BY RITA BRATOVICH
September is bulging with rare and exhilarating creativity as the Sydney Fringe Festival launches into its seventh year. The generously packed program covers every genre: family entertainment, comedy, dance, theatre, outdoor performance, visual art, music and so much more. CEO and Festival Director Kerri Glasscock describes the festival as being inclusive and encouraging to all artists: “If you have something to say, we will find you a home to say it in.”
Glasscock has been at the helm of Sydney Fringe for three years. In that time she has transformed it from a vague, free-for-all period of random acts to a structured, curated, clearly defined entity. “Because there’s a unified voice now of what the Fringe stands for, yes, it’s now growing and it’s gaining momentum,” Glasscock explained.
Prior to (and concurrent with) her role at Sydney Fringe however, as the CEO and co-founder of music space, Venue 505, and performance space, The Old 505 Theatre, Glasscock supports the city’s independent creative scenes year-round. Both venues provide employment opportunities for almost 2000 artists a year, are 100 percent artist run and receive no government funding. In the spirit of the Fringe, they will each be revving up their programs throughout September.
Festivals such as the Sydney Fringe provide one of few opportunities for new and emerging artists to gain access to resources and performance space. In comparison to other cities around the world, Sydney is prohibitively expensive when it comes to staging art and cultural events. Add to that the thorny hedge of bureaucracy and regulations that the NSW government has cultivated, and it leaves only the bold, brave and sponsored few that can provide alternatives to main stage, high profile art, music and theatre productions.
The Old 505 Theatre in Newtown is the reincarnation of the performance space originally created by Glasscock and Cameron Undy. While the location has changed a number of times, the mission has remained firm – to provide a place where independent artist can showcase their work. The range of acts that will appear here as part of Sydney Fringe is testimony to its pledge of open access to all. Items from the “Kids” program share the calendar with some very edgy, 15+ material. The City Hub investigates the 505’s standout Sydney Fringe programs…
PEDAL // CASTLES
Eliza Sanders of House of Sand will be performing two solo dance shows which also include acapella cabaret singing and “absurdist theatre ramblings” (her words).
Pedal premiered at the beginning of 2015. It was a work that had come together sporadically in bits and pieces and Sanders never felt that it was quite finished. She created Castles as a kind of sequel or continuation of the story, although she emphasises that each work can be seen and enjoyed independently of the other. She will however be performing both on the last night of her stint.
Sanders’ shows are abstract and surrealist, but she believes there is an implicit message. She prefers it that way because she wants audience members to have their own, unique experience. And, as she explains, they do: “I’m really interested in talking to people after the show, and they’ll say ‘that was such an absolutely incredible exploration of feminist issues’… or someone said it was about being exiled…”
The 15+ rating given to the shows is due to “nudity, adult themes and coarse language”. However Sanders personally doesn’t have an issue with young people being in the audience. Asked about the significance of fringe festivals for artists such as herself, she replies: “They have been absolutely incredible for me in enabling me to put my work out there and see how people respond to it.”
She added: “There’s a certain type of people who work at fringe festivals who are always so bubbly and enthusiastic and supportive and helpful, and it’s just such a nurturing environment.” She is in fact at Sydney Fringe by virtue of an award from Wellington Fringe.
Pedal: Sep 20, 22 + 24. 7pm (6pm Sat). $18-$25.
Castles: Sep 21, 23 +24. 7pm. $18-$25. (Special prices available for double bill.)
Magic prodigies Lucas Itrawan and Ash Hodgkinson are two 15-year-old friends whose careers began when they were 11-years-old busking in Pitt St Mall. They had teamed up after meeting several times in a magic shop in the city. Calling themselves Cardistry they went to the Melbourne Magic Festival, and, long story short, ended up with respected Sydney magician Adam Mada as their mentor and producer. Their Sydney Fringe show, Cardistry Cubed, will include some impressive card shuffling and classic magic tricks which have been given their own personal twist. They recently introduced “speed cubing” (solving a Rubik’s Cube puzzle very rapidly), into their act and, for the Sydney Fringe, will be attempting the world speed cubing record… using magic (when asked if that was actually allowed, they were awkwardly silent). Interspersed throughout the routine will be some comedy.
As for whether this will be a longterm career, Ash said: “I guess we just want to get as far as we can and see where it goes from there.”
On the subject of making tricks look good on stage, Lucas quipped: “We’ve got a couple of tricks up our sleeve.”
Sep 24–25, 2pm. $20.
Other extraordinary acts:
THE OFFENSIVE NIPPLE SHOW
Jess Holly Bates and Sarah Tuck are sometimes naked and sometimes clothed, in every sense. Crudely funny, brashly political, startlingly incisive. This one tests all the barriers.
Sep 8–10, 9.30pm.
THE DAMIAN WRIGHT TRIO
Whoever is on stage at Venue 505 is likely to be amongst the best in their field. Damian Wright is in the top echelon of Australian flamenco guitarist and he is playing with premium musicians Steve Hunter (jazz bass) and James Hauptman (percussion) for one show only.
Sep 17, 8:30pm. Venue 505, 280 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills. Tickets & info: www.venue505.com
THE OLD 505 THEATRE