Our Nelson Fringe Festival 2021 Programme

Nelson Fringe Festival used 2021 as a year to re-group, re-energise and create building blocks to the future, by thinking a bit laterally, a bit sideways and a bit backwards.

2020 was a tricky year for the Nelson Fringe. First we lost our main venue when it failed its earthquake resilience, (Reschedule No.1). Then COVID showed up and we went into full lockdown (Reschedule No.2). Just as we thought we were out of the woods, COVID reared its ugly head once more, and we fought back by going digital (Reschedule No.3)!

After a wonderfully successful 2021 season we will return in 2022 with an expanded Fringe and will be welcoming applications across all performance styles.

Below is the Festival we presented in May 2021.



Theatre Shows | Refinery ArtSpace



Fraser Hooper

Direct from Wellington, the world's only menswear manager turned street fighting clown Fraser Hooper, will challenge allcomers in a three-round bout of pure comedy carnage. With a nod to the great silent clowns, this spectacular show features a stunt duck, a human fish, some eccentric dancing, and a high diving cow. A must-see for sport and comedy fans everywhere. 


Fraser Hooper is an internationally award-winning clown and festival favourite. His unique style has delighted audiences in over 30 countries, with classic ingredients of hilarious audience involvement, ridiculous routines and a complete disregard for his own safety.


“He teases his giggling audience and the more he takes the mickey the more they laugh. A most charismatic clown.” Time Out UK

“Our festival favourite, which kept us to the end, hiccupping with laughter.” The Times 

The Cool Mum

Jo Ghastly

After winning Best Solo Show and Audience Favourite at Nelson (Digital) Fringe 2020, we’re bringing her back for real. The Cool Mum is an award-winning celebrity personal development seminar with Jo Ghastly as a self-proclaimed ‘Cool Mum’. She’ll help you become the coolest of cool parents (seriously, she’s on TikTok so you know she’s got the credentials). No kids of your own? Don’t worry, Jo will teach you how to unlock the inner cool potential of your own parents (and maybe validate your choice to never have children...). 


Jo is a Christchurch based comedian, improviser and actor. She was nominated as

Breakthrough Comedian at the 2020 NZ Comedy Guild Awards. 


“Hilarious” – Theatreview

“Brilliant...delivers punchlines to maximal effect” – Wellington Regional News

The show is recommended R13 (mild adult themes)

BLUE Experience

Sophie Ricketts

A highlight from the 2020 Nelson (Digital) Fringe was Sophie Ricketts’ charmed love letter to Joni Mitchell’s Blue. What’s your favourite album? You know: the one you play on repeat, know all the words to, and never get tired of? For Sophie Ricketts, that album is Joni Mitchell’s 1971 masterpiece, Blue. Just as it mapped out Joni's elation and heartbreak during her formative years, so it felt like a blueprint of navigating adult decisions and independence for Sophie.

Join Sophie on a journey through the album’s ten songs and explains just what is so special about each one. For an evening that is one part musical tribute, two parts vulnerability, and 100% sincere, be a part of the Blue experience.



In 1913 Annie enters the remote mountains of Kahurangi National Park to live a hidden life with her lover Henry Chaffey. Forty years in raw exile, swallowed by the silence, enslaved by the fire. This beautiful, touching true story is about Annie love, loneliness, loss and laughter.


DramaLab gives you a peek inside Asbestos Cottage where Annie lives a life of solitude. Where Queen Vicky and Aunt Daisy come to the rescue. Where jam and scones are served in Victorian dresses and the gun is always within reach. Bang! Woodhen for dinner.

Martine Baanvinger was nominated for Best Actress, Best Solo Performance and Best Script, and won best Music/Sound at Nelson Fringe Festival 2017. Solitude has been successfully touring New Zealand since then.

The Man Who Was Thursday

three bridges productions

The Man Who Was Thursday tells the story of Gabriel Syme, a poet who is recruited into the Philosopher Police to fight the forces of anarchy and those who organise it. 


In a theatrical tour de force, one actor, Pete Coates, takes on 20 roles (and an elephant) in this rollercoaster ride featuring double-crossing secret agents, chases across the French countryside and duelling swords. 


The show was listed as one of the Best Six at Wellington Fringe by RNZ National, got rave reviews at Prague Fringe Festival, and won best show, best performer and best director on its debut at the 2018 Nelson Fringe Festival. 


“brilliant and hilarious...Fast paced and totally compelling” Broadway World 

“A masterclass in theatrical excellence...close to flawless”. Echoes from the Wings

Kids Shows | Refinery ArtSpace


The Boy With Wings

Birdlife Productions

How do we trust our inner map? How do we find our own wings? As Jack gazes in awe at the birds setting off on their long migration from New Zealand to Alaska, he wonders what he might achieve if he dared to dream. The Boy with Wings is an epic fable of Jack’s life-altering journey following only the compass of his spirit. This is a comic, touching, educational and environmental story that links New Zealand to the rest of the world via the flight of the kuaka (bar-tailed godwit).

Birdlife Productions have taken their award-winning shows around the world, delighting children wherever they go.  Currently on tour around New Zealand schools and festivals, The Boy with Wings uses exquisitely handcrafted sets and puppets, comedy, storytelling and original songs.

Perfect for age 5 to 10 years (and adults will love it too!).

The Magic in Me

Kath Bee and Ms. Fizzberry

How do you find the magic inside of you? Popular children's entertainers, Kath Bee and Ms Fizzberry weave magic and music together in this fun-filled, educational family show, sharing ideas on how children can bring out the magic inside. Sing along with classic Kath Bee favourites plus hear some brand-new unreleased songs and be amazed, befuddled and amused by Ms Fizzberry's magic tricks. The kids will be engaged throughout with laughter, dance moves, singing, shouting, thought-provoking questions and of course, magic, whilst the adults will have just as much fun joining in! 


Whatever your experience, you're sure to leave with a happy heart and a smile on your face. Aimed at 3-8yrs.

Cabaret Nights | Refinery ArtSpace


Up Late Cabaret

Siren St, Cyr, Diamante Doll, Mike O'Malley, Steve Wilbury, Jasmine Tease, Fraser Hooper (Wellington) and Jack Swallows (Christchurch)

You never know what lies ahead with Up Late Cabaret. Featuring local cabaret talent and some out-of-town surprises this is a night of burlesque, draglesque, song, clowning and magic with plenty of cheek and sauce. You can expect to gasp and laugh as our performers titillate, croon and shimmy their way into your hearts. 


R18 – may contain nudity. Please note there’s some small line-up changes each night.


Comedy Nights | Refinery ArtSpace

Late Night Comedy

Welcome to Nelson Fringe’s Comedy Nights! Grab a drink and laugh at some of Nelson’s best local stand-up comedy talent. It’s late and it’s live and it may get messy.

Scratch Nights | Refinery ArtSpace


Here’s where new shows (and stars) are born! An innovative way for creators to experiment with new shows, performers will present short pieces of work in development and take your feedback. Some will succeed, some will need development, and some will fail. Be in to help with the creation of new work and perhaps you will be buying tickets to the full shows in 2022.


Genres include scripted drama, fooling, comedy, poetry and more with creators from across Te Tau Ihu.


The 2021 Festival afternoon workshops will teach you everything from grant applications and stage lighting through to classic clowning.


Creative New Zealand – Funding

Richard Knowles | Studio One 

A workshop with the funding team from Creative New Zealand to better support successful funding applications from the region. The workshop will focus on the application and assessment process for funding applications to CNZ, primarily Arts Grants ($5K - $75K). This workshops covers all art forms.


To book a one-on-one with Richard about a specific project please email workshops@nelsonfringe.co.nz after booking your ticket.


Richard and his Funding Services team are responsible for the administration of all funding programmes (other than investment funding) from application advice to post application feedback and acquittal.

Family Clown Workshop

Fraser Hooper | Nelson College Old Gym

Exercise your funny bones and discover the art of clowning around with internationally acclaimed clown Fraser Hooper. Through improvisation, rhythm and play learn how to develop your comic timing and build routines in this fun comedy workshop for the whole family. Suitable for ages 5-95!


Internationally award-winning funny man Fraser Hooper has taught clown in over 20 countries and was for 12 years the resident clown tutor at The National Institute for Circus in London. 


Please note that this is a workshop for parents and kids, not individuals.

Seriously Funny - A Clown Workshop for Adults

Fraser Hooper | Nelson College Old Gym

What makes a great clown? How do you create a show, hold an audience and get them to stay? Starting with rhythm and play, participants will quickly discover the joys of seriously clowning around in a practical workshop that shows you how to build material into comic routines. Topics covered will include working the audience, developing style, directing and how to give effective feedback. 


Internationally award-winning funny man Fraser Hooper has taught clowning in over 20 countries and was for 12 years the resident clown tutor at The National Institute for Circus in London.

An Introduction to Theatre Lighting 

JR Richardson | Theatre Royal

This workshops runs you through the basics of theatrical lighting. What different lights do, where to place and focus them, choice of gel colour and how to get the most out of even the most simple lighting rig. A little basic knowledge can greatly improve how your shows look whether it is a couple of lights in the village hall or the full rig at the Theatre Royal. Aimed at both those starting out and people wanting a refresher on basic knowledge. If you have a specific topic you would like covered please email workshop@nelsonfringe.co.nz and JR will try to address it!

JR Richardson is the Technical Manager of the Theatre Royal and NCMA. His company VenueTech supplies technical services for live events around Nelson including to the Fringe.

The Universal Mask - Physical Theatre Workshop

Donna Chapman | Uplift Float Centre

This workshop will explore the world of the Universal or Neutral Mask. This mask has no ‘character’, fixed expression or preconceptions. By neutralising the expressive face, the expressive body can be found. Under the mask, one develops a heightened sense of space, movement and rhythm, and a stronger dramatic presence. 


Donna Chapman has been a theatre maker, actor, educator and director and mentor for 40 years. She has been an active contributor to theatre development in Te Tau Ihu, Aotearoa and Australasia. She is a mediator, mentor and an external supervisor for Whitecliff College of Art and Design, Masters in Art Therapy. Her training is influenced by such physical theatre trainers and makers as Jacques Lecoq, Peter Brook, Keith Johnstone, and Augusto Boal, and Johnathon Fox.


This is a physical theatre workshop and participants are asked to wear plain loose comfortable clothing with no printed tee shirts. (Ideally no cleavage or midriff skin should be exposed).


Colin Minney | Studio One

Everyone loves the Fool. This workshop will take participants on a Fool's journey: learning how to be totally present on stage; seeing what arises from the magic of letting go; inhabiting and playing with the many masks we all have that represent being human; and above all, bringing out your curiosity and playfulness so that you can embrace the freedom to BE.


Colin Minney has been performing for almost 20 years, starting in New Zealand, before performing around the UK and various festivals. Clowning, fooling and storytelling are his favourite forms of showtime. His fooling and clowning workshops are a way to support his own quest to be the best player of life and love he can be.


Damara Sylvester | Studio One

We start life out with the ability to scream the roof off with no apology. As we grow up and find more articulate ways of communicating our ideas and needs, we also start closing off the connection between our voice and our body. We worry about what we sound like and what we're saying, and the censoring gets stored in the body. In this workshop we'll look at a voice rebuild from the ground up, to find a power, expressivity and clarity in our speaking, singing or acting voices, connected to a strong, expressive body.


Damara Sylvester has been studying and developing mind-body theory and practice for the past 25 years. She runs InsideOut Circus and Physical Theatre, directing shows and training kids, youth and adults how to bring forth their most expressive selves. She believes that a sense of play goes a long way in learning anything.


What to bring: non-constricting clothing, water bottle, a 15 second piece of memorised text (speech, song, poem, nursery rhyme).

Physical Theatre Devising Workshop for Youth

Martine Baanvinger | Studio One

This jam-packed physical theatre devising workshop will focus on the use of the physical environment in any performance space, giving invaluable tools for every young performing artist. You will learn how the environment can play an important role in a show and through transition can offer you endless opportunities in representing different characters and environments. 


This workshop is suitable for young performing artists, performing arts students, or anyone between age of 13 and 21. 

Martine Baanvinger is the founder of DramaLAB, a theatre collective and drama school in the Tasman region. Martine has 25 years of experience as a professional director, actor, writer and teacher.  Martine tours her own devised solo shows throughout New Zealand including Solitude, showing at Nelson Fringe Festival 2021.