24 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Tim Wotherspoon

Tim Wotherspoon
Playwright, director, actor, sound designer, musician

Future Loves Burning
26 September – 1 October
Aeso Studio

Tom Wotherspoon. Photo by Elizabeth Millington

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Esperanza Spalding, John Lennon, David Bowie

I mean, pragmatically thinking, I suppose, someone who can make it rain. Take our poor theatre, cross the water and have a grand old time.

But mainly Esperanza Spalding because she’s just so amazing.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Blinking eyes drinking.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
It’s all one big wash. It’s all one magnificent wash. I never used to dare dance, but I know at some stage in the past seven years I threw caution to the wind and found my boogie.

Find your boogie at the Fringe Hub. If it’s not there, you can borrow mine… it’s idiosyncratic and isn’t for everyone, but you’re quite welcome if you need to use it for a bit.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
I’ve been involved in Melbourne Fringe every year since 2010 just after my partner and I left VCA in the middle of our actor training. She has gone on to become one of the most cherished emerging/established writers in the city, I daresay the country – and I guess I’ve done ok, too. Fringe gave us a safe space to do risky things. This is the most fundamental virtue of the whole thing – if you make something and you throw your spirit into it and nurture it and swirl it all together, whatever you end up with, there is a living celebration of its emergence throughout the whole festival. It is, in fact, the whole festival. The audiences, artists, producers and techs are all swept up in the same swirl and that swirl is a beautiful thing. It is necessarily supportive because we are all breathing the same air.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
I haven’t been to other fringe festivals – that is what makes it unique to me, it’s the only Fringe I know…

So it’s like Christmas where everyone’s got presents for everyone but you don’t wrap them because most of them are performance art or are otherwise totally impracticable to wrap.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Listen to the buzz, support your friends, support your community. Whatever compels you, be compelled and get in there and watch it. Cool picture? Twisted blurb that keeps bumping round your mind? Go check it out.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Well, probably but I can’t conceive of one, not now anyway, we’re still rehearsing. Themain virtue I can recognise in the star rating system is that it’s a shortcut for people who don’t feel they have the time to read a whole review. They can look at the stars and realise what direction is due north and off they go, they’re set.

Five shows/events that will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Too Soon, Too Now
High Achievers
Death Art 'n Death
The Sky Is Well Designed
Ode To Man

SM: I know that some of these shows have finished, but it's also cool to know what great stuff you missed and can see when and if they bring them to the next festival.

23 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Lauren Edwards

Lauren Edwards
Performer, writer

Yada Yada Yada: A 90’s Sitcom Special
September 28
Lithuanian Club

Lauren Edwards, Jude Pearl

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Gina Riley – so I could apologise for that time I embarrassed myself in front of her in 2008. And then maybe she might like me and we could become best friends.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
My First Time (I’m a Fringe artist virgin).

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Last year I accidentally ended up at the Fringe after party and drank a lot of beer and danced to a lot of Usher with people I’d never met. So that was ace.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
Admittedly, this is my first experience as a Fringe artist, but so far it’s been nothing but great and supportive!

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
Just the sheer breadth of shows and artists it manages to showcase.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe?
Obviously my first answer is come to my show, but honestly, try and expand your horizons. Some of the best shows I’ve ever seen have been ones I have stumbled upon or just seen a flyer and gone “Yeah okay, I’ll give it a go”.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
I feel like some sort of recommendation system based on audience preferences? You know how Netflix does that thing where it says, “Because you liked…” and then recommends other shows for you to watch and then you fall down a television rabbit hole because everything is great and you haven’t left your house in three days … wait … what were we talking about?

Shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Alice Tovey: Mansplaining
Anything at the Speigeltent
Hamiltunes. An Improvised History by Impromptunes
Awards Night and After Party at the Fringe Hub

Review: Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2017
The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World

Peel the Limelight
16 September 2017
Bluestone Church Arts Space
to 23 September
melbournefringe.com.au


My review is on The Age/SMH.

How to Fringe 2017: Courtney Ammenhauser

Courtney Ammenhauser
Performer, performance maker

Quarter Life Crisis
25–30 September
The Cavern at The Metropolitan Hotel

Courtney Ammenhauser

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Greta Gerwig.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Salsa dancing greyhound.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
This is my first Melbourne Fringe! Ask me at the end of the month!

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
So far it has been great! I’m excited to get down to Melbourne and see it in full force!

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
Melbourne! The city itself is unique and is what makes a fringe festival special. The people, the venues and the spirit of a city is what impacts any fringe.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Take a punt. You’re more than likely going to make a good choice about the kind of show you want to see and even if you do end up at show that isn’t your cup of tea, it will make for a good story later.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
I’d rather five donuts. Or maybe we should be made to jelly wrestle?

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Can I Get An Amen?! Inspired by the memoirs of Whoopi Goldberg
The Travelling Sisters: NOO SHO
Tessa Waters: Volcano
Shania Choir
Yada Yada Yada: A 90s sitcom special

22 September 2017

Review: Cactus and the Mime

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2017
Cactus and the Mime
Roby Favretto and Caitlin Spears
15 September 2017
Lithuanian Club, Son of Loft
to 22 September

Cactus and the Mime. Caitlin Spears,
Roby Favretto
My review is on The Age/SMH.

How to Fringe 2017: Nadia Collins

Nadia Collins
Comedian
 
Virgin Bloody Mary
21–26 September
Errol’s & Co

Nadia Collins. Photo by Jarrad Seng

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Jesus. Or John Lennon, he’s meant to be bigger than Jesus, right?

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Art! Art! Art!

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Seeing Dr Brown’s show a few years ago was very impressive.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
You push your immense boulder up the hill, and then watch it roll down again. Hi-jynx!

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
It feels more theatre-y than a lot of other fringes, and seems to put a lot of emphasis on local acts. I used to live in North Melbourne and it’s nice to come back there; it feels like coming home. There’s usually a nice feel at the Town Hall late at night.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
See things on a whim with other people, see things that there’s a buzz around, try not to burn yourself out.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Well, it’s stood the test of time, but for sure some nights will be off and some reviewers will have very different personal tastes. I guess maybe just doing away with stars, and posting a review – letting people read the words.

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Al and Matt Go Halvies, Matt Stewart and Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall
The Big HOO-HAA: 24 Hour Show
Josh Glanc: Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chamedian
Boy Story
Partybucket

How to Fringe 2017: Sherilee Kahui

Sherilee Kahui
Writer, director, producer, performer

(A Smidge of) Pidge
23–30 September
Arts House: Parlour Room

Sherilee Kahui

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Dr Brown.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Full, Sparkly, Boozy.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Doing a drag show with Jake Preval and making an audience member vomit in 2011.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
I have worked as a box office coordinator (2011) and directed and produced Minor Victories at the Owl & the Pussycat in 2012.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
I think the Fringe Hub functions really well, without being too over crowded.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Talk to people! Looking at the program; there are heaps of excellent comedy shows by women this year that I am looking forward to. I think the NZ contingent is all women!

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
In terms of ratings? I don’t know. Reviews very rarely use the star system in NZ. I think as long as it is accompanied by a well written, critically engaged review (not a plot summary!) then it can be useful.

Five shows/events you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Fringe Wives Club: Glittery Clittery: a conSENSUAL party
Tessa Waters: Volcano
TRAPS. A romantic comedy for the modern sociopath by Amelia Evans
Power Ballad by Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan
KillJoy: Destroy the Fantasy

21 September 2017

How To Fringe 2017: Siobhan Connors

Siobhan Connors
Producer, performer
Key Conspirators, Poppy Seed Festival, North of Eight

Tea with Chekhov
16 September – 1 October
Bluestone Church Arts Space

Siobhan Connors. Photo by Nogani Moore

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Anton Chekhov or David Bowie.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Mixed Goodie Bag.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Somehow Stephen K Amos and I were having a laugh in the Fringe bar and were making jokes about me being a stalker, we laughed and when it settled I deadpanned him and said ‘But I do really like your couch’. He faltered, then realised I was joking and burst out laughing (probably out of relief). When he recovered he told me that was in his top 10 list of funniest calls he’d heard in his life. Might have been hyperbole but I’m claiming it.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
First time creating work for Key Conspirators and loving it!

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique.
The chance to see a ridiculous amount of art in a condensed period of time. A great place for fledgling companies to stretch their wings, test viability and increase their profile in a supportive framework. In particular I’m loving the expansion of Fringe out west this year. Fringe is definitely unique in the way they are ready to embrace artists and audience members based in the west!

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Make a day of it and show hop as many as you can fit into one hit.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
No, I think star ratings are useful for all.

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe
Title and Deed
Hamiltunes. An Improvised History
Love Song – John Kolvenbach
Two Bad Dates & Two Broken Noses
Andrew Brown. The most boring name in entertainment

20 September 2017

How To Fringe 2017: Bettie Bombshell and Miss Maple Rose

Bettie Bombshell and Miss Maple Rose
Burlesque performers, producers
Highway Robbery Productions

The After Hours Cabaret Club
14–30 September
The Wonderland Spiegeltent

Bettie Bombshell and Miss Maple Rose  Photo by Brigg Bree Photography

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Good ol’ Frankie, Frank Sinatra.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Highlighting the alternative.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Sitting on the roof-top of the Butterfly Club, enjoying a smoke and a whisky while relaxing and kicking back with our fellow carnies after all of our performances have finished for the night. There’s nothing so pure in art than the first moment you get to let go.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
As independent producers, the Fringe has given us a platform to share our world with more Melbournians than usual. In this day and age, it’s hard to stand out among all of the distractions, and the Fringe gives us a spotlight that is usually quite dim and hard to reach.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
Melbourne itself. There is no other city in Australia that supports the arts as consistently as Melbourne does.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe?
Pick something that you would normally not be drawn to. Expand your horizons and explore new avenues.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Star ratings are difficult because it’s so cut throat. Stars don’t describe the hard work put behind the scenes, such as the writing, the acting, the costumes, everything that makes a show epic. They literally represent an opinion that may not necessarily coincide with yours or the artist’s. We admit they make it easy to grade a show and to help choose what to see when there are thousands of shows going on at one time. That’s why we still use it. Once we start suggesting alternatives to the star rating, we just begin to make it all messy. As much as we’d like to, we can’t have everyone winning. That’s just not how life works.

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Lady Bunny in Trans-Jester
Becky Lou: Seen & Heard
Last King of Vaudeville by Idris Stanton
A Showgirl: Deconstructed by Carletta the Great
PO PO MO CO: Recreation & Leisure

19 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Sabrina Martin

Sabrina Martin
Performer, actor, teacher, producer, volunteer, all-round theatre pixie

May Contain Sex Scenes
26–30 September
The Old Cafe, Emerald City @ Meat Market

Sabrina Martin. Photo by Ingrid Saker

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?  
Sigmund Freud, he has a lot to answer for when it comes to popular misunderstandings about female sexuality.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?   
Inclusive, arty, fabulous.

A favourite Melbourne memory?
Ten years ago, in the middle of a heat wave on my first day in Melbourne, my friend's flatmate convinced me to cycle from Fitzroy into Federation Square and back again. Avoiding tram tracks and riding around in what felt like a fan oven, it was my first ever overseas adventure and I was mesmerised by the city. It was so big and there was so much to do and eat. I may have been delirious but I’ve had a crush on Melbourne ever since.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
This year is my first year performing at Melbourne Fringe! So far I have felt very welcomed, firstly by being encouraged by Melbourne Fringe to bring my show over from New Zealand. Program manager Xanthe Beesley joined me in a boutique hotel room on Wellington’s Waterfront for the world premiere of the show. Ever since I have had great support from the staff, I cannot believe the individual care I have had considering they are hosting 400 odd shows and events.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?   
Just how inclusive it is! They make it very clear that queer work and feminist work are not only welcomed but celebrated and encouraged, especially with events like Church. I think this is unique to any major fringe festival I have been a part of.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.   
Use the “guide me” section on the Fringe Website, it includes Indigenous, Feminist and Queer guides to Fringe which I am personally a huge fan of. Plus there is the Bank of Australia Take 5, each day there is a new code to get $5 off your ticket – which the bank pay for so the artists still get their full cut!

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
We don’t do star ratings in New Zealand but most Fringes around the world use them. It’s obviously great if you get 4 or 5 stars but disappointing and useless for marketing if you get anything less. It reduces art to a number, which is the opposite of what most artists are aiming for. If people feel like we need a quick glance system then replacing stars with hearts could be nice, that way you receive some love for the work. I feel like this question could do with artists and reviewers coming together and dream up better solutions.

Shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Church curated by Mama Alto
Betty GRUMBLE: Sex Clown Saves the World
Power Ballad
The Measure of a Man by Gavin Roach