Photo: J Forsyth

at ETU Ballroom, Trades Hall

We Are United

Resistance, activism and change are the themes for the opening night of the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival and we'll be celebrating – where else? – at Victorian Trades Hall. It's the world's oldest trade union building and, following recent restoration and refurbishment, it’s the new home of the Melbourne Fringe. Most importantly, it’s the perfect venue for a night of stories and songs of unity.

Trades Hall has always been a venue for agitating and celebrating. Over the years, it’s seen legendary clashes (and birthday bashes); it’s been, and remains, a site of rebellion, resistance, robust debate … and robust, though not always elegant, dancing. 

To open the 2019 Fringe Festival, we’re co-presenting a night of stirring and soaring entertainment from some of our favourite artists, writers and activists, including musician Amos Roach, playwright Jean Tong, storyteller and curator Sista Zai Zanda, musician and comedian Selina Jenkins and activist Sally Rugg.

They’ll share songs and stories inspired by Trades Hall and the collective spirit at the building’s heart. Then we’ll dance the night away at the festival club.

Presented in partnership with Melbourne Fringe.

Drinks available for purchase on the night.

This event will be Auslan interpreted.


Portrait of Sally Rugg

Sally Rugg

Sally Rugg is the executive director at She was a campaign director with GetUp and worked at the forefront of Australia's marriage equality campaign. Her first book, How Powerful We Are (Hachette, 2019), is about dirty politics, sophisticated digital campaigning and how Australia finally said 'yes' to love.

Portrait of Sista Zai Zanda

Sista Zai Zanda

Sista Zai Zanda is a storyteller, educator and curator of the Pan Afrikan Poets Cafe – an Afro-Literary matinée of beats, performance and poetry. Since 2015, Zai has spoiled audiences in Melbourne and Sydney with over 100 performances by African and First Nations storytellers including feature performances by renowned international artists Mahogany L Browne (NYC, Nuyorican Poets Cafe), Inua Ellams (Nigeria/UK), Kat François (Trinidad/UK) and Jive Poetic (NYC). 

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 Amos Roach

Amos Roach

Amos Roach is a Ngarrandjeri/Gunditj Mara man who is a musician and dancer. His music presents a narrative of healing, told with song and dance. His voice travels between the Desert, the Riverland and the Saltwater to the city like smoke from a fire. 

Portrait of Alistair Baldwin

Alistair Baldwin

Alistair Baldwin is a writer and comedian based in Naarm / Melbourne. He has written for ABC's The WeeklyGet Krack!nHard Quiz & At Home Alone Together. Published works include pieces for un. MagazineArcherMetro and Black Inc.'s Growing Up Disabled In Australia anthology. He is 1/2 of the experimental (and toxic) comedy duo Nemeses with Vidya Rajan.

Portrait of Selina Jenkins

Selina Jenkins

Selina Jenkins is an acclaimed musician, award winning cabaret artist and celebrated character comedian. She has performed extensively throughout Australia and the US, appeared on ABC Comedy Up Late and will be debuting her highly anticipated new solo show ‘Boobs’ at this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival. Selina is also the woman behind renowned comedy character 'Beau Heartbreaker'.

Portrait of Alex Morris

Alex Morris

Alex completed a Bachelor of Music (Composition)
 at the University of Western Australia in 2009. Since then he has been active working with orchestras, arts companies and festivals currently holding the position of General Manager with the Stonnington Symphony. Alex is in demand around the world as a vocal coach working with ensembles, teaching classes and running workshops with regular appearances as faculty at the BHS Harmony University.

Portrait of Tejopala Rawls

Tejopala Rawls

New Zealander Tejopala Rawls is a climate activist, an ordained Buddhist and a stand-up comedian. By day Tejopala works for the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC).

Portrait of Luke Hilakari

Luke Hilakari

Luke is the Secretary of Victorian Trades Hall Council, the peak body for unions in Victoria, representing over 40 unions and 500,000 members. Under his leadership, Victorian workers are taking grassroots action in unprecedented numbers to improve our working lives. Luke's experience organising some of Victoria's lowest paid workers drives him to fight for wage justice in Victoria. Under the banner of We Are Union, Victorian workers are leading the fight for progressive social change.


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