Another Year…

Another year, another Fringe… wait, that’s not right, is it? Well, this is the first of the yearly Adelaide Fringes – a prospect that has, as I’ve noted before, filled me with fear and dread. It brings Adelaide in line with Edinburgh as a yearly Fringe fixture, and I guess the $39 million profit that the 2006 Fringe drew was a big juicy carrot to dangle in front of organisers.

Just far enough from all major thoroughfares in Rymill Park to be invisible to all but the most observant, the Fringe kicked off with a Launch brunch with a couple of hundred people. Lots of families with young kids, a nice cross-section of ages, cultures, and artistic inclinations. Apparently, this venue – The Hard Rubbish Café – will be one of the Fringe’s alternate after-hours watering holes; how that works out, especially given the chaotic shamozzle that was the Fringe Club at Higher Ground last year, remains to be seen.

It’s a hot day – the forecast is for 36 degrees – so maybe the cross-promotion with the (shitrag) Advertiser for a free danish and coffee was, in hindsight, unlucky. Trees are at a premium, and the optimally positioned shade in front of the small stage is already packed – in the next hour, those on the edge of the shade are likely to get uncomfortable as the Sun… moves. The Sun’s weird like that, with it’s whole east-to-west transition thing. Still, there’s a nice and friendly vibe… a little apprehensive, though. After all, it is hot. And I notice a lot of familiar faces. Which is nice. None of them notice me. Which is expected.

There’s a small collection of flyer-spruikers, too – christ, the Fringe is 5 weeks away and I’ve already got three flyers. Make that four… at last, one for a show that I’m interested in. A few more, and the total tally is thirteen. One presents me with a flyer for the Holden Street Theatres; I mention to her that it looks a strong program. “Oh thanks,” she says, peering at my Young Gods t-shirt, “who are you with?” Hey, I’m just a punter. There’s a string collective on stage (it could be a trio, it could be a quartet – I lack the inclination to determine) performing straightforward renditions of songs by Bon Jovi and The Police.

The Fringe Guide is a bit of surprise for me – it feels a little lighter than in previous years, but – most importantly – it doesn’t feel overwhelmed by comedy. My worst fears may not be realised, after all. One notable absence is Union Hall – no shows seem to be scheduled there. A shame, since it’s such a handy venue.

Anyhoo, back to the launch: Adam Hills emcees, has a gentle intro, throws over to Fringe Director Christie Anthoney, who performs the expected welcomes and thankyous and such. Auntie Josie welcomes us on behalf of the Kaurna, and then Hills manages a cheeky quiz with Anthoney, BankSA MD Rob Chapman, Jane Lomax-Smith, and comedians Big Al and Hannah Gadsby. Of course, the quiz was thinly veiled bignoting for the Fringe, but at least it was handled in a humourous manner. theater simple even got a mention, with Chapman correctly picking them as a returning artist (as opposed to “Project Moron”).

Sam The Caravan Man also provided a bit of comic relief amongst the crowd, and with Chapman winning the quiz and failing to cover the four people in front of the stage wth a spray of celebratory Heineken, the closing of festivities was left to Ben Walsh (performing in the Tom Tom Club) – a curious mix of reggae, latin, and death-metal influences performed on an omnichord(!). Ben was later joined by Bobby Singh (sp?) on tabla for a fantastic bit of beatbox-esque percussive-vocal drum battle. Or something. It was ace.

Did I mention it was hot? So hot I managed to stop by the pub on the way home to write this. Hence the foggy, no-breakfast-plus-a-couple-of-beers state of this writing.

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