Death at the Fringe (not as morbid as it sounds)
I’ve used tinyletter to make a little newsletter for the Adelaide Fringe. I’ve come up with a stunningly original name: On The Fringe. You can subscribe to it here, but I realised it wasn’t at all searchable so I thought I’d put the recommendations in a blog post too. This is the text of newsletter #2.
Hey-up! Thank you for subscribing to my little newsletter … it’s been much more popular than I expected, and it’s really lovely to be sharing the Adelaide Fringe with you. Each week between now and the end of the fringe I’ll be sharing a selection of (around) 9 shows I’ve seen, am planning to see, or think look interesting. It’s completely niche … the aesthetic is middle-aged woman who likes a laugh, art with political bite, music that soothes the soul, and sometimes a bit of a weep.
Please feel free to forward the newsletter to anyone you think might be interested and let them know they can sign up here.
This week it’s a theme
This week, I’ve got a theme … death and mortality. If you know me, this theme will come as no surprise because it’s one of my major preoccupations. My show last year, Pearls, was really about my endless quest to make sense of my mother’s early death; and this year’s show, The Forgettory, examines memory and identity through the lens of birth, death and dementia. In my work as a funeral celebrant, I focus on the power of a person’s life story. I know it’s a cliche, but our quest to make sense of death is simply another way of making sense of life. So, without further ado, let us begin our survey of
Death at the Fringe:
1. IT’S NOT TOO LATE (until you’re dead)
A black comedy and existential drama about an unconventional funeral … right up my alley! Written by the beautifully talented Adelaide playwright Sally Hardy (whose Instagram account features the world’s most charismatic cockatoo), It’s not too late had a short run late last year with some great reviews. I’m looking forward to seeing this.
2. A Thousand Cranes
If my kids weren’t young adults I would absolutely be taking them to this, the well-known story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who lived through the horrors of Hiroshima. I might not have children in tow, I’m going to try to get along to it anyway. It’s presented by South Australian company, The Gemini Collective, who last year staged Ivy + Bean to some outstanding reviews.
3. Murder at the Juke Joint
Strictly speaking, this isn’t a show about the lessons we learn through death, but I really want an opportunity to highlight this brilliant new venue, The Girls Place. With catering for private and corporate events, The Girls Place “brings people together from all corners of our LGBTIQ community, and also host some combined events with the wider community, to help foster a culture of inclusion and acceptance.” Brilliant initiative, and they have several shows on during the fringe.
4. Bernie Dieter’s Little Death Club
A punk cabaret staged in the Spiegeltent. To be honest I’m not sure how much “the darkest, funniest and most debauched variety show east of the Berlin Wall” actually has to do with death with beyond its title, but it does look like a truly brilliant show. It’s playing for pretty much the whole fringe, so one of those shows that everyone will be talking about.
5. Out to Lunch
This is the kind of show that embodies the fringe: outside the ordinary and something to make you think. Out to Lunch is described as “an immersive journey through ageing, dying and emerging” and is a collaborative work that includes mime and electroacoustic music. Set at Mixed Creative, one of the increasing number of arts spaces in Port Adelaide, originally the site of the Port Adelaide Casualty Hospital. I’ll tell you more about it when I’ve been.
6. The Promise
The launch of another brilliant initiative by Holden Street Theatres, The Promise is the premiere play-reading of a new work by South Australian writer, Maude Laire… and each year, Holden Street will be supporting a reading of a new play by a South Australian writer … it’s only on for one night, and I really hope it gets a good crowd. The fringe is a great opportunity for artists, but it’s not without its challenges and I think many South Australian artists have a love/hate relationship with the fringe. It is events like this that help to make sure the fringe really does help to nurture our state’s arts and artists.
7. All Change
One of the shows I’m sharing the programme with at The Bakehouse, and given its similarities to mine one I’m looking forward to seeing. It’s staged by smokescreen productions (established by producer, writer, and performer Tim Marriott) who do really interesting work in partnership with charities, to highlight social issues (art matters!). They brought Mengele to The Bakehouse last year and besides, All Change, they are premiering another work Judas.
8. Death and Other Things
This looks really interesting … a pop-punk cabaret by Melbourne’s hearsay theatre group whose work is “feminist, queer, contemporary, and magical.” It’s on at 11pm which isn’t my best time for going out, but the time definitely suits the mood.
9. Mavericks, Madness and Murder Most Foul! West Terrace Cemetery by Night Tour
Driving into Adelaide as a child, one of my most enduring memories is of my mother always saying, ‘Percy Grainger is buried in there’ as we drove past the West Terrace Cemetery. Hidden behind the wall, there was enough of a glimpse to stir my young imagination even if I didn’t find Percy Grainger especially fascinating. And after many nights of an Adelaide heatwave before I had airconditioning, I booked into the hotel across the road…and bonus! the most amazing view of the cemetery. There is something quite captivating about its rows of white stone and marble. Truly, West Terrace Cemetery is one of the most fascinating and beautiful sites in our city, and if you’ve never done a tour of it I cannot recommend it highly enough. Even if you don’t get to this one at the fringe, put it on your list of things to do (not necessarily at night if that’s not your thing).
And even though I’ve already got nine shows listed, I’m going to give a shout-out to the Ukulele Death Squad who don’t have anything to do with death, but are brilliant. When I was learning banjo my teacher was one of the men from this band … it isn’t his fault that I never have learnt to play the banjo.
That’s a wrap
Thanks for reading! Even if you haven’t found anything that especially takes your fancy I hope I’ve given you some leads to follow to other shows you might like, or venues that you might not have been to before. (And I’m going to give one last unashamed plug for my venue The Bakehouse.) I’ll be back next week with another look at the fringe through the lens of a middle-aged woman (yes, they’re multi-focals).
Talk soon, Tracy