Melbourne Fringe Festival

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A woman wearing a leopard print tracksuit and slippers reclining on a plush pink armchair. She is looking at the camera while holding a half eaten croissant and a pink, old-fashioned cord telephone to her ear
Photograph: Theresa Harrison

Time Out says

Melbourne's annual open-access arts festival launches a dynamic program to counter the woes of 2020

Every year, the Melbourne Fringe Festival makes jaws drop and eyes widen across the city with its out-there line-up of theatre, comedy, art, music and events. It's Melbourne at its weirdest and one of the best ways to get a feel for the city's cultural underbelly. 

In a year that has brought the city's arts industry to its knees, Fringe is proving to be the little festival that could. Melbourne Fringe returns to the city this November with a program of events that show punters exactly how to experience arts while being safe (physically safe – artistically, Fringe artists are known to push boundaries and take risks). 

The 2020 festival will work with current health restrictions to present a program of more than 200 events. Shows will be presented digitally, over the phone, on social media, behind glass and (restrictions permitting) outside and in-person. 

Fans of Club Fringe will be pleased to know that the regular art and performance party will return. Last year the hub was based out of Trades Hall for the first time – this year, it'll be online for the first time, with organisers encouraging at-home revellers to push back the furniture, create a dancefloor and party on with a stack of music, drag, art and performances throughout the festival. If you only see it the once, make sure you see it the night of the launch party (Nov 12) where Fringe teams up with Yirramboi for a NAIDOC week special featuring DJ Soju Gang and The Merindas.

Other festival highlights include Dial an Artist (call the hotline any day during the festival and an artist on the other line will solve your problem), A Rain Walk (where a downloadable audio tour will take you on a stroll while raining), Come Have a Bath With Me? (Perth cabaret star Tomás Ford invites guests to literally have a bath as he performs from his bath over Zoom) and Multiply – possibly Fringe's most ambitious event this year, where choreographer Stephanie Lake is encouraging ordinary Melburnians to take part in a mass contemporary dance project. 

For more recommendations, check out Time Out's top events for Melbourne Fringe Festival 2020.

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