01 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Declan Greene

Declan Greene
Writer, director, dramaturg, expert cleaner of pink slime (ask me about Lilith: The Jungle Girl in Edinburgh)
Sisters Grimm
Resident Artist at Malthouse Theatre (Malthouse 2018 season was launched last night) 

SM: My other equally-favourite sister. Our first enounter was Cellblock Booty in 2008.
Mink (and Declan Greene)

The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Tipsy, Wasted, Hungover

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory
Being asked to do a one-off night at the Fringe Club! It was called Fugly, and was a night of weird alterna-drag starring Art Simone and Olympia Bukkakis – where we also asked three theatre-makers to devise drag acts for the occasion.

Zoe Coombs Marr and Mish Grigor did a reading from Stephen Sewell’s The Boys with poorly-applied facial hair (very proto-Dave), Angus Cerini performed as a female bodybuilder (for which he got a full body-wax and spray tan, though certainly no-one asked him to). But the highlight of the night, for me, was The Rabble’s performance. Mary-Helen Sassman appeared onstage in a bathrobe and fake beard, looking very heavily pregnant, and told a series of increasingly nauseating ‘dead baby’ jokes – then stripped off her robe to reveal that she wasn’t wearing a fake stomach but was, indeed, very, very heavily pregnant... At which point she started thrashing to death metal and finally sang a gorgeous rendition of Odetta’s "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child". As legend now has it, Mary-Helen stuck around to watch a few more of the acts, then went home early and a few hours later gave birth. Amazing.

SM: I was there for the first half and will never forgive myself for missing MHS.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
The Fringe Hub is a blurry, blurry world and I’m sure most of what I’ve done there isn’t fit for print.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
It’s not like Adelaide and Edinburgh where there’s a huge influx of artists from interstate and overseas presenting their work to a new audience. It’s far more localised: an occasion for a bunch of Melbourne’s most brilliant artists to present new work simultaneously, with a sampler of great stuff from out-of-town. And it works because the quality of independent theatre/art in Melbourne is so high anyway. Soooo... *tongue-pop* (I can’t actually do a tongue-pop).

What’s your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe?
Listen to the buzz and book in early instead of waiting until stuff is sold out and you have to beg the artists to stand in their bio box (this is advice I hope to one day take myself). Oh, and see the stuff you’re genuinely curious about – not just the 50 shows you feel obligated to see because you know someone in it. Unless ALL of your friends are amazingly talented (and let’s face it, they’re not). Don’t burn out or have a boring Fringe.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Look, I fucking hate star-ratings as much as any other artist, but a fringe festival environment isn’t where anyone goes for nourishing long-form critical engagement. I think there’s an unspoken amnesty where it’s accepted, generally, that star-ratings are a necessary service for audience members in an open-access environment that’s saturated with art work of varying quality...!

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Church curated by Mama Alto
Let’s get Practical! Live. Presented by The Very Good Looking Initiative
The One by Jeffrey Jay Fowler
Betty GRUMBLE: Sex Clown Saves the World
One Of The Good Ones. A Blackfella sci-fi exploring race and space

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