Do you like your entertainment to be a little on the strange side? Say no more. Sharjah Fringe Festival promises two weeks of unusual theatre, music, puppetry, magic, dance and interactive street shows for the whole family, starting this weekend.
Billing itself as the first fringe festival in the Middle East, it will offer up-close-and-personal fringe entertainment, with the largest venue holding a capacity of only 420 seats!
But what’s fringe entertainment, you might ask? Think of performances that are experimental and out-of-the-box in nature, whether in delivery or subject matter. If that sounds like your cup of tea, read on for our guide to what’s happening where.
WHEN: January 16-February 1
WHERE: Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Qasba, Al Noor Island, Flag Island
TICKETS: Dh30—50 per event (discounted tickets are available to students and over-60s), available at box offices or via the Sharjah Fringe call centre.
ACCESSIBILITY: All venues are wheelchair accessible and most are climate controlled, according to the Fringe website.
WHAT’S ON: AL MAJAZ WATERFRONT — EAST EVENTS CIRCLE THEATRE
1. Black Blues Brothers (January 16-23, Dh50)
In this tribute to soul revivalist band The Blues Brothers, five acrobats bring to the stage fiery limbo dancing, somersault routines, human pyramids, soulful tunes and plenty of comedy, set against a backdrop of an chic American bar.
2. Mandragora Circus (January 18-22, Dh30)
The Mandragora Circus from Argentina is a wordless performance centred on two clowns; it combines modern clowning techniques, circus stunts and physical theatre to tell a story of love.
3. Joyce (January 18-February 1, Dh50)
In the kid-friendly play, a father and family hamster enter the colourful world of a children’s book and come across a range of dynamic characters, indulging its young audience’s imagination. ‘Joyce’ comes to life through puppetry, music and live magic.
4. Strange Feathers (January 20-23, Dh40)
Two aerial dancers perform the story of a pair of little birds who try to fly with the help of their surroundings, mixing contemporary dance, aerial dance, live music and humour.
5. Euria (Rain) (January 22-28, Dh40)
Even children have the capacity for grief, and Euria (Rain) — from Spain — tells the story of what happens when you love something and lose it, and how to cope with that loss.
6. 80s Rewind (January 25-February 1, Dh50)
80s Rewind features four performers — The Magnets — who combine impressive harmonies and top-notch beatboxing.
7. The All-Star Sharjah Revue (January 26-February 1, Dh50)
Feeling right at home, the All-Star Sharjah Revue will offer a series of variety shows that shine a spotlight on Emirati and UAE-based performers. Expected dance, music, and comedy from local performance companies.
WHAT’S ON: AL MAJAZ WATERFRONT — WEST EVENTS CIRCLE THEATRE
1. The I Hate Children Children’s Show (January 16-26, Dh45)
Despite its name, the fast-paced and interactive I Hate Children Children’s Show will invite kids up on the stage to get close to the magic; it promises to involve every kid in a trick, so that no one goes home sad.
2. Jamie MacDowell & Tom Thum (January 16-30, Dh45)
Australian duo Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum brandish just a guitar and distinctive singing voice, combining folk-pop songs and beatboxing — maybe not as common a combo as peanut butter and jelly, but more like… peanut butter and bananas.
3. Sticks Stones Broken Bones (January 17-22, Dh40)
Remember being a kid and making toys out of everyday household items? Take it a step further with puppet show Sticks Stones Broken Bones, from Montreal, Canada. Here, a dozen puppet characters are born out of junk and random objects, only to create a wordless shadow puppet show about stuff like flying chickens, sneaky ninjas and brain transplants. The usual.
4. Sketchy Behaviour (January 16-February 1, Dh45)
Want to support local talent? UAE-based Sketchy Behaviour are a group of comedians who specialise in offbeat observations and comedy sketches that are inspired by current events.
5. Mind Games (January 18-29, Dh40)
South African mentalist Brendon Peel might get in your head with ‘Mind Games’ — he makes it his mission to thrill audiences through psychological illusions and classic mentalism tricks.
6. A Home I Cannot Name (January 22-29, Dh35)
Electronic music including flutes, keyboard, cello, vocals, poetry and visual art come together in this experiential musical treat titled ‘A Home I Cannot Name’, a collaboration between South Africa’s spontaneous cellist, “HA!Man” and Belgian word artist Joke Debaere.
WHAT’S ON: AL QASBA MASRAH THEATRE
1. The Fantabulous Bubble Show (January 16-21, Dh35): In this loud and fast show directed at kids, expect science and fun to come together — as well as bubbles of all sizes.
2. Short+Sweet Sharjah (January 17-February 1, Dh40): UAE-based writers, directors and actors present a selection of 10-minute plays in the first edition of Short+Sweet Sharjah.
3. The King of Broken Things (January 17-23, Dh40): A poignant theatrical journey about healing broken objects, including hearts, told through the eyes of a child.
4. Silent Legends (January 18-23, Dh50): Live performance, projection and animation come together to combine the worlds of two Bulgarian legends about wood-nymphs and magical powers.
5. The Bubble Show (January 18-28, Dh50): Maxwell the Bubbleogist — aka Maxwell Graham from the UK — will present his exploration of bubble dynamics in The Fantabulous Bubble Show.
6. Triple Buse (January 21-February 1, Dh50): Another wordless stage production, this time exploring the drab monotony of a workplace and how to reinvent it through humour and circus magic.
7. The Great Pangolin Mystery (January 25-February 1, Dh40): Clowning, music and animal masks are just the start of this show, which has an underlying environmental and social theme. Led by dancing and singing honey badgers Florence and Watson.
WHAT’S ON: AL QASBA OUTDOOR THEATRE
1. African Signatures (January 16-23, Dh35): The Vuyani Dance Theatre presents a production that traces ancient African footsteps of tradition and looks at how stories of the past inform the present and the future.
2. SH! (January 18-25, Dh40): Three actors play amid a discarded pile of torn-up newspapers and learn about the world around them in this physical theatre production.
3. Chores (January 18-30, Dh40): A comedy from Australia about a pair of brothers who must clean their room before they can play.
4. Children are Stinky (January 25-February 1, Dh35): Expect circus acts, acrobatics and comedy set to a rocking soundtrack.
5. Grumpy Pants (January 27-February 1, Dh35): A self-proclaimed ‘professional stupid’, Kiki entertains his audiences with juggling routines, physical comedy and fork throwing.
WHAT’S ON: AL NOOR ISLAND
When you buy an entry ticket to Al Noor Island (starting from Dh31.50), you will get access to a variety of free Sharjah Fringe Festival shows, including Maxwell the Bubbleologist and Pop the Fantabulous, stories out of Africa from the dancing, singing honey badgers, Florence & Watson, illusions from Brendon Peel in Hocus Pocus and aerial dance performance among the trees thanks to Hatch from Ireland’s Fidget Feet Dance Company.
WHAT’S ON: FRINGE ON THE STREETS
Street shows run from 2.30pm to 11pm daily on eight pitches on the walkway between Al Noor, Al Majaz and Al Qasba. Here’s who you can see.
January 16 to 24:
Magic Brian (USA), Dino Lampa (Italy), Mr Copini (Chile), Mencho Sosa (Argentina), Paul Nathan (USA), Dan The Hat (UK), Billy Kidd (Canada), Otto Bassotto (Italy), Katay Santos (Venezuela), Jp Koala (Australia), Street Coffeee (Italy), Ey Pacha (Argentina), Unstable Acts (UK), Able Mable (UK), Stickman (Canada)
January 25 to February 1:
The TNT Show (Spain), Hero San (Japan), Thelmo Parole (Spain), Hugo Miro (Spain), Plated Spin (UK), Kalabazi (Brazil), Chimichurri (Spain), Mauranga (Spain), Dynamike (Canada), Todd Various (Argentina), Mr Tortuffo (Chile), Atari Show (Argentina), Herbie Treehead (UK), Maple Staplegun (Australia)
WHAT’S ON: FLAG ISLAND
Events to be announced.