Football operas, acrobatics, the 1913 Lockout, 3D concerts and more: the 19th Dublin Fringe Festival has launched in Temple Bar with all the energy of an alternative institution in the final year of its teens.
Róise Goan, who has led the Fringe for five years, is handing over the reins to Canadian Kris Nelson after this year's festival. "The big theme we wanted to look at was citizenship," Goan explained at a photocall in Meeting House Square this afternoon.
“We were also thinking about soft revolutions, industry, women and particularly their role in citizenship.”
A key part of this year’s programme is ANU Production’s Thirteen, perhaps the most ambitious piece in the festival, which will unfold over the course of the Fringe as 13 different works taking their cues from the 1913 Lockout, up until the setting of contemporary Dublin. Tickets will also be free, removing an economic barrier from anyone who wishes to attend.
A second key element is the HotForTheatre company's presentation of Break, by Amy Conroy, a play set in a school staffroom. "It's a nuanced, complicated and very enjoyable glimpse behind the staffroom door," Goan explained, "it looks at the education system in a really exciting way, questioning the roots of where we go right or wrong as a society."
The Trailblazery’s Rites Of Passage is a third key component of the festival, an examination of Irishness past and present, laying the nation on the psychiatrist’s couch with hedge schools, talks, a children’s choir and more.
From September 2nd to 22nd, nearly 100 artists will present 800 events in 45 venues across the capital. Fair Balls T'Yis is a football opera starring real GAA fans by Belgian company het KIP, who have replicated their successful formula for local teams across Europe.
The hugely promising company Collapsing Horse also tackle a sci-fi noir play titled Distance From The Event.
Irish musical outfit Le Galaxie, who have spent the past two years racking up some lauded festival appearances, will go 3D in an open air concert at Meeting House Square. Neil Watkins, who stunned audiences in The Year Of Magical Wanking, presents Dinner and a Show on Mill Street.
Circus features strongly with the return of the hugely successful Briefs troupe with two shows, as well as Irish company Tumble Circus hosting Damn The Circus. Macnas will also take to the streets with Chaosmos.
Comedic turns include Maeve Higgins, who writes a love letter to Dublin while trying to get on with London in Moving City. David O'Doherty claims David O'Doherty Will Fix Everything, and rising star Aisling Bea presents C'est La Bea.
There’s a firm female presence throughout the programme, thematically, in casts, and among writers, directors and producers of work. Along with whistle-blowing and exploring identity, the intersections between music and theatre stand out, especially with Taylor Mac’s A 20th Century Concert: Abridged and Nic Green’s Fatherland.
As for Goan’s upcoming departure from DFF, “I’m delighted [with the festival] but sad,” she said, “I’m really excited so many artists I started working with five years ago are now in the programme, and so many new artists are featuring for the first time.
“I think this is the strongest programme we’ve had, and that’s a testament to the artists. I’ll really miss it, but it’s the right time to go.”
Tickets to the Dublin Fringe Festival events are priced between €5 and €30, and more information can be found on fringefest.com.