyptian to be Australian.” 

In the spirit of firsts, the program includes everything from an 80-year-old comedian with a set about Viagra to EP launches by local musicians and the stunning burlesque crew Fan Fatale up from Alice Springs.

Darwin dancer, aerial performer and first time producer Samantha Tran is another artist who’s taken all kinds of creative leaps this year, thanks to the Fringe-y inspiration and support on offer.

“In the show I’m curating I’ve tried to gather up some of the best performers in Darwin, all incredible in terms of their particular styles – break dancing, drag, contemporary, aerial hoop. It’s a circus and dance show in one, with a personal, storytelling touch.”

Tran says it’s always been a dream of hers to run her own show. She thought she’d start by joining in on someone else's, but drummed up her courage, and decided to dive straight in.

“I used to choreograph random dances just at home by myself, I’d record and watch back. I thought, ‘Wow, I’d love to perform this, but where? How?’ Then I saw the advertisement pop up to apply for Fringe and I thought, ‘Why not bring my creative vision to life?’ ”

She says the experience has been amazing so far, with support and encouragement from the Fringe family, and bucket loads of learning.

“Ultimately, I hope the show is inspiring, empowering and makes people really feel something.

“I think the Fringe can really break us out of our normal routines, and the habits we have that become mundane.

“I’d encourage everyone to go see something exciting, or something funny, or something you’ve just never seen before. Literally just open up the program, dive in, and stretch yourself!”

Darwin Fringe Festival
FRI 2 – SUN 11 JUL (cancelled)

Header & thumbnail: Fan Fatale. Photo: Kate La Grecs, 2018. Photograph taken on Arrernte country
Top: Metamorphosis
Bottom: Baklava and Balaclava

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