Fringe in search of truth

Melbourne Fringe has turned to truth 37 years into life.

For its truth-themed year the Hub has relocated from North Melbourne to the “People’s Palace” Trades Hall – while the rest of the festival branches out to 140 different venues, 2718 participating artists and 455 events. 

Ben Anderson, an independent producer living in Southbank’s Arts Precinct, has produced four shows in this year’s Fringe – PISCA, WRATH, Just Us Girls and Somebody’s Somebody.

He said a fringe festival was a particular space in the arts.

“A Fringe Festival allows people to try more experimental work, but it also allows people to try new work that might still have a really wide appeal,” he said.

“It can be a really good platform to showcase a new and upcoming artist like I think PISCA is, and then shows like WRATH – which is kind of an absurd play – is by a writer who is very new but I think will one day be writing for Malthouse and Melbourne Theatre Company.”

Ben originally moved to Melbourne from Auckland to go to clown school. He said the shows he’s produced for the Fringe Festival all shared some commonality with that background.

PISCA is clowning-based, Just Us Girls is a character comedy from that world, Somebody’s Somebody is a drag performance which obviously partly comes out of the world of masks, and WRATH is a very absurd high energy heightened realism,” he said.

PISCA is showing from September 21 to September 29. It’s a mix between clowning and French cabaret. Writer and performer Cameron Taylor sings, dances, clowns and improvises with the audience all while playing the role of a newborn duck.

“When you’re clowning, the show is completely about the audiences you get, and with a fringe festival you get an eclectic crowd – there’s so many different things that can happen,” said Cameron.

“The interaction between the character and the audience is more exciting.”

This will be Cameron’s third Fringe of the year, after Perth and Sydney. The show has been in a process of development since 2014.

“It started originally as a performance piece I created just after Robin Williams passed away,” Cameron said.

“The original piece was based on comedians having anxiety – and the original character was a depressed clown and it was his job to go to work and be a duck.”

“Every time I do the show it changes. Every night there’s sections of improvisation and with different audiences, different things work, so it’s constantly changing.”

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