Nelson Fringe Festival 2021

"Back to Sideways"

Nelson Fringe Festival will have a different look for 2021 with a new director and new opportunities for performers!

Nelson Fringe Festival is using 2021 as a year to re-group, re-energise and use the Festival as a building block for future Festivals, by thinking a bit laterally, a bit sideways, and a bit backwards (by showcasing some recent top-performing shows). It’s part of the constant challenge of figuring what being a Fringe is all about.


Local theatre director Giles Burton is taking over the reins of the annual Nelson Fringe Festival, with its next outing on 6-15 May 2021. He brings with him vast experience from numerous fringes and festivals around the world, including Edinburgh, Prague, Tbilisi, Wexford and Wellington. He also founded Hong Kong Microfest and was a co-founder of Prague Fringe. For Nelsonians, he is best known as the director of Nelson Summer Shakespeare, and director of the plays Maungatapu (Nelson Arts Festival 2017) and The Man Who Was Thursday (Nelson Fringe Festival 2018). Giles will be filling the large shoes of Laura Irish, who after five years of phenomenal dedication and drive on the Fringe team, including the last three years as Artistic Director, is stepping down from the role. 


One of the new ventures of the 2021 Fringe will be two “Scratch Nights”. This is when different people and groups get to try out a short piece on the stage, with an audience. It might be a 10min excerpt from a new play, poetry, some prose, dance, slapstick or cabaret. It might be one person on their own, or a group effort. 


“In 2021 the Nelson Fringe Festival is looking forward to the future,” says Giles Burton. “We’re inviting people and communities who haven’t been involved with us before to jump in and experiment with something new. Fringe has always been about taking risks, and we have a fantastic team at the Fringe who will help every step of the way.”


“The main thing with the Scratch Nights is that we want to give people a chance to get creative and take risks without the pressure of having to create a full-length show,” says Giles. “Some of the experiments will grow into full performances, some will be taken away for rethinking, and some may just end up in the bin!”


The Festival will also celebrate past successes by bringing back some of the best theatre shows from the last five years. Many of these shows have since toured nationally and internationally, winning awards along the way.


The 2021 Fringe will also run a series of workshops open to the public.


If you want to take part in the scratch nights click below!


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