Day 6 With a Bunch of Misfits @ Adelaide Fringe Festival

I decided to spend my sixth in Adelaide enjoying a slower pace.  With the majority of my day free, I explored some of Adelaide’s infamous wine regions.  However, while there, I couldn’t fully escape the Fringe Festival – I met some lovely people at the vineyards who were also traveling through Adelaide and we sparked a conversation about the best stuff to see at the Fringe.  I love advocating for the arts!

Before the day ended, I was fortunate enough to catch two Fringe events that were outstanding and fun!

THE TRAVELING SISTERS is a fun, spunky variety show performed by Brisbane artists Ell Sachs, Laura Trenerry and Lucy Fox.  Together they sing, play guitar and impersonate a variety of interesting misfit characters during a 55-minute set.  Some of my favourite misfits included a giant fat lady and an odd couple eager to celebrate anyone’s birthday by distributing pork pies.  I found this show charming, silly and fun as the sisters left me with a massive smile on my face that remained for several hours after the show. 

In the mid-1990s, director Danny Boyle created the cult-classic film, Trainspotting based on the novel by Irvine Welsh.  Scottish theatre company In Your Face Theatre now brings the gritty story about a group of heroin addicts coping with the economic depression in Edinburgh to the stage in TRAINSPOTTING LIVE.  Living up to their name, In Your Face Theatre present a show that really emerges their audiences into the middle of the action on stage. 

Staged in a unique venue located in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD, TRAINSPOTTING submerges its audience, with the use of strobe lighting, haze and glow sticks, into the underground world of raves and misfit angst.   Before the start of the show, there are signs posted everywhere that warn the audience the use of these theatrical effects, plus the use of heavy adult language, sexual references and drug use. 

The most impactful element throughout the performance is the actors’ ability to include the audience within the story: they naturally converse, stumble and share (or rather smear) costumes and props all over audience members.  This demonstrates to the audience that there is no escaping the dark, grotesque and aggressive execution of this performance and the realness of this consequential drug world.

Exciting news: TRAINSPOTTING LIVE is touring Australia!  The production will next stop in Melbourne for a month-long residency at fortyfivedownstairs.  Then, they will stop in Brisbane before making its way back the UK.  Do yourself a favour by making sure you see at least one of these performances in an Australian city near you!

For more information about these productions, or to purchase tickets, please visit the Adelaide Fringe Festival website.

Spectacular Highlights (and some low-lights) From My Fifth Day @ the Adelaide Fringe Festival

Day five at Adelaide Fringe, and the experiences continue to impress.  Here’s a breakdown of highlights from my day:

Who says artists can’t have it all?  South Australian superstar, Joanne Hartstone proves that artists can do it all – perform, produce and direct multiple events within a festival season – in her one-woman show THE GIRL WHO JUMPED OFF THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN.

THE GIRL WHO JUMPED OFF THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN gives Hartstonea platform to showcase her multi-talented capabilities.: not only does she superbly embody the character Evelyn Edmonds, a young Hollywood wanna-be starlet, but she also sings classic jazz tunes from the 1940s.  With a voice that sounds similar to that of the greats Judy Garland and Jean Harlow, Hartstone commands the attention of her audience throughout the nostalgic performance.

If you are looking to support a solid South Australian artist who gives audiences bang for their buck, I highly recommend catching Joanne Hartstone in THE GIRL WHO JUMPED OFF THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN.  Likewise, I recommend some of her other festival events: WE ARE ANONYMOUS, BLINK and NUCLEAR FAMILY, which were reviewed earlier this week.

Poking fun at one’s own culture as a way of building an understanding between two different cultures comes with boundaries and risks.  However, Angela Yeoh’s RUNNY MONEY finds that balance graciously while paying homage to her own roots in Chinese culture.

Throughout the show, Angela sheds light on quirky stereotypes of the Chinese culture.  According to the performance, Chinese people maintain a strong relationship with money and business, always trying to outsmart the next man with a big a idea.  It is emphasized that the importance of work is passed down to children at a very young age, and often times education is centered around business development.  At one point, Angela introduces a funny plastic machine (made in China, of course) that has the ability to scan the audience’s personal possessions on the spot in order to predict its value.  Based on these values, we receive our economic social status and then are given certain privileges.  

That is only one of many hilarious and interactive moments presented by Angela Yeoh in RUNNY MONEY.  Without giving too much more away, I highly recommend anyone to see this hilarious comedy showcase.  It is stressed by Angela that the work is still in the creative development phase; however, this performance has a solid foundation with potential for greatness!

Speaking of comedy, award-winning character act, Neal Portenza, returns to Adelaide Fringe to present a new work in development, which allows him to be as zany, spontaneous and interactive as ever before.  While making up skits and trying out new punch lines on the spot, performer, Josh Ladgrove showcases his ability to think quickly and fearlessly stumble through authentic comedy routines.  His genuine approach to his audience and comedy is a shining example of his own philosophy, “Art is not art if there is a chance for destruction.”

Unfortunately, not everyone understands Ladgrove's comedy.  During last night’s performance, a heckler kept egging Ladgrove to erupt in anger and break focus from the performance.  Instead, like a comic champ, Ladgrove gracefully accepted the annoying heckler, stating that he appreciated their random spouts of negative feedback.  The show continued with the heckler remaining in the audience until the end.

I’ve seen Neal Portenza several times at both Adelaide Fringe Festival and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and each performance is different.  Never disappointing.  Looking forward to catching him again at this years; Melbourne International Comedy Festival!

Unfortunately, not every event at the festival is an absolute winner.  As a fan of American playwright, Sara Ruhl, I was excited to see a performance of LATE: A COWBOY SONG presented by Lady Like Theatre Collective.  However, this production left me slightly disappointed at its cookie-cutter and lazy interpretation.

As a playwright who challenges gender roles and social norms throughout all her work, Ruhl pushes characters and environments to the edge.   Unfortunately, I didn’t see much edginess in this performance.

Amongst the many elements within the play’s writing that were missed, I did find a few choices that worked: an acoustic guitar was nicely played by the cowboy.  Using imagination and creativity for characters riding real horses the male actor is used to symbolise the horse. 

However, here are some of the missed elements, or elements that need more development, that were under-performed in this production: there was a strong lack of understanding traditional role playing between the characters; there was a lack of growth in the relationship between the cowboy and the leading lady; there also was a lack of conflict within the relationships that was spoken in between the words, especially between the cowboy and the husband. 

Hopefully, this creative team keeps working on LATE: A COWBOY SONG.  I would love to give it another chance to see it develop deeper.

For more information about these shows, or to purchase tickets, please visit the Adelaide Fringe Festival website.

Day Four: Witnessing the Significance of the Adelaide Fringe Festival

Day four was a day full of theatre events at the Adelaide Fringe Festival.  Unexpectedly, it became a day that demonstrated the significance of honouring festivals like the Adelaide Fringe – because it’s about celebrating open access for both artists and audiences.   

Being an open access festival, Adelaide Fringe does not act as a curator but instead allows any artist or group with a creative idea to participate in being apart of the 31-day arts celebration.  The creative team behind WE ARE ANONYMOUS certainly demonstrates this is a open accessibility for artists.  WE ARE ANONYMOUS is presented by Ink Spot, a South Australian youth theatre company, who showcase their understanding of the world around them.  This show sheds light on recent events surrounding the international phenomenon that was ‘anonymous,’ a group of mover and shakers wanting to change and challenge political norms around the world.  Directed by Joanne Hartstone, WE ARE ANONYMOUS is told through a large ensemble of young performers who work together to reveal the consequences of cyber trafficking.

I was thrilled to see this show because so many of the young performers have budding careers ahead of them.  They all embodied confidence, focus and passion for the story they were sharing with the audience.  Somewhere amongst the group must be the next Geoffrey Rush or Cate Blanchett! 

Another important element the Adelaide Fringe Festival celebrates is the ability for artists to develop new works and or new skills.  MIRROR is a great example.  Performer, Robbie Greenwell presents a series of characters and vignettes that showcase his talent as a character performer.  Charming moments and unique surprises sprinkle throughout the performance.  Most importantly,  at the end of the performance, Greenwell humbly asks the audience to leave feedback from their experience.  It becomes apparent that this performer remains within the creative development process and invites his audience in on the journey.

I am looking forward to seeing a future performance of MIRROR to witness the development.  For those curios about an artist’s creative process, I highly recommend checking out MIRROR. 

BLINK brings artists together in a mentorship capacity, another important element Adelaide Fringe celebrates about the artistic journey.  Established performer and producer, Joanne Hartstone works together with several emerging artists to bring British playwright, Phil Porter’s charming love story BLINK to Australian audiences.

In many ways, this production comes together to demonstrate real innovative creativity.  Performers Lucy Brewer and Gianluca I. Noble demonstrate superb character development; the set design cleverly provides layers to the staging and to the multiple environments within the scenes; music weaves in and out of the story to emphasise romantic comedy elements throughout.

BLINK is a heart warming, charming and delightful piece of theatre that showcases the hard work of emerging talent and a partnership between established and emerging artists at the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

Lastly, connecting audiences to artists in creative and interactive ways is what makes Adelaide Fringe Festival a successful celebration to the community. NUCLEAR FAMILY is a piece of theatre that does just this.  Audiences are invited to choose important outcomes that dictate how NUCLEAR FAMILY unfolds.  As audiences are put together into three groups, they are presented with two or more choices to select from that will decide the fate of the story.  Within these decisions the groups must explain why they have made these decisions, and then witness the revealing consequences.

NUCLEAR FAMILY is a fun, engaging and interesting theatrical event that allows the audience become part of the storytelling.

For more information about each of these performances, or to purchase tickets, please visit the Adelaide Fringe Festival website.

 

 

Captivated by Dynamic Performances During My Third Day @ Adelaide Fringe Festival

During my third day at Adelaide Fringe Festival, I am finding myself inspired, entertained and humbled by such dynamic performances.  Here are some highlights:

First stop brought me back to Holden Street Theatre where British playwright Henry Naylor returns to Adelaide Fringe with ANGEL.  This one-woman show continues Naylor’s exploration into Middle Eastern culture within the current conflicts around Syria and the extremist group ISIS.  ANGEL is a powerful story about heroism and the often times unexpected pathways to one’s vocation.  Protagonist Rehana, or strongly regarded as the Angel, finds herself becoming a member of the resistance regime against ISIS only after the mysterious disappearance of her father.  In a search-and-rescue adventure, Rehana in challenged to become a killer in order to protect herself and other innocent Syrian citizens.  Eventually, the thoughts and actions that keep her and her fellow men and women safe make her grow numb to the idea of being a killer.  She has accepted the fact that she must do what is right and necessary for protection.

Last year, I was fortunate enough to catch Naylor’s ECHOES at the Adelaide Fringe Festival and was excited to see his return.  My expectations were certainly met: his style of writing is unique, and quite difficult to pinpoint its exact specialty; however, I, and many others (at least it is telling within the full house at this performance) find the word captivating.  The structure of his words build an intensity which then brings you back down with funny one-liners as a means of relief.

An additional highlight to ANGEL was performer, Avital Lvova  who carries the story with vigorous passion and intense purpose.  It is clear she has immersed herself inside and out into this character, and is brave enough to encounter the intense environment at every performance.  Even while taking her final bow at the end of the performance it seems at first that she cannot shake herself from away from the role as the same glossy look in her eyes remains well into her third and fourth bows.

Next up was a deliciously spicy and witty cabaret act called FOR LOVE OR MONEY.  I couldn’t help but make reference to the 2014 movie Pitch Perfect as I joyfully watched this delightful act.  All I had on repeat in my head was: ‘It’s aca-licious!’ 

Four brilliantly talented Australian female singers, who make up the female acapella groups Ginger and Tonic, captivated mine and the rest of the audience’s hearts and spirit for a full hour as they sang, danced and Anyone who says that women can’t be funny, that it’s ‘unlady-like’ to be brazen in front of a crowd or has presented a ridiculous argument that states women are not smart will be proven wrong at this hilariously crass and empowering performance.

Ginger and Tonic sing, harmonise, write and record a mixture of original songs, parodies and covers to some of today’s popular radio hits including the genres of rap, R&B and pop.  Furthermore, each lady presents their individual business ventures, demonstrating how the service or product works and why their idea will take off sometime in the near future.  After all, these women, who may be unlucky in love, are now here for money!

Ginger and Tonic present a campy fun-loving and jaw-dropping entertainment that will make you laugh and sing along to the very end.  Click HERE to check out their website and purchase a CD of their original songs!

Across the gardens at the Royal Croquet Club was the highly anticipated return of Casus Circus.  After winning last year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival award for Best Circus or Physical Theatre Performance the Queensland circus troupe brings a new work called DRIFTWOOD.  DRIFTWOOD is the ensemble’s chance to show the audience how far we can challenge the human spirit from all kinds of directions.  By challenging human strength, these performers stack themselves on the shoulders of one another reaching several meters tall and touching the ceiling!  And they don’t limit themselves based on size and abilities – they show the audience that even the shortest stature can bare the weight of the tallest member on their shoulders, or even the weight of all team members!  Mean while, the audience watches carefully, gasping in awe.

It is evident that the biggest strength to this ensemble is its dedication to teamwork.  Every movement performed on stage is strongly supported by one another, assuring the safety and care in each stunt.  There is strong regard for patience, guidance and celebration through each trick, which severely implies that this group perhaps works, breathes and practices these routines daily with one another.

DRIFTWOOD is a majestic and lyrical, gracious return from this brilliant Queensland circus troupe. 

Lastly, within St. Peter’s Cathedral, THE DEVIL’S PASSION enriches its audience with the retelling of the life of Jesus but through the eyes of the devil who is out to disrupt God’s plans.  In an epic performance by Justin Butcher, THE DEVIL’S PASSION captivates the audience through a densely structured script accompanied by simple yet effective lighting and sound effects.   Butcher masterfully dominates the stage as he weaves in and out of each beat throughout the story; he takes a few pauses in between allowing stronger moments to rest easy or uneasy with the audience.  Butcher’s powerful voice resounds like a preacher through little assistance of a wireless microphone; this theatrical feature adds to the production’s overall epic appeal.  It is clearly evident through THE DEVIL’S PASSION that Butcher is a powerhouse performer to reckon with!

For a long fringe performance that stretches to 2 hours with a small interval, THE DEVIL’S PASSION is moving and maintains a long-lasting relationship between theatre and church.  It’s a moving piece that will certainly be remembered long after the curtain closes.

For more information about any of these performances, or to purchase tickets, please visit the Adelaide Fringe Festival website HERE.  

Stay Tuned: Reviews from My Experience at Adelaide Fringe Festival Are Coming

I've gotten into this great habit of writing helpful tips and tricks artists can use in developing clear marketing and audience development strategies.  The response and feedback from many have been incredible!  Thank you to all who have sent emails filled with encouraging words.  I am humbled by the feedback!

This week I’m going to change things up.  I am about to return to reporting on some of Australia’s most incredible independently produced artistic events.

I am so excited to be heading back to Adelaide, SA to dive into the wonderful artistic world that is Adelaide Fringe Festival.  Over 10 days, I will bare witness to such innovative, thought-provoking and note-worthy independently produced events including comedy, theatre, circus and art installations and look forward to reporting my discoveries back to you, my amazing followers.  What will I be looking for?  Everything and anything!  Whenever I experience art I find that it's important to maintain an open mind along with a willingness to join the creative ride.  I am looking to be inspired by new ideas, challenged by new perspectives and encouraged to stretch the imagination beyond reality.

Similarly, I hope to invoke curiosity by describing these wonderfully creative ideas presented by some of Australia's most notable independent artists.  Ultimately I hope my followers  feel encouraged to come experience Adelaide Fringe Festival in person.  For a complete experience, I encourage readers to follow events at the Adelaide Fringe Festival through social media - you can find Adelaide Fringe Festival on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Meantime, stay tuned here because the reviews start this Friday, March 10th!

Three Tips to Focus the Art of Marketing a Festival Event

Many Australian independent artists are in the midst of festival season: Perth is half-way through its Fringe World festival, the Adelaide Fringe Festival begins approximately in three weeks, and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival commences in about two months.  What an exciting time!

I hope that by now many festival participants have begun cultivating ideas regarding marketing their event.  There are many ways to promote and inform audiences of your event, but where to begin?

Before embarking on your festival experience; even before diving into boosting social media posts, hiring a publicist or sending out emails to friend, family or subscribers; I’d like to offer three often overlooked marketing tips independent artists can use to focus a clear and simple marketing strategy for any festival event.

Read festival annual reports – Every year, festivals survey their audience members in order to collect data that will be used for an annual report.  This report highlights the turnout of the general festival experience, often including overall attendance numbers, a breakdown into audience demographics (age, profession, residency, etc.) and artist participation factors (number of participants, number of events, ticket sales revenue, etc.).  The kind of information that will be most helpful to an independent artist is the audience demographic breakdown.  Take note of the following information:

  1. The number of tickets sold throughout the festival
  2. The number of patrons who attended
  3. Residential information of patrons (locals VS regional, international or inter-state visitors)
  4. Occupation of patrons
  5. Number of artist participants and number of events

By breaking down these festival factors, an artist is able to identify how their event will cater to festival patrons.  Additionally, this kind of information will help an artist focus their efforts in executing a clear and thorough marketing strategy.

Research the venue’s audience breakdown – An artist has been assigned a venue ever since their festival application was approved.  More than likely, the venue is a space that has a regular attendance of patrons.  Familiarise yourself with the venue and its patrons.  Browse the venue website to inform yourself of previous and upcoming events.  Find out if the venue is active on social media.  If so, follow them closely to discover who they communicate with (their regulars) and how they communicate to the general public.  Additionally, initiate communication by sending an email to the venue management team: ask them questions about the space, their events and their regulars.  If they are active on social media, ask if they would be willing to share your Facebook event with their followers.  If you can, visit the venue on occasion to observe the crowd.  Your visit can also be a great opportunity to spark conversation with patrons and staff.

Focus on building a reputation – It is known that the first impression is the best impression to offer.  Build a strong reputation for yourself by creating an experience your audience will remember for a long time.  Think about ways you can make your audience feel welcomed to the space, appreciated and acknowledged for taking the time to see your work.  The emphasis should be on ways to encourage your audience to come back for more.  If you’ve created a caring, quality experience, most likely your audience will encourage others to attend your show too – word of mouth marketing sells more tickets than any other strategy!

These overlooked marketing tips can inspire, ignite and focus your festival event marketing campaign.  Most importantly these tips encourage creativity and fun, which in turn will make marketing and self-promotion feel a lot freer and easy.

Looking for assistance to devise a marketing strategy for your arts event?  Click HERE to book a FREE 30-minute consultation, and mention this article to receive 20% off any BCauseARTS marketing & audience development service.  Feel FREE, have FUN and get FOCUSED about marketing your arts practice today!

Highlights from Melbourne’s 2016 White Night

Who saw Melbourne White Night last Saturday?

I did! And I thought it was great. For those of you who don’t know about White Night (I recognise my international readers, HEY!), it is a 12-hour street festival that integrates art and architecture throughout the city. Visual artists are given the chance to display light and sound presentations on the inner and outer-walls of city buildings as a means to celebrate the city, its talented artists and the greater community. For those of you who went, what were some of your favourite features?

The National Gallery of Victoria’s exterior light show.

The National Gallery of Victoria’s exterior light show.

Circus acts like this silks performer lit up Carlton Gardens.

Circus acts like this silks performer lit up Carlton Gardens.

White Night is quickly becoming a popular tradition in Melbourne – it is one of the many festivals that punters eagerly anticipate. The most difficult part about White Night is managing the increasing growing crowds, leaving many to question when is the best time to attend the all-night event. In my experience, heading out around 11PM works best, for me. By 11PM, the early punters are beginning to disperse, finding their ways home, especially families carrying children along. Also by 11PM other early-bird punters are beginning to transition to the bars for a pick-me-up quencher. But bear in mind, when heading out at 11PM, plan on staying out until anytime between 3-5AM in order to see as much as you can – there is still a large crowd to manage so queues will be long.

Pirate mania from Scratch Warehouse performers.

Pirate mania from Scratch Warehouse performers.

Regardless when you make your way out to the event, what I noticed this year were some new additions to the celebration. I absolutely adored the circus performances that were scattered throughout Carlton Gardens. The silks performance was stunning and kept the attention of many when I was there. I also enjoyed bumping into many musical performances scattered down Swanston Street and side streets.

Alexandra Garden’s elegant dress display.

Alexandra Garden’s elegant dress display.

And then my eyes spirit really lit up when I saw Scratch Warehouse come down Swanston Street as a pirate ship. Performers from Scratch Warehouse dressed all in white garments, painted their faces white with black circles around their eyes and formed themselves into a skeletal design of a pirate ship. As I peered at the passing pirate ship, I found myself joyfully chuckling and appeased to see something different amongst the light shows on buildings and walls.

Did anyone catch those stunning dresses displayed in Alexandra Gardens? They were an elegant addition to the gardens. Set up like a fashion museum exhibition, these Victorian era dresses changed colours from green to purple to red to pink to white. Simply stunning!

AQUA VITAE on the Yarra River.

AQUA VITAE on the Yarra River.

My favourite presentation was the light display on the Yarra River between Birrung Marr and Alexandra Gardens. Designed on a geyser of water reaching for the sky, the team of Melbourne Water and Russell Goldsmith (Sound Designer and Composer) presented a light show that transitioned from forms, shapes and colours to the beat of mellow-transic music. It was certainly a beautiful wonder to witness.

The Golden Monkey recognises the year of the Monkey in Chinese culture.

The Golden Monkey recognises the year of the Monkey in Chinese culture.

Unfortunately, everybody is a critic. Some punters took to Twitter to rant about their personal disappointment regarding the lack of a light display at Flinders Street Station. I’m sure the White Night committee members had very good reasons to not display at Flinders Street Station, and, to be fair, there were MULTIPLE announcements on their Twitter feed and website clearly stating that Flinders Street would not be illuminated. What I wanted more of were presentations by independent performance companies – where are my dancers at? Where are my theatre makers at?

ACMI lights up along Flinders Street.

ACMI lights up along Flinders Street.

I hope the City of Melbourne continues bringing us White Night. It’s a great way to integrate both architecture and art during an all night street parade.

Starting This Weekend, Head West to Footscray’s Big West Festival

Get ready, Melbourne, for another amazing arts and culture festival this weekend! Starting 20th November and running through until 28th November Footscray’s biennial arts and culture event, Big West Festival, will celebrate it’s 10th incarnation showcasing 50 projects inspired to define what it means to call a house a home.

In a recent article on ArtsHub by contributing writer, Lizzy Lamb, Artistic Director, Marcia Ferguson promises to deliver a solid program suitable for everyone’s taste. Most notably is the fact that most programming is FREE for the general public!

On Saturday 21st November is the Big West Festival’s opening celebration on Nicholson Street from 10am until 4pm. Pedestrians will have FREE access to explore various art installation pieces and performances. SHARED TABLE is one piece I am really looking forward to checking out. Created by the Indirect Object Theatre Company, an award-winning puppetry theatre company base din Footscray, SHARED TABLE is a two-person participatory event set inside a converted gypsy caravan. The art installation piece invites participants to step inside the unique caravan and follow pre-set, simple instructions. Participants become both audience members and performer for one another as they listen and then carry out the instructions facing one another.

Another great opportunity this weekend at The Big West Festival is the chance to participate in a Snuff Puppet workshop. Snuff Skool will allow participants interested in becoming a future member of Snuff Puppets to assist in the construct of a giant street puppet. A follow up workshop, appropriately called Snuff Skool: Rookie Roams allows Snuff Skool participants to showcase their puppet creation(s) around the festival – just like the Snuff Puppets do during their presentations!

Further more, it is encouraged by Big West Festival team to explore the festival headquarters anytime between 10am and 3pm. The headquarters is the source of inspiration for this year’s theme, HOUSE. For HOUSE is said (according to the Big West Festival website) to be “a theatre, a prototype dwelling for social housing services and in 2016, a home.”

Overall, I am certainly excited to see the some cool art this weekend at Big West Festival. Sounds like there will be something for the whole family and more.

For more information, and to see the Big West Festival full program, please visit www.bigwest.com.au.