Fringe brings a touch of magic to city

If you go down to the woods today you might see drag queen Ophelia Butt and Fringe fairy Kylie Bamford getting ready for Mount Gambier’s Fringe Festival – which starts tomorrow.

Enchanted creatures and mythical beings are preparing to converge on the Blue Lake city for the annual Fringe festival, after a two year hiatus. More than 60 events will be held across 20 venues during the 10 day festival, shining a spotlight on the region’s creativity.

This year’s festival boasts events for all ages and encourages the community to decorate homes and businesses to celebrate the event.

Fringe Mount Gambier returns tomorrow, launching a 10 day festival which sees more than 60 events occurring in over 20 venues across Mount Gambier and surrounding districts. After the 2020 festival was cancelled due to the breaking pandemic, the Fringe team decided that 2021 would see the return of the festival in a modified ‘mini’ format.

However, the response to the open callout from artists and venues has been anything but mini, as restrictions continue to ease and confidence returns to the hospitality landscape.

One of the casualties of the 2020 festival cancellation was ‘Experience Fringe’ which was set to see a combination of live music, dance and visual arts take place at Fringeland in the Cave Gardens. This free event has become a much-loved staple of Fringe Mount Gambier festivals and returns this weekend, albeit in a different format.

Festival committee spokesperson Talie Teakle urged everyone to come and ‘Experience’ Fringe across three venues, the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre, Cave Gardens and the Mount Gambier Showgrounds. “It will kick off with local artist Anthony Hamilton leading a live painting session at the Twilight Markets on opening night,” she said. “Be sure to wear appropriate clothes if you want to get messy with paint to help the giant Fringe robot come to life.”

On Saturday Fringe takes over the Sir Robert Helpmann theatre with musicians from the region. “Home Grown” consists of two events that see experienced musicians sharing the stage with the next generation; including rising stars Chelsea Manor, the acclaimed Matt James, Stokes, Torsten Gustavsson, Electric Consciousness, Skyline Haze, Yawuri/ Aunty Penny, Charlie Andrews, Immy Rose and comedians including local Maisie Hart.

There will be demonstrations of Kingspray Graffiti done in virtual reality and the “Linger ‘til Dawn” virtual dance. In 2020 Sydney choreographer Cass Mortimer Eipper (Sydney Dance Company / QLD Ballet) came to Mount Gambier to create an original dance work with some of the region’s many talented young and aspiring professional dancers, “Linger ‘till Dawn”.

Due to the pandemic this performance did not occur. Fortunately, the final rehearsals were captured on film and audiences can enjoy this incredible original work on the Sir Robert Helpmann screen as part of Experience Fringe.

Ms Teakle said the Cave Gardens would feature a showcase of community dance. “There will be an eclectic array of dance from much-loved hip hop dancers Anton & Espoir, ballerinas, rock ’n’ rollers to highland, contemporary dancers to belly dancers, cultural dance and more,” she said.

Ms Teakle said the festival would comply with COVID capacity restrictions and therefore even free events may require registration.

Visit www.fringemountgambier.com.au to learn about the festival and see the entire Fringe OUT program.

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