Another day in Melbourne, another major arts festival. The 2008 Melbourne Fringe Festival was launched last Wednesday – Anne-Marie Peard attended, so you don’t have to.
The memories of MIFF and the Yalumba Man are fading. We’ve had a couple of weeks to sit back on the couch in our Wong Kar-Wai slippers, snack on our Dalek bread and catch up with Australian Idol and that thing where fit people ran around a lot and tried not to think about other events that happened in Tiananmen Square.
Some of us prodded out brains into action with a visit to the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, but the thought of another arty-type marathon was too much for me right now. Until – under the festival tree – the Melbourne Fringe program appeared…
Fringe rhymes with whinge – and Fringes do bring out the whingers. “It’s not as good as the Adelaide one”, “I don’t want to go to North Melbourne”, “The shows might be crap”. Every year it’s the same.
Yes, Adelaide does do a much bigger, sunnier and more diverse Fringe than Melbourne. But this is a different type of Fringe. Of course, there will be some crap – but there will also be moments that may move your soul (in a good way) – and I think I can safely say that some of us find a bad piece of art quite amusing. North Melbourne isn’t that far away, the 57 tram goes there, and if you really can’t read the guide and chose your own shows, there’s a great annual “Pick of the Fringe” list that will appear on AussieTheatre.com – when I get around to it.
So I found my Doug Anthony All Stars Chesty Bond singlet and headed to Trades Hall for a free drink and the first program off the printer.
The launch was fun. For starters, it was hosted by Saint Julia Zemiro. Is there a better host in this city – nay, in this land? I think not. She should have her own TV show. Getting lost on SBS is like winning bronze – it just isn’t good enough.
But enough from the Julia Zemiro fan club. What else happened at the launch? We got to laugh at politicians as they tried to be funny. We saw a plethora of dancers in various states of undress. And we heard from the delightful Emily Sexton, Creative Producer of the Melbourne Fringe, as she talked about supporting and developing art and artists.
I also came away from the launch with:
- a glass of orange juice (I passed on the morning beer),
- a bite size tart,
- a couple of condoms,
- a cheap hair tie with an orange flower,
- a three–bite chocolate bar,
- the 2009 IKEA catalogue (according to the spine it’s a “Complimentary copy. Value $3”),
- some sample hand creams,
- the cutest teeniest box of matches from Crumpler,
- a mouse mat with a picture of an unattractive bus driver,
- and a channel 10 paper bag to hold the rest of the ‘straight-to-the-recycle-bin’ advertising.
Taking into account the cost of my train ticket, that’s about $3.15 worth of product! For only two hours of my time! So, in terms of income, I’ve done better than most artists trying to earn a living.
Hang on – who gave me the condoms?
The Department of Human Services. They’ve sponsored the Fringe for the last five years, and at past festivals we’ve been encouraged to eat well, be physically active, stop smoking dope, and play safe. The result is a Fringe audience who are fit, healthy, not-in-the-least bit paranoid, and getting laid every now and then. Let’s hope they are still interested in seeing some art…
This year the sponsored health message is aimed primarily at young women. Let’s hear it for Chlamydia! This year’s slogan:
“Protect you glory box. Use condoms and lube.”
Well I’m not sure that the lube will be good for my collection of lace, linen and kitchen knick knacks that I’m keeping until I find a husband. However, the condoms are damn fine at keeping my vagina free from STDS. They also come in convenient plastic containers – that look just like the milk you get at cheap motels.
But…”glory box”? I would have gone with:
“Melbourne Fringe – protecting your minge.”