This year’s festival has a massive new warehouse space dedicated to live performance.
YOU DON’T THINK of Alexandria as a honeypot for Sydney’s arts scene. A drive from the inner city to the new Sydney Fringe Festival hub, bordering Sydney Park, confirms your impressions of the area as an extended, dilapidated industrial estate: factories, warehouses, the odd showroom and factory outlet. But come September, one of these warehouses (225 Euston Road, Alexandria) will crank into life as an arts factory, turning out performance, installations and experimental hybrids. Dubbed the HPG Festival Hub (after the building’s owner, property developers HPG), Sydney Fringe’s Alexandria outpost has a 7,000m2 groundfloor footprint, which will be transformed into a Festival village of sorts from September 1: food truck, a Coopers Festival Bar, and curtained-off sections for performances, live music, exhibitions and screenings.
Sydney Fringe Festival director Kerri Glasscock says, “The gift of space – this much space – is just so rare in Sydney. So when I found out that we had this warehouse, I put a call out through my networks: ‘Bring me your Sleep No Mores! Your Secret Cinemas!’ I’ve got whole floors of offices to play with in this building.” One of the Sydney companies working in the same immersive ‘choose your own adventure’ space as Sleep No More are Mongrel Mouth, who debuted in 2014 with their show The Silence Came, taking over Surry Hills eating house the Commons. For the Fringe, Mongrel Mouth have created a site-specific work called Undertaking, which will take over one of those floors within the HPG Festival Hub. Audiences will be able to move around the space and follow the characters and story threads of their choice, within a “multi-sensory thriller” involving disappearing people. Also playing the Hub is Whitlams frontman – and Fringe ambassador – Tim Freedman, with a geographically focused set featuring “songs of hunger, desperation and romance, in your twenties”. “There’s not enough little spaces [in Sydney] to see weird little stuff,” says Freedman. “That’s where artists start, small rooms. And I’ll be proud to play one of those small rooms come September.”
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Sydney Fringe director Kerri Glasscock