19 September 2017

How to Fringe: Sabrina Martin

Sabrina Martin
Performer, actor, teacher, producer, volunteer, all-round theatre pixie

May Contain Sex Scenes
26–30 September
The Old Cafe, Emerald City @ Meat Market

Sabrina Martin. Photo by Ingrid Saker

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?  
Sigmund Freud, he has a lot to answer for when it comes to popular misunderstandings about female sexuality.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?   
Inclusive, arty, fabulous.

A favourite Melbourne memory?
Ten years ago, in the middle of a heat wave on my first day in Melbourne, my friend's flatmate convinced me to cycle from Fitzroy into Federation Square and back again. Avoiding tram tracks and riding around in what felt like a fan oven, it was my first ever overseas adventure and I was mesmerised by the city. It was so big and there was so much to do and eat. I may have been delirious but I’ve had a crush on Melbourne ever since.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
This year is my first year performing at Melbourne Fringe! So far I have felt very welcomed, firstly by being encouraged by Melbourne Fringe to bring my show over from New Zealand. Program manager Xanthe Beesley joined me in a boutique hotel room on Wellington’s Waterfront for the world premiere of the show. Ever since I have had great support from the staff, I cannot believe the individual care I have had considering they are hosting 400 odd shows and events.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?   
Just how inclusive it is! They make it very clear that queer work and feminist work are not only welcomed but celebrated and encouraged, especially with events like Church. I think this is unique to any major fringe festival I have been a part of.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.   
Use the “guide me” section on the Fringe Website, it includes Indigenous, Feminist and Queer guides to Fringe which I am personally a huge fan of. Plus there is the Bank of Australia Take 5, each day there is a new code to get $5 off your ticket – which the bank pay for so the artists still get their full cut!

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
We don’t do star ratings in New Zealand but most Fringes around the world use them. It’s obviously great if you get 4 or 5 stars but disappointing and useless for marketing if you get anything less. It reduces art to a number, which is the opposite of what most artists are aiming for. If people feel like we need a quick glance system then replacing stars with hearts could be nice, that way you receive some love for the work. I feel like this question could do with artists and reviewers coming together and dream up better solutions.

Shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Church curated by Mama Alto
Betty GRUMBLE: Sex Clown Saves the World
Power Ballad
The Measure of a Man by Gavin Roach

18 September 2017

How To Fringe 2017: Phil Spencer

Phil Spencer
Write, perform, cobble together shows (and a living) 

Hooting & Howling
20–25 September
The Butterfly Club

 
Phil Spencer & Julia Johnson. Photo by Lucy Parakhina 


The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Low-fi. Phantasmagorical. Hangover.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Tessa Waters’s WoMANZ. I never knew I could jiggle, but that night I learnt every single human in that small sweaty room could jiggle. With varying degrees of success obviously.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
I pack up my shows and take them to Fringe festivals because I want to make my fortune in gold coins, minus ticketing charges. Nah. But, there is a buzzing, whirring, inspiring cloud that gets whipped up by Melbourne Fringe in particular. Simply put, it makes a foreign city seem welcoming and open. It makes an evening with a room full (or half full) of strangers pretty bloody special. It makes performing my stories feel like treat.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
The quality of the work. The sense of community that is built around (slightly) discounted beer in the hub. The trams. I do love a good tram ride.

What’s your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe?
Take a punt on a new venue. Use Fringe as an excuse to be a tourist in your own city.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Look, we all love a good star spangled spread. So keep ‘em. But I do think what is more useful for artists is helping to feed like-minded audiences into each other’s shows – i.e if you loved Stuart Bowden … you’ll love THIS.

Five shows/events you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe
Betty GRUMBLE: Sex Clown Saves the World
Calypso! Calypso! Calypso!
Fringe Wives Club: Glittery Clittery, a conSENSUAL party
Geraldine Hickey: It’s My Show
Open Season On a Broken Heart

17 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Georgia King

Georgia King
Actor, performer, theatre maker

THE ONE by Jeffrey Jay Fowler
15–30 September
Arts House (Studio 2)

Mark Storen, Georgia King

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
To be honest I’d really just like local Melbourne punters to come along. Being from out of town it’d be great to see how locals react to the show and we’d love to meet you all!

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
New, exciting, opportunity (for me!)

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
This is my first Melbourne Fringe, so I’m looking forward to making some memories.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
Not having arrived at Melbourne Fringe yet, but being from Perth and knowing how awesome the Fringe community is there I have no doubt it will be the same, and I can’t wait to experience it.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
It’s in Melbourne! And of course Melbourne is the arts capital of Australia.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe?
Take a risk! And maybe see a show from out of town? ;)

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Word of mouth from someone you know and trust is usually best. Sometimes awards give you an idea about the track record of a show but sometimes you just need to see something for yourself.

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
All the Forest Exchange Lab days. Forest Fringe X Melbourne Fringe
The Fountain of Youth by Deep Soulful Sweats
Betty GRUMBLE: Sex Clown Saves the World
Stuart Bowden: When Our Molecules Meet Again* Let’s Hope They Remember What to Do *Probably In Space
Ode To Man. A farewell to men in 15 chapters

16 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Jamaica Zuanetti

Jamaica Zuanetti
Playwright, actor

Too Ready Mirror
15–28 September
Northcote Town Hall

Jamaica Zuanetti

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Caryl Churchill

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Daring. Vibrant. Spicy.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Performing in a show called More Intimate Than by Bridget Mackey with Laura-Jane Emes. There were two shows each night with eight audience members who sat around a dinner table as our guests. There was no dinner.☺

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
It’s exciting and the high you get from either performing or being involved in a show is intoxicating. The support provided by the festival is invaluable. Everyone involved is so enthusiastic and encouraging of everyone’s different projects. It’s really great to feel like you have people around you who are energised by art. The independent sector can be hard and exhausting but being a part of a group or community of talented individuals creates a really positive and inspiring atmosphere.

What do you think makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
The fact that artists from so many different disciplines and backgrounds can create a show or art and it doesn’t have to meet any rigid standards. It’s so freeing to be able to make a show that is daring, that pushes boundaries and doesn’t pander to the mainstream. I think fringe audiences really embrace the wacky and wonderful too, which is great!

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Don’t go for the obvious choice. I think seeing something that is out of your comfort zone is always fun. I try and support friends as much as possible but I also like peruse the Fringe guide for something I wouldn’t normally choose, or I just blindly follow another person’s recommendation and see what happens.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
I think there needs to be more of conversation between artists and reviewers. It’s always so one sided that artists just feel victimised if their show receives a bad review. Perhaps if artists could respond to a reviewer’s review? That would even the balance. Or to be completely diplomatic, reviewers could say three things they loved, then three things they would change about a show. It’s tricky. Basically make your art, if a reviewer doesn’t like it, tell them to go make their own f*%king art!!

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
The Maze
Fool’s Gold
The Sky is Well Designed
Too Soon, Too Now
How To Kill The Queen Of Pop

How to Fringe17: Lord Coconut

Mark Boldiston (aka Lord Coconut)
Owner of Lord Coconut, Melbourne’s only retail and online store specialising in handcrafted jewellery for men

Hedonism
19 September – 7 October
Lord Coconut

SM: Most of the How To Fringers have been performers, but always spend some time in the Visual Arts section of the program and dedicate a couple afternoons to exploring old and discovering new spaces in our city.

Mark Boldiston (aka Lord Coconut)

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
I’m more interested in the average person attending the show and discovering something special.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words
Pretty Bloody Weird.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
It’s a bit like throwing shit against a wall and seeing what sticks and what doesn’t each year… Only in a safe environment where anything and everything is expected and encouraged.

What do you makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
Open Access. The ability for any person or group to submit a show and put themselves out in the public domain is pretty brave and incredible. We all have diverse tastes and Fringe means that you’re sure to find a show that you’ll love no matter how weird, wonderful, diverse or just plain crazy you are.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Play Fringe Roulette where you choose a venue that you haven’t been to before, choose a show you know nothing about and hope for the best! You’ll win some and you’ll lose some but in the end you’ll be supporting an independent artist and you might even stumble across something really special!

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
I like the star ratings!

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Spookmaster by Mark Penzak
MODELTWNE; Escape from Modeltwne
Paul Dabek: Look at Me
Bert Kreischer
Papillion Unplugged. Circus for grown ups

As long as they fit into my Fringe Roulette schedule!

15 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Elliott Gee

Elliott Gee
actor, performance maker, performer in every sense of the word 
member of The Very Good Looking Initiative

Let’s Get Practical! Live
15–23rd September
The Lithuanian Club –The Loft
Arts House – Underground on the 23rd of September.

Elliot Gee. Photo by Sarah Walker

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
It’s not a usually choice for me, but I think it would be Tom Cruise. I’ve been watching Scientology videos and I would just love to have Tom and his intense smile, especially in the foyer after the show. Can you imagine how enthusiastic he would be about the show?And then try and get the audience to convert. 

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Chaotic, unexpected, community.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
2011 was my first year living in Melbourne after moving from Tasmania. Before moving to the big city, fringe festivals were so intriguing to me and I always wanted to be a part of one. When I went to my first Fringe Club event I remember being so inspired by everything that was going on; just looking around and taking it all in with my mouth wide open – the music, the dancing, the costumes, the colours, the people and the energy in the room. It was a very memorable night but I have that feeling every year the Melbourne Fringe rolls around. I also asked a guy behind the bar who had an amazing beard how to grow facial hair like his, his answer was to hand me a scotch whisky straight and said “Here, drink this”.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
Each of my experiences at Melbourne Fringe have been very different, including the shows I was a part of, the artists I was working with, the spaces we performed in and even experiencing the festival just as a patron. It’s exciting, stressful, tiring; you aren't a normal person for the majority of the festival but that’s what I love.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
The first thing that comes to mind for me is The Fringe Hub. I love that the Melbourne’s Fringe Hub is at the North Melbourne Town Hall and Errol street. It's so unique, the architecture of the building, the spaces, the fringe club and the energy of Errol street. The whole building turns into an amazing maze of art. For two and a half weeks the building is filled with art and people.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe?
Take risks and see shows you wouldn't usually see. Fill your 2.5 weeks with a diverse range of shows and performances. If it grabs your attention, bloody go for it.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
I think the star rating system works pretty fine; it's very clear and simple. I think it is an important tool for advertising and further promoting the show. When I want to see a show I only use the star rating as a guide anyway. Plus if I got a one-star review I probably wouldn't use it, or maybe I would. Maybe that's what we should do? Change it so that one star means your show is awesome and 5 stars means it's bad.

Five shows/events you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
How To Kill The Queen Of Pop
Discordia
Hannah Camilleri: Vision Statement
Faith. A celebration of the world's most unholy queer icon: George Michael
It’s Not Me, It’s Lou.

How to Fringe 2017: Christopher Bryant

Christopher Bryant
Playwright, performer

Intoxication
15–22 September
Lithuanian Club, Son of Loft

Christopher Bryant. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Jack Ferver and/or Nicola Gunn. In part because I respect the heck out of both of them, but also because both their performance styles have inspired what Intoxication is trying to do.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Diverse. Surprising. Unique.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Going out to Sisters Grimm’s Fugly after the show I’d directed, with the cast in various states of undress. The night itself was a blur, but I do remember one particular cast member dancing so much that her shoes filled up with blood.

In terms of actual shows, there’s too many to name drop, but overall just the feeling of complete support and excitement I’ve felt in every audience I’ve been a part of.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
This is the second time I’ve been involved in a fringe festival, and the first with something so directly related to me as an artist/performing a work I’m intensely proud of. Both times – and all the times I’ve simply been a part of the Fringe community – I’ve felt nothing but supported.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
It sits in a great spot between something large and potentially overwhelming, like Edinburgh or Adelaide, and something smaller. As a festival it manages to be both intimate and sprawling. This offers more opportunities all around: more opportunities for ‘unknown’ or lesser-known artists to make their mark and more opportunities for audiences to see something unexpected. There’s also less of a focus on work from other cities, with local art being more of a selling point.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe?
Don’t just stick to what you know! Some of the best things I’ve seen have been shows I unexpectedly ended up seeing and wouldn’t have otherwise gone to.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Honestly, I’d rather abolish them altogether – make audiences work that little bit harder. A show can rarely be summed up by a simple star rating alone, and stars can’t take into consideration the myriad of things in and surrounding the show. I guess I’d rather people just read a review and made up their own minds. (The more practical response: it’s the Fringe and I fully accept they’re a necessary evil, and they’re better than nothing!)

Five shows/events you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe?
How To Kill The Queen Of Pop
Lady Bunny in Trans-Jester
Let’s get Practical! Live. Presented by The Very Good Looking Initiative
It’s Not Me, It’s Lou. A silly show by musical comedian Louisa (Lou) Wall
TRAPS. A romantic comedy for the modern sociopath by Amelia Evan

14 September 2017

How To Fringe 2017: Alice Tovey

Alice Tovey
Musical comedian, proud screaming feminist, rock god

Alice Tovey: Mansplaining
23–30 September
Arts House – Underground

SM: I finally saw Alice and Ned at last year's Fringe; see them.

Alice Tovey, Ned Dixon. Photo by Sarah Walker

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Yassmin Abdel-Magied. She inspired a lot of the material in the show and I just want to buy her a cup of tea and be her mate. TWEET HER IN

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Feminist, fierce and in-your-face.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
There really are too many to choose from; some of my happiest memories are at the Fringe. Melbourne Fringe gave me my first opportunity to create cabaret. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be working with the wonderful Ned Dixon, and I wouldn’t have the immense privilege of performing shows on the reg. However, my favourite memory would have to be performing with my band, The Apostles, at the Fringe Opening Gala in 2016. Those guys are a pack of legends and the crowd was incredible.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
Always a positive one. The Fringe staff give their artists a lot of room to grow and the tools to get to where they want to be. I’m very grateful to the whole team for the support they’ve given us over the years

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
The performers. Melbourne Fringe artists are very political and aren’t afraid to perform something totally left of centre.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
See everything. Take some long service leave and see every show at the Fringe. Go to the website now and book all of the tickets. I’m serious. Do it

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
I don’t think we’ll ever find a system of reviewing that satisfies both performers and critics. It’s not the job of critics to make performers feel good about themselves, nor is it my job to create work to be reviewed. At the end of the day, we’re all just doing our job. I know when I’ve put on a good show. Sure, a critic might not like what I’ve done, but as long as I know that I’ve done the best I can do, that’s all that matters. I know that sounds like some real namby-pamby, touchy-feely, sensitive performer bullshit, but gone are my days of crying in the shower over a bad review that says I “lack diction”. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
AT: ONLY 5!?!
SM: Yes.
AT: I’m going to do a cheeky 8 shows, because there really are too many.
SM: OK, but only cos three people only did 4.
AT: Here's 10

The Vagina Monologues by Deafferent Theatre 
Rama Nicholas in The Lucky Ones
I’m Fine by Lucy Gransbury
Adam McKenzie: Laser Light
Yada Yada Yada: a 90s Sitcom Special
A Bok In Progress by Lauren Bok

Fringe Wives Club: Glittery Clittery: a conSENSUAL party
Seen & Heard by Becky Lou
Self
Church curated by Mama Alto

How To Fringe 2017: Kasey Gambling

Kasey Gambling
Actor, theatre maker

The Maze
16–27 September
Meet out the front of Joe Taylor

SM: Disappointed that I missed this last year, so no excuse this year.

Kasey Gambling. Photo by Marnya Rothe

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Probably Clementine Ford, just cos I think she’s rad.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Experimental. Art. Community.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory
My first experience of Melbourne Fringe was a night of dancing at the Fringe Hub. I had never seen a fringe show but my friends wanted to go to the Hub for a dance. When I arrived, I remember thinking, “This is where my people are”. Then I sweated up a storm and danced until they turned the lights on and kicked us out.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
It’s both challenging and super supportive. It’s fantastic that there’s so much to see at Fringe, but it also means you’re competing with so many talented artists.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
Melbourne Fringe is great at offering support for its artists, whether it’s providing workshops and information sessions or just chatting through your work with one of the staff.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Mix it up! Support your pals, but then sit down with the guide and seek out an artist you’ve never heard of. I’ve also found the Guide Me section of Melbourne Fringe website really helpful; check out the Indigenous, Feminist and Queer guides to Melbourne Fringe.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Star ratings do little to describe any nuance. Readers see the stars and then read the review with that in mind. I say, get rid of it all together – just use your words.

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Discordia
Metamorphoses
Hyper-Fragility with Candy Bowers and Victoria Chiu
Hannah Camilleri: Vision Statement
Ghosts vs Skeletons

13 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Helen Cassidy

Helen Cassidy
actor, creative, director, producer, voice over artist

Erotic Intelligence for Dummies
15–22 September
Arts House – Underground


Helen Cassidy

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
The brilliant author and psychotherapist Esther Perel. Esther explores the tension between freedom and commitment in intimate relationships. Her books, talks and podcasts rock my world and have been a huge inspiration. If you haven’t heard of her I highly recommend her TED talk about maintaining desire in long-term relationships. And her book Mating in Captivity.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Arty, accessible, awesome.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
This is my first Melbourne Fringe so I’m looking forward to making memories in 2017.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
So far, so good. The festival is open and supportive and doesn’t feel overwhelmingly in its size.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
Australia has some of the biggest fringe festival’s in the world… we love our fringes! However, some festivals have been swamped by massive mainstream shows with huge publicity budgets and it’s made it almost impossible for the smaller shows to compete. Melbourne Fringe remains a manageable size and is still very accessible for independent artists who feel safe to take risks. Better still, local audiences support artists taking risks and embrace the weird and wild.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Go with your gut (or other moister body bits) and surprise yourself with a show you know nothing about. Also ask friends for their picks. So I guess I’m saying that everyone needs to see at least two shows.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Geeze, I’ve seen the Grading A-D system in some reviews but that just smells of high school. Stick with the stars; this is show biz.

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Fringe Wives Club: Glittery Clittery: a conSENSUAL party
Can I Get An Amen?! Inspired by the memoirs of Whoopi Goldberg
Betty GRUMBLE: Sex Clown Saves the World
The Birth of the Unicorn Mermaid
PO PO MO CO: Recreation & Leisure