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Fringe Benefits

Since the 80s, Darwin Fringe Festival has championed local and visiting artists across a wide range of genres, showcasing their talents to hungry arts lovers. In exciting news, after a couple of turbulent years, Darwin Fringe is back. With bite.

By Kate Conway

ACROSS 10 ART-FILLED days this month, venues across Darwin come alive with Darwin Fringe’s wacky and wonderful flavour. Whet your appetite with everything from flamenco to comedy and magicians to mermaid trip-hop dub, this year’s smorgasbord the first full program since 2019.

Understandably, the impact of dismantling last year's Fringe at the eleventh hour has lingered in the back of the Fringe team minds. But true to the ethos of Fringe, the focus is on supporting artists.

“We are just really hopeful and excited we get the opportunity to even consider supporting artists at the moment, and we are wanting to match their energy and trust in what they have been doing,” says Darwin Fringe Director Hannah Illingworth.

“Artists have been working really hard to build some really cool stuff, and we are hoping we can do that justice.”

Ongoing support from Brown's Mart allows Fringe to continue to be community open-access, giving everyone the opportunity to share their work. The wide ranging program is curated in a thoughtful and intentional manner, ensuring accessibility for artists that might not normally have the opportunity to share their creativity..

“We don’t have many venues in Darwin, so getting access to a theatre as an emerging artist is an extremely costly experience, but it is worth it. For us, it’s about bridging that gap a little bit and helping them.

“When it comes to programming Fringe, we come in with a fresh slate, and we try to build Fringe to reflect what’s actually happening in the community. There are so many different voices and experiences that we want to share,” says Illingworth.

Fringe BenefitsTaking inspiration from the artists and local creative community to inspire this year’s program, the Fringe also considers its audience, providing a choose-your-own-adventure style calendar to cater for all Fringe devotees.

“We don’t have just one person in mind when we program – we are trying to make something for everybody and, at the same time, reflect our audiences who we know are with Fringe already.

“We try to make it a really unique experience for people, not so much to shape their experience, but to allow people to create their own experience. There is no one right way to do things!”

Whether a raucous social party is your jam or an intimate outdoor workshop is more your style, Fringe is bursting at the seams with plenty of performances for audiences to pick and choose from. Some artists are in cahoots, combining their different art forms and mediums for a multi-layered creative experience.

See through the lens of local photographer Migoy backed by a custom made beat tape, spun live by Kuya James, in Pics and Beats from the Larrakia Streets, while a mix of different art forms combine in Clock On Clock Off to portray the struggles of ADHD.

Always a hit, comedy gigs repeatedly draw a crowd at Fringe, and this year is no different. With over a third of the program in the comedy genre, the Haha Comedy Garden is a festival within the festival, dishing out nine nights of laughs for stand-up fans.

“I think comedy is one of the most accessible forms of storytelling. It’s very supported here in Darwin, and that can be seen in the Fringe program because there are continuously new comedians. It’s something people in Darwin love, they love listening to a story, hearing themselves in a story and having a laugh."

So take a bite out of Darwin’s super juicy arts scene, check out what has been incubating over the last two years, and do your bit to support emerging artists.

Darwin Fringe Festival

Thumbnail & inset: Photo: Paz Tassone
Taste Her – The Church of the Clitori, Photo: Keziah Sugarat

Photo: Paz Tassone


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