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.

What Halloween Actually Teaches Us

Halloween was this past weekend. What was your 2015 Halloween experience like?

I understand Halloween is not a big celebration here in Australia; however, I haven’t let go of every American tradition out of my life yet – I was eager to let go of the food coma-inducing Thanksgiving tradition, yet even in that I missed the family gathering Thanksgiving brings. Halloween permits individuals to become another being or person for an entire day and tap into their creative juices to create that character forming a preparation process. This preparation process can take months to get right. Side note: every year, I’ll think of a genius idea for a Halloween costume in March, but I won’t write it down. Then by September I struggle to remember what that genius idea was, and I’ll end up putting together a boring idea last minute. But I digress.

Have you ever noticed what exactly goes into your costume decision? It’s very similar to what artists face everyday in their business. Let’s break down the basic steps taken in putting together a Halloween costume.

Step one: deciding what or who you are going to be for Halloween. This step can be the hardest because the options are limitless. You can be anther person, an object, a cartoon character, and animal or even an idea. Some individuals might become overwhelmed in the decision process – they decide to take the easy way out and buy a pre-made costume from a local shop or online store. That’s perfectly fine, but does it always look like the model on the front of the packaging? Probably not, but hopefully close to it. For those who like a bit more fun and desire a challenge, making a costume is the only way to guarantee an amazing Halloween experience.

Step two is listing all the materials needed to complete your costume. Materials not only consist of clothing, but also accessories (like wigs, jewellery, props, etc.) and makeup. A sketch or picture from a book or online can be a useful resource in helping you put the right pieces together. You’ll need to consider functionality of costume – specifically how will it move, how the weather might affect the materials, level of difficulty in putting on or taking off the costume. A list is another handy resource to create in order to complete step three.

Speaking of, step three is shopping. Ladies (and some men), this is your category! Shopping is when you go out to collect all the elements you need to complete your look. Consignment shops are great! They often have cheap materials, an array of looks and pieces; hell, it’s your one-stop-shop for all you need for Halloween!

My boring Halloween choice. Lost my brilliant idea again!

My boring Halloween choice. Lost my brilliant idea again!

Step four is trial and error. This is the step that allows you to try on the costume to see how complete the look is to your original idea. It’s very common to have to revisit step three – the shopping – to gather more materials. Best part about step 4 is the preview: show it off to yourself or maybe invite your closest friends and family for their feedback.

Finally, step five comes on Halloween: putting the look together for it world premiere. Excitement unfurls – your idea is genius, everyone is going to love it! Or are they going to hate it? Wait…what? I didn’t think of the consequences to my costume. And just like that, when you are about to go out that door into the world…panic sets in: the fear that your costume is going to be judged by others. You begin asking yourself: what if your costume is missing an element? What if someone else has your same idea and does it better? What if the costume falls apart in the middle of celebrations? AHHHH!!!!!!

Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic. But can you see how much fun and laborious creativity can be? Halloween represents a small fraction of what artists go through on a daily basis. The creative process is never easy, and putting your work out for others to witness and judge is anxiety-ridden. But for an artist, creativity is like breathing. The act of expressing oneself through the creation of an idea that was once in your head, inspired from your imagination, and transforming it into reality is enthralling, even necessary.

There are a lot of steps throughout the creative process; each one equally as important as the next. And the creative process can be long. But the rewards are priceless – for one person to acknowledge the hard work put into a costume is worth more than the 1,000 dislikes on Facebook.

If Australia doesn’t want to jump onto the American, commercialised bandwagon that is Halloween, can we consider renaming the day in honour of artists? Maybe call it Hello Creativity Day! What do you say? Who’s with me!