26 September 2017

Review: How to Kill the Queen of Pop

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2017
How to Kill the Queen of Pop
21 September 2017
Arts House – Studio 1
to 30 September
melbournefringe.com.au

Samuel Russo, Tom Halls, Adam Ibrahim


My review is at The Age/SMH.

Review: Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2017
Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden
La Mama, Anna Lehmann Thomson
21 September 2017
La Mama
to 1 October
melbournefringe.com.au


Anna Thomson. Photo by Theresa Harrison

My review is at The Age/SMH.

How to Fringe 2017: Neal Portenza

Joshua Ladgrove by day
Neal Portenza by night
Comedian*

SM: The Melbourne Fringe finishes on Sunday (most shows close on Saturday), so you still have time to see at least 15 more shows (three a night is easy).

How to Fringe 2017 finishes with the person who got my only 5-star fringe review last year. It was everything wrong about fringe festivals (why do some rooms fill up and others stay empty?) and everything right about how do deal with everything wrong. He's not doing a show this year (Edinburgh Fringe is too close to Melbourne Fringe for sanity).

Joshua Ladgrove

The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Inclusive Arts Festival.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Winning the Melbourne Fringe Best Comedy award in 2012 was a really unexpected delight. One of my favourite memories and I was completely overwhelmed with emotions. It’s highly likely I peaked at that moment.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
One of exploration and discovery. Some festivals really feel like you’re part of a sausage grinder and the pressure to perform can be immense. Melbourne Fringe never had that pressure for me. Possibly it’s because where Neal really started back in 2010 in a small gay bar in Collingwood that is no longer.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique.
I think the city gets behind it. You can still put on a show in a small out-of-the-way bar and people will come and take a punt. It’s not too big, it’s not too small and it has never had the stain of being overly commercial.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Pick something that sounds weird and go for it. Life is too short to be boring. You can see the opera or ballet year round, but how often can you watch a man stick a well-lubricated microphone into his anus?

(SM: Twice.)

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
A friend of mine is completing his PhD on this very issue. I’ll be sure to hit you up when he’s done.
In the interim, I think star ratings are odd. I’ve been the beneficiary of lovely 5-star reviews and of harrowing 1-star reviews, so I have no skin in the game anymore, but I think it turns the arts into a sport, to a degree. Art is supposed to be subjective, yet, there are times when clearly, the overwhelmingly majority can agree that a show is worthy of 5 stars, so it does sort of make sense. Maybe a show should just be labelled as ‘Highly Recommended’ if it’s great?

Five shows/events that you will not/did not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Full Metal Jacket and other impractical fashions by Willem Richards
socially (un)acceptable
Josh Glanc: Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chamedian
Can I Get An Amen?! Inspired by the memoirs of Whoopi Goldberg 
Dr. Duck


* Everyone has been asked "What do you do in the arts industry?"; I edit to a short answer.
But: You sound like my mum. This question has just sent me into an irrevocable depression spiral. What indeed…

Here's me thinking I was the hip and groovy writer...

25 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Zeb Direen

Zeb Direen
Singer, dancer, aerialist

Maybe This Time
25 September – 1 October
The Butterfly Club

Zeb Direen. Photo by Snap Dragon Photography

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Caroline O’Connor.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Alternate Grand Final.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
After the opening party and waiting to catch a tram home. Another gender non-binary artist was waiting for the same tram and overheard my conversation of wanting to give my friend relationship advice by singing Disney songs at them and wholeheartedly wanted to join in.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
A roller coaster of emotions and having to think quickly and create inventively. It’s been an amazing melting pot of artists from a huge scope of disciplines. It’s been amazing meeting them and sharing with them.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique.
The freedom to create and be a part of something big without rigorous curation.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
I’m a lucky dip sorta person; I let the stream take me. What’s a convenient venue? What can I afford? What’s happening close to where I am right now?

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Rather than stars, use objects relevant to the show. Sad show? I give it a soft tissue. Happy show? I give it a giant hug.

Five shows/events that you will not/did not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Bed Reckoning
TRANSCENDENT
Church curated by Mama Alto
Ugly Duckling by Spanky! & Karla Hillam
How To Kill The Queen Of Pop

How to Fringe 2017: Carla Mitterlehner

Carla Mitterlehner
Actor, musician, designer
RAG Theatre

No Offence
Trigger warning - contains moments of joy
28–30 September
Alex Theatre

Carla Mitterlehner


The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Art, Create, Experience

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Performing at a variety of venues

Your as an independent artists being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
It's an exciting experience: the culture of theatre making, the whole process and the end result.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique.
It showcases new, fresh, thought-provoking, dynamic and vibrant Art.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Word of mouth reviews, online reviews, visit the Fringe Hub and check out the guide.

Five shows/events that will not/did not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Fanaticus by Rawcus
The program launch party
The Vagina Monologues
Crimson Tide
PO PO MO CO: Recreation & Leisure

24 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Tim Wotherspoon

Tim Wotherspoon
Playwright, director, actor, sound designer, musician

Future Loves Burning
26 September – 1 October
Aeso Studio

Tom Wotherspoon. Photo by Elizabeth Millington

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Esperanza Spalding, John Lennon, David Bowie

I mean, pragmatically thinking, I suppose, someone who can make it rain. Take our poor theatre, cross the water and have a grand old time.

But mainly Esperanza Spalding because she’s just so amazing.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Blinking eyes drinking.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
It’s all one big wash. It’s all one magnificent wash. I never used to dare dance, but I know at some stage in the past seven years I threw caution to the wind and found my boogie.

Find your boogie at the Fringe Hub. If it’s not there, you can borrow mine… it’s idiosyncratic and isn’t for everyone, but you’re quite welcome if you need to use it for a bit.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
I’ve been involved in Melbourne Fringe every year since 2010 just after my partner and I left VCA in the middle of our actor training. She has gone on to become one of the most cherished emerging/established writers in the city, I daresay the country – and I guess I’ve done ok, too. Fringe gave us a safe space to do risky things. This is the most fundamental virtue of the whole thing – if you make something and you throw your spirit into it and nurture it and swirl it all together, whatever you end up with, there is a living celebration of its emergence throughout the whole festival. It is, in fact, the whole festival. The audiences, artists, producers and techs are all swept up in the same swirl and that swirl is a beautiful thing. It is necessarily supportive because we are all breathing the same air.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
I haven’t been to other fringe festivals – that is what makes it unique to me, it’s the only Fringe I know…

So it’s like Christmas where everyone’s got presents for everyone but you don’t wrap them because most of them are performance art or are otherwise totally impracticable to wrap.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Listen to the buzz, support your friends, support your community. Whatever compels you, be compelled and get in there and watch it. Cool picture? Twisted blurb that keeps bumping round your mind? Go check it out.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Well, probably but I can’t conceive of one, not now anyway, we’re still rehearsing. Themain virtue I can recognise in the star rating system is that it’s a shortcut for people who don’t feel they have the time to read a whole review. They can look at the stars and realise what direction is due north and off they go, they’re set.

Five shows/events that will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Too Soon, Too Now
High Achievers
Death Art 'n Death
The Sky Is Well Designed
Ode To Man

SM: I know that some of these shows have finished, but it's also cool to know what great stuff you missed and can see when and if they bring them to the next festival.

23 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Lauren Edwards

Lauren Edwards
Performer, writer

Yada Yada Yada: A 90’s Sitcom Special
September 28
Lithuanian Club

Lauren Edwards, Jude Pearl

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Gina Riley – so I could apologise for that time I embarrassed myself in front of her in 2008. And then maybe she might like me and we could become best friends.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
My First Time (I’m a Fringe artist virgin).

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Last year I accidentally ended up at the Fringe after party and drank a lot of beer and danced to a lot of Usher with people I’d never met. So that was ace.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
Admittedly, this is my first experience as a Fringe artist, but so far it’s been nothing but great and supportive!

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
Just the sheer breadth of shows and artists it manages to showcase.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe?
Obviously my first answer is come to my show, but honestly, try and expand your horizons. Some of the best shows I’ve ever seen have been ones I have stumbled upon or just seen a flyer and gone “Yeah okay, I’ll give it a go”.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
I feel like some sort of recommendation system based on audience preferences? You know how Netflix does that thing where it says, “Because you liked…” and then recommends other shows for you to watch and then you fall down a television rabbit hole because everything is great and you haven’t left your house in three days … wait … what were we talking about?

Shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Alice Tovey: Mansplaining
Anything at the Speigeltent
Hamiltunes. An Improvised History by Impromptunes
Awards Night and After Party at the Fringe Hub

Review: Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2017
The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World

Peel the Limelight
16 September 2017
Bluestone Church Arts Space
to 23 September
melbournefringe.com.au


My review is on The Age/SMH.

How to Fringe 2017: Courtney Ammenhauser

Courtney Ammenhauser
Performer, performance maker

Quarter Life Crisis
25–30 September
The Cavern at The Metropolitan Hotel

Courtney Ammenhauser

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

The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Salsa dancing greyhound.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
This is my first Melbourne Fringe! Ask me at the end of the month!

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
So far it has been great! I’m excited to get down to Melbourne and see it in full force!

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
Melbourne! The city itself is unique and is what makes a fringe festival special. The people, the venues and the spirit of a city is what impacts any fringe.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Take a punt. You’re more than likely going to make a good choice about the kind of show you want to see and even if you do end up at show that isn’t your cup of tea, it will make for a good story later.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
I’d rather five donuts. Or maybe we should be made to jelly wrestle?

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Can I Get An Amen?! Inspired by the memoirs of Whoopi Goldberg
The Travelling Sisters: NOO SHO
Tessa Waters: Volcano
Shania Choir
Yada Yada Yada: A 90s sitcom special

22 September 2017

Review: Cactus and the Mime

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2017
Cactus and the Mime
Roby Favretto and Caitlin Spears
15 September 2017
Lithuanian Club, Son of Loft
to 22 September

Cactus and the Mime. Caitlin Spears,
Roby Favretto
My review is on The Age/SMH.

How to Fringe 2017: Nadia Collins

Nadia Collins
Comedian
 
Virgin Bloody Mary
21–26 September
Errol’s & Co

Nadia Collins. Photo by Jarrad Seng

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Jesus. Or John Lennon, he’s meant to be bigger than Jesus, right?

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Art! Art! Art!

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Seeing Dr Brown’s show a few years ago was very impressive.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
You push your immense boulder up the hill, and then watch it roll down again. Hi-jynx!

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
It feels more theatre-y than a lot of other fringes, and seems to put a lot of emphasis on local acts. I used to live in North Melbourne and it’s nice to come back there; it feels like coming home. There’s usually a nice feel at the Town Hall late at night.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
See things on a whim with other people, see things that there’s a buzz around, try not to burn yourself out.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Well, it’s stood the test of time, but for sure some nights will be off and some reviewers will have very different personal tastes. I guess maybe just doing away with stars, and posting a review – letting people read the words.

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Al and Matt Go Halvies, Matt Stewart and Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall
The Big HOO-HAA: 24 Hour Show
Josh Glanc: Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chamedian
Boy Story
Partybucket

How to Fringe 2017: Sherilee Kahui

Sherilee Kahui
Writer, director, producer, performer

(A Smidge of) Pidge
23–30 September
Arts House: Parlour Room

Sherilee Kahui

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

The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Full, Sparkly, Boozy.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Doing a drag show with Jake Preval and making an audience member vomit in 2011.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
I have worked as a box office coordinator (2011) and directed and produced Minor Victories at the Owl & the Pussycat in 2012.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
I think the Fringe Hub functions really well, without being too over crowded.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Talk to people! Looking at the program; there are heaps of excellent comedy shows by women this year that I am looking forward to. I think the NZ contingent is all women!

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
In terms of ratings? I don’t know. Reviews very rarely use the star system in NZ. I think as long as it is accompanied by a well written, critically engaged review (not a plot summary!) then it can be useful.

Five shows/events you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Fringe Wives Club: Glittery Clittery: a conSENSUAL party
Tessa Waters: Volcano
TRAPS. A romantic comedy for the modern sociopath by Amelia Evans
Power Ballad by Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan
KillJoy: Destroy the Fantasy

21 September 2017

How To Fringe 2017: Siobhan Connors

Siobhan Connors
Producer, performer
Key Conspirators, Poppy Seed Festival, North of Eight

Tea with Chekhov
16 September – 1 October
Bluestone Church Arts Space

Siobhan Connors. Photo by Nogani Moore

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Anton Chekhov or David Bowie.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Mixed Goodie Bag.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Somehow Stephen K Amos and I were having a laugh in the Fringe bar and were making jokes about me being a stalker, we laughed and when it settled I deadpanned him and said ‘But I do really like your couch’. He faltered, then realised I was joking and burst out laughing (probably out of relief). When he recovered he told me that was in his top 10 list of funniest calls he’d heard in his life. Might have been hyperbole but I’m claiming it.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
First time creating work for Key Conspirators and loving it!

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique.
The chance to see a ridiculous amount of art in a condensed period of time. A great place for fledgling companies to stretch their wings, test viability and increase their profile in a supportive framework. In particular I’m loving the expansion of Fringe out west this year. Fringe is definitely unique in the way they are ready to embrace artists and audience members based in the west!

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Make a day of it and show hop as many as you can fit into one hit.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
No, I think star ratings are useful for all.

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe
Title and Deed
Hamiltunes. An Improvised History
Love Song – John Kolvenbach
Two Bad Dates & Two Broken Noses
Andrew Brown. The most boring name in entertainment

20 September 2017

How To Fringe 2017: Bettie Bombshell and Miss Maple Rose

Bettie Bombshell and Miss Maple Rose
Burlesque performers, producers
Highway Robbery Productions

The After Hours Cabaret Club
14–30 September
The Wonderland Spiegeltent

Bettie Bombshell and Miss Maple Rose  Photo by Brigg Bree Photography

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Good ol’ Frankie, Frank Sinatra.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Highlighting the alternative.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Sitting on the roof-top of the Butterfly Club, enjoying a smoke and a whisky while relaxing and kicking back with our fellow carnies after all of our performances have finished for the night. There’s nothing so pure in art than the first moment you get to let go.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
As independent producers, the Fringe has given us a platform to share our world with more Melbournians than usual. In this day and age, it’s hard to stand out among all of the distractions, and the Fringe gives us a spotlight that is usually quite dim and hard to reach.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
Melbourne itself. There is no other city in Australia that supports the arts as consistently as Melbourne does.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe?
Pick something that you would normally not be drawn to. Expand your horizons and explore new avenues.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Star ratings are difficult because it’s so cut throat. Stars don’t describe the hard work put behind the scenes, such as the writing, the acting, the costumes, everything that makes a show epic. They literally represent an opinion that may not necessarily coincide with yours or the artist’s. We admit they make it easy to grade a show and to help choose what to see when there are thousands of shows going on at one time. That’s why we still use it. Once we start suggesting alternatives to the star rating, we just begin to make it all messy. As much as we’d like to, we can’t have everyone winning. That’s just not how life works.

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Lady Bunny in Trans-Jester
Becky Lou: Seen & Heard
Last King of Vaudeville by Idris Stanton
A Showgirl: Deconstructed by Carletta the Great
PO PO MO CO: Recreation & Leisure

19 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: 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 Fringe 2017: 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

How to Fringe 2017: Jayden Masciulli

Jayden Masciulli
Improvisational comedy, acting, writing, lighting
Member of Hit By A Blimp with Caitlyn Staples and Tiana Hogben

I'm Here
13–17 September
The Courthouse

Jayden Masiulli, Caitlyn Staples, Tuana Hogben. Hit By A Blimp. Photo by
Simon McCulloch

If you could invite anyone to see show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Weird Al Yankovic because we have a penchant for song parodies.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Ambitious, kooky, dank.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
I first met Tiana when we were working as venue interns at The Improv Conspiracy Theatre during the 2015 Melbourne Fringe. We were both clueless, terrified newbies who were selling tickets and operating lights in exchange for free improv classes. If you told us we’d be actually writing and performing our own Fringe shows together in the future – with their best pal Caitlyn – we would never have believed you.

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
This is our second spin on the Melbourne Fringe merry-go-round, after the successful run of our first narrative sketch show Who We Were. We had such a blast working together and putting on a show that made us (and, most importantly, our audience) laugh, cry and feel actual feelings. It was a magical and memorable and we’re excited to do it all over again.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
That a wild, colourful, experimental, innovative arts festival could live together in perfect harmony with the AFL finals series.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe
Word-of-mouth; go check out what your pals are enjoying. But also, have a punt on a show you know nothing about. As Kelly Clarkson so wisely said, “Take a risk, take a chance, make a change, and breakaway”. Kelly is a god, we get all our advice from her.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Chuckles-per-minute (if we’re talking comedy).
CPM

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Pee Stick
Here. Live. Now.
The First Annual (Doris To Insert) Festival by Bess County
Ghosts vs Skeletons by Rose Bishop and Josh Chodziesner
Woah, Alyssa! 1

12 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Annie Louey

Annie Louey
Stand-up comedian, actor

Butt Donut
12–17 September
The Mechanics Institute

Annoe Louey. Photo by Matt Kimpton at Verve Portraits

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
I would invite my dad. I wish he could see the art that I’ve made out of some really terrible times. I think he would have secretly enjoyed it.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Inclusive, unconventional, empowering.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Last year I performed in the Fringe as part of the sketch comedy group Dr Duck and I was involved in a two-person sketch about farts. Shortly after that sketch, an audience member let one rip on purpose because they thought it would be funny.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
As a first-time Fringe artist, my experience so far has been fantastic. I’m so glad I signed up because it has given me a goal to work towards and a huge amount of confidence. I finally feel comfortable telling people that I’m a comedian. I also went to all of the Fringe FAQ sessions and felt very supported by the Fringe family.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique.
It’s weird in the best way. And the size of the festival allows artists to stand out while being able to try new work in a safe environment.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Don’t be afraid to try something different. Check out what’s buzzing on social media. Sometimes I prefer to read comments from real audience members than reviewers.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
Why not get rid of stars and enforce the compliment sandwich.

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
The Yonder. Stupid race through deep space. by Normal Children
Absolute (Un)certainty
Like Memes But Live
Estrella Wing, Showgirl by Margot Tanjutco
Tessa Waters: Volcano

How to Fringe 2017: Matthew Sini

Matthew Sini
Writer mostly

Prayers to Broken Stone
12–23 September
Gasworks Arts Park

Matthew Sini

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
Assorted Doomsday Preppers, Oprah, Paul Capsis, French pop singer Sheila, Gong Li. I would die happy if they all came, but only if they all came to the same performance.

The Melbourne Fringe in three words?
Fire and Blood.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Being squashed into a small space in Brunswick and watching friends perform a wonderful show with an all-cardboard set (2015’s The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow).

What is your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe?
Marvellous. It is great to work with others to make beautiful things come to life. But it’s also been wonderful meeting the teams from other shows. There’s a real camaraderie. We’re all just scrappy art monkeys flinging our art poo at people to enjoy …*stares blankly*. I promise my metaphors are slightly more salubrious in my show. Slightly.

What think makes the Melbourne Fringe unique?
Art poo? Sorry. There’s that sense of experiment and innovation that you get with other fringe festivals, but there’s also just this chill vibe among most of the artists. Many artists I meet are keener to hear about your show than to tell you about theirs. That’s lovely. Also, outside of Vilnius, Melbourne Fringe is probably the most Lithuanian fringe festival ever.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
I would say what many have said before: Go see the “superstars,” but also take a chance on something small and or weird-looking. You will be pleasantly surprised in most cases.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
I’m at risk of starting up a rant here, so I will just say this: I don’t understand why you even need ratings. I’ve done some reviewing in my day, and I always hated when I had numerical/star/grade ratings imposed on me. The rating is the review. Want to find out if a show was good? Read the review. THAT’S the rating. That’s what a review is for.

Five shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Pee Stick
Josh Glanc: Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chamedian
The Last Journalist on Earth
How To Kill The Queen Of Pop
And Then the Snow Fell on Egypt

How to Fringe 2017: Kate Lawrence

Kate Lawrence
Producer, Cirque Nocturne 

Cirque Nocturne. A 1940's whodunnit ... circus style
14–17 September
Wonderland Spiegeltent

Circque Nocturne

If you could invite anyone to your show (and you knew they would come), who would it be?
All the lovely people of Melbourne!

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
I think that it’s important to support shows that friends and colleagues are presenting, and hopefully they will return the favour by supporting your shows. That said, is easy to spend all of your time seeing shows of the same genre, which is a pity when there are so many weird and wonderful events taking place. I think its best at fringe festivals to more or less go with the flow. See what shows are on near where you happen to be at any given time. Start a conversation with someone in a bar and go to their show. Take a gamble on something new that sounds extraordinary.

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
The public set a lot of store by the star system and reviews, which is a pity as often those writing them are misguided or ignorant, especially when it comes to circus shows. We always get sent dance or theatre reviewers, who find it hard to dissect circus as they would their own art forms. The star system is useful for putting on media releases and promotional material, but doesn't really give an insight into the content of the show.

Honestly, as an artist I find that well written, thoughtful reviews – be they positive or negative – are invaluable feedback for improving and developing shows.

Shows/events that you will not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
After Hours Cabaret Club
Circalicious
No Frills Cabaret. All the skills just no frills! $10
Killjoy. Destroy the fantasy