For Light-hearted Entertainment, Head to the Dark Side

May 28, 2020

The switch has been flipped on live entertainment. Like we’re being shown just how precious it really is, we’ve been plunged into a short period of darkness that at times, can feel endless.

That doesn’t mean we aren’t looking forward to the return of light-hearted performances, laughter and spiritual abandon. But that’s not all. Now is the perfect time to think about the different types of entertainment we may have missed—particularly the unconventional.

There is a taboo side to live festival entertainment. It’s a type of theatre that’s quirky, strange, shadowy and twisted. It questions convention, bends the ‘rules.’ It’s the type of revelry savoured at the Dark Mofo Festival, and if you have not experienced it, it may be time to lighten up and plan a walk on the dark side. 

Above Image Description: Our Parlour tent commissioned by Hendricks Gin for Dark Mofo 2017


Not every type of visual art is predominantly light, offset with shadow. As if to show the belly of the human psyche, the dark art movement eclipses the conventional and plays in corners that some would like to forget.

Dark gothic art draws from the architecture of the Medieval period, and abides in shadows, both literally and figuratively. The dark surreal arts bring together darkness and the unnatural, stretching the imagination of all who partake, not only posing the question of “What if?” but also “What Then?” And maybe the darkest of all, macabre art serves to shock and disturb with depictions of injury and death.

Not every type of art will speak to every person; however, it’s important to understand that art is not always intended to raise spirits, or convey optimism. In some cases, like with dark art forms, it is intended to provoke thoughts, explore the uncultivated and expand the mind.Dark art isn’t confined to sculpture or canvas. It can also take the form of live entertainment…as with the Dark Mofo Festival.

The Societal Mojo of Mofo

Video Description: Dark Mofo 2018 promotional video

What is entertainment? It can be defined as amusement or diversion. It can also be called engagement, or something that occupies the mind. We all know the same-old-same-old does not occupy the mind. Even live entertainment can become predictable and ordinary, leaving onlookers uninterested…and it’s that tedium that the Dark Mofo Festival rages against.

The revolutionary world of Dark Mofo was born from pushing against convention and focussing on taboo subjects. It stretches audiences’ emotional reactions and experiences.

When festivalgoers enter the annual Dark Mofo Festival gates in Hobart, they are advised to “keep an open mind.” They will encounter the shocking, the awe-inspiring, the thought-provoking and the downright weird.

Fires burn across the festival grounds, including one consuming attendees’ fears and anxieties (written on paper and burned within the belly of Ogoh-Ogoh). Brave guests plunge into the freezing waters of Sandy Bay for the Nude Solstice Swim. A performer is buried alive for three days. Live music fuels late-night dance parties. Luxuriant feasts are devoured. Psyches are disturbed and minds are expanded…then blown.

Performances from the dark side are important for a number of reasons.

Artists are given opportunities to express their uniqueness—in ways that might not be accepted in all venues.

  • Segments of the population that identify with this alternate sense of humour, or unconventional way of communicating, are reached. This makes the often-excluded feel included.  

  • Artistry from the dark side fills open minds with alternative ideas, which leads to innovation, creativity and advancement in all areas.

  • By embracing art of all types—from juvenile to the dark and naughty—we expand the reaches of entertainment and represent all the facets that construct a modern, tolerant society.

Image Description: Inside our Parlour of Curiosities, Dark Mofo 2017


 The dark performing arts aren’t for everyone. Some will never attend an event. Others will visit one dark festival and never miss another. That’s what makes the performing arts so unique. All types can coexist, speaking to different segments of one, unified community. There is a synergy that exists only when performers use their unique language to speak to audiences…as communities and as individuals. That cannot be accomplished virtually. The screen can connect us superficially, but it can also act as a barrier in live performances. That’s why it’s so important, particularly in these dark times, to look ahead to the light live performances will bring…no matter the genre. If you have a dark sense of humour, if you find the bizarre oddly enjoyable…then look into the 2021 Dark Mofo Festival and others like it. This year’s event has been cancelled due to Covid19. However, it never hurts to plan an expansion of the mind, to support dark artists virtually, or to arrange a walk on the dark side when the world is finally unleashed. In the meantime, whether you’re planning to host a festival or to attend a festival when restrictions are lifted, visit the Bamboozled Productions website to see how we’re keeping the spirit of entertainment alive.

Louise Clarke

74 Upper Sturt Road, Upper Sturt, SA 5156 Australia

P: +61 (0) 404 834 589

We acknowledge the Kaurna People as the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work. We recognise that this land always was and always will be Aboriginal land and we pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging.