Appalling state of affairs in Housing SA
I live in a Housing SA flat. There are six flats in my little mini-estate. I am in Number 2. In Number 1 there is an “ex-cop from Fiji,” who simply should not be there. I have been informed that he is the ex-husband of the woman who was allocated the flat after their divorce in an ‘emergency’ scenario. He moved in a week or two after her and for several months there were daily screaming fights, threats and abusive language from him to her that were all too obvious through the double brick walls. She told us neighbors he was sleeping on her couch and would move back to Fiji from where he came soon; she eventually moved in with her sister leaving him to occupy the dwelling and enhance the lives of we other tenants. He has remained next door for a couple of years. He is still there now.
My dwelling was broken into – they gained access by smashing a rear window – the neighbors were home at the time. When I arrived home from visiting an aunt on her death bed the neighbor told me she thought there may have been something going on at my place because they heard a loud crash and saw someone running out of my front door carrying some stuff. I reported it to police and told the police that the neighbors had an idea of the time as they had informed me they heard something and saw someone.
The police went next door to question these neighbors – who then informed the police they didn’t have time to make any statements.
When the real ‘tenant’ (his ex-wife) comes around to cook and clean for him he continues his routine of yelling and screaming at her calling her, “a stupid cu*t” and a whole array of other nasty things.
After complaining to the SA Department of Housing and consequently being told by them that “there’s no man living there,” (evidently I have a mental illness and can hear voices that are not there, see people who are not there and even have conversations with people who are not there) I’ve managed to record a couple of the regular and ugly arguments so I have at least some proof of the goings on.
On the other side there is a single parent woman who seems to have a lot of male visitors who pop in and out for quick visits. A few of them have come to my door asking for “The woman,” and I’ve sent them away saying, “Maybe next door, but not here in my flat,” and yes, they have been received next door at her place. She and her young son argue loudly into the night yelling and screaming at each other with high pitched voices and guttural tones. He screams at her to “F*ck off,” and she screams back. This happens almost every night.
I have been broken into successfully once and there have been several other attempts to break-in to my dwelling leaving damage such as torn window screens and broken handles on screen-doors which I have been routinely told by maintenance are not ‘security doors’ simply ‘fly screen doors’. Once when I was having the repairs done, after footing the bill to replace locks because spare keys had been stolen I was told by the maintenance contractor how ridiculous it was that he had to keep coming out to fix my window screens and that you’d think the Department of Housing would provide a more secure environment. I could only agree. If I want bars on my windows or security screens I have to pay for them. On a Disability Support income this is highly prohibitive.
A couple of doors down from me in the block of flats is a woman who has a variety of young preschool children dropped off daily who she seems to look after; it always astonishes me that she somehow manages to go about her daily business without disturbing anyone despite the occasional preschooler having a tantrum in the car park outside.
I can’t say I’m thrilled at the amount of traffic in and out of the place created by what seems to be an unofficial child care center but I live with it.
One of the major problems with the design of the block of flats I dwell in (that is not only ugly but unhealthy) creates something of an echo chamber against the constantly busy road. The main bedroom and lounge room of each flat faces the car ports; so windows should be kept closed at all times to avoid getting the deadly fumes of the cars that idle before backing out of their various ports out there four or five meters away.
I discovered this when I started to open a window at night for fresh air in my bedroom only to have the whole room flooded with exhaust fumes when Mister “Ex-Cop from Fiji” next door tried to get his car going one evening at 2 a.m. and left it running while he popped back inside for something or other.
If the loud noise of the car directly outside my window hadn’t awoken me I may never have woken up at all.
With all of the violent noise, screaming and yelling that goes on in the flats either side of me and the horrible fumes being fed directly into my living quarters at the front of the house I have relied on the rear windows and door to provide some fresh air into the dwelling. This strategy has at times proven to be testing.
The private rental share house full of students who play computer games and loud music at all hours of the day and night have no regard for any disturbance they may cause. The size of the block of flats is not so great that the yelling and screaming on either side of me can’t be caught just as clearly from the back as it is from the front.
If something is broken it is my duty as a Department of Housing tenant to call a Maintenance Center which is open from 7am – 6pm according to one source (an information folder provided by Housing SA) and 8:30am – 5:30pm according to the recorded message you get when you call the Maintenance Center If I have a complaint – for example being kept waiting on hold for an hour – a recorded message tells me to call the very same number I am being kept waiting on.
A complex set of circumstances and three attempted break-ins, plus one successful break-in led me to gather the required letters of support I needed to seek a transfer to a different dwelling. I was granted a ‘priority one’ transfer, which I have been informed means I will be waiting for at least twelve months, probably more, before I am actually made an offer or granted the transfer.
Not a single one of the public servants who answer the phone or routinely come around to check I’m not destroying the place show any care at all about my actual complex set of circumstances or the predicament I find myself in. In relation to the vicious and violent neighbor who systematically abuses his wife next door, they casually deny any problem exists, he doesn’t live there.
The first violent abuse session I witnessed dragged on for the best part of an afternoon and I called the police to come. They both told the police there was nothing wrong, so I guess they are happy with their ‘relationship’ and damn any neighbors who find it distressing.
The neighbour with the son who screams and has anywhere up to fifteen other teenage boys over at one time for a bit of fun and monkey business such as kicking a soccer around outside my front window or playing on the car port like it was a playground monkey bar, climbing it and jumping off of it: she flatly denies any ability to speak English, despite the fact that she does indeed speak our native tongue.
The elder woman who lives down the end – furthest from the street noise has plainly stated she wants nothing to do with my single mum neighbor as they have had a falling out – I can only imagine. She has been broken into many times even while she has been napping in her room.
From my microcosmic experience of living in a Housing SA dwelling I look over at the larger estate down the road where the proximity and density of tenants is far greater and wonder how there are not regular murders and fights… but after to speaking with some of the tenants who live there I discover how people in this larger estate are so much more respectful of each other as they realise what a nightmare it would be if they were not.
Many of the tenants are new arrivals who appreciate the security of having a dwelling, not like the crazy individuals here in my six unit strong place where one woman has been here for decades and is, as she puts it, just waiting to die.
The horror of living here is very real. I did live in Housing in NSW in a large estate in the inner city of Sydney – and I do find the problems in this tiny little set of flats far more horrendous than it ever was living in Sydney where one would suppose it would be far worse.
So maybe this place I’m in is not atypical – but I have a priority one transfer pending – and can’t wait to get away from the ugly mess that is this particular block of flats. It’s just the over a year priority one wait that is dismal – the fact that the reasons I want to move are just magnified by the utter disrespect and bad behaviour of neighbors who don’t deserve to get away with the hell they put us through – they put me through. The police don’t want to know, Housing SA don’t want to know – local MP’s don’t want to know – so it doesn’t surprise me that things get so very bad before anyone takes any notice; but seriously, life should not be like this. It should not be like this at all.
So I have written a letter:
Dear Minister & Shadow Minister for Housing
I am a tenant in Underdale SA; I live in an Housing SA unit.
Today, after my house suffered the third break-in (due to lack of security on site) I spent the whole day, on the advice of Housing SA waiting for a tradesman to come and fix a back access door which has been rendered unusable (i.e. it can not be opened).
I provided a police incident number and was advised to spend the day at home to allow a trades person to come and fix the door. Without the door working I have no rear access, can not get my washing off the line and am unable to access some of my property in the small back yard.
I bothered to blog through the Adelaide Fringe on their Talk Fringe website this year because according to the website anyone could win a $1000.00 prize. The judges (faceless people/person) awarded the prize to the same fellow the fourth year in a row. The same fellow who posted lots and lots of photographs and crashed Fringe parties according to his blog, because I suppose he feels like part of the team after winning three years in a row – and now four. So I will not bother entering any more Talk Fringe, Bank SA or Adelaide Fringe ‘competitions’ after this year – it smells odd to me. Very very odd.
Yes it all ended last night with the 2013 Fringe Awards being given out at the Fringe Club followed by a rip roaring party that ended at 3am in Fringe Club and then moved on to a more private affair at Tuxedo Cat on North Terrace.
What a night! Such a lot of fun, dancing, singing and letting it all hang out!
If there’s one thing performers know, it’s how to party; that’s exactly what they did. Shaking off all the stress and strain of the hard slog that is Fringe dwelling. It’s magnificent to see the various acts let their hair down one final time; what’s more wonderful is to see some of the really hard workers who have put so much time effort and energy into their work have a chance to mix it up with the various sponsors who really are responsible for making Fringe the really amazing fun filled and exciting event it is. I may have some personal reservations about the size of the Fringe, and I may have some doubt about the capacity of some individuals to do their job in a professional way, but when it all comes down to it, once it’s all over, the good moments and the fun times are the ones to embrace.
The shows that made you think or get excited about something stay with you for a long time – sometimes for the rest of your life. The visual arts that left a strong impression on you and the attempts by the folk running the show to improve what they deliver to us all is deeply heartening.
I have to say I was very impressed this year with the disability access to venues like the Garden of Unearthly Delights. I thought the fact that there were Auslan signing and audio descriptions happening - not everywhere - but more and more than before – is a great development. It is something that opens the Fringe to a greater audience and that can only be a good thing because it shows they believe in real diversity - not just the sort that sports pink hair or dark skin or super-high high-heels…
One other really important thing is the amazing input to the artists from the sponsors. Artists receive cash prizes totaling $25,000 thanks to the generous support of Principal Partner BankSA and that’s incredibly significant! For most punters it is hard to imagine how difficult it can be to mount a Fringe production – especially if it is to grow legs and tour to other festivals, which is what a lot of artists want to do.
After all it’s what they live for. So having opportunities to win cash… well it’s a very big deal. I know from personal experience as an artist that you seldom get paid and very rarely get paid what you are worth based on your experience, time, effort and energy.
Sponsors include BankSA, Adelaide Fringe, Underbelly, the Erin Svigos Award, Adelaide Festival Centre and the Melbourne Fringe - all to be cherished for their support – and obviously some of that support comes from the Department for the Arts, otherwise known as Arts SA - and that’s taxpayers money (mostly) well spent!
There are so many people in the background who do a great job and have very little to do with the continuously fun side of Fringe - compared to the average Fringe goer. They are building, painting, fetching, carrying, driving, phoning, contracting; doing all the business side of things the office administration, the toilet cleaning. Number crunching and drafting performers contracts, fixing any strange things that have suddenly gone wrong. Sitting down and discussing solutions to problems, making things improve, checking the legal side of things, the insurance, all the stuff that the general public probably don’t think so much about…
There are performers who are working it on the stage even during the final awards ceremony to keep the show alive and vital, adding the spice and show business to proceedings. They don’t exactly get a break as such. The two go-go shadow dancers behind the screens on the night must have been freezing their nipples off – I guess they had a great time on some level – but it’s still hard work.
People from other Fringe organisations from interstate and overseas come and check things out, because Adelaide Fringe really has become the biggest of the Fringe Festivals in Australia – good or bad – they watch, listen and learn – and they even give out a prize or two along the way.
Then of course there are the hard core party people who just want to throw themselves on the dance floor and mix things up a bit – they’re fun and full of… life and youth and hope for the future… or something. Maybe a drink or two. Well, definitely a few drinks, but most likely well deserved after a hard slog. They still have things to do – travel home, bump-out their show from the venue, wash the costumes, feed the cat, say their ‘goodbye’ to the new folk they’ve met. I’ve been tweeting a great deal and promoting shows as much as possible, and it’s really nice to get thank you’s from artists whom I haven’t even really met, for the support – it is very nice indeed.
There’s the visual communication officer who sits and sets out all of the power point frames that run in the background making sure we know who is nominated for an award – and on that score – congratulations to all the winners, but also to all who were nominated! It’s a big deal out of so many acts to get a flag from the powers that be saying that your work was outstanding.
There are lots of winners – mostly the people who come along and see the shows and get a nice surprise – a great moment, a chill up the spine, a good laugh – a sort of strange feeling of desire… it could be anything. I spoke to quite a few people last night at the party after the Awards were given out and they were almost one hundred percent happy with something they had seen or done. One or two were miffed that they missed something and plenty of them were completely bushed because their job had been to judge or to assess or do office work, but they were all smiling. It’s a job well done I think. Everyone should be proud. Hopefully the ones who fcuked up along the way will get some decent constructive criticism and take it in their stride.
And now Adelaide has a bit of a rest until the Cabaret Festival and the Cabaret Fringe… and then it gets pretty quiet while everyone goes to ground for winter and keeps an eye on the next big thing coming – be it the SALA Festival or the Footy.. whatever floats your boat. I think I’ve enjoyed myself a lot – and I hope you have as well. Let’s all give a warm smile for Fringe, and keep on talking Fringe until the next one rolls around, with a smile in our voice.
Taking some of my own advice and checking out one of Adelaide’s most recently established art galleries
in the city - Tooth & Nail. A Fringe Venue and a true Adelaide original focusing on new work by emerging visual artists. I’ve seen a few exhibitions here and each time I attend I notice some subtle differences. A new paint job, a classy gold leaf sign direct from the last century, a shop front where art supplies will soon be sold. Little by little this art establishment is growing into something truly special.
It is in Coromandel Place in the City and was once an old warehouse and fitting establishment; now it’s a studio and gallery connected to the latest technologies and practices in the creation of visual art. Exciting really because as one independent gallery closes a new one opens in the big wide world of visual art – just as it is in nature I guess. One season ends and a new one begins.
In some ways it is the mix of people I am also fascinated with when I visit Tooth & Nail, because they seem to come from all generations and all walks of life. It’s like a microcosm of the Fringe itself. The Fringe exhibitions have been outstanding. Both quite confronting for different reasons… Now as Fringe winds up I wonder how many people have discovered something new that isn’t a pop-up venue?
How many have discovered a new part of Adelaide that will continue after Fringe, and how has Fringe introduced them to this new space for creative adventure?
That’s my biggest question and concern about the way Fringe comes in and takes the city by storm I think – does it support the infrastructure of Fringe Art and Fringe Artists in Adelaide or does it set up camp sites where visiting artists make a few dollars and then move on? I think there’s both, but how healthy for Adelaide is it if the balance is not exactly right? Just like the circus performers who swing or balance from suspended platforms; gripping onto something with flexed muscles planning not to crash to the ground… there are a lot of performers who would walk off stage with their head hung low if they didn’t complete their task. It’s the same with proprietors of venues that exist here always. The little theatre companies, the art galleries, the food vendors… they all deserve to be a part of the Fringe plan to colour Adelaide exciting for a short space of the year.
It’s something I feel needs to be addressed in future Fringes. I’m not suggesting things like the Garden of Unearthly Delights be wrapped up – or that the Fringe Club should be in a permanent venue, but I am suggesting that some of the time effort and money that goes into the pop-up variety venues could be poured into local venues that do it tough all year and just as tough during Fringe. It’s not as if there are so many of them I suppose because so many of the performance venues in Adelaide have been knocked down. There’s the character of Adelaide going off in the back of a dumpster truck.
While Christie Anthony was grand poo bar of Fringe it was all about expansion – getting bigger and bigger and bigger to the point where it was completely reasonable to use a big fat pig as a mascot for the festival, because it had become bloated, cute and tasty – no real problem there just an interesting observation – but now as it wobbles it’s way into the new century well and good it’s important to consider the impact Fringe has on venues like Tooth and Nail, The Cavern the Bakehouse Theatre just to name a (very) few. As much as a pop-up venue is a fun and different thing, a local venue, even when it is perceived as doing well like the “Jade Monkey” can vanish overnight – literally – or Format – and then what do we have? Do we have AC Arts? Not really – it’s a school with theatres, not really a theatre comlex as such – they’d tell you it was a teaching facility so it can not really be a hub of Fringe activity as much as they’d like to earn the dollars, they never seem to be able to draw an audience anyway. What about the fly-by-night hubs that are here for Fringe and gone tomorrow? The Big Slapple seemed to generate pretty good coverage but when I attended a show there it was an embarrassingly small audience in a huge venue – the show was great, but the venue isn’t usually a venue for entertainment, is it?
Porky’s Spit (Bar) and Caos are both good venues and had interesting activities running through Fringe. Higher Ground is likely to wrap up and never see the light of day again.. Tuxedo Cat is seeking volunteers to help them bump-out… so what have we become? A city with a lot of pop-up venues and a big fat Fringe that rolls into town and then rolls out again leaving us pretty well stuffed?
I don’t know; I am not saying Fringe is a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a wonderful thing – but it’s something that should serve our community as fully as possible. Otherwise how soon will it come… that day when we are wondering why everything in the Fringe seems so much like the main festival… sort of establishment gone mad? One person’s ‘vision’ of what’s great and current in the world of arts – or one person’s collections of mates who they can rally in for a few shows because they’re available – and anyone can write a press release that says something is ‘cutting edge’ or ‘fresh’; anyone can say ‘art is an adventure’ or ‘every day is a whole new experience,’ and anyone can tell you that that’s just spin.
It’s an election year now – with a State election to come after – in about a year… so now is the time to look out for spin. Now is the time to really be your own spin scrutineer. Work out how it’s possible that a bloke (for example) like Tony Abbott can go from being a mean “nay”-saying machine to mister nice guy all of a sudden.. or how Julia Gillard can suddenly seem so nice and professional and sweet even, after the metaphorical blood-letting that allowed her the honour of being our first female Prime Minister. Spin, spin, spin…
Ah yes, the Fringe is coming to an end for another year – and when you come out and play in the sttreets you will notice a big change has happened. You knew something was going on because of all the street works and all the scaffold… once they’ve been removed and we see what’s been going on, will there be room for constant venues? Will we be destined to drink in side street bars and tents in the heat for the future because Adelaide has devoured all it’s really cool little venues and spaces? I wonder…
So this is the last mile; the last weekend of “March Madness” and the potential start of the big sleep when Adelaide, much like Rip Van Winkle rolls over pulling the covers over itself and sleeps for what seems like a hundred years. I wonder what dreams will play out in the mind of the city, if this crazy city has a mind. Difficult to say if it has a mind after this Fringe. Digging up the streets was a mindless idea. Inviting the rest of the world to land in our newly ‘branded’ town to enjoy all the wonders of arts and music festivals, erecting a range of alcohol serving pop-up’s to accommodate the masses and just to keep them on their toes (or knees) smash up a few side-walks and kiosks to beautify the area; cage the city’s heart with fencing and black plastic – rip down a few more trees.
I am reminded of living in Sydney in the lead up to the 2000 Olympics. The streets were re-paved, polished and politely marked “off limits” to the homeless as Sydney prepared for the world to look as closely as it had ever done before. Adelaide in 2013 wasn’t mindful of that kind of scrutiny, it was happy to muddle along as usual not giving a midnight hoot about how it looked to the visitor. Re-branded we are an open door, and don’t mind the mess.
The sleight of hand that is Council and Parliament managed to all but squeeze out some of the honest to goodness local talent by finding a million dollars seeding money for a corporate city hub, right over the top of the community based city hub that was Format – Oh yes it’s still there in Peel Street for the moment, but not for long. Mayor Stephen Yarwood complained his disappointment not to have been consulted – an unlikely story – as the powers that be managed to obfuscate the sort of community evolution that the Fringe is meant to be all about. “Unexpected City” the “Splash” you have when there’s no more money for “Splash” promised to let people know “by March” who would get funding for their fascinating art project, and who would not. An unprecedented amount of applications went in to the small group of decision-makers whose task is to decide where the money will go. Money?
Maybe the funding computer will start spitting out the rejection letters to the hopefuls who have applied for “Unexpected City” funding around the same time as the judges of Fringe 2013 will announce their “Most Outstanding Awards” at the Fringe Club on Sunday night, maybe not. New appointments will have been made over the “Mad March” and will be announced over the next few days – to show everyone that Adelaide really is a hip and happening place. I wandered along the street yesterday listening to a pair of Adelaide Festival guests converse with each other about how trashy the city seemed compared to their last visit a few years ago; how the Barrio Bar that everyone raves about was too boring to be bothered with and how things are tight all around. I was a little amused.
Co-ops and small companies will tidy up their little mess and vacate their venue, or they’ll simply add their little mess to the general mess that some venues are as they leave. Planes will be caught to other locales and buses will be boarded; some will be going home and some will be continuing an adventure… but Adelaide will remain. It will congratulate itself for all the money brought into the city during the “Mad March” season and it will lament the fact that not so much will be going on now, for a while.
The residents who could afford to go to Womadelaide will exchange notes on “how fantastic,” it was and “how expensive the food was,” and people will discuss their favourite show in the festival. Why was it so good, how it moved me, what it made me feel…
Some of the institution sausage machines will reveal their new make-over, quietly accomplished during the Fringe, a new Artistic Producer or new ceilings and walls, a new program that will be “the best yet,” the new discovery of a world class performer who had to step in at the last minute… a touch of corruption or a smack of undesirable behavior - “Ah well, it was Mad march.. after all,” and the local newsprint gossips will go back to reporting on people we don’t know or care about in the weekly papers.
It’s a curious time, Fringe. I remember when it was a much smaller and far more exciting time. When it was called the Focus Fringe Festival and the focus part of it all was on local artists having a go at something different. Before the Garden of Unearthly Delights had been invented as a way of accommodating a single production house stable of acts from Melbourne. Before the Melbourne International Comedy Festival opened a branch in Adelaide Fringe to keep their comedic guests cashed up while visiting Australia…
It was an exciting time, and every so often there would be something really outstanding that you could feel really thrilled about. I think there are lots of wonderful things about the Fringe, some of them difficult to describe because they are no more than simple feelings. The feeling as you walk the street that there are characters wandering around who are quite different, very distinct. Those feelings of pride in yourself that you bothered to attend a show that you nearly missed because you couldn’t be bothered dealing with the heat or the ratty public transport. How many nights did I walk home because the advertised bus didn’t arrive? Too many. The feelings that there are ways of mounting productions that have a special quality about them. That feeling you haven’t really slept because of the heat and the excitement… that slightly insane feeling that you simply can’t budge.
There are some really fantastic things, and there are some slightly silly things, like having a bar with speed bumps – dumb idea (who in their right mind…?) tearing up the streets – well that’s just typical of Adelaide really isn’t it? Not putting on extra buses until the last few days of Fringe/Festival/Festival/Festival/Festival… moderated by the same public servant (Minister of something) who opened the Festival’s Garden by talking about memories of vomit… well huh, okay. The long series of “Welcoming speeches” by everyone involved in an event, and the introduction of a “Mister” who is actually a “Mrs” – the idiot bar staff who are blatantly rude to a paying customer; a customer who broadcasts opinion on radio and isn’t shy of telling people how rude bar staff are… The competitions! Oh the amazing and wondrous competitions that offer everything and produce nothing. All pretty strange and fascinating.
Do we believe the hype? Do we really think it’s a good idea to have so much activity in a small city over such a short period of time? This year there were a few voices raised doubting the strategy; suggesting maybe it isn’t the smartest way of presenting ourselves to the Fringe going world. I have to agree. I think it’s massive overkill. Do we not want our own Comedy Festival? If we can shuffle the weeks around a little bit we can change the dates of Fringe – but do we dare? Will we fit in with the rest of Australia if we decide to have a two week Festival with a limited amount of participants? What a question. Fancy being the rational person who puts up their hand and says, “We have gone too far!” It’s unfair to have 900+ acts on to select from. We don’t offer a positive experience to artists if we are going to create so much competition it’s hardly worth their while to arrive and attempt to generate an audience. Just because your show was a sell-out at some other festival, it doesn’t mean we are going to like it or even give it the time of day…
A lot of mixed feelings. I know that the woman who produced a show in 2012 was gravely disappointed that her production didn’t get an audience. She had a great venue, a worthy idea and a lot of hope. She didn’t think she’d come back in a hurry. Those of us who live here, and only have to travel a little way to a show are not too fussed. Those who have come the thousands of kilometers to get here – they have a very different experience.
Whatever the outcomes; it’s quality not quantity that is important. It doesn’t have to be the top brand quality, just quality. Good quality. Something that you really feel inspired by or moved by. It may be visual art, cabaret, comedy, drama, circus, street theatre, mime, puppets, dancing… it may be an improvised show that somehow causes you to think differently for a minute or a day or the rest of your life – but it’s quality not quantity.
Like a blog.
I could sit down and write a little rant every three or four hours and call it my blog. I may have dozens and dozens of them. Little updates that say something is good, or, I got a free ticket to a show – okay – it’s a blog. Or it may be something that raves on a bit and says things that may be best unsaid; things that may ask pointy questions or point the finger at stupid things and smart things at the same time. That’s a blog. I personally have had a go at blogging because I feel like it’s a good opportunity to say something about the Fringe. To ‘Talk Fringe’ as they say. Did anyone read any of it? Who knows? Who has time to read a blog while the city is bursting at the pavement with excitement and creativity… ?
If there’s been one reader who had a laugh – I’m happy. If there’s two who got a bit outraged and decided I was nothing but a twit – so okay… if there’s none, well, it’s a type of therapy then isn’t it. A way of getting something out of the head and onto the page – not just negative stuff, not just positive stuff. Not just stuff.
Whatever. I feel I’ve had a chance to tell it like it is and do it my way. That’s not bad. Thanks Fringe. Thanks for the chance to leave a mark. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Maybe see you next year.
I saw some good stuff this year. I enjoyed some good company. I listened to some great poetry. I attended some kick-ass visual arts and terrific circus. I enjoyed a lot of improvisation and I saw some crap. I saw some comedy that was funny and some that was not so funny. I missed buses, I walked home, I took a free bus, I saw more penis than I’d have imagined – all on stage – and I offered some insight and opinion. What a Fringe.
Only a couple of days left… maybe I’m not quite done yet.
Clueless? Inexperienced at dealing with artists, venues and art works? Why not be a Fringe Producer! Evidently it works for some.
I became somewhat circumspect at some point in the last twenty-four hours. I know it’s hot, and the heat has been sustained for a few days now. It’s also very humid. That’s not the reason why I have been looking inward though. It’s not depression either, I feel quite good about most things. I was looking forward to attending a function related to an exhibition I have been involved in at Gluttony. The optimistic part of me was thinking it would draw a positive conclusion to a somewhat annoying journey I’ve been on with a (so called) ‘Producer’ who had sent out a call for art work to be part of an ‘exhibition’ – but alas, rather than make me feel positive this almost final encounter has left me feeling angry and generally peeved at the utterly unprofessional way some people behave and the crap they get away with.
I doubt very much I will ever answer one of these call-out emails again asking for artists to submit their work to an exhibition that is running through Fringe after the base experience I’ve had with this one. I think it’s a terrible shame that the young woman who passes herself off as a ‘Producer’ should be given an artists pass by the Fringe and (evidently) free reign to treat people as poorly as she has. I’m completely astonished that a ‘competition’ has been run in such a suspiciously unprofessional way. I may write a letter to Fringe Management about it. That’s a major effort for me, but when your artwork is being judged and you are not informed of who the judges are or what the criteria is, and when you are not provided with a list of the winners – because it’s all too much effort for the “Producer,” something smells rotten in the land of Fringe.
Thankfully I’ve encountered some crazy Canadians performing a most curiously funny show called The Saints of British Rock, and that has lightened my dark mood. In two days I’ve attended two quite different performance works that are interestingly unusual and both deal with music, the formerly mentioned show and another one called Desperately seeking the Exit..
A one man show about a dude who decides he’s going to create a new music-box production based on the film Desperately Seeking Susan with songs from the singer songwriter Debbie Harry and band Blondie - delicious!
I hadn’t been into The Red Room venue at The Austral Hotel in Rundle Street, so this was the perfect reason to go there and see Peter Michael Marino‘s show. Very interesting work. Very interesting venue. The reason I say the venue was interesting is because it literally is a room with red wallpaper upstairs at The Austral Hotel where I once worked some years ago.
I was quite delighted to see how the venue has its own little upstairs bar and the balcony was open, so not only do you get a chance to have a drink, you get a good view of the street and there was a slight breeze which was really nice.
The show tells a story of great discomfort from the perspective of Peter Michael Marino who had the initial idea and took it to the limit by finding Producers and a Director and arranging for the as yet unwritten show to premiere on the West End in London. As if this isn’t amazing enough, he gets the rights to the songs with Debbie Harry’s blessing – no mean feat. I met her at the Museum of South Australia (Debbie Harry) and had a bit of an idle chat with her about insects because we were both browsing through the dried insect collection. She was wearing her shades. She just seemed like a lovely woman from America. It took me a few minutes to realise who she was. The drawling New York accent was kind of odd in Adelaide, but because it was pretty trendy at the time to wear shades indoors and have bleached hair I didn’t immediately twig. When the glasses came off for a few minutes I noticed who she was, but I was too shy at the time to say anything. That must have been sometime around 1991.
In 1974 I met Liza Minnelli after her concert at the Festival Theatre and when we shook hands I spontaneously blurted out, “You were in Judy’s womb!” Miss Minnelli was very gracious and said, “Yes, I was,” and I realised at that moment what a complete twit I must have sounded. I gave her her hand back and let her get on with her life. Liza actually wrote to me later to say “thanks” for a hat I had left with her driver. I digress I know but I felt the need to explain why I kept my mouth shut when I realised I was talking to Debbie Harry in the museum – lord knows what I would have said. Any way the show in the Red Room, Desperately Seeking the Exit was very funny. I will not give the plot away, but I will say I thought it was a well crafted piece of theatre pretending to be stand-up comedy.
The other show, The Saints of British Rock was also very funny. It’s a mock rock concert performed for the BBC by an iconic English rock band. They’re very funny and use a lot of multi-media projections which were very amusing. The music was tight and the story was completely left of field and unexpected. It wasn’t a huge audience but the band played on and gave it their all. I find that impressive. When you have a small audience it can get a bit depressing for a show because these sorts of things feed off of the audience energy. These guys kept their rather ridiculous characters intact and maintained a high level of energy all the way through.
I thought it was funny to watch these Canadians take the mickey out of an English genre of music; the show is more immersive theatre than anything because they create a whole world for you to get involved with. There is a little audience participation as well. Nothing too difficult, just like being at a real rock concert.
So, lucky for me these two shows have given me something bright to think about after my awful art exhibition encounter/experience. As an artist I resent being treated poorly by someone who has asked me to place work I’ve spent hours creating in a show. I also resent being treated with so little respect I’m not even informed of who won major cash prizes in the exhibition. The whole experience has been a bad one and I feel I’ve been lied to several times. If the Fringe is going to appoint people to be Producers of such things they should at the very least find people who are professional about the way they conduct themselves. To be treated like some insignificant old fart by some wet behind the ears idiot who hasn’t got a clue is infuriating, but it has other implications. It suggests that things are a bit murky around the place when it comes to issues of OH&S, communication, follow through and appreciation of a person’s time and effort – creating bad will as opposed to good will is not a positive thing and I’m certainly not going to expose myself or encourage others to expose themselves to such dross in the future.
Yes, I’m back to the subject I started with - a very bad experience as an artist being treated with disrespect by a so-called Producer who was evidently ‘in charge’ of an exhibition where one piece was stolen, another piece was vandalised, there was no offering of who was judging the work; nor any explanation that the judges would be ‘secret,’ no housekeeping done, no follow-through with contracts to be signed… Oh the list goes on and on to be honest but of course it’s not worth complaining because the twit who was running the show would just do what so many pea-brained self-interested shits do these days and pretend everything was fine. I’ll collect my art work in a few days and leave the whole unprofessional and dreadful experience behind me. Write it off as a bad (corrupt) program and ignore any future requests from Fringe exhibitions.
Thankfully there have been these fun and innovative shows to enjoy since the bitter taste left in my mouth from that experience, and I’ll hopefully hunt down a couple more before the Fringe is over. You can read my full review of Desperately Seeking the Exit at Fringe Review UK here.
Happy International Women’s Day 2013!
I certainly saw a lot of activity on social media today concerning IWD; everything from Prime Minister Julia Gillard tweeting about it through to Annabel Crabb pointing out some wry realities on Twitter. Just by the by, it’s interesting to note that Annabel’s tweet gets 471 retweets, and the Prime Minister’s 29.
I decided that I’d go West tonight and steer clear from the slightly crazy Friday night’s at the Garden, after all the Fringe is everywhere, even in Hindley Street, so that’s where I headed to see Fresh Meat at Porky’s. It’s billed as a woman’s event in the program, but I figured they wouldn’t mind if a like-minded fellow who supports women’s rights turned up. I wasn’t wrong either.
Fresh Meat is a special Fringe Strip Show. Not the Comic Strippers, but not far off. They serve food and play party games and the waiters wear skimpy outfits – well, let’s face it, they serve in their underwear. The women at the venue were having a very very very good time, enjoying the shows and the games. I didn’t stay for the whole evening, but long enough to capture some shots to share and take some pictures for the ladies while they were posing with the various men from the Fresh Meat Crew, who were all really good sports, well buff and always smiling.
It was a bit of a laugh seeing passers by stopping and staring through the window. The main action takes place away from public view, and really the garments worn are much like bathers, so it’s not like pornography… but it did raise a few eyebrows (monobrows as well) in the street when Trojan and his mate posed for a while.
Some folk may wonder what a strip show is doing as part of the Fringe, but hey, it’s burlesque; they dance they serve tables, they joke around. There’s no stage as such – it’s not even a very far cry from Uta Kool Ja really – they are each of them playing a character and there were more penises on view in Puppetry of the Penis - so prudes shouldn’t stay away, and the women who enjoyed those comic candy Canadians and the in plain view penis puppets would love this. It’s only on for a few performances.
I laughed a lot when the most charming fellow whom I’d briefly chatted with suddenly arrived in the spotlight with a Fireman’s outfit on (and was being introduced as “The Extinguisher”) it cracked me up, and the women went ever so deliberately wild.
He was not half bad either. Did some dirty dancing then suddenly was leaping about like something from your wildest dreams… He was very convincing as a dancing man, and as his outfit hit the floor he was contorting in ways that made me giggle, and one audience member overheat – she needed to do a taste test, just to settle her tummy.
- The Extinguisher cracked me up, and the women went ever so deliberately wild. He was not half bad either. Did some dirty dancing and suddenly was leaping about like something from your wildest dreams… He was very convincing as a dancing man, and as his outfit hit the floor he was contorting in ways that made me giggle, and one audience member overheat – she needed to do a taste test, just to settle her tummy (possibly?).
Whatever she was doing it was funny to watch and I’m completely sure noting illegal was going on.
It made me relax when I realised there were a few other men in the audience. Mainly because I didn’t want to be taken for the old guy who was suddenly going to strip out of the blue in the name of equality between generations. It’s a long time since I’ve bothered to bare my ass in a public venue for money – thankfully the pictures that were taken hang in the Victorian Arts Centre Gallery.
Not that I’m knocking what these guys were doing, and are doing for the next few nights at Porky’s – 196 Hindley Street. There are some other events at Porky’s as well – there’s a last night of the Fringe party that sounds pretty cool.
It fits well into the West end of town, or more specifically into Hindley Street with all the clubs, massage joints and erotic shops… even if it is pretty much just another adult style show it’s Fringe and the emphasis is on having a good time. There were some good laughs thrown in by the DJ who gave a running commentary on events; heck, they even sang ‘Happy Birthday’ and had a raffle with fun lap-dance prizes and a game of hoopla on an inflatable penis.
Haven’t seen such oodles of doodles since being backstage in the showers at the footy!
My serious advice is – if you have a girlfriend or sister who is up for a bit of crazy sexy fun, get her off – to Porky’s – before the weekend is over and show her some fine Fresh Meat. Remember to designate a driver because even if you don’t drink I expect you’ll end up intoxicated.