Organisers of the 2021 Newcastle Fringe Festival have hailed the big attendance numbers, despite several hiccups.
Unfortunately, the popular event was affected by the weather and had to cancel all the planned free family performances at The Station.
In addition to this cancellation, there were several individual shows that had to be abandoned, too, due to artists and crew being personally affected by flooding, road closures or concerns regarding the safety of travel in the extreme conditions.
But, in spite of this bad luck, the organisers are celebrating a raging success.
This tiny volunteer not-for-profit group, which operates on a shoe-string budget and relies on the passion and commitment of its team, had paid show attendance figures of just over 3,000, proving that there is a strong appetite in Newcastle for the quirky, non-mainstream fringe style performances that it showcases.
“We are incredibly proud of this performance,” board member and marketing officer Liane Morris said.
“We can only dream of what those figures would have been if the weather had not been against us.
“The last festival was held in 2019 and our figures for this year have tripled.”
The team will work over the coming weeks to put a data and evaluation report together and begin strategising for the 2022 festival.
The organisers were not the only ones celebrating success.
Each year a team of Newcastle Fringe-appointed judges watch as many shows as possible over the five days.
Awards are presented to the artists at the closing ceremony, which took place at The Great Northern Hotel with retro tunes being spun by Maynard.
BEST IN FRINGE
Nominations: OMG WTF, Camino Man, Fever, Disenchanted: A Cabaret of Twisted Fairytales
Winner: Disenchanted: A Cabaret of Twisted Fairytales (available to stream on demand and will be performing at Dubbo Fringe Festival 6-8 May)
Nominations: Victor Martinez Parada, WCB Sigil, Fever, Switch Witchetty’s Almanac of Everything.
Winner: Fever (available to stream on demand & will be performing at Dubbo Fringe Festival 6-8 May)
BEST PREMIER SHOW
Nominations: Daydreamers Playhouse, Camino Man, Jawbone, The Art of Falling in Love.
Winner: Camino Man (available to stream on demand & will be performing at Dubbo Fringe Festival 6-8 May)
BEST SHOW FROM NEWCASTLE ARTIST(S)
Nominations: Mad Bitches Inc., OMG WTF, Pop Poetry, Who Let the Dyke Out.
Winner: OMG WTF (will be performing at Dubbo Fringe Festival 6-8 May)
AWARD FOR SPECIAL INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE
Sophie Cook from Mad Bitches Inc. (available to stream on demand & will be performing at Dubbo Fringe Festival 6-8 May)
There is a strong local element to the artists featured in this year’s festival with many coming from Newcastle, highlighting the sheer breadth of talent the city enjoys.
NEWCASTLE FRINGE EMERGING FILMMAKER’S FESTIVAL
Awards were also presented for the short films and animations that featured in the inaugural competition at Event Cinemas Kotara.
Winner: Black Cat by Anthony Phan Nguyen
Runner-Up: Catch and Release by Jay Jay Jegathesan
Liz Burton, judge and producer of feature film A Lion Returns, commented on Anthony Phan Nguyen’s film Black Cat. “He’s a young filmmaker based in Sydney. This is his first film. There are interesting ideas about the effects of drugs on reality. There is some good directing & editing choices to tell the story.”
Beau Magliore, Newcastle Fringe board member and judge, commented on Catch and Release: “I found this film very impressive – beyond the gimmick of the single-take is something that lets you know right off the bat that something isn’t right, and then delivers on the promise that it made.”
Winner: The Quiet by Radheya Jeghatheva
Runner-Up: Painting by Numbers by Radheya Jeghatheva
Commendation: My Dear Quarantine by Ewa Maria Wolska
“I loved both the animations from Radheya Jegatheva – a young film graduate of Curtin University WA – The Quiet and Painting by Numbers,” said Burton. Both of these films are very innovative, visually engaging with strong narrative elements.”
She goes on, “My Dear Quarantine is a beautifully made and touching film about the loneliness of quarantine. The film was made by Ewa Maria Wolska – a puppeteer and theatre director who was unable to work during the recent lockdowns in Europe. She puts her theatrical strengths to good use in telling this charming story.”
Most of the winning performances and films are featured on #bingenewyfringe and are available to stream on demand.
The team behind Newcastle Fringe have also created a satellite fringe event in Dubbo with the inaugural Dubbo Fringe taking place 6-8 May and featuring many of the same artists who welcome the opportunity to take their show on the road.