In Adelaide, the third month of the year is known as Mad March. The Adelaide Festival of Arts kicks in with a huge program of theatre, dance, visual arts, music, food events, WOMADelaide and Writers’ Week. Alongside that is the Adelaide Fringe, which is second only to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and this year had around 1200 shows during it’s month-long run.
Mad March actually starts in February with the Fringe opening parade, but it’s not until everything else kicks off in March that it gets really crazy, hence the name. Parklands are turned into venues with curated programs, food and drinks, markets and sideshows. In between (and in the suburbs), smaller venues host their own programs. From one end of the city to the other, there are people everywhere, artists promoting their shows, pop-up food stalls and more glitter than a fairy village.
Some people calculate their time to see as many shows as possible, using planning apps and calendars, others choose a select few and some just hang out in the venues for the atmosphere.
In my day job at Fritz magazine, we interviewed artists on video at the office and out at venues. You can see all of them here. Here’s a few of the lovely people I got to have a chat with (also, spot the mid-Fringe haircut).
I also interviewed one of my favourite comedians, Paul Foot. I prefer to be on the other side of the camera but here it is…
My bosses seem to like putting me in front of the camera, so I went on Fringewatch on community TV station Channel 44 to talk Fringe and Fritz. Reuben Kaye was also there, having his portrait painted. Honestly, have you ever seen anything more fabulous than that coat?!
Here’s the bit with me and the fabulous Fritz features editor Katie Spain, which ends with me being really bad at shooting floating foam balls:
The best bit was being able to watch Reuben sing ‘Down Under’, which he quite rightly proclaims should be our national anthem. That voice! I could listen to him all night.
I saw a lot of cabaret and circus shows at Fringe this year, which usually aren’t my thing but I fell in love with all of them. There was Reuben’s, of course, and Gingzilla’s Glamonster vs The World (featuring the best performance of the White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ I’ve ever heard), the incredible Starman, the over-the-top fun of Blanc de Blanc… and so many more! I didn’t get a single dud show, they were all brilliant in some way. I reviewed some of them for the Fritz magazine website but you can read them in this post.
As for Adelaide Festival, all of the shows I saw were stunning. The Secret River was exceptional – set in an old quarry, the landscape added a new layer to this heart breaking show. Every Brilliant Thing was funny, sad and beautiful (lovely audience participation, too) and Manual Cinema’s Lulu Del Ray was just gorgeous – live cinema created with shadow puppetry.
Not pictured is Backbone, which is breathtaking acrobatics, and Gala, which is the most joyful show I’ve ever seen. It’s a dance performance put on by a diverse group of local people who aren’t dancers. It’s like the dance scene at the end of Napoleon Dynamite taken to a whole new level. Impossible not to feel happy watching it. I wanted to run up on stage after it and hug every one of the dancers.
The Adelaide Festival also put on a long lunch series with chefs highlighting SA food. I went along to the lunch by Michael Ryan, and there was much feasting and happy times.
Well that’s my little piece of the Fringe and Festival over with for another year.
I’ve decided that festival season in Adelaide is a bit like going on a big holiday to Europe – you love the places you get to visit, you feel sad about the places you didn’t get to go to, and halfway through you want to revisit all the ones you’ve seen while making time for the ones you haven’t.
The best part is, it’s less than a year till it’s here again, and you’ll soon get to have that wonderful dilemna all over again. Now excuse me while I catch up on some sleep zzzz