As the Sydney Fringe Festival continues to grow and evolve it still has one main focus which is to ‘highlight, amplify and promote the work of local Sydney artists to the world.’
The Sydney Fringe is the perfect conduit to highlight Sydney’s unique artistic voice because the city’s creative scene is ‘brave, new, imaginative, challenging and experimental’ as our artists continue to break free from the shackles of genre stereotypes and norms.
Looking over the expansive festival program there are three artists in particular who personify this idea of shattering the genre stereotypes.
Annisa Belonogoff blends the often dry, regimented world of fitness with the loose, free flowing world of comedy in her show Dear Future Ex-Husbands. Sam Wade uses his theatrically infused stand-up comedy performance, Inner World, to tackle the inner workings of his own Aspergers afflicted mind. And finally Chase Paradise has taken her past life working in the sex industry as a stripper and created the comedy show Ho Life Or No Life which gives a voice to the voiceless.
When speaking to all of these artists the importance of Fringe festivals in the development, even the viability, of these shows was prominent common thread.
For Chase Paradise her first foray into the more conventional arts world was during a Fringe festival.
“I used to tell jokes to the other strippers backstage in the change-rooms which was when some of the most prolific burlesque performers saw and gave me the opportunity to host their show Baby Got Back at the Perth Fringe,” Paradise told City Hub. “Fringe Festivals have been infinitely important to my development as a comedian so there was no doubt in my mind that I would bring my show to the Sydney Fringe.”
While Annisa didn’t use a Fringe festival to break into the comedy world she still views them as a crucial component to the development of her upcoming show.
“The Fringe gives permission to an artist to explore all of the things they want to explore, which is where we get great art. Having Fringe has allowed me to realise that I’m not pushing against a stereotype and I’m allowed to explore the artistry.”
Brand new artists and shows also reap a plethora of benefits by debuting during the Sydney Fringe. As Sam Wade explained his show likely wouldn’t have been viable without the environment created by the Fringe.
“I don’t think this show would have been possible without the Fringe because I don’t think I would have had the confidence to just put it on randomly by itself. The fact that there is a Fringe going on around with lots of other shows is great, I love the fact that this isn’t in isolation.”
Throughout their journeys the Fringe has provided all of the artists with an endless stream of support, be that through simple ticketing frameworks, deadline reminders or more in-depth creative workshops and marketing support.
Even with all of this support perhaps the most rewarding and helpful element the Fringe provides is simply the solidarity and encouragement which comes from the creative community involved within the festival.
As Sam explained, “I want the other artists and the people that I work with to go and succeed, even if we are competing for the same thing, because if one of us gets through than it opens the door for the rest of us. That’s a feeling I’ve had reflected back from a bunch of other comedians as well, there is a lack of ego around [the Fringe] we’re all simply aiming to make the scene the best it can be.”
One final benefit which the Sydney Fringe brings to the table for the participating artists is the buzz the festival generates within the general public. Not only does the Fringe Festival encourage artists to experiment but it also encourages audiences to experiment with new shows.
“People are seemingly more willing to take a risk on art that they wouldn’t normally see,” explained Chase Paradise before adding, “The Fringe is proof that just because you don’t normally see certain people it doesn’t mean they’re not there or important.”
Sydney Fringe Festival
Sep 1-30. Various Venues and Prices. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyfringe.com
Annisa B – Dear Future Ex-Husbands
Until Sep 1. The Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Rd, Marrickville. $10-$15+b.f.
Sam Wade – Inner World
Sep 19-21. The Newsagency, 74-76 Pyrmont Bridge Rd, Camperdown. $20-$25+b.f.
Chase Paradise – Ho Life Or No Life
Sep 19-22. The Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Rd, Marrickville. $25-$30+b.f.