Organised by the Cultural Affairs Bureau, the 21st Macao City Fringe Festival was held successfully from 12 to 23 January, presenting a total of 20 extraordinary programmes and 14 outreach activities during 12 consecutive days and embarking on an exceptional journey of art amid the pandemic. The Fringe Festival hosted the programmes in several neighbourhoods across Macao, injecting artistic vitality into every corner of the city and offering a platform for art practitioners and the general public to showcase their creativity and talent.
The programmes under the subtheme “Iao Hon” in the series “Crème de la Fringe” linked the past and future development of the district. The opening ceremony of this year’s Fringe Festival was held in Iao Hon, with a number of games available for the residents to join. The other community-based subtheme of the series “Todos Fest!” demonstrated the countless possibilities of people from different walks of life. Integration of modern technology and art was featured in many programmes of the Fringe Festival this year. The Post-pandemic Madness curated by Heidi Ng, Somen Sou and Kathy Ng promoted the audience to reflect on the relationship between human society and nature in the post-pandemic era through the combination of augmented reality (AR), multimedia and theatre. Finding Season by Cindy Ng combined real-time weather data of Macao with ink art to create a virtual yet realistic setting. The costume theatre play Fragment by Cheng Ka Man reproduced the sounds of the bygone blacksmith industry. The Asian premiere of 0AR presented by AΦE from the United Kingdom, the family programme Macao Magic Cinema and the interactive programme The Inside were well received for their abundant imagination.
This year’s Fringe Festival also sought to create a new landscape by hosting special performances in several neighbourhoods. The Rice Dough Craftsman featured a three-metre-high bamboo puppet at Largo da Sé. A Space of New and Old presented the past and present of Coloane. In Kids Dance Battle, young dancers gathered for a dance competition at Largo de S. Domingos. The participatory exhibition Art Exhibition for All was continuously held this year, providing a platform for the public to showcase their creativity and talents. A total of 118 works were received, manifesting the concept of “All around the city, our stages, our patrons, our artists”. In addition, the exhibition Room That Kid is currently held at Mong-Ha Villas until 11 February, in which the creator Kawo Cheang staged five artistic exercises to converse with his works.
Art nourishes the soul, and from this arises the unique appeal of theatre. In the original Sound Theatre Back Home from the Edinburgh Fringe Showcase, the audience played the roles and told several stories about returning home. John Cage´s Sonatas and Interludes with the Eight Rasas by the Macao Contemporary Music Association unfolded the audience’s senses in regard to Indian aesthetics. Flortitude by the Zero Distance Cooperative created a Zen space and showcased the healing power of nature through the combination of interactive theatre and flower paintings. Lift Left Life Live by the PO Art Studio took the audience on an unconventional “getaway” amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, the outreach activity “Sharing on the Creation of Real-time Digital Interactive Ink Installation” introduced the process of producing Finding Season. The “Interdisciplinary Symposium on Contemporary Arts and Theatre”, “How to Curate Inclusive Art” - Screening and Sharing, “Symbiotic Dance Workshop” and “Street Dance Tutorial” expanded the audience’s artistic horizons continuously through diverse discussions and demonstrations.
In addition, this year’s Fringe Festival attracted a number of media representatives and art critics from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to interview the art groups online, which served to expand the Fringe Festival’s influence through publicity and news coverage in the Greater Bay Area and to propel the cultural development of the Greater Bay Area by leveraging Macao’s advantage in cultural resources. In the future, the Cultural Affairs Bureau will promote artistic and cultural development on various dimensions by introducing more creative programmes to the Fringe Festival and continuously building a showcase platform for local art practitioners and groups.