Perth’s Fringe World does remarkably well in takings considering it tail-ends with the Perth Festival, and that it sits on calendars amid a host of movie and music fests – all these competing for punters’ dollars.
And we can only trust that Fringe organisers have a sharper eye on financial proceedings this year, so that deserved profits go to the plethora of amazing, hardworking performers who take part.
Last year, ticket-cum-managing company JumpClimb claimed bankruptcy, leaving hundreds of Fringe artists unpaid (an estimated total of $200,000 is still owing to artists). JumpClimb directors Paul Fletcher and Aaron Rutter claimed they didn’t have the funds to pay their acts, and in fact owe hundreds of thousands in taxes to the Australian Taxation Office. But I digress… Sort of.
At today’s official media launch of Fringe World 2019, none of that bad juju appeared to have carried over from last year, or at least busy organisers weren’t letting it show.
The first sample media got was of five club performers dubbed Mâche dressed in what could only be described as acid drag; club performers in costumes that looked like having been made from fabric left over from a Teletubbies-meets-Drag-Race convention gyrating to a fab soundtrack of industrial techno. Some folks in the audience were wondering what drugs the performers might be on, or indeed what drugs might be needed to appreciate the kooky spectacle.
Next up was sword swallower ‘Amber’ who looked not quite sure if she should be taking her clothes off while delivering some awkward-looking burlesque before sliding a very sharp sword down her throat.
This was followed by bizarro performer ‘Charles Horse Lays An Egg’ wearing a NASA astronaut helmet and baby nappies while ad-libbing nonsense moon mission-speak. We’re told Charles ordinarily begins his performance in full NASA costume but since he appeared out of the blue to fill in for a bunch of performers who were running late from the airport, we’d have to forgive him for the half-dressed effort. And we did. This guy is out there, figuratively and literally.
The pace was picked up when Indigenous dance troupe Djuki Mala took to the stage to deliver a sample of their now renowned and very, very good blend of traditional Aboriginal dance with hip-hop, throwing in some Zorba the Greek, of course, for which they’re most famous for.
From one awesome troupe to another, Head First Acrobats (pictured top of story) rounded off the media preview with a taste of their new production Railed, displaying as much muscle as they did precision in an acrobatic performance that puts the sexy in circus.
Now, don’t get us wrong… We’re all for all the aspects of fringe theatre – the wild, the wacky, the way twisted and beyond, but we would have thought something really new would have been brought to our attention to kick off festival proceedings.
Still, with hundreds of shows to choose from, audiences will be spoilt for choice. And lest we forget that where other festivals often ask for close to a three-figure note in exchange a lively entertainment, most Fringe shows only request you dig out two-figure notes, sometimes even one. Indeed, there’s even free fun to be had, when you consider all the roaming artists across various venues.
What this means, of course, is that lovers of theatre, comedy, music and the other arts are able to share that love – and have the opportunity to get out and enjoy something awesome and inspiring every night throughout summer.
The festival, which expands year on year, now stretches as far as Scarborough and Fremantle, Midland and Mandurah, so rest assured you’re going to hear a lot more hype about it soon.
Roll up, roll up, as they say. Antonino Tati
For the full Fringe World program and ticket purchases visit www.fringeworld.com.au.