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Lagos Fringe Festival… Recreating the future

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A performance during the festival last year

Lagos will no doubt experience breathtaking performances, experimental works, exhibitions, and an array of training opportunities in the creative arts, as one of the largest outdoor festivals in the West Africa sub-region, the Lagos Fringe Festival is scheduled to hold from Tuesday through Sunday, November 17 – 22.

Now in its third year, the festival offers a hybrid of programmes, both virtual and live interactions, with social distancing measures in place. For six days it will hold, participants and partners will combine in this annual multi-disciplinary arts celebration to showcase what can be done in the creative space even in the face of the global pandemic still ravaging parts of the world.

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According to the festival producer, Brenda Fashugba, there is something for everyone, including artists, digitally connected youths, existing and potential arts audiences, students, children, old and young professionals, art institutions, expatriate communities, and international guests, with activities, performances, and food inspired by our local communities.

“There will also be a vibrant arts market on display throughout the festival period, short film screenings and feedback sessions where filmmakers will be on the ground to engage with the audience to share their processes and motivations.

“Some of the other highlights of this year’s events include a music concert – an evening of dazzling fiesta of fun, colour, and life featuring a range of artists at the festival hub. The concert will be followed by a brilliant fireworks display to top off the night, ensuring we are in the mood for the holiday season!

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“Another highlight is the street food fiesta where there will be food stalls of all types showcasing delicious dishes and tasty treats. Some festival-goers will learn tips of the trade with live cooking demonstrations and discover hidden food secrets,” Fashugba stated.

“Just to mention though that all our festival events will be presented with health and safety protocols intact, such as limiting the number of audiences allowed to each show, audience and guests will be required to have their temperature checked before entering the space, face masks and shields will be worn at all times and if a guest does not have, one will be provided at the gate. A ‘No mask no entry’ policy will be in full swing with compliance monitored by festival staff and designated health workers,” she added.

Also commenting on the festival, the Director and General Secretary of Guild of Theatre Directors, Kenneth Uphopho notes: “Our overall objective for hosting this year’s festival in the light of the pandemic is to contribute to the positive messaging to the artist’s communities about devising very practical ways to still earn a living by adapting to the new realities while COVID-19 is still very much around.

“As you know, Lagos Fringe is an alternative in approach, with special focus on the multidisciplinary media of expressions and exemplifies our mantra is ‘Open Access’. We are a platform for all kinds of artistic works, not just theatre.”

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“The theme we have adopted ‘Recreating the Future’ was inspired by the experiences of the recent times where everything has changed from a level of systemic growth to an unknown variable in just a few months. I mean, with all that has happened or still happening globally and digitally, as well as the innovative ways we have adapted, it only reinforces our intention to present this artistic celebration of the Lagos Fringe as a symbol of our continued resilience, especially within the creative communities.

“This year, we want the works, performances, artists, and the outlook of the festival to reflect the hybrid nature of the festival where 50 per cent of the experiences will be in the digital space and 50 per cent will be physical interactions with social distancing measures in place. We are also working round the clock to design our online presence to reflect a more interactive and exciting view from the live venues, so it is not monotonous and static in presentation,” he added.

Festival partners for this edition include Goethe Institut, Freedom Park, and Orijin, with support from the United States Consulate General.

With over 85 million impressions on social media, a feat the organisers hope to double in the coming weeks, the Lagos Fringe has grown in the number of performances, as well as in the size of participants and audience engagement since its launch in 2018.

In November 2018 and 2019, the festival held for eight and six days respectively, featuring over 156 shows in about 21 venues with a combined attendance of over 5,500 people.

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