Features/How to/Fringe World Festival

How to choose your Fringe World shows

21 December 2022

Overwhelmed by the Fringe program? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Seesaw’s Nina Levy offers her tips for avoiding a Festival freak out navigating the Fringe World program.

Ah Fringe World. When, for a blissful month, Perth becomes a cultural wonderland, packed to the gills with arty goodness and fairy-lit festival gardens. This year’s Fringe World includes around 500 events to choose from. It’s set to go off with a bang from January 20, with a weekend stuffed full of free and ticketed treats that will launch us into a month of Fringe fun-times.

Browsing the Fringe World program is exciting… but it can also be daunting. 500 is a big number. It’s not difficult to morph from Fringe anticipation to Fringe panic.

To help you avoid a Fringe Freak Out, Seesaw Mag editor Nina Levy has put together this handy guide for choosing a show. These suggestions are in no particular order and may be used independently of one another.

Get comfortable and get the app

As the folk at Fringe World suggest, don’t rush this. Make a cup of your preferred hot beverage (or pour a glass of your favourite cold one), and relax while you browse the brochure.

Seesaw recommends downloading the Fringe World app, which has a simpler layout than the website, a pleasant-to-use search function and includes a handy planner that stores your tickets once they’ve been booked.

The “favourite” function is also useful for creating a short-list before you make your final decisions.

Don’t try to do it in one go

Life is short but the program is long. It will be easier to make decisions if you’ve had a few chances to peruse the program before you start the selection process.

Break it down

a) By genre: Tackling a genre at a time is a great way to avoid overwhelm… although – be warned – some of the genres seem like festival programs in their own right. If too much choice stresses you out try starting with one of the following: circus, dance & physical theatrecommunity & special events and visual arts & film

b) By hub/venue Some of the Fringe venues run curated micro-programs under the Fringe World umbrella. Seesaw’s pick of the bunch is the State Theatre Centre of WA’s State of Play program. The Rechabite also has a promising looking selection of circus, comedy and cabaret.

Another Seesaw Mag festival favourite that’s not under the Fringe umbrella is The Blue Room Theatre’s Summer Nights program.

Check out the suburban venues, too, such as The Kalamunda Hotel, or Midland Junction Arts Centre.

Second time around

If a show is returning from last year it’s likely that it was popular the first time around. You can Google the reviews and/or talk to friends who saw the show to get a better idea of whether it’s for you. Lucy Peach’s My Greatest Period Ever is a classic example – read the Seesaw Mag review of that show to see if it’s for you. Yuck Circus’s Deadset is another returning show with a Seesaw review to help you get an idea of what to expect.

Artists who are returning with a sequel/follow-up show are also worth considering, for example the Bogan Shakespeare crew – who brought us Julius Caeser in 2022 – are giving Hamlet the bogan treatment this year.

Take a risk

Don’t play it safe, though. There’s always that show that takes your fancy even though you know nothing about the artists or company involved. Maybe they have a super cool promo photograph or the blurb made you laugh out aloud… whatever, having a strong image or copy doesn’t happen by chance and does tell you something positive about the presenter. 

Go with your gut – most Fringe shows are relatively cheap (especially the ones that are lesser known) and only take up an hour of your life so you can afford to back some outsiders. And there’s nothing like the thrill of realising, a few minutes in, that you totally picked a winner.

Support your local

Seesaw Mag is all about WA so we strongly suggest you include some WA acts when booking your Fringe shows. While we can’t guarantee enjoyment, we reckon you’re in with a good chance of a solid show – one of the reasons we started Seesaw Mag is because of the high quality of artistic work coming out of our state. If we want WA to remain a cool arty place we need to support our artists, so make sure you’ve got some WA in the mix. Handily Fringe includes this info in each listing, alongside an age rating and sizzle factor.

Read Seesaw Mag

In the new year we’ll be bringing you a range of articles to help you choose what to SEE during the festival season, including curated gig guides and our Festivals Sessions Q&As with artists who are presenting work. And, of course, once Fringe starts there’ll be Seesaw’s reviews to read.

It’s worth leaving some space in your calendar for impulse tickets but remember that Fringe World venues are often small and word-of-mouth spreads quickly so don’t delay booking once you’ve decided a show is a must-see!

See you there!

Photo: John Leonard

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

Past Articles

  • How to choose your Fringe World shows

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