Bumper Fringe line up defying the odds

·2-min read

Bucking the dispiriting trend of postponements and cancellations, Melbourne Fringe Festival organisers promise the 18-day event will go ahead even if COVID-19 lockdowns continue.

But they won't be flouting any health orders - more than 10 per cent of the festival can be experienced digitally, outdoors or in a COVID-safe environment.

Launching the program on Friday, festival creative director Simon Abrahams said he and his team had always imagined the 2021 iteration would be a mix of digital and in-person events.

"Because of the great success of last year's almost entirely digital festival, we know our artists can make extraordinary online events and that they increase accessibility too," Abrahams said.

"No matter what, there will be a festival because the online events can definitely happen, and we are crossing our fingers that we'll be allowed to do the rest too."

If fortune smiles on Victoria, this will be the largest Fringe Festival to date, with more than 2500 artists, actors, comedians, musicians, dancers and DJs performing across 460 events.

If it doesn't, audiences anywhere can still experience 40 events digitally, including LuisVision, a virtual-reality entertainment package sent to homes.

Construct the enclosed cardboard headset, rest a smartphone in it and follow the link to a VR show filled with "catchy music, dance lessons and beautiful cats", hosted by American YouTuber Luis Mercado.

Digital offerings in theatre and dance include Same Same 2.0, an online piece performed live by members of No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability in Australia and Theatre Today in Singapore.

Nearly 12 per cent of registrations for this year's festival came from deaf and disabled artists, and Abrahams said he is proud of the program's diversity and its contributions from deaf and disabled, First Nations and LGBTQ performers.

"Our team has worked to make a festival full of impactful, beautiful and revelatory art for audiences to discover," he said.

"We want to give Melburnians something positive to look forward to - we think they've earned it."

Fully refundable tickets are on sale for all events which start from September 30.

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