New Zealand Fringe Festival supporting over 800 independent artists under ‘Red Light’

The 2022 New Zealand Fringe Festival (NZ Fringe) opened on Thursday evening with a small-scale Gala night celebration of the launch of the 2022 programme of diverse and creative cutting-edge arts. Staged across 30 venues in Pōneke, the festival takes place over the next three weeks from February 18 – March 12, and will be presented under the ‘Red’ setting of the Covid Protection Framework (Traffic Light System).

The Gala was attended in person by Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson who gave a speech to officially open the Fringe Festival in the creative capital, and support the inaugural year of Festival Director Vanessa Stacy (Ngāti Kuia/Te Āti Awa).

Festival director, Vanessa Stacey says, “We feel very lucky to be able to tautoko all our amazing artists and safely host the festival this year under ‘Red’ following all government guidelines and protocols with the help of all our remarkable venues, fringe staff and volunteers. A huge thank you to our amazing Fringe Festival supporters and especially our phenomenal Fringe Artists who are the real reason we are all here! Mauri ora!”

The Festival’s opening weekend is scheduled with an extravagant and outrageous array of arts offerings for audiences to enjoy, including a new show by the award-winning Drag King Hugo Grrrl, a “Completely Crappy Cabaret” aptly named The Shit Show.

A ludicrous revue that is set to leave a mark with its dazzling costumes by designer Victoria Gridley from The Royal New Zealand Ballet and a lineup of some of the best cabaret artists, circus performers and comedians from Pōneke.

Keeping in the comedy theme is the hilarious drag darling from Bulls, Pamela Hancock, who debuts their first solo show, A Landfill Majority which tracks this delightfully misguided aunty on their race to the Beehive on a campaign like no udder.

Favourites from the New York Clown Festival and Montreal Fringe Festival Birdmann and Egg bring their critically renowned clown comedy duo act to the Fringe Bar.

And Te Auaha: NZ Institute of Creativity is proud to return to the festival with their own entry into the programme with Lift Off. A show that gives a collection of the Institutes best graduates the chance to develop and showcase their own devised pieces including an original Italian/New Zealand musical by Emma Salzano and a modern conceptual dance work by Emily Lancaster.

Other opening week highlights to check out this weekend and next week are contemporary dance pair Björn Åslund and Tabitha Dombroski with their new dance show Sublime Interludes at BATS Theatre exploring phobias. Loops a circus theatre piece creating a powerful and highflying story.

Presenting … The Tiwhas turn up the noise and fabulous fun with a new all-singing, dancing and twirling takatāpui drag girl group spectacular. And thrilling comedian Sarah Harpur (Kāi Tahu) partners up with director and Fringe award winner Carrie Green (Ngāti Porou) to make a new show called The Shit Kid which promises to be a silly, yet sexy olympic adventure.

Running till March 12, other highlights across the Fringe Festival include a satirical ASMR show by artist Amy Atkins who sensually and aurally tingles us with her haul of fruit and veg. WITCH Music Theatre brings audiences a new intimate and sexy concert called the Red Light Revue with a variety of professional musical theatre singers, naughty drag artists and burlesque performers to delight.

Daring and dangerous, Gag Reflex closes out the festival with the sword swallowing Rachel Atlas. And multimedia orchestral show, Laniakea, plays live at the Roxy Cinema this Fringe with a large scale ensemble playing in tandem with the screen, creating a cinematically sized performance exploring the big bang of the universe.

The Gala also marked the launch of the Garage Project x Fringe bespoke brew, Beyond The Pale: All In a Muddle which took the challenge to create a new cutting edge blend for the festival and produced a mind-bending strawberry, miso and black pepper Sour beer.

This ‘out there’ offering promises a devised delight of lush umami, fruit sweetness, refreshing acidity and restrained peppery heat to match the summer Festival’s unique and odd appeal in the arts calendar. Beyond The Pale: All In a Muddle 4 per cent is now available to purchase at all Fringe Venues with licensed bars.

Chief executive of NZ Fringe Festival, Drew James says, “I would like to applaud the resilience and dedication from artists to deliver their work, and audiences for their commitment to continuing to buy tickets and donate using our Ticket Plus feature. Tickets are moving faster than last year’s festival without Covid-19 restrictions, which is a great sign for the appetite and importance of the arts right now.”

Supporting emerging and established artists to make groundbreaking new arts experiences in the creative capital, the New Zealand Fringe Festival marks its 32nd year running as the largest open access, cutting edge arts festival in Aotearoa in 2022.

Staking its claim as ‘The Birthplace of Brilliance’, NZ Fringe continues to showcase its importance in the national arts scene for the development and birthplace of Industry professionals with alumni from the Academy award-winning Taika Waititi and Bret McKenzie, Grammy winner Jemaine Clement, and National TV personalities and comedians Brynley Stent and Hayley Sproull.

The New Zealand Fringe Festival has now started and runs from 18 February until 12 March in Pōneke, Wellington 2022.

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