As is sadly still the reality for gatherings and performances currently, the ongoing pandemic is still seeing massive, last-minute shutdowns to planned events. It is not altogether surprising but is still disheartening to see the way the virus can affect a return to form for artists. While countless Fringe festivals the world over just celebrated being back after a postponed year, some branches—such as the Sydney Fringe Festival—have unfortunately had to close their stages down for yet another year.
CEO of Sydney Fringe Festival Kerri Glasscock announced this past week that the festival has had to the Australian government’s extended lockdown with a full cancellation of the Fringe. “In 2020 when the world stopped our sector was forced to face a reckoning unlike anything we were prepared for,” she states in her address. “The unity, strength, passion, dedication and the stubborn resilience of our independent artists is truly inspiring. In spite of the hardships we are still here, and despite the futility of our environment artist[s] are still making work, exceptional work. Sydney Fringe had hoped to share that work with you in September.”
The Sydney Fringe is one of the largest Fringe festivals in the world, and with 370 productions having been planned for this year, it is a massive blow to the theatre communities of Australia and abroad. Last year saw the massively popular festival streaming shows for audiences at home, but with the current measures of the widespread delta-variant keeping most of the artists involved from both rehearsal spaces and in-person gatherings, there doesn’t seem to be feasible avenues for this.
Time and location are so volatile and shifting in our current context for what is able to be produced. It was a little more than a month ago on the opposite coast of Australia that the Adelaide Fringe Festival was closing a massively successful endeavour. At the very least it highlights the necessity of nations to maintain rigour in dealing with the still very much real pandemic.
Although it is certainly a great loss that the Sydney Fringe Festival must hold off for yet another year, there is still clearly a hope and strength in this pillar of independent theatre. They currently are running an image series stating “WE’LL FRINGE AGAIN” and are reaching out to the city for donations to help ensure the support and survival of this paragon of Fringe. With a little luck, the organization will see itself in the spotlight once again under better circumstances.