Adelaide Fringe 2020.
Artistic Director and CEO Heather Croall. Principal Sponsor Bank SA. Adelaide CBD, Environs and South Australia Regions. February 14 – March 15 2020. www.adelaidefringe.com.au
Preview by Peter Wilkins
Anyone who has ever jostled their way through the crowded footpaths of Rundle Street’s East End in Adelaide will remember the buzz of the Fringe. Anyone who has stood on the long queue to see their favourite late night show in the bustling Garden of Unearthly Delights will know that there is no better place to be than Adelaide during Fringe time. Of course the Fringe is not alone in the festive month of March. There is the Adelaide Festival, located primarily at the Adelaide Festival Centre. There is the Writer’s Week in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden behind Government House. And there is WomAdelaide between the Botanic Gardens and the Zoological Gardens. But the Adelaide Fringe is much much more, stretching its inspirational feast of artistic events far and beyond the CBD. Throughout the state, satellites of Fringe events enliven Adelaide’s suburbs and regional centres as far apart as Mount Gambier in the south and Port Augusta in the north. Artists of all kinds flood the myriad of strange and wonderful venues with comedy, theatre, music, dance, community arts and free events for the entire community.
|Heather Croall. Artistic Director and CEO|
of the Adelaide Fringe
This year, the Adelaide Fringe celebrates its Diamond Anniversary, sixty years of bringing the community together with a plethora of cultural delights to tempt every palate and excite every taste. A magnificent coffee table book, published to celebrate the sixty glorious years of this phenomenal festival reveals each year in glossy reminiscence. From its humble beginnings as an adjunct to the prestigious Adelaide Festival, intent on giving a voice to local artists, while the Festival attracted primarily international visitors the Fringe has grown to become the largest festival in the Southern Hemisphere and second only to the Edinburgh Fringe. Visitors, including artists, directors, administrators and entrepreneurs travel from across the globe to immerse themselves in the four weeks of the Fringe, and many shows over the years gain international standing as a result of their Fringe season. Crowds flock to venues like the Garden of Unearthly Delights, Gluttony and the Royal Croquet Club, or seek out original theatre works at Holden Street Theatres, The Bakehouse and Joanne Hartstone’s productions like the acclaimed The Girl Who Fell From the Hollywood Sign in the Botanic Gardens.
True to its origins and affirmed by Father of the Fringe, the late Frank Ford OAM, the Adelaide Fringe has remained an open access festival, extending an invitation to anyone who would like to showcase their work. 7000 artists make their way from all corners of the nation and the globe to participate in this amazing festival. While some may find their way to the established venues, many will seek out unusual spaces in which to present their work. One such surprising venue is the tunnels beneath Adelaide’s old and charming Treasury Building now housing the Adina Apartments. In Rundle Mall in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD, street performers will entertain the passers-by with feats of daring and physical prowess. Buskers will fill the air with music and song and for four high octane weeks, Adelaide will explode with talent and first class entertainment.
|Gravity and Other Myths|
“It’s a springboard, a launching pad’” says Artistic Director and CEO, Heather Croall of her fifth Fringe Festival. “I think it’s too easy for people to think of our open access model that it wouldn’t be excellent work. It’s not as highbrow as the curated festival, but artists are presenting excellent work at the Fringe much of which does end up at curated festivals such as physical theatre group Gravity and Other Myths which appeared in last year’s Adelaide Festival and has toured internationally to resounding success.. “The fact that the Fringe is an open access model does not reduce the brilliance of the work.” Gravity and Other Myths will return to perform at the Fringe again this year. “Programmers from around the nation and the world see the Fringe as a great place to be discovered for bookings in the future and a fabulous place to find audiences and a wonderful experience to be a part of and around their peers” says Croall.
This year Croall with the assistance of a grant from the South Australian government has intervened positively to allow more aboriginal artists to be represented in the Fringe. There has always been a First Nation element from as far back as the sixty year old origin of the Fringe. This year for the first time, the Fringe has created a First Nation Hub that is absolutely full of aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander shows at Tandanya, Australia’s first cultural aboriginal institution, established in 1989.
|Yabarra Dreaming in Light|
Each Fringe features a signature project and for the Diamond Anniversary year the Fringe has created Yabarra Dreaming in Light. “We have created an immersive projection piece that is all around you in the Tandanya Gallery. It is like walking into an aboriginal Dreamtime. You have the Milky Way and the stars above you. You have the flora and the fauna all around you. Footprints of animals along the ground entice you to come in and wind spirits blow in the distance. It’s magical. It’s amazing!” The installation is free but visitors will need to book a time slot guaranteed to blow everyone away with its cutting edge technology.
The 2020 Fringe will officially open on St. Valentine’s Day with a sunset ceremony in the picturesque Millawirraburka Rymill Park in Adelaide’s East Parklands. “It is fitting that we are opening on Valentine’s Day.” Croall says, “because the Fringe is the Festival of Love with everyone coming together and opening night is the perfect Date Night with your friends, with your partner, with the earth and with everybody. Lots of people tell me that they met their life partner at the Fringe!”
As an open access festival, the Fringe will always represents a large number of views. “The way we see the world is an important part of democracy.’ Croall says. “It’s a really important part of any democratic society to have a strong arts scene with vibrant cultural elements around us that we can all be part of and that is why I think the Fringe plays such an important role in our lives. That’s why the love is so deep.”
The political shift will be reflected much more in the vast programme. The Fringe has always offered a strong commentary on the world around us in its comedy shows, cabaret and theatre. This year will be no different. With 1200 theatre shows to choose from let alone all the other free and ticketed events, audiences could be excused for feeling overwhelmed by the choices presented. It is something that Croall is acutely cognisant of. “We’ve devoted resources, time and planning to make the programme easy to navigate for all the different tastes. There’s a lot of Fringe lists on our website. Media commentators will pick their top shows. Like artistic directors before her, Croall offers similar advice to visitors to the Fringe “Go to see something you’ve heard of but I always like to say go and see something you know nothing about. Take pot luck because that’s often the show you’ll be talking about.”
The Fringe website is obviously the starting place for people who are hoping to select things to see and do. Those who may be visiting Adelaide for a short time can focus on the listed dates and choose their favourites without having to navigate the entire guide. “ Jump onto our website and if you already know the dates that you can come then don’t search the entire programme, just limit the search to the dates that you’re coming so use the filters on our website to monitor your own curatorial prowess. You can just put the genres that you’re interested in or just put the dates that you want. Limit the number of shows you’re viewing and start to pick through and choose your favourites. It’s a really great tool with Fringe favourites. There are so many elements of the Fringe to just lap up while you’re here . The lovely balmy nights we have obviously help. It’s something that people comment on a lot. They don’t just go and see the shows but also make a night of it, sitting out at a piazza style restaurant on the street, or simply having a drink under the gum trees and the starry skies”.
Croall’s passion for her fifth Fringe is palpable. She claims that it is the inclusivity of the Fringe that still gives her that special buzz. “It really does move me how inclusive it is. It is not an exclusive event. It has no elitism. There is room for every artist. There is room for every audience member and we know that the impact that inclusivity has on people is huge. People tell me all the time, ‘The Fringe changed my life.’ That’s amazing. It really moves me”
Adelaide Fringe. February 14 – March 15 2020
Bookings and further information: www.adelaidefringe.org.au
Fringe Tix Call Centre: 1300 621 255
Adelaide Box Office: +61 8 8100 2000