The Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival opens on 29th May and runs until 28th June, giving audiences a whole month of singing, dancing, acting, burlesque and anything in between.
We spoke to Eugene Suleau, co-director of this year’s Fringe, to find out what goodies they have in store for us this year.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CABARET FESTIVAL AND THE CABARET FRINGE? WHAT DOES THE FRINGE OFFER THAT MAIN CABARET CAN’T?
I think fringe allows local performers an opportunity to perform for audiences in a dedicated festival. This year, with Barry Humphries driving the festival, there are a lot more local artists, which is a great thing and a couple of those have previously been fringe events. Fringe is a breeding ground or developmental platform for cabaret artists. It gets them seen, and then hopefully gets them seen by a larger audience in a curated festival. But there is no formal relationship between the two.
SO YOU SEE THE FRINGE AS BEING AN INCUBATOR?
Absolutely! Any performance opportunity gets them seen, and then, if their work is of a sufficiently high standard they get noticed by the scouts from the festival. Hopefully this will happen again this year.
WHAT ARE THE STAND-OUTS FOR YOU IN THIS YEAR’S FRINGE?
Every show is a stand out! There are lots of different things happening this year, but I guess a couple of things that stand out to me are Myriad, which is the Hannah Bennet show. She is an emerging artist, and this is her own story about her lived experience of mental illness. She is an example of how Fringe can serve as a launching platform. We have a burlesque performance called The Garden of Eden, being produced by Miss Porcelain, who is a former international pin-up. It’s described as “dark burlesque”. She is doing a workshop on the afternoon of the performance and workshop participants can be in the show afterwards. In terms of burlesque that’s a little bit different. Burlesque can often be glitzy and glam, but this is a bit darker, which is interesting. Food Court Cabaret is interesting mainly because of the artists involve: Carol Young, Catherine Campbell, Rachel Kirkham and Matt Russell. The combination of those four people will ensure a fantastic show.
HOW DOES THE FESTIVAL FRINGE PULL TOGETHER SO WELL?
The concept of being an open access festival is that if you want to be a part of it you can: there are no restrictions. Pay your fee, find your venue, and you’re in. We will help with market and promotion; we will let you know about any performing or marketing opportunities. It‘s a true open access format. Adelaide Fringe is the same, although in some ways that is now curated by venues. As venues become bigger, more artists want to perform in them, so venues get to pick and chose more. Cabaret Fringe is still small enough to be purely artist-driven.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE CABARET IN TERMS OF ARTIST APPLYING TO YOU? YOU AREN’T GOING TO LET THEM DO KING LEAR
In a way it is artist-driven, so it’s self-defined. We’ve had all sorts of shows in the past. This year we have an improv show, Le Improv. This is not normally seen as cabaret. One of the main definitions for me of cabaret is that it’s story telling on a personal level. So if someone were to come up with King Lear the Cabaret, then great!
WHERE DO YOU SEE FRINGE GOING IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
We want to at least maintain it at the level it’s at, with the aim of growing it a little.
There is lots of debate about the size of Adelaide Fringe, in the sense of the economic benefits for the artist. Putting on hundreds of shows is great, but many of those shows play to audiences of three. So in terms of cabaret fringe, what we want to see is audiences seeing the shows, because that then benefits the artists and in turn, benefits the fringe itself.
The Cabaret Fringe kicks off with an opening night gala on May 29th at 8pm at The German Club.
There is something to please everyone: even a quiz for geek music lovers! Check out the program and grab some tickets before they sell out.
Interview by Tracey Korsten