A lot has changed in Sydney over the last decade. Lockout laws, venue regulation and the increasing cost of living have all combined to change our city’s cultural life. Sydney Fringe has now been riding that roller coaster for ten years, and has come of age over that period.
Fringe is celebrating its tenth anniversary this September with a program that expands the festival's footprint and continues to invigorate the city with theatre, music, art and performance. Director and CEO Kerri Glasscock says this year feels a little like a homecoming.
“We started in the Inner West in Newtown as a tiny conglomerate of venues wanting to promote that area as an entertainment destination. Well, that job has been done,” Glasscock says.
So while Sydney Fringe is continuing that Inner West focus – much of the festival’s theatre and comedy is in the Inner West, as well as the opening weekend party – it’s also taking over the CBD.
“We’ve always wanted to make a big impact in the CBD but we’ve never had the resources to do it,” Glasscock says. “But now we’re ten years in and we’ve had some really rapid growth over the last few years.”
That puts the festival in the perfect position to highlight what’s happening around the city and attract even more artists from around the country and the world to connect with local audiences in new and exciting ways.
“Sydney has awesome creatives who are operating year round despite, and in spite of, negative narratives that our city is dead. There are great pockets in our city that are thriving.”
Need theatre that won't break the bank? Check out our tips for scoring cheap tickets in Sydney.
Key venues and precincts
Sydney Comedy Festival run a program of indie shows here under the banner ‘Fringe Comedy’, taking over just about every nook and cranny of the building. It’s a good chance to catch names you’ve never heard of as well as regulars trying out new show material – for between $10-$15 in most cases.
Old 505 is an artist-run performance space located in the upstairs ballroom of the former Newtown School Of Arts. This year the theatre is a hub for touring artists from around Australia and the world. The program is massive too – there are five shows a night for the first two weeks.
Sydney Fringe is transforming Erskineville Town Hall again into a hub for local emerging and early career artists making daring work. It's your go-to place to see new Sydney talents, and even features a free interactive theatrical event: World's Best Worst House Party.
There are heaps of free events at the Rocks every weekend in September, including performances, circus workshops, singalongs and even the chance ot make your own instrument. One of our fave shows at this year's Fringe, Speed The Movie, The Play, is taking up residence at the Rocks.
The 120-year-old grand dame of Sydney CBD clubs is getting a makeover for Fringe with performances every night. You'll find the Archie Rose Cabaret Club in the kitschy Omega Lounge, and there are big parties taking over the entire venue.