Fringe Festival embraces pay-what-you-can model

Taking over empty space in the rocks and spilling through the precinct with music, comedy, food and art, SIDESHOW invites you to celebrate the best of fringe, at a cost you can afford.

Pay-what-you-can models have been around for a while, but the pick-up has been relatively slow in Australia, notably in the festival sector, where it can perhaps be of most advantage due to its broad audience base.

SIDESHOW is now changing that, leading the sector and making all its events unbelievably affordable with free and pay-what-you-can tickets.

The aim is to be totally inclusive, and to allow people to completely embrace the Fringe experience.

The pay-what-you-can model gives everyone access to the most unique performances. It allows people to dabble in unknown waters and prompts viewers to see performances they might have otherwise over-looked. It also gives artists exposure and a platform, and you might just find the next big thing or your next favourite show.

Described as ‘the home of the weird, the wonderful, the different,’ SIDESHOW kicked off this weekend, occupying the in-between spaces of the bustling pedestrian corridor of Sydney’s George Street, and filling the nooks and crannies of The Rocks precinct.

‘SIDESHOW is a gathering place, somewhere to enjoy a show, a drink and soak up the pure festival vibes,’ said Sydney Fringe Director and CEO Kerri Glasscock. ‘By activating amazing unused spaces and giving space to performers in the historic Rocks precinct, this festival will not disappoint the curious,’

It’s Sydney’s best-kept secret … But the secret is out!

Karri Glassock
White Rabbit Red Rabbit promises to be a highlight of SIDESHOW, taking improv theatre to new levels. Image supplied.

What this micro-festival is offering

Some of Australia’s most unique performances will feature in unexpected Sydney locations.

A sure highlight will be Lola’s Piano Bar, an intimate underground den with a New York feel, bringing you the hottest musical theatre artists in Australia over the course of three weeks. With raucous sing-alongs and drinks flowing, you’ll walk in a stranger and leave a friend.

And don’t miss Iranian writer Nassim Soleimanpour’s incredible White Rabbit Red Rabbit, performed with no rehearsals, no director, a different actor each night, and a script waiting in a sealed envelope on stage. Not for nothing has it been described as ‘an audacious theatrical experiment and a potent reminder of the transgressive and transformative power of theatre.’

Ever had visions of being on MasterChef? Then I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Cooking For is a must, an interactive cooking show that blurs the boundaries of food and performance and while adding a peppering of politics, hilarity and poignancy. 22- 24 September only. 

Podcast junkie? The join host Andy Leonard for Chatterbox Podcast Live, a series of shows featuring Sydney’s best storytellers sharing true, life-changing stories. There are eight shows over two weeks, and each show has a different theme. A unique experience you can return to again and again.

Dolly Parton is always quotable (among other things) but one of her best is: ‘Find out who you are and do it on purpose.’ The Dolly Parton Dance Party invites you to do just that. Come along and dance yourself silly and be the brightest, gaudiest, truest version of yourself (24-25 September).

And while you’re in the mood for self-expression, take to the dance floor with Brunchersize, an interactive dance workshop that ushers you across the boards of dance history, from burlesque to cutting loose to ’70s disco, ’80s pop and ’90s boy bands.

Why not ratchet it up a notch with Queer Beasts, a visual arts and costume event that is part performance, part celebration? Brought to you by iconic Sydney designers Tortuga Studios and DEEP SEA ASTRONAUTS, Queer Beasts explores the raw performative beauty of Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ community. Come walk with the drag kings and queens who inspired these incredible designs.

Check out the full program and remember you don’t have to miss out. You just pay-what-you-can.

You have just three weekends to be part of it all and find your inner fringe, so set aside some time and step into the marvellous world of SIDESHOW this September.

SIDESHOW Fringe Festival
Friday 9 September- 25 September. 
The Rocks, Sydney CBD
Free/ Pay-what-you-can

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW. Twitter: @ginafairley Instagram: fairleygina