Whitireia and WelTec students create award-winning work at Fringe Festival

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Another successful Fringe Festival has been and gone in the capital city and, this year, Whitireia and WelTec students played a big part in its success.

One of the most vibrant events on the Wellington calendar, the 2021 New Zealand Fringe Festival ran for a jam-packed 23 days in March, with performances of all kinds staged in venues of every size and shape across the city. Te Auaha - Whitireia and WelTec’s Dixon street campus - had four performance spaces in action for this year’s Fringe, and hosted Sunday night’s Fringe Awards where staff were proud and excited to see past and present students recognised for their creative achievements.

With nominations coming thick and fast throughout the ceremony, some highlights were:

2020 graduate Thomas Laybourn's debut full-length dance work '3 Monkeys' won the Outstanding Ensemble Award. The piece was also nominated for the Momentous Movement Award, as well as the prestigious and hotly contested grand prize: Best in Fringe 2021

Thomas Laybourn c back and Company 3 MonkeysThomas Laybourn '3 Monkeys'

2020 graduate Georgia Kellett's company, ‘KNOT Theatre’ won The Grand Design Award and was nominated for Most Promising Emerging Company. 

KNOT Theatre’s 'Bruises' saw Kellett performing alongside fellow graduate Felix Crossley-Pritchard and under the direction of a third talent from the 2020 cohort,  Devon Johnston. The work was also nominated for The Momentous Movement Award

2020 graduates Olivia Chelmis and Jeremy Hunt's 'Too Many Dead People' won the Pure Joy Award and was nominated for Spectacular Organised Chaos. Their company 'Dastardly Productions' (also nominated for Most Promising Emerging Company) includes current Stage & Screen students, Bon Buchanan and Kealan Schmidt.

Olivia Chelmis Darstardly Productions

 Olivia Chelmis, Dastardly Productions

Jeremy Hunt Darstardly Productions

Jeremy Hunt, Dastardly Productions

Staff are incredibly proud of the student and graduate accolades, but according to Venues Operations Officer Nell Williams, any new artist who took the plunge and created work for this year’s Fringe deserves praise.

“We look forward to Fringe every year, but this year’s level of student and grad involvement has made 2021 especially rewarding,” she says. “It was awesome to see so many familiar faces around the building and to collaborate with them to put the final touches on their work in our spaces. Working with emerging artists is one of my favourite parts of working here, but it’s extra special having first met them as students.” 

And the recognition clearly goes both ways. Staff were delighted to learn that Venues Manager Will Harris has been awarded the prestigious Spirit of the Fringe Award for 2021.

“We’re incredibly proud that Will’s work was recognised at this level,” says Williams. “He’s keenly focussed on fostering our relationships with industry to benefit our students and graduates. So when an industry and community peer like NZ Fringe sees and celebrates those efforts (and the students are there to cheer us on) it means a lot.”

The New Zealand Fringe Festival runs annually throughout Wellington City. More information on the festival can be found at the link below.