March 14, 2008

Fringe Awards

Natalie Medlock               posted 3 Mar 2008, 10:55 PM / edited 3 Mar 2008, 11:00 PM

I attended the Fringe 2008 Awards ceremony on sunday evening and wanted to express my disappointment and sadness at the lack of generosity among some audience members, most of whom were fellow Wellington artists.

The proceedings were disrupted as the audience heckled, refusing to give any respect to the festival organisers, the host and award winners. The host even asked the audience for their respect and support and still some individuals in the audience continued ambushing the celebrations. z

The award winning comedian Steve Wrigley attempted to do some stand up and was shouted down until he gave up, exclaiming; ‘ a bunch of artists and you are the worst audience I have ever performed to’ . It was also declared that Fringe 08 had ‘beaten the International festival of the arts’ and the crowd whooped, cheering this nonsensical bigotry. I was so thankful that Jo Randerson took the opportunity to mention that we are actually in this together and making work is not some mad rat race.

The general atmosphere was one of animosity, disrespect and stupidity. It was beyond awkward and I was disheartened and embarrassed to be a part of this theatre community. The biggest festival in the country, filled with brilliance, talent and innovation had descended into a nasty cess pit of petty, provincial, small minded jealousy.

I am interested to whether those present shared my disappointment and where they think the fault lies? Is it dissatisfaction and jealousy (though the lead heckler was an award winner), free booze, or is this standard practice where stand up comedy is concerned?

The majority of us work hard to foster a community of support and generosity among practitioners and yet I left the awards feeling saddened, that something special had been taken from me, that our work had been disregarded and desecrated.

Jonny Potts         posted 4 Mar 2008, 08:15 AM

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a bit of light-hearted Festival ribbing or tipsy hootin’ and hollerin’ at the Fringe Awards (Theatreview received a nice comic jab), but Sunday night was just nasty. The audience behaved like a pack of selfish rich kids. Congrats to Derek, Vinyl, Mark et al. for coping admirably with more than they probably signed up for.

Steve Wrigley    posted 4 Mar 2008, 08:32 AM

Wow, I typed in ‘Fringe Awards’ in google, and the first thing you come across that’s not a listing in an events guide is this blog. And, since I’m mentioned in it, ill jump in, because I’ve been thinking about this a lot.

I don’t think that any of us were blameless for the behavior on Sunday Night. Even Jo Randerson, who I admire a great deal, despite sticking up for the international festival of the arts of the arts (That I think I slagged off, whoops, my bad) couldn’t help a touch of slap stick upstaging during a trustees speech. The entire ceremony reeked of ‘look at me’. Winning an award is great, standing in front of a group of your peers and being acknowledged is a wonderful thing, but better then that is being a strong, tight nit supportive community. We are all lucky that the people we expect to be quiet, respectful and attentive audiences to our own work did not see how WE behave as an audience ourselves.

I wasn’t at the chapman trips but heard it was similar. What are we doing? I apologise for commenting on the IFOTA, but it was in good fun. And the international acts can take it I’m sure. (I wont apologise for flipping the audience off when winning my second awards, I just hope that the people out there who didn’t deserve the bird know who they are and know it wasn’t meant for them) But we shouldn’t be giving eachother a hard time Welli!

We in Wellington have proven time and time again that we are among some of the most talented in the world. Let’s not all go make tits of ourselves.

Actually, there are a handful who remain blameless and must be applauded. I can’t thank Derek Flores and Vinyl Burns, The Flavour of yesterday, and the fringe festival folk enough for all the work they put in to putting that ceremony together. Oh and the chick on skates. The awards were well produced in every way. Great slides, great set up, the only thing they didn’t have control over was the crowd, and that was the only thing that sucked (late 90’s crowd diss)


Suriah Lane         posted 4 Mar 2008, 11:12 AM

I agree that the Wgtn arts audience are an unsupportive lot at the awards these days. We really need to look at ourselves and how we want to others to treat us when we’re up there.

HOWEVER the Fringe and hosts are responsible for the awards and the way they set it up does lead to certain behaviours. eg aggressive insulting style hosting leads to more aggressive audience culture.  It was disappointing that the only female represented on stage was the skimpy skate girl (awesomely characterised by a multi talented woman so I’m not bagging her). It wasn’t funny and also unsupportive of the enormous range of experimental artists in the room who thought we had moved on from such unimaginative presentation.  It felt like we were at a mainstream comedy festival awards.

As to the Chapman Tripp awards: can anybody seriously expect it to have gone well when the theme for the year bagged the amazing nominees as ‘losers,’ went too far picking on people and aggressively attacked others?  What do they expect in response?  Sweetness and fairy laughter?  We reap what we sow: organisers as well as audience.

Thomas LaHood                posted 4 Mar 2008, 11:47 AM / edited 4 Mar 2008, 11:56 AM

I agree with Suriah… The tone was aggressive in many ways, not least in the oscar-like sense of ‘it’s all about winning.’

I think it’s important, especially for the Fringe, not to lose sight of the main goal of such an event, which is to celebrate the achievement of all participants and the creative bravery and diversity they present.

Steve Wrigley    posted 4 Mar 2008, 11:55 AM / edited 5 Mar 2008, 01:35 PM

I’ve been to many ‘Mainstream’ (whatever you mean by that) comedy awards before. I take it you haven’t because trust me, they are nothing like Sunday. Despite seeing our peers perform their sets or comic pieces hundreds of times throughout the year, when they perform at a comedy awards show, or anywhere else for that matter, the comedians in attendance show the proper respect. The odd one who doesn’t gets pretty a pretty savage dressing down. Come up to last laughs in Auckland on the 11th of May this year and you’ll see what I mean.

Don’t blame the organisers, and certainly don’t blame the host you monkey. Flores did EVERYTHING a professional host could to wrestle that room to order. And the fringe did everything they could, I am sure, to make people feel appreciated. There was a tab, there was beer, a decent venue had been hired… Oh now I am getting full blown POST RAGE!!! because how dare you blame the people who invited you in, gave you free food and drink, put on a show, gave you awards and acknowledgement not to mention all the hard work that goes into a festival and then blame THEM for the disgusting way people behaved. Honestly woman, get a god damn hold of yourself. Unimaginative presentation? You should have seen the awards themselves lady, I have two, come up to my office and have a look, because they are some of the best looking trophies, and most imaginative I’ve seen. As for the show itself… WHO GIVES A CRAP WHAT THE MALE TO FEMALE (OH THAT’S RIGHT IT’S FULL BLOWN ROIDED OUT CAPS LOCK POST RAGE NOW!!!) RATIO WAS ON STAGE!!! aren’t we past that crap by now?

You can’t blame the hosts honey, just the muppets that never learned manners. And I count myself sadly among them.



Steve Wrigley    posted 4 Mar 2008, 12:15 PM / edited 5 Mar 2008, 01:35 PM

“I think it’s important, especially for the Fringe, not to lose sight of the main goal of such an event, which is to celebrate the acheivement of all participants and the creative bravery and diversity they present.”

I am going to try to make this my last post, but I couldn’t agree more with you Lahood, however it is up to all of us to kep this in mind, and not just for the fringe, but all year round. And across all art forms. In the end, we must be the changes we wish to see in our industry. We cant blame the fringe or anyone else. If that’s how we want it, then that’s how we act as individuals. Simple as that. We don’t wait for other people to do it. And we realise we have noone to blame but ourselves.

So I’m sorry I called Suriah a Monkey.


e. v         posted 4 Mar 2008, 04:48 PM

free booze makes people very annoying. and in this country where binge drinking is rife im not surprised people were raucous and rude (i wasnt there but can imagine what it was like). if you’re going to give out free drink, give vouchers for 2 or 3 on the house drinks and the rest can be cash bar. might help?

John Smythe      posted 5 Mar 2008, 01:48 PM

What intrigues me is how come SENSIBLE SUSAN AND THE QUEEN’S MERKIN got no mention at all.  It was definitely high on my list of top quality favourites.

(BTW, apologies for taking so long to get the results up on the site. I hope that’s the light at the end of the tunnel that I can see now, and not the train coming at me.)

Barnaby Fredric                posted 6 Mar 2008, 10:16 AM

To be filed under “things that probably didn’t help”

-Watching a 10 minute video about suitcases in the middle of the awards

Judith Dale          posted 8 Mar 2008, 02:36 PM / edited 8 Mar 2008, 02:38 PM

I’ll  second the vote for “Sensible Susan and the Queen’s Merkin”. I can’t imagine a better Fringe Fest show.  Next stop Edinburgh?

Melody Nixon    posted 9 Mar 2008, 10:19 AM

I can’t believe the Queen’s Merkin wasn’t mentioned; or the play itself. For shame! Best use of masturbatory references, with heart? Best use of pre-C20 prop? Where are these categories?

But seriously, it was my favourite of the Fringe… and the fringiest of the fringe too.

Hannah Clarke   posted 9 Mar 2008, 10:40 PM

I’m sorry to say I probably was one of those terribly behaved people. Struggling to stay put but attempting to keep it to hushed tones. Apologies to all. I blame this on 1) myself arriving late and therefore not getting to speak to all the people I haven’t seen all summer because they’ve all been working so bloody hard on making shows and 2) for having seen so many shows in the last three weeks really really not wanting to see another one. Admittedly I should have just sucked it up and waited outside and if it hadn’t been pissing with rain I probably would have. Please don’t let this be a reflection on any of the performers or hosts who did an excellent job, and hurrah for taking it back to the Paramount where everyone could fit in, but after several months of hard work in sweaty rehearsal rooms and performance spaces, living on breadcrumbs even with the generous help of Kakano/CNZ, my gauge of the audience was that they really really wanted to party.

Perhaps it would be nice to include some more of the Fringe fun in the final wrap – awards for best dressed, most mouthy, best attendance? Remember that we are a community and these celebrations should bring us together? As well as the more formal elements? Maybe even a credit roll just listing the shows so we can congratulate everyone on their participation?

And on that note: Congratulations to everyone involved for a huge and knackering and thoroughly enjoyable Fringe 2008!

p.s Ditto re Merkin, but then I am completely biased.

Rhys Latton         posted 12 Mar 2008, 01:57 PM

I don’t see what Steve’s objection was to Suriah’s comment. It makes clear sense to me that the organisation of the event can set itself up for a predictable punter response. If the Fringe awards always start by downing all the sponsors’ product (as they have since time immemorial) you’re asking for a pretty obvious outcome (which has also been repeated time and again). As for the gender representation on stage – I heard several women make the same comment. Perhaps – as blokes – we don’t see the a big deal, but maybe THAT is a bigger indication of how far we’ve come…

Aaron Alexander              posted 12 Mar 2008, 02:23 PM / edited 12 Mar 2008, 02:24 PM

Well, Rhys, my guess is that he was objecting to the blaming of the audience’s bad behaviour on the organisers. Basically absolving the people misbehaving of all responsibility – ‘how can you expect people to behave like adults if there’s a bar tab?’ seems to be the message Suriah and now you are putting forth.  Don’t you find that insulting?

Steve was clearly also leaping to the defence of Derek Flores, because, having been in that situation before, Steve knows what a task it is to manage an unruly audience while hosting an event.

Anyway next year is bound to be much more successful, as clearly there are a number of people who know how it should have been put together. All of whom will no doubt be more than happy to roll up their sleeves and put, y’know, their money where their mouths are.

Rhys Latton         posted 14 Mar 2008, 04:39 PM

I wouldn’t absolve the misbehavors Aaron but neither would I say that they were all simply filled with the devil and there’s nothing anyone else can do about it. What has irritated me about this thread is the black and white mentality applied to the subject – tantamount to “the terrorists are the baddies and there’s nothing wrong with our foreign policy” – which won’t be of any use to those who are “putting their money where there mouth is”.

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