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Melbourne Fringe Unveils Inaugural Common Rooms Program

Common Rooms, Melbourne’s newest venue for independent arts, music and events, has today unveiled the line-up that will hallmark its launch on 8 November at Trades Hall.

Packing a punch, the genre-spanning program will welcome renowned pop dance party Mr. McClelland’s Finishing School back where it all began; stereotype-smashing sex clown and cabaret performer Betty Grumble; Melbourne electronic noise collective, M.E.S.S for Melbourne Music Week; and iconic New York piano bar, Marie’s Crisis, who will bring entertainers Kenney Green and Adam Tilford to Melbourne for a special series of participatory performance events – plus many more. These acts will join a year-round program that includes live music, performances, theatre, comedy, cabaret, dance parties, spoken word and workshops across the 200-capacity venue.

Launching the 2019 program is Mr. McClelland’s Finishing School, a nostalgic pop-trip on the dancefloor celebrating their 11th birthday on 8 November. Expect a huge venue takeover for a special homecoming event which sees Finishing School return to where it all began for them, in partnership with Melbourne Fringe at Trades Hall. Finishing School take to the stage at the venue every fortnight, all year round. Melbourne’s much-loved Soul-A-Go-Go will also appear regularly, rounding-out the monthly program with DJs and bands bringing R’n’B and soul to the dancefloor.

Gather around the Campfire on 13 November for a participatory performance created by artists and audiences to celebrate and share knowledge by telling stories, dancing, singing and creating real community connections.

Melbourne’s best female soul singers unite for Women of Soul on 14 November, featuring artists including Chelsea Wilson and Kylie Auldist, showcasing the diversity of Melbourne female soul musicians across northern soul, gospel, neo-soul, tear jerking ballads and hard-hitting dance breaks.

Popular performance artist Betty Grumble will present Grumble ’N Friends on 15 November, making a great beautiful mess of the evening featuring performances by The Dollar Bin Darlings, local acts and DJs.

Masterful songwriters Broads launch their new album Stay Connected on 16 November – an album that deserves attention; a slippery feeling of sweetness and horror making it one of the most compelling releases of the year. Self-produced Broads have pushed their sound from their acoustic roots into a wider spectrum of colour. With full band in tow plus a range of special guests, Broads are set to bring the album to life in full technicolour for their hometown show.

Melbourne Music Week will take over the venue on 21 November for an electronic sonic speculation all performed by M.E.S.S. members, course alumni and staff, including Robin Fox and Byron Scullin and amazing work from the inimitable Biscotti, the incredible Anuencia and the unbeatable Chiara Kickdrum live with ambient intermissions from the oz electronic music archive.

PLAYlist, produced by Red Stitch Actors Theatre, is a site-specific spectacle combining music and new writing that expands the community of Common Rooms on 23 November. Rub shoulders with actors and musicians in a whole building takeover of intimate words and song.

Melbourne Fringe award winner for Best Cabaret and Best Feminist Work Selina Jenkins will present BOOBS on 26 November, a tale of mammary proportions following one woman and her two boobs through a literal hurricane of life changing events, revealing how her determination unwittingly shakes the very foundations of how we perceive gender, body autonomy and boobs in general.

New York’s iconic queer piano bar Marie’s Crisis is coming all the way to Melbourne in a special pop-up event on 28–30 November, shipping over two of their all-singing piano-playing entertainers: Kenney Green and Adam Tilford just after performing at ELSIE FEST curated by Darren Criss. It’s the chance to limber up your vocal chords for a musical singalong of epic proportions.

Other featured events include iconic Indigenous comedians Aborigi-LOL featuring Dane Simpson and Matt Ford; Bold and Brilliant: Disabled and Deaf Writers a panel discussion in partnership with Writers Victoria to celebrate International Day of People with Disability on 3 December, and a series of hands-on skills development workshops for independent artists in marketing, podcasting and producing.

Simon Abrahams, Melbourne Fringe Creative Director said: “Common Rooms is a new home for the independent arts, bringing the Fringe spirit of rebellion, inclusivity, creativity and great parties to Trades Hall.”

“We’ll be here year-round for one-off and regular events, including comedy, cabaret, spoken word and the best of Melbourne’s iconic independent music scene, and we’ll be working behind the scenes to support our Fringe artists in more ways than ever.”

The vibrant year-round program of performances and events at Trades Hall supports local artists to test their ideas and reach new audiences. In 2020 Common Rooms will host events for a number of boundary-pushing festivals and events, including the likes of Midsumma Festival, Asia TOPA, Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Trades Hall will once again be the Hub for the Melbourne Fringe Festival from 1 to 18 October 2020.

Located in Melbourne’s iconic Trades Hall, Common Rooms is a home for independent artists and people who like to party. Conceived as the physical manifestation of Melbourne Fringe, Common Rooms has been designed to support Melbourne Fringe’s purpose of sparking artistic, cultural and personal discovery for Melbourne and its citizens through arts participation.

Common Rooms is a culturally and physically safe space for our community, including LGBTIQ+, First Nations, Deaf and people with disability, featuring the best emerging and independent artistic talent. A recent renovation has seen the building become fully accessible. Common Rooms: a place where culture and community collide.


Check out the program


Common Rooms
Trades Hall
Corner Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton