Eoghan Funge examines 2022’s Dublin Fringe Festival.
Dublin Fringe Festival is back, and this time it's bigger than ever. Per its website, Dublin Fringe Festival is laying claim to 430 Artists over 16 days of performance and creativity scattered all across the city. But what can we expect? The Festival has uploaded its performance brochure online this year and presents us with 52 pages of description, imagery and colour.
A focal point for this year's Dublin Fringe seems to be LGBTQIA+ performances. From drag to reflective pieces on Irish history, it covers the board. Well revered Irish theatre group This Is Pop Baby seem to be among the most anticipated performances with their submission WAKE - “WAKE lifts the veil between worlds, where club culture meets Irish tradition in an exquisite frenzy of ritual, rave, grief and joy; conjuring up the spirits of the good times, of the marginalised, of everything that’s been and gone, toasting yesterday’s passing as we dream up tomorrow, together.”.
The week also brings a vast discussion on technology, a theme that has seemed to slowly develop over recent years. In 2016, White Label brought us Override, a discussion on medical enhancements used to alter genetic material and makeup to improve one's life. This year, Pig is brought to the stage. A one woman show performed by Emma Finnegan and directed by Annachiara Vespi, with Sam Killan lending voice to an unseen yet heard digital character. The piece takes place in the current day - exploring the idea of Elon Musk's current microchips program - utilising his technology to alter the neurological operations of pigs and other animals and livestock. VOYAGR is an online streamer - a one-time dance tutorial influencer-turned-terrorist by growing online conspiracy theorists - and Pig poses the question; “What if these radicalized influencers were trapped in their own system?” It takes us on VOYAGR's emotional journey as she discovers more about her past, present and future.
Emma Finnegan gave a phenomenal performance as VOYAGR at the show's opening night in Smock Alley’s Boys School. The show's concept was supported and helped by the theatre's bare and somewhat overwhelming performance space. Tall, cold stone walls, surrounded by uncomfortable benched seating, kept the audience consistently in the space - a tool that operated quite well within this production's narrative.
The show takes place in one setting, the bedroom of this now flipped influencer - and the only other character we see is a projected chat box, yet, the chemistry between VOYAGR and the Siri-voiced fans' comments is palpable. The tug-o-war between VOYAGR wanting to release herself from the world and draw attention to her disdain for Elon Musk by killing herself, versus her convincing herself to live, is brought further tension by Cosmo - the chatroom member who convinces the influencer that her decisions are right, that she should press the button, and blow herself and her city up.
The use of space in this piece was fascinating, with the idea of existing within cyberspace with the lives of those who work online, combined with those who earn money from streaming from their computer and in many ways, having a life that exists exclusively on and for the internet.
Overall, Dublin Fringe sets itself up to be a celebration of arts and culture within the theatre and streets of Dublin - or, as they say, “in your seats and on the streets”, with exhibitions set up across the city - in Stephens Green, Dublin Castle and more.