Established artists and emerging talent will grace 45 performance and visual arts spaces across Otepoti as the Dunedin Fringe Festival celebrates 20 years in 2020.
And to mark the Fringe’s 20th birthday, a high-octane, fun-fuelled street party will help launch 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,” festival director Gareth McMillan said.
The street party initiative was announced at the Fringe programme launch at the Petridish shared creative space on Wednesday night, February 12, 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 described March 21 as the “ideal date”, with a perfect alignment of Otago Anniversary weekend, the Crusaders v Highlanders rugby game at 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.
“The high calibre of shows and the sheer range of what’s on offer is helping to turn Fringe into a destination event, which is good for local business and good for tourists,” McMillan said.
The festival programme features about 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 a 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 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 6and late-night comedy from Thursday through Saturday nights.
Award-winning UK comedian Simon Cain will perform there, fresh from his five-star sold-out run in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 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.