Absolut Fringe 2012: White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

I went along to this lunchtime show because I was intrigued by the premise – an actor arrives on stage, opens an envelope and reads from a script that they’ve never seen before. It’s an interesting idea and the Fringe had a list of interesting actors that were taking part. However White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is more than just an interesting acting exercise. The script uses the actor as a way for the writer to connect with the audience. The play was written by Nassim Soleimanpour, an Iranian citizen who had never left his country. He was 29 when he wrote the play and had never left Iran because in order to get a passport, citizens must do two years of military service. The play was his way to travel and experience the world outside Iran. He gives out his e-mail address a couple of times in the script with requests to send him photos and reports of the performance.

It is a play about choice and responsibility. It’s also about rabbits. It’s a play that asks a lot of the actor performing it but there’s also a lot of audience participation. As the actor and audience changes everyday, I imagine the show is very different each time it’s performed. This may have made it a difficult for the Fringe Awards judges – it was nominated for Best Production.

I was there on the opening afternoon and our actor for the day was Stephen Rea. He performed with a slight knowing smile at the audience which said ‘these are not my words’, especially when the words in question were expressions like “super cool” or “groovy”. He took the comedy and the seriousness of the script in his stride. The audience seems a little bit more nervous than he did. I often think that Irish audiences aren’t very good at participating in a piece of theatre, and I include myself in that. We don’t have any sort of tradition of it in this country. We are not generally disruptive people. In these sort of situations, I find myself wanting to be a “good audience member” but not always sure what was required of me.

I really enjoyed the play. It threw up a lot of questions about the world and was about more than just the art that was taking place in that room. I would have liked to see it again, for lots of reasons. I wish I’d spoken up more in the performance.

You can read about Peter Daly’s description of the performance from the actor’s point of view in the Irish Times Festival Hub.

Absolut Fringe 2012: Fringe Awards

The Absolut Fringe is over for another year, and what a wonderful Fringe it was! I had another great year volunteering with the festival and saw as many shows as my budget would allow.

The Fringe Awards happened last night in Meeting House Square, which was a wonderful out-door venue this year, playing host to Briefs almost every night of the festival as well as other acts. All the winners and nominations are listed on the Fringe Facebook page and, as usual, the list includes a whole lot of shows that I didn’t get a chance to see.

I’m looking forward to catching a lot of the winners when they come back again. The Lir Revival is a new award this year and the winners are given the opportunity to restage their winning production at The Lir. This year’s winners are Talking Shop Ensemble’s Death of a Tradesman (which also won the Fishamble New Writing Award for Shaun Dunne) and WillFredd’s Farm (which I tried and failed to get tickets for). I’m looking forward to seeing both of those shows when they are staged sometime between now and the end of the academic year. I have yet to see a show at The Lir so I’m looking forward to that too. I was down there a couple of times this Fringe as a volunteer and it seems like a great venue.

Death of a Tradesman is also part of this year’s Galway Theatre Festival which starts on next Monday.

Two more shows that I heard a lot of good things about but didn’t see myself were Paperdolls’ Constellations and Emma Martin’s Dogs. These two shows are closer to dance than straight theatre and both won big awards on Sunday night. Dogs won Best Production and Best Design and Constellations won Spirit of the Fringe. Paperdolls are definitely a company to keep an eye on!

So they are all the shows I didn’t see; I will post reviews of the ones I did manage over the next couple of days. And then we’ll get ready for the Dublin Theatre Festival which starts on Thursday!

Absolut Fringe 2012: Just in Time

Playground
Playground – a collection of immersive and game-based performances.
Just in Time is one part immersive theatre and one part real-life video game. I took part in one of the last testing stages and really enjoyed the experience. It’s fun to imagine yourself as a time-traveller with a secret mission, hurrying down alley-ways and looking out for clues! The people I saw in Temple Bar at the weekend on the same secret mission, all seemed to be enjoying it as well.

Just in Time, which finished on Sunday, was part of the Playground strand in this year’s Fringe. I took part in another Playground ‘performance’ when I put in my headphones and wandered around Grafton Street as part of the subtle mob As if it were the last time.

There are a couple more Playground shows on this week:

My Fair Mot, which promised to have you speaking like a proper Dub by the end of show, sounds both fun and educational!

The other, The Oh Fuck Moment, sounds slightly terrifying to me, but I’m not a big fan of audience participation and I don’t like telling people about my embarrassing stories so I’m not really their target audience! It’s been getting great reviews elsewhere, including a four star review in the Guardian where Lyn Gardner says it’s nothing to be afraid of!

Absolut Fringe 2012

There are so many exciting shows in this year’s Fringe that it’s hard to compile a short list of favourites. Previews start today and because they’re a bit cheaper it’s usually a good time to try something new. (New shows are starting all the time so there will be previews happening throughout the festival.)

There’s also lots of returning artists who you can rely on for a good show, such as Thisispopbaby, The Company, THEATREclub, Una McKevitt and Talking Shop Ensemble. And there’s the Macnas parades – Rumpus and The Cockroach and the Inventor which are always worth a look, and free! You do need a ticket though, which has to be collected in person from the Box Office in Filmbase.

A limited about of time and money sadly makes it impossible to see everything I want to see, so here is my list of favourites. It’s a long list and I know I’m not going to get to everything.

Elevator
I’m really looking forward to this show. It has the same writer and director as Alice in Funderland, which I really enjoyed earlier this year, and also has songs! The plot, involving the uber-rich and a party that gets out of hand sounds intriguing.

Sparkplug
Last January I saw Little John Nee’s last show The Mothers Arms in Galway and it was one of the most enjoyable shows I saw all year. It had some amazing songs and loads of jokes. I’m hoping for more of the same from this show. And if you are in Galway, you can see The Mothers Arms in the Town Hall Theatre this week.

Anna in Between
I love the poster for this show; it’s both pretty and intriguing. Despite the pretty poster, it sounds like it will be a dark, funny show. With songs.

Farm
This is another show that I don’t know that much about but I am intrigued by. I know the company won Spirit of the Fringe last year and this show sounds ambitious and interesting. It promises to bring the countryside into the city. I want to see how they do it.

Solpadine is my Boyfriend
I love the poster and the pill packet that doubles as flyer and I like to go and see one-woman shows. This one is about growing up which feels relevant to me at the moment – turning thirty and graduating from college (again) in the same year, shouldn’t I start feeling like a grown-up soon?

Show in a Bag
Show in a Bag is back with five new shows this year, with lunchtime and evening slots at 1pm, 6pm and 8pm, all €10. The Wheelchair on My Face, which was one of last year’s shows in a bag, won the Scotsman Fringe First at this year’s Edinburgh festival. These are very good shows at a very reasonable price!

Straight to DVD
I’ve caught pieces of Ponydance’s performances over the years, a little bit at the Fringe Awards in the Speigaltent, the second half of Anybody Waiting? when they were performing it all over the city for Fringe 2010, and I’m keen to see more. Their shows seem to have a great sense of humour.

Flatpack
It’s an opera about Ikea. And like the flat-packed Swedish furniture, you have to put the pieces together yourself. It’s a promenade performance across five rooms that leaves the audience to work out how the different scenes slot together. I’ve never been to an opera before and I would be a little bit nervous of it, but this sounds fun and not too scary!

West Coast Cool
After spending a wonderful year in Galway, I had to include this is a strand of work by companies from the west of Ireland. Geography is the only thing that links them and I think there’s something for everybody among the five shows happening in Smock Alley.

Mirror, Mirror
Fairytales with aerial hoops, silks and pole dancing – what’s not to like!

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit
This is another show that I’m mostly just curious about. Each day a different actor will perform a script they’ve never seen before, by an Iranian who was forbidden to leave his country. And it’s another show that’s only €10!

Believe it or not, I left things off that very long list. There’s so many great things happening that I recommend you pick up a brochure in Filmbase and spend some time looking through. I’ve have a few problems browsing the website so I recommend the physical brochure but I have a lot of problems with the website in general this year!

Often it doesn’t load properly and I just have a big black box in the middle of the screen, which such a waste of space. The text is too big. I’m sure it looked beautiful on the web designer’s huge Mac screen but on my three year old laptop, it’s really too big to be useful. The drop down menus go down below the bottom of the screen, making them very tricky to use. I don’t find the lists useful anyway. For a start, it took me at least three visits to the site before I realised that you have to make you selection and then make press the Go button. (I notice they have tried to make that clearer now.) I thought all the ‘Daring’, ‘Theatre’, ‘Political’, ‘Art’, etc listings were just broken links. I also don’t like the idea of limiting your search terms. I miss last year’s choices of ‘Shows for under a tenner’, ‘Shows to bring your Mam to’, etc. They brought up choices that I might not have seen otherwise and for me, going outside your comfort zone and seeing things you know almost nothing about is what the Fringe is for.

Pick up a brochure, take a risk on something new and step outside your comfort zone! And have a great Fringe!