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Adelaide Fringe

All that glitters: What's in store for the 2020 Adelaide Fringe

Adelaide Fringe

The Adelaide Fringe will celebrate its diamond anniversary in 2020 with a program of more than 1200 events in 361 venues – including an immersive indoor Aboriginal storytelling experience featuring cutting-edge light technology and illuminations.

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After continual growth in the number of shows over the past decade – and associated complaints from some artists and venues that have struggled to sell tickets – next year’s program is smaller than that for 2019, which featured more than 1320 events.

However, there is an increase in suburban events and regional hubs, with organisers saying more than 60 per cent of shows will be outside the inner-city.

The 2020 Adelaide Fringe will launch on February 14 with opening night festivities including the Tindo Utpurndee (sunset ceremony) at Rymill Park and a concert by Australian rapper Baker Boy at the RCC hub at the University of Adelaide.

Also opening the same night will be the Fringe’s signature project for 2020, Yabarra: Dreaming in Light, at the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, which for the first time next year is programming all Indigenous shows in its performance spaces.

Dreaming in Light follows on from this year’s Yabarra: Gathering of Light – which featured light and sound artworks along the River Torrens – and is a collaboration involving Kaurna senior custodian Karl Telfer, First Nations arts organisation Yellaka and digital content creators Monkeystack. It will be at Tandanya throughout the 31-day Fringe, giving visitors a free, immersive experience of the dreaming through a walk-through installation incorporating what the program describes as “cutting-edge light technologies and state-of-the-art illuminations”.

Fringe director and CEO Heather Croall says Dreaming in Light reflects the fact that the festival sees First Nations participation as vital to the arts, with more than $100,000 in grants for Indigenous artists attached to the project.

“We can’t wait to flood the city with the joy and mayhem that comes with Adelaide Fringe,” she says of the 2020 program. “It’s a time to be entertained and snuggle up under the cultural blanket we throw over Adelaide.”

Major hubs the Garden of Unearthly Delights and Gluttony have released programs packed with circus, music, comedy, theatre, magic and children’s shows. GOUD will host around 112 shows across 17 venues in Rundle Park, while Gluttony has extended its Rymill Park footprint slightly to take in the lakefront area and is also returning to the Masonic Lodge on North Terrace, bringing its total number of venues to 19.

The RCC is back at the University of Adelaide, but with a more tightly focused program in 2020 that curator David Sefton says focusses on its strengths in music, theatre and art, with “strong themes of the New York underground, punk rock, feminist icons and contemporary queerness”.

More than 100 of the 361 venues hosting Fringe events in 2020 will be new to the festival, including the heritage-listed Ayers House on North Terrace.


One of the drawcards in Gluttony this year will be Velvet Rewired, a new take on the hit disco-themed show melding music, dance and circus which debuted at Adelaide Fringe in 2015. Marcia Hines (a 2020 Fringe ambassador) returns as the Diva and hula-hoop star Craig Reid is also back, but many of the ensemble members are new, with Jersey Boys star Ryan Gonzalez stepping into the role of country boy Mike in a story set 10 years after the original.

Take a trip to Boogie Wonderland with Marcia Hines and Velvet Rewired.

Also in Gluttony in 2020 will be Colombian circus company Circolombia’s Acelere, Gravity & Other Myths’ A Simple Space, Rouge, and Adelaide Fringe newcomer Blunderland, which hails from New York’s Brooklyn and promises a whimsical, surreal and psychedelic variety show that draws from “the finest international burlesque, circus, cabaret, and queer scenes”.

Rebel is a “live circus rock tribute” to David Bowie featuring live glam rock and acrobatics; ARIA-nominated DJ Groove Terminator is teaming up with Grammy winners Soweto Gospel Choir for the dance-music show History of House, and The Black Blues Brothers sees five Kenyan acrobats perform a comedy tribute to cult movie The Blues Brothers.

Comedy/theatre shows will include Gusset Grippers, featuring a physio who does comedy about the pelvic floor, and UK artist Jodie Irvine’s Gobby (also at Stirling Fringe), “a one-woman celebration of being a loudmouth”.

The music line-up includes Adelaide duo The Audreys and local cabaret performer Phi Theodoros’s Ukulele Dream Girl, as well as the return of Hugh Sheridan’s California Crooners Club and The Choir of Man.

Garden of Unearthly Delights

The big circus show next year from the Strut and Fret production house (Limbo, LIFE the Show) will be Blanc de Blanc Encore – a fresh take on it previous hit Blanc de Blanc which will be presented with a new cast and promises an intoxicating blend of champagne glamour and acrobatics.

A more stripped-back physical theatre experience will be Indigenous circus ensemble Casus Circus’s Chasing Smoke (seen last year in Gluttony), which celebrates “65,000 years of old-time ways told through now-time circus”.

One of the big attractions in the Garden on Unearthly Delights in 2019 was the mesmerising art installation House of Mirrors, and its makers will be back next year with a new immersive, labyrinth-meets-horror-film experience called 1000 Doors.

Speaking of things that make you want to scream, UK company Darkfield’s shipping-container multi-sensory experiences Séance and Flight are also returning to GOUD, along with its new immersive show, COMA, which invites audiences to slip into a collective dream.

The Garden’s music program includes Tim Rogers, with his new show Liquid Nights in Bohemia Heights, and musical-comedy trio Tripod, while the stand-up line-up features the usual big names such as Wil Anderson, Frank Woodley, Joel Creasey, Sammy J, Cal Wilson and Jimeoin, as well as the Aboriginal Comedy All Stars and what the hub describes as “the very best newcomers to the Australian comedy scene”.

GOUD is also hosting the Maho Magic Bar, an actual bar where audience members are served drinks by performers during a private magic show.


American multi-media artist Laurie Anderson’s All the Things I Lost in the Flood, announced earlier this week, will be the hot ticket in the RCC, which is also presenting performances by musician and performance artist Amanda Palmer, punk-rock performer Lydia Lunch, art-pop group Stereolab and Australian experimental jazz band The Necks.

No Country for Old Men + Tropical Fuck Storm sees the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning movie No Country for Old Men paired with a “riotous, mad art-punk-psych-experimental-rock” score created and performed by Australian group Tropical Fuck Storm (get a taste here). It will be presented in Bonython Hall after sold-out shows in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Another mad mash-up is How to Make a Monster, in which a group of UK beatboxers from London’s BAC Beatbox Academy reimagine Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

“This was one of the standout runaway hits of Edinburgh last year,” says the RCC’s David Sefton. “It has very, very wide appeal.”

RCC will also host a program of music acts each Friday and Saturday night featuring the likes of Cut Copy, Sampa The Great and Baker Boy.


Holden Street Theatres’ Fringe program will be led by its Edinburgh Fringe Award 2019 winner Drink Rum with Expats, which the program pitches as a “rollicking and riotous” exploration of immigration and home by London-based Sh!t Theatre. It will also present Tartuffe, a rude and rhyming cut of Moliere’s classic play relocated to a 1940s Scottish living room, and Gone Girls, a drag revenge fantasy about Julia Gillard and Julie Bishop.

Elsewhere, Canada’s Talk is Free Theatre is presenting three shows in unusual venues: Tales of an Urban Indian is a one-person show about a contemporary Indigenous man which is staged on a moving city bus; For Both Resting and Breeding is a play presented in a house and set in a future in which humans have become gender-neutral; and Every Brilliant Thing is a collective storytelling work presented in the living room of a house.

And elsewhere …

A highlight of the interactive line-up will be a five-day virtual-reality program and immersive storytelling showcase that’s part of the Electric Dreams creative industries conference at Lot Fourteen from February 19-23, with a line-up of free international VR works being presented in a VR cinema on Lot Fourteen and at the Masonic Lodge (read more here).

Adelaide Fringe has also teamed up with Lot Fourteen for a free activation called the Giant Sing Along, which take place throughout the festival, giving audiences the chance to join a large-scale karaoke event complete with auto-tuned microphones.

To celebrate the diamond anniversary, from January 25 there will be a “Fringe Walk” along North Terrace featuring 32 Fringe posters from previous years.

See the full 2020 Adelaide Fringe program here.


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