If I were to describe everything I loved about performing in my very first Fringe festival, I’d probably break the internet. The sheer enjoyment of the shows and warm sense of community made this experience enriching in many ways. Since performers are only on stage an hour each day, we get a lot of free time to play in a city filled with interesting individuals. From the late nights at the artist bar to the quiet lunches on Rundle Street, I met so many inspiring people all in the space of three weeks. Unlike the 9-to-5 lifestyle, ours involves an intensive period of interaction where we form friendships that feel long lasting.
As for the shows themselves, I will highlight the ones that resonated with me most. I must express in advance that the shows I describe below are merely punctuated moments in what has been a consistently exciting and memorable season.
Pieces of Mind (my show)
What it is: I developed a mind reading show based on my background as a magician. It is about exploring the little puzzles we come across when trying to understand how our mind works. More here.
What I liked: I enjoyed doing so many shows in such a short time. After the fifteenth show I looked back at how my performance and script had changed due to the audience interactions each night. A real evolution had taken place I loved the intensity of it.
What I learned: A quiet audience isn’t necessarily a bad audience. One night I thought that the lack of reaction to my jokes and tricks was a sign the audience wasn’t with me. I ploughed through the script and made a conscious effort to connect as best I could. As I stood outside the door after the show to shake people’s hands as they left, I was surprised to seem how animated they became in expressing how engaging and exciting they found the show. I’ve since learned to cope with delayed gratification and not make assumptions mid performance.
Le Gateau Chocolat
What it is: A sublime baritone singer performing his solo show dressed proudly in lycra, welcoming you into his celebration of individuality.
What I liked: Well, given that I was moved to tears IN THE OPENING SONG, I find it hard not to praise this show for being so utterly human. Seeing a performer unhesitating in baring his soul on stage cut straight through my analytical mind and spoke to my heart. That’s about as sentimental as you’ll see me get on this blog, so you can tell how much the show affected me.
What I learned: You don’t have to conform to expectation for your talent to be appreciated. In this case, Le Gataeu Chocolat’s operatic voice shone through in a setting true to himself and far from the classic setting of an opera.
Theatre Sports: Clash of the Theatre Titans
What it is: An improvised comedy competition where teams of improvisers compete in a few friendly rounds of short-form games.
What I liked: I got to guest perform at four of the nights, being attached to any random team that could use an extra member. This show is so well run by ImproNow and pulls a crowd of hundreds by mere reputation.
What I learned: A theatrical technique to getting the audience on your side is to create a common enemy. One of the judges was intentionally made to be disliked as he gave each team unfair low scores. This generated some bonus support for us, which was all part of the evil plan from the beginning. Clever.
Nothing is Really Difficult
What it is: A three-man show about nothing, performed in a large wooden box constructed for the show itself.
What I liked: The guys used their performance space in ways I had never seen before. Everything from the floor moving to the walls collapsing, the stage craft was terribly exciting.
What I learned: The space used in a performance can, in and of itself, be part of the show in major ways. The set seemed to be the foundation for the creation of the whole show. Great idea and execusion. I’m so using that.
Dr. Brown: Because
What I liked: It was the epitome of a fringe show in the true sense of the word. You could not have this type of experience in any other theatre, comedy line-up or even on YouTube. It was unique, original and showed enormous courage on the performer’s behalf in taking such a risk by trekking down such risky territory in stage performance and audience interaction. Dr Brown made me want to take more risks in my own work.
What I learned: Just how much can be communicated without words or even mime. Seeing that a simple gesture and a facial expression can tell a whole story totally blew my mind man, you don’t even know.
What I liked: Being a city boy, like Martin, I related to the idea of escaping into the unknown and letting the world affect you. His show was an honest account of how he grapples with identity and self-perception.
What I learned: That I am far from the performer I want to be. Martin simply told stories for an hour. No script, no gags, no slideshow. His performance skills are so advanced, from his rhythmic speech to his expressive gestures, that each word he spoke was a new lesson.