29 September 2006

Launch: Melbourne Fringe 2006

Melbourne Fringe  Program Launched
27 September to 15 October

Nineteen days, 245 events, 3000 artists and over 100 venues...and only two weeks before it all starts. The Melbourne Fringe program was released last week. This years’ program is described as “an irreverent and relevant view of our world through artists’ eyes”, and is one of the most diverse programs in recent years. There is a lot to be excited about for Fringe 2006.

Unlike many other festivals and events, the Melbourne Fringe is still about the art. The program is a celebration of independent artists, and the core audience are lovers of the arts. It doesn’t attract the same size audience as the more commercial festivals, but the Fringe artists and audience are united by their passion for their favoured art form.

I love Fringes because they are accessible and open to all artists. They enable artists to show you the work that they really want to do.

There are no artistic requirements or selection criteria to be in this festival. If you have something you want to show an audience (and you pay the registration fee), you can be part of the Melbourne Fringe.

An open program encourages experimentation, exploration and risk from both inexperienced and very experienced artists. Over the years I’ve seen some of the most outstanding and some of the most atrocious theatre, music and art at Fringes.

As an artist, it can be a financial and artistic risk to be in a Fringe, but there is no “bad” show in a program. Even if your product isn’t quite ready for the world to see, your fellow artists and the appreciative audience will still respect the risks you took to be involved and be happy to share a beer, and some well meaning advice, in the Fringe Club at 2am.

Choosing what shows you are going to see is also a risk. Reading the festival guide is a daunting task. Each act is only given 50 words to convince you to part with your money, and their quoted review of “amazing” might have been written by the director’s mum. But - so what – if you like the sound of it – take that risk and go along. It’s could be less than the cost of a movie and you might see something that speaks to your heart, makes you cry or leaves you smiling all night - or you may see the worst piece of theatre imaginable. All have to be better than sitting at home watching TV.

I have read through the guide and these are my theatre tips. Some I know will be worth seeing; others are total risks. Check out the Melbourne Fringe web site or guide for performance details

acrobat (Arts House and Marguerite Pepper Productions). Unique and highly original circus. Their first Australian appearance in three years.

Andrew McClelland's Mix Tape .C-90 Edition. I missed the sell out shows at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Friends tell me its hilarious and an embarrassing recollection of the music we pretend not to love.

Apples and Ladders (Malthouse Theatre). Dark, bizarre and (I suspect) obscene puppets with music by The (ever wonderful) Tiger Lillies.

A Quarrelling Pair (Malthouse Theatre/Aphid). More local avant-guarde and miniature puppets.

Bash (5kinds Theatre). It’s a great piece of writing. Lets see what 5Kinds can do with it.

Cath Jamison in Secret Life of a Woman. “Illusion, women’s intuition, bizarre dating rituals and paranormal activity.” Who said being a magician was just about magic.

Coming Clean (The Old Melbourne Gaol). Watching some of Melbourne’s best comedians in the abandoned prisoner’s exercise yard AND Rod Quantock takes you on a tour of the gaol.

David Heffron: Nerd Alert! Convincing us that “Le Geek est Tres Chic!” is either going to be very funny or very sad. I hope we be laughing with and not laughing at.

Evermind (Circus Cathersis) Circus inspired by Frankenstein. Discover your inner monster!

Debris. Having seen Bojana Novakovic recently in The Female of The Species, I’m curious to see a work she has produced herself.

Keating (The Drowsy Drivers/The Melbourne Fringe). Another show that keeps selling out. This time the Melbourne Fringe are presenting it as a FREE gift to us all on opening night.

Mantalk, Episodes 4-7. Neil Thomas and David Wells promise a new form of performance. Episodes 11-16 will be seen at the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

Mz Josephine’s Amazing Holiday. Mz J is always a treat and brings a welcome zing to cabaret. And this time she goes through Nhill.

Penny Machinations (interior theatre). Friday and Saturday nights at the Fringe Club. $2 a show. Each show is unique and you will be the only one to enjoy it. Winner 2005 Melbourne Fringe ‘Outstanding Special Event’.

Politely Savage (My Darling Patricia/FULL TILT). Gothic, with a touch of Picnic at Hanging Rock, all in 1950s frocks.

Some Faces You Know (Ozanam House and Community Centre). These aren’t professional actors, they are people you might walk by and ignore. Challenging misconceptions of the homeless and marginalised.

Something Drastic. “Bridget Jones meets Theatre of the Absurd.” Director Rosemary Johns discovered this work at the International Women’s Playwright’s conference in Athens.

Songs for the Deaf. The media release says that writer, Caleb Lewis spent time workshopping his plays with Edward Albee. If Albee liked him, I’d like to see what Lewis is like.

The Bedroom Philosopher in `Living On The Edge...Of My Bed`. “neurotically erotic hyper-vague bohemian only-child theatrical madness”.

The Caravan of Love presents Kunst Ist Scheisse. It means Art is Shit. The story of a legendry troupe of performing misfits, with the audience playing an active role. And they had the BEST costumes at the launch of the Fringe program.

The Taking of Ramsey Street (theatre in decay). Robert Reid taking on terrorism and aussie soap opera. theatre in decay continue to present the unexpected.

MILK (The Town Bikes). The “bikes” get funnier, more refined and more naughty each time I see them. Looking forward to their first full length show.

This story originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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