Fringe Debate: Should Culture Be Cancelled?

For decades, we’ve heard seers of all stripes declaring that ‘everything is political’. In 2020, though, you might be forgiven for reading that with a note of exhaustion. The hopeful overtures of the open internet have well and truly descended into countless – endless – jibes and arguments. Cancelled columnists (and cartoonists) heave their laptops open to lament their newfound obscurity on national mastheads. Even people with vastly similar viewpoints are in furious disagreement over how to agree. It’s rough out here!

Enter the 2020 Melbourne Fringe Festival, and this year’s Fringe Debate: Should Culture Be Cancelled? Is the problem with cancel culture … culture? As arts funding makes like an Australian drought, and Covid-19 drains the dregs of self-reliance, we may yet find out. With six debaters, we hope you’ll join us for a silly, satirical debate about political correctness, impossible expectations and the worth of the arts. Is it time for the cultural industries to go all in – or chuck it all in?

Hosted by Jean Tong and Lou Wall, with Evelyn Araluen, Ash Flanders, Vidya Rajan, Moira Finucane, Stuart Daulman and Zoë Coombs Marr. 

Presented in partnership with Melbourne Fringe.


Portrait of Lou Wall

Lou Wall

Lou Wall is a multi-award winning comedian, writer, and composer. Since 2017, she has toured nationally with her black comedy cabaret A Dingo Ate My Baby (Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017), It’s Not Me, It’s Lou (Melbourne Cabaret Festival’s Emerging Cabaret Artist Award; Best Cabaret Award nominee, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2017) and Romeo Is Not The Only Fruit (Green Room Award nominee; Brisbane Festival 2018; Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2018).

Portrait of Jean Tong

Jean Tong

Jean Tong is a writer, dramaturg and director. Jean is a 2020 Philip Parson’s Fellow and member of the Belvoir Writers’ Lab as well as the Development Assistant at Goalpost Pictures.

 Jean’s work includes: Hungry Ghosts (Melbourne Theatre Company); Kill All Adults (VCA); and musical Romeo is Not the Only Fruit (Malthouse Theatre, MICF; Brisbane Festival) which was a Best Writing and Best Ensemble nominee (Green Room Awards 2019).

Portrait of Ash Flanders

Ash Flanders

Ash Flanders is an award-winning writer and performer. As well as acting for other people and creating his own solo work, he runs DIY queer theatre outfit Sisters Grimm with Declan Greene. 

Portrait of Evelyn Araluen

Evelyn Araluen

Evelyn Araluen is a poet, researcher and co-editor of Overland literary journal. Her widely published criticism, fiction and poetry have been awarded the Nakata Brophy Prize for Young Indigenous Writers, the Judith Wright Poetry Prize, a Wheeler Centre Next Chapter Fellowship, and a Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund grant. Born and raised on Dharug Country, she is a descendant of the Bundjalung Nation.

Portrait of Moira Finucane

Moira Finucane

Moira Finucane is a writer, director, performer and creator of volcanic and magic realist worlds … legendary salons, literary variety and intimate theatrical spectacles, internationally renowned for her arresting mix of provocation and entertainment.

Portrait of Zoë Coombs Marr

Zoë Coombs Marr

Zoë Coombs Marr is a performer, writer, artist and comedian. She grew up in Grafton, where she and her best friend staged a musical instead of going to schoolies week.

 Zoë has performed stand up comedy extensively in Australia, London and New York. Her solo show, Trigger Warning, won the 2016 Melbourne Comedy Festival Award for Most Outstanding Show as well as the Golden Gibbo, and two Green Room Awards. It was also nominated for Best Show at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Drama.

Portrait of Vidya Rajan

Vidya Rajan

Vidya Rajan is a cross-disciplinary artist. She has been a recipient of the Wheeler Centre's Hot Desk Fellowship, Melbourne Festival's Director's Lab Program, Screen Australia's Developing the Developer Initiative and Film Victoria’s Plot Twist Games Writing workshop.

She has recently worked as a writer and performer with ABC Comedy, SBS, Theatreworks, Artshouse, Audible, Griffin Theatre and The Blue Room. Her work has also appeared in APJ, McSweeney's, Liminal, Cordite and Running Dog amongst others. She is a former writer-in-residence at the Malthouse Theatre, and is currently under commission on a number of screen, stage, and digital/multi-artform projects.

Portrait of Stuart Daulman

Stuart Daulman

Born in a small hut at the foot of a tall, ominous mountain, Stu has been performing comedy since the Middle Ages. His live show credits include opening for Moses at Mount Sinai, Melbourne International Comedy Festival for the last 12 years, Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival. Stuart has also been seen on the telly on such shows as Rosehaven, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, Hamish and Andy’s True Story, Utopia and award-winning sketch comedy show Fancy Boy.



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