Melbourne Fringe will present a digital festival from its Fringe Common Rooms venue at Trades Hall at the end of the month, in addition to the annual Melbourne Fringe Festival in November. The inaugural VCR Fest (Virtual Common Rooms Festival) will take over screens from 31 July – 2 August, bringing Fringe Common Rooms to life online while the venue is closed to the public.
This three-day event will showcase the provoking, inspiring and entertaining work being made by the likes of Zoë Coombs Marr, Cry Club, Joel Bray, Marie’s Crisis and more. Presented on a newly created digital platform, VCR Fest will feature an interactive digital foyer and a choose your price format payable at the end of the performance to create a unique online experience.
Programmed and presented by Melbourne Fringe, VCR Fest promises inclusive, ground-breaking performances; exciting and inspiring conversations; fresh and fun live music; and some seriously sweaty dance parties where everyone is welcome.
VCR Fest is designed to recreate the live experience of attending a show, including audiences debriefing with their fellow attendees (via a lively chat room function) and live event recommendations from other artists. A portion of the program will be live-streamed direct from Fringe Common Rooms at Trades Hall, with extensive hygiene and distancing measures in place on site for artists and staff. Other events will beam in from greater Melbourne, interstate and as far away as New York.
“Somehow, we are creating not one, but two festivals this year,” said Simon Abrahams, Melbourne Fringe Creative Director and CEO. “We are responding to an urgent need to create, present and consume art, and so that means making two festivals this year. VCR Fest celebrates the values of our home at Trades Hall – solidarity, rebellion and collective actions – things we need now, more than ever.”
Award-winning comedian Zoë Coombs Marr will present Born Slippy – a brand-new work created especially for VCR Fest. Zoë describes the show as: “A little bit lecture, a little bit comedy, drizzled with stream of consciousness, and with a complex mouthfeel. Stop trying to understand and just go with it.”
Melbourne-based queer noise-pop musicians Cry Club will bring empowering, danceable anthems to the festival, packed with punchy vocals and shoe-gazing guitars, bound to inspire dancefloors in homes across Melbourne.
First Nations artist Joel Bray will present Biladurang 2.0 live from a hotel in Melbourne. A digital version of the multi award-winning Fringe hit loosely based on the traditional Wiradjuri story of the platypus in a confessional solo work that is physical, tender, funny and dark.
And in a very special event, the iconic and enchanting New York basement piano bar (and underground movement) Marie’s Crisis will perform live from the West Village for its first Australian live stream singalong performance.
Comedy shows include drag king powerhouses Dazza & Keif with Rona Boner – a subversive, high energy dance and comedy extravaganza, and Game Boys Comedy with GB24 The Improvised Variety News Channel – a live-streamed improvised variety show in the form of a 24 hours news channel. Created especially for the screen, this work features impressive production values with a mixture of sketches, big characters, and pointless debates.
The Festival also features parties and social events including (Virtual) Fringe Friday – a social event featuring performances and a comedy quiz with special guests multi-instrumentalist Victoria Falconer-Pritchard (Fringe Wives Club) and cabaret star Reuben Kaye.
The infamous Mr McClelland’s Finishing School will bring the tunes for its award-nominated virtual dance party. The return of Fringe Festival favourite Fringe Roulette, hosted and co-curated by Lou Wall, will supply a tasty sampler of diverse Fringe artists in this special variety event.
VCR Fest will also include a range of workshops, including Art x Access: is digital art here to stay? hosted by Carly Findlay (writer, appearance activist and Melbourne Fringe Access & Inclusion Coordinator), with special guests including YouTube star (and king of iso cooking) Nat from Nats What I Reckon, disabled, queer performer and podcast producer Erin Kyan and more talking about access in arts in the context of COVID-19.
Fringe Common Rooms is the home of independent arts, built on an ethos of entertaining audiences while supporting and welcoming all types of art and art makers. VCR Fest officially launches the venue – not exactly as originally planned – but with a celebration of the Fringe community in a weekend of boundary-pushing digital events.
VCR Fest takes place online from Friday 31 July to Sunday 3 August 2020. For more information and full program, visit: www.melbournefringe.com.au for details.
Image: Cry Club – photo by Giulia McGauran