Fringe is back - better than ever

SIBLING POWER: Luke Hanna, pictured, in the dance event eye, at Wesley Church, Taranaki St.
SIBLING POWER: Luke Hanna, pictured, in the dance event eye, at Wesley Church, Taranaki St.

Fire twirling, private dinners, circus tricks, remixed fairytales - this year's Fringe Festival is bigger than ever, and audience participation will have new meaning.

The festival starts on Friday, February 7, and runs until March 2.

In its 24th year, the festival has 121 shows and 700 performances over three weeks, compared to 100 shows and 500 performances last year.

More than 300 performances will be free.

This year audience members can vote in a new Favourite of the Fringe award.

The winning show will receive $5000 and voters can win themselves some goodies as well.

Big themes in this year's festival are romance gone wrong, with 14 shows, and improvisation, with 13 shows.

There are 25 shows at Bats Theatre, seven events in private homes and four magic shows.


Amy Jackman looks at the pick of the offerings from this year's Fringe Festival. 


What to see:

This is the second biggest section, with 21 events. It includes the popular Wellington Improvisation Troupe, and the return of stand-ups Ben Caldwell and Alexander Sparrow. One to look for is international act Famous Sharron with The Fame Game. The show is billed as Who's Line Is It Anyway with sparkles and spandex. It's on at the Gryphon Theatre, Ghuznee St, from February 25 till March 1.

- Returning artist: Vinyl Burns Variety Hour by Kiwi Comedy and Hair of the Dog Productions, Gryphon Theatre, Ghuznee St, February 11 till 16, 8pm, $15. A mash-up of self-deprecating character comedy and circus skills.

- Improv: Sketch-Ual Healing by Jimmy James Eaton and Jason Geary, Gryphon Theatre, Ghuznee St, Feb 26 till March 1, 9.30pm, $20. The Melbourne-based duo bring stand-up and improv to town.

- Don't miss: Bowls Club Jazz by Slow Diagonals, Fringe Bar, Allen St, February 13 till 16, 7pm, Sunday 5pm, $10. Comedy, music and mayhem from two blokes you've probably never heard of.

- Interactive: Bingo With Balls, The PUB, The Terrace, Saturdays 8pm and Sundays 7pm throughout the festival, $15. Comedy, rock 'n' roll and bingo.


The dance section again features Wellington contemporary dance company FootnoteNZ with its new show, Straight Laced. Siblings Fran Olds and Luke Hanna make up the Brothers and Sisters Collective. Their show, eye, examines growth, perception and identity. It's a solo performance with Hanna dancing and Olds writing and directing. It's on at the Old Hall, Wesley Church, Taranaki St, on February 13 and 14. There are seven dance section shows.

What to see:

- Returning artist: Straight Laced by FootnoteNZ, Bats Theatre, Dixon St, March 2 till 8, 9.30pm, $18. Work by Craig Bary about sex and sexuality.

- New: The 'I' Test by Muted Crane Productions, Bats Theatre, Dixon St, February 24 till 28, 6.30pm, $18. An experiment between people, matter and space.

- Don't miss: The Way We Fall by All You Can Eat Productions, Museum of Wellington City & Sea, Queens Wharf, February 26 till 28, 8pm, $15. About the hilarity and horror of falling in, out and over.

- Theatrical: Playing Nicely by Pinwheel Dance Theatre, Bats Theatre, Dixon St, 6.30pm, $18. Girls can do anything, except silly things. See the dancers playing nicely.


What to see:

- The music section has a great range. There's the classical Lines from the Nile, the jazz legend Anita O'Day is bought to life in Jezebel of Jazz, a meditative experience featuring sloths in A Symphony of Sloths and even a show for children.

- Local talent: Rise of the Super Unknowns, Fringe Bar, Allen St, February 11, 18 and 25, 8.30pm, free. A night of original music from Wellington musicians.

- For children: Baby Pops - Back to the Farm by Orchestra Wellington, Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt, and Scots College, February 15 and 16, 3pm, $15. Counting rhymes and compositions for toddlers, including animals and costumes.

- Don't miss: Miss Fletcher Sings the Blues by Cuba Creative and The Bakery, Whitireia Theatre, Vivian St, February 11 till 15, 8pm, $18. An educational musical comedy featuring songs such as Puberty Express.

- Interactive: Sadie Hawkins Sock Hop by Vaudeville Inc, Mighty Mighty, Cuba St, February 28 and March 1, 7pm, $30. Jitterbug the night away to jukebox tunes.


Always the biggest section. This year's 57 shows include three Shakespeare-based works, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Horatio, and Suddenly Shakespeare. The theatre section is also full of romance-gone- wrong shows.

What to see:

- Returning artist: The Bookbinder by Trick of the Light Theatre, Arty Bees Bookshop, Cuba St, February 19 till March 1, 6pm and 7.30pm, $10. Puppetry, magic and beautiful use of light and shadow.

- Family friendly: The 7 Person Chair Pyramid High Wire Act by Der Vorfuhreffekt Theatre, Puppies, Tory St, February 7 till 11, 6.30pm, free. A play about the Yeti, Charles Darwin and electromagnetic radiation.

- Don't miss: They Saw a Thylacine by Sarah Hamilton and Justine Campbell, Bats Theatre, Dixon St, February 5 till 11, 8pm, $20. An acclaimed story of extinction and survival.

- Interactive: Dinner with Izzy & Simon, location given after booking, February 17 till March 2, 7pm, $20. Dinner and a show at Izzy and Simon's house.


This section is the most extreme and has many hidden gems. Any apparatus is fair game for the performers, including washing lines, campgrounds and fountains. Children are bound to love The Fire Within: A Fairy Tale Remix. Most shows are free, with donations welcome.

What to see:

- Lunchtime event: The Fountain Life Guards by The Public Service, Wellington Public Spaces, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the festival, noon till 1pm, free. The pre-eminent duo in fountain or water feature-based life-preserving techniques. Look for them at different public fountains.

- Family friendly: How to Universe by Zane, Degge and Imogen, Wellington Circus Hub, Te Whaea, Hutchison St, Newtown, February 7 till 9, 9pm, $26. Three young performers open the book How to Universe and it's filled with circus skills.

- Don't miss: Catherine Badwind by Catherine Godwin, various Wellington locations, February 15 till March 2, free. Follow weird and wonderful characters on a Wellington adventure.

- Interactive: IQ2 by Future Hotel, The Dowse Square, Lower Hutt, March 1 and 2, between 1pm and 3pm, free. Twenty- minute sound questionnaire and public choreography using wireless headphones.

Visual/digital arts

There are 11 exhibitions and most are on throughout the festival. The Ochre Workshop is an evolving show, Poleconomy takes viewers on a walk around the city, and Films by City Lights screens short films in empty shop windows in Lower Hutt.

What to see:

- Returning artist: Kumutoto Stream by Kedron Parker, Woodward St, February 16 till March 22, free. A soundscape of birds and water.

- Australian: Copy Wildly by Birgit Bachler, Toi Poneke Gallery, Abel Smith St, February 14 till March 8, from 10am, free. A spectacle of internet culture, media interventions and data appropriation.

- Don't miss: The Ochre Workshop by Charlotte Andrew, Lighthouse, Waimapihi Reserve, Holloway Rd, February 28 till March 2, from 10am, free. The rock-drawing exhibition will be added to throughout the session.

- Daytime: The Porn Project by Caleb Gordon, Matchbox Studios, Cuba St, February 16 till March 2, from 10.30am, free. Celebrating the diversity of desires, bodies, sex and erotica.

The Wellingtonian