My Favourite Moments of ff2010…

Less than a handful of sleeps before my first show of 2011 now… The Schedule has been Shortlisted, the first batch of tickets has been bought, and I’m starting to get a bit excited about things. But I remembered a fragment of a post I wrote during the Festival Month last year, and I wanted to just put it out there…

My Favourite Moments of ff2010. The memories of that assault that I’ll never forget, for good or for ill (mostly good).

  • The closing seconds of Freefall. Oh my. I don’t reckon I’ve ever been affected like that before. It still makes me tear up in joyous recollection.
  • The murder of Macduff’s child in Vs Macbeth. Blimey. So… blunt. Heartless. Vicious. Cold. Simple.
  • The opening blast of Mahler 8. I’m pretty sure it knocked a filling out of one of my teeth.
  • The appearance of the Faecal Security Force in Le Grand Macabre. Because sometimes you just need to go to a bowel-tastic nightclub.
  • Megan Washington pulling away from the mike during her Grab Bag appearance. Absolutely mesmerising; you could’ve heard a pin drop before the cacophony of clapping started.
  • The applause for my meagre contribution to Dr. Brown Behaves. God that felt good. That must be why these people hop on stage!
  • “It’s just a box!” yelled the young lad, anxious to get Bubblewrap and Boxes moving. Patience, boy.
  • The opening of Bully. Brutal.
  • “I enter with conviction…” / “I enter tentatively…” Accompanied by forceful stamps and willowy swirls, these phrases helped make This Is A Play a hilarious highlight.
  • Taking a break in Amococo. Just because I forced myself to take a break and just sit awhile. A bit of meditation, taking photos for families… it was all good.

And one other odd thing that added a unique flair on the year: every day I walked into the city from my old North Adelaide abode, my first destination was almost always either the Fringe Office on Hindley Street, or the FringeTIX office next to the Palace. In both cases, the first seven tracks of St. Vincent’s album Actor were the perfect fit for the travel. Close the front door to the opening choral strains of The Strangers; arrive at my destination as Marrow blusters to its conclusion. I love those seven songs, I really do – and they fact that they seemed to fit my life so perfectly for that month was almost unbelievable. Go on, give that album a bash – here’s an iTunes link.

ff2010 Wrap

And so, with just over six days until my first Fringe show of 2011, I finish writing up the shows from 2010.

117 unique shows in all – 104 Fringe, 13 Festival – and I saw 3 Fringe shows twice each. On top of that, I managed to get along to a whole stack of Visual Arts displays under each umbrella (at least 30 Fringe pieces, plus the Biennial and the EAF / Samstag pieces from the Festival)…

…and, best of all, I managed to blag my way into the Fringe Awards on the last Sunday night of the Festival.

And that was awesome.

A great night – much more polished than I would have imagined! – with great people… it was wonderful hobnobbing with a lot of artists I adore, old and new friends alike; and just being there for the event, for the reactions.

Let’s recap the awards… winners in bold italics!

BankSA People’s Choice Award
Operation Mincemeat
Scaramouche Jones
Words They Make with their Mouths

Adelaide Festival Centre inSPACE:development Award
Nikki Aitken Presents
Too Far Again, Not Far Enough

Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Fringe Venue Operation
Arcade Lane
Garden of Unearthly Delights
Higher Ground
The Birdcage
The Stables
Tuxedo Cat

Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Puppetry
The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer
Sarkadi’s Budapest Marionettes
Sticks Stones Broken Bones
The Grimstones – Hatched

Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Dance
Foxing Round a Story
Sketches of Blood
Too Far Again, Not Far Enough

Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Circus
And the Little One Said
Controlled Falling Project
Dos or Duo

Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Cabaret
Die Roten Punkte – Rock!
In Search of Atlantis
Nikki Aitken Presents
The Wau Wau Sisters’ Last Supper
When The Sex Is Gone
Where Was I?

Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Music
C. W. Stoneking
Josh Bennett
Katie Noonan
The Adelaide Sax Pack Does the Eighties, Nineties and Naughties

Eran Svigos Award for Best Body of Work By An Individual
Sarah Beetson (“YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU EAT: Eating Disorders In Fashion”)
Violet Cooper (The Cars That Ate Screamdance)
Emma Hack (Exotic & Native Mandala with Broadhurst Delights)
Julie Millowick (Close to Home)
Todd Romanowycz (Romy Art)
Ryan Sims (Mechanical Workshop)

Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Exhibition By A Collective
2010 Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition
2010 Heysen Sculpture Biennial B5
Format Festival
Invisible Red Threads
Knitting Nancy
Palmer Sculpture Biennial 2010
Quiet Reader
Shapeshifter: City/Adelaide

BankSA Support Act Award
Foxing Round A Story
Nick Parnell – Bach to Brazil
Shapeshifter: City/Adelaide
Vigilantelope Presents Tale of the Golden Lease
When The Sex Is Gone

Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Emerging Comedian
Granny Flaps – Opens Up
The Golden Phung
The List Operators

Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Established Comedian
Adam Hills – Mess Around
David O’Doherty – David O’Doh-party
Ivan Brackenbury’s Hospital Radio Roadshow
Hannah Gadsby – The Cliff Young Shuffle
Stevl Shefn and his Translator Fatima

Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Theatre Production
a tiny chorus
en route
Heroin(e) for Breakfast
The Event

Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Theatre Performer
David Calvitto (The Event)
Eryn Jean Norvill (a tiny chorus)
Hayley Shillito (Heroin(e) for Breakfast)
Emily Tomlins (a tiny chorus)

Now, there’s a whole heap of winners in that lot that I didn’t see… but I want to dance about, singing the praises of a couple in particular. Steve Sheehan picking up best established comedian was fantastic, and I couldn’t be happier that Alvin Sputnik got some recognition… but I was totally ecstatic for the Freefall guys (only a couple of which could attend the Awards ceremony because of age restrictions!). I feel blessed to have been able to congratulate and chat with them just after picking up the Award, though they were more startled than thankful for my praise-singing; understandable enough, I think, given the way I launched myself at them.

In the post-Fringe malaise that usually engulfs me, I tool solace in the reading of all the stuff I should have been reading during the event. And there was some interesting stuff in the media; but one snippet, in particular, caught my eye. And I hate to admit it, but I’ve had to applaud Justin Hamilton for his comments in the Messenger (City North Messenger, 24 Feb 2010)…

“I feel the Garden, having so much of an emphasis now, has maybe stopped theatrical pieces from finding a footing,” he says.

“Of course part of the Fringe is hanging out, but there is this ongoing battle to find suitable venues to create a hub.”

Of course, like the rest of his act, Hammo could well have nicked that comment from someone else (oooh, snide!)… but I have to give him props for voicing those words in an interview. Because, with the forced closure of the wonderful Rooftop Bar at the Tuxedo Cat, we’re seeing a spreading of venues across the city now, with less of an emphasis on Rundle Street; sure, Gluttony is setting up camp a mere minute’s walk from my new abode, but I’d hate to think that the Fringe will become further marginalised in the minds of people to The End Of Rundle. There’s a ton of venues out there, old and new, that deserve our patronage: I’ve already peeked inside the new TuxCat, and it looks fantastic; across the road, Weslo are setting up shop in the Adelaide Town Hall, so that little part of King William Street will hopefully become a buzzing hub. And let’s not forget Guy Masterson’s Centre for International Theatre at Higher Ground, which is near the Nexus… there’s lots of little hives of activity springing up, covering theatre and cabaret and comedy alike, all over town… not just near the Garden. So let’s give these venues a chance, shall we?

Worrying semi-rant over… I’ve got some scheduling to do, and I hope you’re all ploughing through the ‘Guide too (I’ve seen two quotes from this blog so far!). I hope to see you all out and about in the next month-and-a-half; happy Fringe 2011!

The Grab Bag

The Grab Bag @ The Famous Spiegeltent

Sat 27 Feb 2010

As mentioned previously, part of the draw to the Festival claiming ownership of the Spiegeltent was its use as an Artists Bar, of sorts; late-night entertainment featuring luminaries associated with the Festival, with admission free if you held a ticket to any of the other shows at the Spiegeltent that evening. And tonight – well, let’s just say that when I discovered that Megan Washington was playing with Festival Director Paul Grabowsky in their cunningly-named Washington/Grabowsky Project guise, I nearly flipped out with excitement.

Arriving a little bit late to an almost completely-packed Spiegeltent, it took me half-an-hour to squeeze through to the bar; all the while, the soft and sparse notes of the Project’s smokey jazz mesmerised the crowd into an awed hush. Grabowsky led the band from behind the piano, and Washington’s gloriously soulful vocals washed over us like gentle, lapping waves at the beach on a moonlit night; the horns were wonderfully subdued, never outstaying their welcome, and the drums also restrained.

The performance almost felt like a perfectly balanced struggle, with the Project threatening to leap out in moments of musical dynamite, but being held back, kept under a tight leash. The tension generated by such a dynamic was almost unreal; at times, it felt like the simple act of breathing would detract from the music being presented. And the final track of the evening, wrapping up at about 2am, featured the same unspeakably heart-rending pull-away from the microphone by Washington that I’d seen – and been blown away by – previously; absolutely beautiful.

Definitely one of the highlights of the Festival.

The Fringe Club

The Fringe Club

Fri 26 Feb 2010

So – earlier in the Fringe, I’d managed to snaffle a couple of season passes to the Fringe Club – the artists-and-guests-only gathering spot in Rymill Park. I’d kept my eye on the super-secret entertainment schedule for the Club; this Friday night had DJ Tr!p inked in for a set, so I figured it’d be a good night to drop on by.

After meeting up with Irene outside the Stag – it’s stupidly busy, of course, with people everywhere – we wander into the ‘Club with barely a glance given to my pride-and-joy pass by the security guard. Inside, there’s a whole lot of people milling about… and then I realise that today was pretty much the last day of APAM, meaning that the Fringe Club was awash with a whole heap of performers happy for the opportunity to shop their talents to another receptive audience.

And that, of course, was bloody brilliant for us… because we got to see tons of top-flight performers for free.

There appeared to be an impromptu MC of sorts on the mike, announcing acts just before they performed and managing slots for the performers. The standouts for me were a fabulous a cappella group and an absolutely astonishing magician / mind reader; in between acts, there was more drinking and talking and meeting people (including Shelley and her cohorts).

We managed to migrate around the ‘Club until we settled in a couple of armchairs, just in time for DJ Tr!p’s laid-back and surprisingly un-bleepy set. And it provided the perfect backdrop to a happy sozzled evening, though I was surprised that the ‘Club closed at 3:30am. Still, it was a bloody brilliant night…

Back to the Breach…

Well, it’s about time I got back to writing some of these shows up. I’ve had a lazy four months off, moved home, and have just found my backpack stuffed full of Fringe and Festival stuff; my head is a little clearer, so now there’s just the small matter of seventy-five shows to remember.

Seventy. Five.


Prediction: a brief flurry of posts, followed by a two-month lull, with another flurry around Christmas, and thirty increasingly brief recollections pumped out late January.

ff2010, Day 31

Aaaaaaaaaah fuck. What a fucking great day; what a fucking great Fringe :)

  1. Death Conversation with Himalayan Cultural Eve
  2. The Sound and the Fury

What? Just two shows? Well, there was a visit to the Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition this afternoon, followed by a trip to the Format ‘Zine Fair (another $150+ spent). This evening was, of course, dominated by the Fringe Awards ceremony, which surpassed all expectations.

Free booze (for awhile) was a good start, but the ability to go around thanking the people who make this stuff you love is just priceless. Queue jumping at the bar for Geraldine Quinn? My honour. Freefall getting Best Circus act? And me being able to rave at two increasingly uncertain and shirking teenagers that I thought their show was awesome? A delight. Stevl Shefn nabbing the best comedy award? Spot on the money.

And, to cap it all off, theater simple chats at HQ, followed by the usual suspects at TuxCat: Nik Coppin, Dr Brown. Some lost Clipsal blokes who decided that a good way to impress Irene was to show her a collection of Ford t-shirts. Anniene. Talking toilet etiquette with Andrew O’Neill. An impromptu stomach-buffer stop at MaccyD’s.

And the sweetest hug I can remember.

But now, sleep. 116 shows all up, plus another three that I saw twice, plus another one in the late sixties which I saw but didn’t realise was a Fringe show. Let’s just say 120 shows – 107 Fringe, 13 Festival. Visual arts excluded, of course.

So, yeah – sleep.

ff2010, Day 30

What started out as a relatively short, straightforward day turned into another panic-fuelled hop from one show to the next, with my brother performing sterling driving between Mahler and Plover, and an impromptu return of Pete & Irene (sung to the tune of Jack and Dianne) to Shaggers. More Ro Campbell can only be a good thing, even if half the room hated him.

  1. My Name Is Rachel Corrie
  2. Vital Organs Collective
  3. Mahler 8: Symphony of a Thousand
  4. The Sociable Plover
  1. Shaggers

Just two shows left now: one Festival, one Fringe. And two parties. And two days left to drag my sleep pattern back six hours.

ff2010, Day 29

Early night tonight, I thought. 10:30pm finish, home by 11. Easy.

Fucking 5am it is.

  1. This Is A Play
  1. Faceless : Dead & Desirable
  2. Andrew O’Neill: Occult Comedian
  3. Eddie Ifft: Things I Shouldn’t Have Said

I tell you what, at about 3pm today I was seriously over all this. But a repeat viewing of the (excellent) This Is A Play, coupled with a pair of brilliant comedy acts at the Mercury, has pepped me right up again.

Of course, I’ve got another show in less than 9 hours. Tomorrow will be tricky.

ff2010, Day 28

You know what? Today was the day when – for the first time in 2010 – I first thought “I’m pretty much over this”. Thankfully, it’s the last of my Big Days. Plain sailing from here on in.

  1. 52 Pick Up
  2. On Ego
  3. Austen Found – The Undiscovered Musicals
  4. Good Morning Mister Gershwin
  5. Bird in the Gilded Cage
  6. Carl-Einar Häckner is Big In Sweden

Tonight is (or rather, was) the night when nominations for the Fringe Awards were to be debated. I spotted two Judges scooting between city visual art venues this afternoon, quickly ascertaining their worth. A pity that half the visual art displays I went to today had already been removed.

ff2010, Day 27

Today was the day of the annoying audience. Chatter and rustling papers and lip-smacking Chupa Chupping and mobile phones. It was also the day of Anniene’s latest project: The Hamlet Apocalypse is a brilliant bit of found-space anti-theatre.

  1. Rhinoceros
  2. Flight
  3. The Hamlet Apocalypse

I remember the approach to my 100th show last year; I was expecting cancellations a-plenty and was on tenterhooks until that ticket stub was ripped – and then there was a tangible sense of relief. This year, Flight came and went with barely a second thought.

101 shows so far. I’ve written up 42. How shit is that?

ff2010, Day 26

March 9: Happy Birthday to me!

In the past I have had the knack of picking poor shows on my birthday, and “celebrated” in a grumpy fashion (as usually befits my birthday mood). This year, however… wow. Six amazing shows, at least two must-sees, and I got to spend time with lots and lots of lovely people (I like to name-drop, but am honestly afraid that I’ll miss someone). Awwwww – what a top day :)

  1. The Snow Queen
  2. Myth Understandings
  3. This Is A Play
  4. Weights
  5. Scaramouche Jones
  6. Bully

The last half of the day whizzed by in a blur; leaving the (brilliantly funny) This Is A Play at the Odeon with thirty minutes to get to Higher Ground, the closest bus goes AWOL, there’s a panicky twelve-minute cab ride with Shannon and Tess (still feeling guilty for having to borrow $5 from Tess to pay the cabbie), literally running into Weights and parking my arse just as Lynn takes to the stage, then running out of the long-running Weights and blagging my way into Scaramouche (my ticket was in the box office, not the door), then barely having time to grab a coffee and a wine before Bully – and then not being able to drink either for twenty minutes because… well, Bully is incredible. Wow… and Richard is, like, totally nice as well.

Great day. If only the rest of my 39th year could live up to that high standard!

ff2010, Day 25

After yesterday’s bedlam, today was nice and relaxing; a little sleep-in (oh wait… I only got to bed at 4am), lazy breakfast, a few show posts, then a trek to Holden Street for three-in-a-row. Easy!

  1. Single Admissions
  2. Heroin(e) for Breakfast
  3. Goat Town

So I’m waiting for Single Admissions to start, and I notice some chap sitting in front of me turning around and staring at me. He nudges his wife, she peers too. I’m mystified – I’ve no idea who these people are. It turns out that they were sitting behind Tahli in How to be a Lady last night and heard us discussing various shows – “how many have you seen now?” He asked. We had a good old chat – they’re above-average Fringe-goers as well, so we swap horror stories and surprises and… well, it was just great to chat with them :)

Some decent shows today, too. Going to make for some interesting posts, too, if the notes are anything to go by… Mind you, show #90 will probably be posted in… oooh, September ;)

ff2010, Day 24

Hahahahaaaaa – now that was a day! Eight shows – and not a dud amongst them – rounded off with the tail-end of the Tuxedo Cat tribute show and the odd drinkypoo thereafter, watching Irene attempt to keep all her new friends at bay.

  1. Bubblewrap and Boxes
  2. Missing Pieces
  3. A Captive Audience
  4. Dye Young / Stay Pretty
  5. DeAnne Smith: Ballsy
  6. Geraldine Quinn – Shut Up and Sing
  7. How to be a Lady
  8. The Mad Max Remix

It was great to see Tahli again – it’s been too long – and she gave me a highlight for the day when I pointed Irene out to her… “oh, she’s the one who didn’t like Death in Bowengabbie!”

Of course, Irene would like to point out that she actually very much enjoyed the end of Bowengabbie – the Titanic bit. Which is quite disturbing, really ;)

ff2010, Day 23

Today was theatre-deconstruction day! The Walworth Farce and The Event both provide fantastic meta-theatre, but in completely different ways; the former, in particular, contains a truckload of stunning headfuckery… brilliant, brilliant stuff.

  1. The Walworth Farce
  2. Nobody Cares But You
  3. The Event
  4. Lost in the Mouth Specific

Did I mention that The Walworth Farce was more-than-a-bit-of-alright? Blimey, what a show. But a pretty bloody good day all ’round, I reckon.

ff2010, Day 22

Jamie Kilstein, eh? Bloody brilliant. Good to see a little cool weather and rain about – that should thin the late nite crowds out down The Garden, not that I noticed when I left there at 3am… :}

  1. True Stories of Heroism and Adventure
  2. Jamie Kilstein – Revenge of the Serfs
  3. Steve Hughes – Heavy Metal Comedy
  4. The Wau Wau Sisters’ Last Supper

Apologies to the Garden employee who I may have inadvertently berated post Wau Wau this evening; I’ve talked to her extensively previously, and bumped into her briefly tonight, whereupon she raved about the Last Supper. However, after having sat through that craptacular show, I may have vented a little too much in her direction. And may have been a little too pointed in my barbarous attack. So… sorry. It was a shit show, but it’s most certainly not your fault :}