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at The Wheeler Centre

State of Play: Political Art in 2017

As co-directors of Forest Fringe, Andy Field and Deborah Pearson champion theatre that is daring, disorderly, DIY and often deeply weird. An experimental arts organisation that grew out of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007, Forest Fringe now produce 'microfestivals', hosts residencies and commissions new work around the world.

Wherever they go – and their work takes place in unlikely locations, from London buses to Shanghai slaughterhouses – the Forest Fringe approach calls into question the means of art production and the structural obstacles to creative expression. All the while, Forest Fringe maintain a spirit of adventure, risk, exchange and even utopianism.

In Australia for a residency with the Melbourne Fringe, Field and Pearson will discuss with host Emily Sexton the intersection of art and politics. Is art inherently political? When are artists seen as legitimate political commentators and when are they dismissed? And, in this politically heated moment in the UK, what do Field and Pearson want live art to do – and to be?

This event will be Auslan interpreted.

Presented in partnership with Melbourne Fringe.


Portrait of Deborah Pearson

Deborah Pearson

Deborah Pearson is a live artist and playwright.  Her work has toured to four continents and fifteen countries, and has been translated into five languages.  She recently published The Future Show with Oberon books.  She is the founding co-director of UK artist collective Forest Fringe. 

Portrait of Andy Field

Andy Field

Andy is a theatremaker, curator, and co-director of the performance collective Forest Fringe. He has toured his own contemporary performance work across the UK and internationally. Andy also writes on performance and in 2012 completed a PhD imagining new relationships with the New York avant-gardes of the 1960s.

Portrait of Emily Sexton

Emily Sexton

Emily Sexton is a former Head of Programming for the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas.

She was the recipient of a prestigious Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in 2014. Previously, she was Artistic Director of Next Wave (2010–14), where her key achievements were a radical rethink of an arts festival model, and a series of landmark commissions, publications and talks featuring First Nations artists, co-curated with Tony Albert and Tahjee Moar and titled Blak Wave.

In 2013, she was Artistic Director of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust’s 20th Anniversary Celebrations at the Melbourne Recital Centre. She was also Creative Producer for Melbourne Fringe Festival for 2008–10.

Emily has been a proud Board Member for Arena Theatre Company, Snuff Puppets and Theatre Network Victoria, and is alumnus of the Australia Council’s Emerging Leaders Program (2011). She is a regular peer assessor for the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, and other philanthropic trusts and foundations. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications, English) from the University of Sydney (2005). She is a regular host and facilitator for writers’ festivals and arts organisations around Australia.


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