Announcing the Recipients of our Open Access Commissions

This year, we are helping more artists than ever before to develop new works for the Festival. Fiercely feminist circus, punk-protest political theatre and a spoken word / dance mash-up about ignorance and racism in Australia – these are just three of the seven new works that Melbourne Fringe has commissioned in 2020.

Deadly Fringe is back and has expanded across art forms to commission both performing and visual artworks by emerging First Nations artists. Featuring Harley Mann (Social Staples, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2018) with Common Dissonance, a contemporary blend of circus, dance and physical theatre work that explores the harmony and dissonance of contemporary Australian reasoning, and Racheal Oak Butler with My Calling, an inter-arts collaboration contrasting spoken word compositions with a cycle of dance and movement. My Calling touches the surface of secrets held within Racheal’s family and the impact of Australia’s ignorance and racism.

Turns out we can’t get enough of circus. For the first time, we’ve teamed up with Circus Oz to present Springboard – a program that commissions four new small-budget circus works (one of which will grow into a mid-budget commissioned work in 2021!) Byron Hutton’s Triptych brings together Australia’s best jugglers to create an original new work exploring the rhythmic and percussive limits of objects in spaces. Samantha Martin’s Girl Who Cried Pain draws on comedy, physical theatre and storytelling to explore Western medicine’s gender bias in chronic pain management. Following the theme of feminist circus, Spenser Inwood will present The Continuing Construction of the Declamatory Space – an inter-generational, no-holds-barred provocation of feminist discourse that tackles the conundrum of presenting women’s bodies in circus while amplifying their voices, opinions and protestations. The final Springboard recipient, Tarah Carey, delves into climate change and environmental distress in Future Proof, a work that vibrates with the danger of being complacent, throwing humanity into a doomsday playpen and daring it to live.

Our brand-new Common Rooms Writers’ Residency is a Fringe initiative that supports an emerging playwright to create a new play in a paid residency at Trades Hall. Generously supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, we are thrilled to announce that James Jackson is the inaugural recipient and will use the residency to develop The Pamphleteers. James’ work delves into the dramatic history of Australia’s Typogrophical Societies and Associations (hang in there with us) and breaks open the relationship between power and the written word to reveal the exploited worker beneath. Perfect for our new home at Trades Hall.

There are other excellent opportunities for artists ahead, with more commission programs and grants to be announced. “Thanks to these programs we are able to support independent artists to take creative risks and commit to dreaming big with their creative projects,” says Melbourne Fringe Head of Programs and Projects Danny Delahunty.

Springboard Recipients

  • Byron Hutton / Throw Catch Collective – Triptych
  • Samantha Martin – Girl Who Cried Pain
  • Spenser Inwood / A Good Catch – The Continuing Construction of the Declamatory Space
  • Tarah Carey / Gravity Dolls – Future Proof

Common Rooms Writers’ Residency Recipient

  • James Jackson – The Pamphleteers

Deadly Fringe Performance Commission Recipients

  • Racheal Oak Butler – My Calling
  • Harley Mann – Common Dissonance