21 August 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Mama Alto

Mama Alto
I am a jazz singer, cabaret artiste and gender transcendent diva, as well as a community activist. I produce and perform my own projects, as well as collaborating with others including legendary burlesque production house Finucane & Smith, dandy music theatre duo Darwent & Gray, and presenting and curating platforms and opportunities for other artists wherever possible.

As always, I am involved in a ridiculous amount of Fringe goodness!

SM: If you've seen and heard Mama Alto, you don't need anyone to tell you how magnificent she is. Bloody glorious. My first experience of them was directing a cabaret of The Velveteen Rabbit at MUST.

Mama Alto. Photo by Alexis Desaulniers-Lea

Mama Alto presents

17 & 24 September
Lithuanian Club, Main Theatre

27 September
Arts House, Festival Club

Other appearances

Erotic Bedtime Stories for Adults
15 & 29 September
Passionfruit, The Sensuality Shop

16 September
Fringe Hub: Arts House - Festival Club

18–23 September
Rose Chong Costumes

Seen & Heard
25 September
The Butterfly Club

28 September
The Melba Spiegeltent

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Church: The late, great Maya Angelou. And I’d ask her to do one of our sermons!

Transcendent: Any and every trans and gender diverse person who has been made to feel that they don’t belong, that they are not beautiful, that they are not valid, that they are less than human. Because this night says: They are. You are. We are!

The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Independent. Artists. Unleashed.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Now this is a tough question. It’s hard to pick just one, but here goes. One year at 90’s night in the Fringe Club I was part of the line-up – guest artists singing hits of the 90’s with the Talei Wolfgramm and Phil Ceberano band – and I had been matched with the TLC classic “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls.” We did so many sound and light checks during the day to make sure the whole evening would go off without a hitch, so I thought I knew exactly what was happening and when. On the night, Fraser Martin – a tech wizard and genius – surprised me with a waterfall curtain of bubbles from hidden bubble machines during the final chorus, on the word “waterfalls” – it was magical! The audience were giggling, I was giggling, and it created a wonder and delight that many of us had not felt since childhood.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
I started at the Fringe six years ago with my first independent show, and I was a complete unknown. The platform, skills, lessons, exposure, advice, and experience of that first project – from both the Fringe and the fabulous Butterfly Club team – formed a foundation stone for my arts practice and career. Since then I’ve done so much, but still return to Melbourne Fringe because it is such a fabulous place to make art. My experience of the Melbourne Fringe as an independent artist has been one of nurturing and growth, as well as one of a marvellous place to return home to.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
Perhaps this is a cliche, but the incredible people. The level of dedication, energy, support and love that the small but amazing staff pour into this festival makes a world of difference. The enthusiasm and skills of the masses of volunteers creates an atmosphere of welcome, fun, warmth, and safety. There’s an attention to detail at a very human level that both artists and audiences respond to, and it’s certainly not something that all festivals manage to foster.

What’s your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe?
Support your friends and colleagues and contemporaries – and support someone you’ve never heard of before. Support an art form or genre you adore – and support something you never even knew existed. Cherish small independent venues. And try to bundle several shows into one night – venue hop around a precinct!

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews? 
I recommend reflective, long form writing that acknowledges its own subjectivity, makes thematic or analytical connections, and documents what has transpired - speaking from, and to, the heart and the mind.

Five shows/events you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Myriad Collective presents TRANSTRAVAGANZA
The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez
The Vagina Monologues  
Apocalypse in Blak presented by the Koorie Heritage Trust
Bed Reckoning

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