February 10, 2007

Hotel Follys

neil furby             posted 4 Feb 2007, 05:31 PM / edited 5 Feb 2007, 11:55 AM

Site-specific.co.nz link site at www.hoteltheatre.co.nz took me to a page of plush marketing and colourful display. But is this really Fringe? That cutting edge risk taking theatre that either soars to great heights or flops in a happy puddle. I will wait outside the hotel door with my stripped pajamas and milo in hand to be convinced this is.

joshua judkins   posted 5 Feb 2007, 09:57 AM / edited 5 Feb 2007, 10:01 AM

Hello Neil, I was interested by my immediate gut reaction to your post – is this show out of character for what the Fringe has become, or is the Wellington Fringe Festival itself not so cutting edge and risk taking any more? Certainly, the link site at www.fringe.org.nz took me to a page of plush marketing and colourful display too… though I haven’t seen a sponsor-covered signwritten company car for Site-Specific yet.

What do others reckon? Is the ‘Fringe’ still a cultivator of astoundingly original, cutting edge and risk taking theatre these days? Or while achieving such levels of sponsorship and local government support (which its instigators probably only dreamed of), has it become increasingly safe, glossy and low-impact? Certainly the decision a decade or so ago to start having the Fringe every year raised the question “fringe of what?”

And while we’re at it, also for the forum at large: thinking back, what is your most memorable Fringe moment?

Moya Bannerman            posted 5 Feb 2007, 11:36 AM / edited 5 Feb 2007, 03:05 PM

I’d say we’re on the Fringe of mainstream, recurrently funded theatres. Hence anything that doesn’t get initiated or picked up by them qualifies for Fringe. And since when did “fringe” have to mean tatty? While it’s still a challenge to get anything other than light Kiwi comedy on our mainstream stages, I welcome any and every opportunity to see different kinds of homegrown work – and the Hotel show certainly fills that bill. So when the Fringe facilitates that – fantastic! 

neil furby             posted 8 Feb 2007, 11:31 PM

Hello Joshua  “What is your most memorable Fringe moment”?  For me it was many years ago when Wellington Fringe was in its infancy. My partner of that time Lynella was performing a monologue called Duty written by Alan Williamson at Bats Theatre.   Funding for Fringe events just was not around at that time so late nights were spent in town pasting up posters pre the Phantom and Sticky Fingers era.  Every free space was covered with A4 black and white posters.  Publicity stunts where the order of the day . We carried a coffin through the market after tipping off the newspapers to get publicity for one of our productions  Family was used to carry out production tasks on Theatre night  My daughter aged 13 was our lighting person who got the train into town after school to get to the 6 pm show  One evening towards the end of the season when energy was starting to flag we had finished the play and was clearing the stage when my daughter Rebecca strode on to the stage   She looked out at the empty seats and then to our complete surprise she performed the whole twenty-minute play word perfect   Yes this was my most memorable moment   Next year I am starting a Fringe off the Fringe Festival with a “back to the roots flavour” Any starters out there?? 

Eric Holowacz    posted 9 Feb 2007, 04:22 PM

Fringe Festival is open-access, meaning the programme contents (for the most part) are dictated by those who sign on to produce a play, event, hotel room drama, walk in the park, experiemental weirdness, anything. They make the character of the Fringe. The organisation (and trust board) packages the results…gives flavour to the collective marketing, provides support, and builds the festival community. I have no problem with the extensive brochure, able staff, car with vinyl decals, grants, and the other trappings of a good organisation. But these things are not the Fringe: the producers and productions are what make the festival. And participants do still wheat-paste their materials all over hoarding and shop windows. They still come up with publicity stunts; still solicit family and friends to work front of house or tech; and they still beg, borrow, or steal to make their productions happen. And that, perhaps, is the triumph of Fringe. It’s always a crap shoot, as anyone who has sat through a painfully boring and under-developed play will know. But there are also powerful and wondrous things to be had at Fringe time. Different people get their kicks in different ways, but when a Fringe event grips you…or you are exposed to something new…or end up thinking about a work long after the curtain has come down…then somehow the Muse is present. And from an audience perspective, looking for the Muse is always a good thing.

Moya Bannerman            posted 9 Feb 2007, 04:49 PM

Totally agree, Eric. As for “the curtain coming down” – now that would be very different!

Paul McLaughlin               posted 10 Feb 2007, 10:59 AM

“Laugh, cry + quietly reflect is what I did during the show – amazing!” – audience feedback from HOTEL (9/2/07).

As producer of HOTEL I have refrained from replying to Mr Furby’s comment on our show and marketing until we opened, as I believe it is up to the audience who have been to the show to make comment – rather than one in ‘stripped’ pyjamas waiting outside room 217, milo in hand.

Now that HOTEL has opened, please let me say that I make no damn excuse at all for producing the best possible show for the Fringe and its valued audience. I imagine all Fringe producers/directors are doing the same. I agree with Eric’s comments. I haven’t produced for years, and now I recall why – it’s a big job. A job that doesn’t really need underarm comments from people in ‘stripped’ pyjamas. “Is this really Fringe”, Mr Furby? How can you possibly make that call without having seen the show?

Myself, my co-devisors and my staunch sponsors are living in the real world, Mr Furby, 2007, where professional actors need to be paid for their work, where audiences deserve the highest quality theatre, works of theatre that will provoke, engage; work that takes risk. Come and see HOTEL. Bring your milo if you must, but please, see the work before you diss it.

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