The Melbourne Fringe Festival is on once again, celebrating independent and emerging artists across the fields of performance, comedy, cabaret, visual art, live art, music, circus and dance. This year's Fringe Fest is the largest one to date, with over 400 performances included in this year's program, spread over 150 venues across the city. With such a packed program, it can be difficult knowing where to start. Well fret not, as we've done the hard yards and selected our picks, plus picked the creative brains of Jayne Lovelock, CEO and Creative Director of Melbourne Fringe. Here are the definitive Top 10 Things to See at Melbourne Fringe Festival 2014.
Jayne Lovelock's Top 5 for Melbourne Fringe
For Lovelock, the most exciting part of the Festival every year is seeing the work that is created and performed. "The best thing about the festival, and the best bit about my job, is I get to see some really amazing work, and new stuff; stuff that surprises you and shocks you or challenges you," she says. "That's what fringe is about in some ways – it's adventurous art, it's dynamic and exciting." Without further ado, here are her picks.
Celebrate the Fringe Fest at the Opening Night Party
OPENING NIGHT PARTY
To get the party started, comedian Gillian Cosgriff will be hosting the opening Melbourne Fringe festivities this year, which will play out like a variety night showcasing work from all of the genres that are performing at this year's festival. "Opening night is definitely a big night for us," explains Lovelock. "The part of Melbourne Fringe that is exciting is that they're all really new contemporary works that haven't been performed before." As well as performances there will be DJs and dancing to get everyone in the festival mood – it is a launch party after all!
In collaboration with Songlines Aboriginal Music Corporation, FLASH! is a night dedicated to showcasing the work of emerging indigenous and Torres Strait Islander performers. "It's the first time we've run FLASH! and we're really pumped about it," says Lovelock. "It's an indigenous cabaret performance night which we've never had in the Fringe Club before and it's about time we had it." Expect comedy, singing, dancing, and plenty of audience participation.
8 FIRST DATES
Hosted by James O'Brien from Melbourne indiepop group, Darling James, 8 First Dates will see eight Melbourne indie musicians will grace the Fringe Club stage to debut a new song. Other musicians dropping in to play you a new track, and sing a few of their other well known ditties, include Jae Laffer (The Panics), J. Walker (Machine Translations), Mikelangelo, Charles Jenkins and Ainslie Wills. "It's a great program because it engages the Melbourne indie music scene in a way that is really different," enthuses Lovelock. "There are some really interesting people performing and you can see them play for free in the Fringe Club, which makes it pretty cool."
While this staple of the Melbourne Fringe Festival is one of the longest running programs, Fringe Furniture never fails to deliver innovative and original designs from local makers. The furniture and object design exhibition is open access, and Lovelock sees this as being a great advantage. "Any artist with a beautiful piece of furniture or a beautiful object can register to be a part of it, and because of this we get really new makers that are doing different and new stuff that hasn't been seen before," explains Lovelock. "There's nothing like it in Melbourne. It's become a real industry platform as well as a really beautiful exhibition, which is exciting."
FRINGE FILM: DIGITAL CREATURES
Fringe Film celebrates its second year running with a diverse program filled with exceptional emerging film talent. Like Fringe Furniture, Fringe Film is an open access program so if you've got a great film, you can be a part of it. "We've got some really great animation work, some really fun narrative pieces, and also some pieces that are quite obtuse and more about the visual," says Lovelock.
Don't miss Fringe Film: Digital Creatures
The Urban List's Top 5 for Melbourne Fringe
We couldn't resist throwing in a few of our own suggestions for this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival. Here are a few performances we'll be heading along to as well.
Ten Melbourne artists have been commissioned to create ten site-specific works all over the city that explore the idea of the Third Place – spaces that are social locations where we interact as a community outside of home and workplace. From audio documentaries to large-scale murals, Uncommon Places gives you plenty to see, hear and interact with. We recommend spending the day to traipse around the city at your own pace and explore them all.
If you're looking to see some mesmerising contemporary dance at this year's Fringe, look no further than Amy MacPherson. SOMA will demonstrate Macpherson's ability as a dancer and contortionist, in an unbelievable and left-of centre performance.
SOMA - one of the most amazing performances at this year's Fringe Fest!
What's not to like about baked goods being delivered to your house accompanied by a song? Book the Flying Tapirs for a performance at your doorstep this Fringe – Cakebombing! will certainly not disappoint.
ROD QUANTOCK – INVITATION TO A REVOLUTION
Arguably one of Australia's greatest political comedians, Rod Quantock is bringing his no holds barred comedy to the Fringe and he's taking aim at the usual political suspects. Viva el Rod!
THE SHUFFLE SHOW
1000 songs. One hour. Impossible you say? We'll see about that. Elena Gabrielle and Grant Busé will take on the mother of all medleys in The Shuffle Show, covering everything from The Beatles to Beyoncé, exploring the darkest corners of your most embarrassing iTunes playlists.
Have a fantastic Melbourne Fringe Festival everyone!
Image Credit: Melbourne Fringe Festival (supplied)