Adelaide Fringe 2019
February 15 - March 17 2019
Previewed by Peter Wilkins
Adelaide Fringe 2019 is dedicated to the memory of founding father Frank Ford, who died last year at the age of 83. South Australia’s cultural icon, Ford leaves behind a phenomenal legacy and a bequest of $200,000 to assist outstanding South Australian artists to tour their work and gain wider recognition and appreciation of the Adelaide Fringe’s support for outstanding local talent.
|Frank Ford AM. Founder of the Adelaide Fringe|
Now in her fourth year as Director and Chief Executive of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest open access Fringe Festival, and second only to the Edinburgh Fringe, Heather Croall talks enthusiastically of the advances that visitors to this year’s Fringe might expect. Since its modest beginning in 1975 as a complement to Adelaide’s elite Festival of Arts, the grass roots Adelaide Fringe has grown into a huge artistic macrocosm, embracing all regions of the city and extending its many programmes into the far regions of the state.
|Heather Croall - Director Adelaide Fringe|
To give a clearer idea of its enormity, Croall describes the Fringe’s phenomenal growth, during her tenure as director. “We’ve spent a lot of time and resources on improving our ticketing system.” she tells me. “ The search function has been vastly improved in the last couple of years. Compared to the same day last year we’re twenty four percent up on the number of ticket sales.” The Fringe Box Office went up in Adelaide’s central Rundle Mall, in the heart of the CBD in November and other sales outlets are due to be established in the next few weeks in the East End, on North Terrace and in the Adelaide University where the Fringe’s Royal Croquet Club venue will be located this year. The increase in sales over the past few years speaks volumes for Croall’s initiatives. In 2014, ticket sales reached 450,000. Last year that number climbed to 705,000 and a projected lift of 10% could feasibly increase the ticket sales to almost 800.000, heading for a 2022 target of one million.. “Everything we’re doing – making it easier to buy tickets, making it easier to search through a dates filter and Love Hearts Favourites, we’re very aware that people need to be able to navigate this enormous programme and the good news is that the growth of ticket sales is a much faster growth than the number of shows in the Fringe.”
|Garden of Unearthly Delights|
That is not to say that the number of events is not growing. This year there will be over seven hundred events, involving 1326 artists from all over Australia and overseas. Croall is pleased with the increase because more tickets means more money into the pockets of the artists. Inside fees, imposed by venues have also been zeroed, providing a further windfall for the artists. Meanwhile online sales at www.adelaidefringe.com.au account for 70% of the sales. 20% are sold through the box offices and some are sold through the call centre, although this is more an information dispensing service.
Spreading the word has become an important function of the improved ticketing and online filters. Artists also will recommend similar shows for audiences to see after they have been to a particular kind of show.
|Yabarra Gathering of Light|
Because the Adelaide Fringe is an open access festival, available to any artist who wishes to register, navigation of the programme becomes crucial and with an online and hard copy programme of 148 pages outlining a vast number of genres to choose from, ease of navigation is fundamental to the Fringe’s remarkable success. On Page 7, eager Fringe-goers can discover HOW TO PICK A SHOW. And on Page 8 how to GET YOUR TICKETS Turn the page and the various genres are revealed, beginning with Cabaret , followed by Children’s Theatre and then Circus and Physical Theatre. Canberra's Little Dove Theatre will be presenting their highly successful Dance Theatre piece Evangeline in this category. There is still ample opportunity to catch favourite comedians and emerging funny men and women in the Comedy section.. For those who love dance, there are fascinating events under Dance. For those with limited funds an entire section promises free Events for the entire family including such highlights as the Opening Ceremony and the new Yabarra Gathering of Light, a lighting installation on the bank of the River Torrens by the University Footbridge. Interactive performances and events will also embrace participation and immersive experiences, while some may prefer to be astounded by the wonder of Magic. Music of all kinds leaps from the page – from Jackson to Joplin or Buble to Bach and everything in-between. Theatre has exploded this year as artists from around the nation and the world bring their original and traditional performances to the Fringe at such innovative venues as Joanne Hartstone’s Noel Lothian Hall in the Botanic Gardens, Martha Lott’s Holden Street Theatres in Hindmarsh, the Bakehouse, the Royal Croquet Club, Tandanya and a host of venues in unique locations. And then there are the vibrant parkland venues , the Garden of Unearthly Delights and Gluttony in Rymill Park. These magnets of artistic feasting draw thousands of Fringe –goers to their succulent and seductive banquets. Exhibitions galore will delight the senses in the Visual Art and Design sections and, in response to requests by artists a new section will offer Workshops and Talks
|Adelaide Fringe Ambassador Hans in Live Like A German|
To spread the word and spruik the Fringe throughout the city and on media outlets, The Fringe has also appointed high profile Ambassadors. In the past people like Kittie Flanagan, Paul McDermott and Julian Cleary have filled the role. This year’s Ambassadors, comedienne, Judith Lucy, international cabaret star, Hans and indigenous football legend turned visual artist Gavin Wanganeen will join people like Tim Ferguson and Molly Taylor to run workshops and talk about their work.
“We can’t be stagnant.” Croall says. “We’re Fringe and we have to keep changing. We are committed to constant improvement. So, that means being responsive and introducing new genres." This year there will be shows performed in unusual venues. Emma Knights will present Pirates of Penzance on a boat in Port Noarlunga. Shift Theatre will present Hallowed Ground- Women Doctors in War, written by a surgeon and presented by Shift Theatre. Recent WAAPA graduate, Zachary Sheridan will present Cookies and Cream and there is a plethora of Shakespeare productions old and new to entertain including The Handlebards Twelfth Night from the UK which transports its costumes and props on bicycles from venue to venue. Its five star reviews speak for themselves.
For people who want to know what is happening in their neighbourhood, they merely have to type in Fringelist and all the council areas will come up. For example, Charles Sturt council lists one hundred Fringe events, and finally there are Fringe events in Fringe on Tour, from the Adelaide Airport and Westfield to country regions such as Whyalla and Port Augusta. In short, there is a Fringe for everyone!
“ I always encourage people to explore the Fringe, explore the nooks and crannies, because you’ll be surprised and delighted.
It is a sentiment echoed by previous directors who understood the magic and the mystery of Australia’s leading Fringe Festival, The excitement, the thrill and the surprise will embrace the city of Adelaide and its regions in homage to the spirit and vision of the Adelaide Fringe’s founding father.
Adelaide Fringe 2019
February 15 – March 17
Phone Bookings Fringetix 1300 621 255