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Fringe NZ A Blast

Fringe NZ A Blast

Who knows what sort of manure the Fringe is feeding its participants, but checking out previous Fringe NZ performers reads like a list of the tall poppies of NZ creativity…

Miranda Harcourt, Michael Parmenter, Oscar Kightley, Afro-Celt Sound System, Adrian Edmundsen, Jacob Rajan, Merenia Gray, Michele a’Court, Dave Fane, Jo Randerson, the Hallelujah Picassos, Guy Masterson, Strung Out, Paul Gittins, Phoenix Foundation, Hen’s Teeth, Duncan Sarkies, Warwick Freeman, Pollyfilla and Hone Kouka… all either got their start at Fringe NZ or have been a part of Wellington’s art hothouse Festival.

Miranda Harcourt performed the solo show ‘Verbatim’ at the 1993 Fringe. Verbatim, which told the story of a murderer and his family, was the hit of that year’s Festival.

“The Fringe kicked off an amazing three-year journey for me, where we toured to festivals all over the world, performed in prisons in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, and in theatres and schools too,” said Harcourt.

“In one performance of Verbatim the Bats theatre cat wandered on stage and had to be forcibly evacuated by one of the characters... one character stroking the cat lovingly and then the next moment another character chucking it out the theatre door,” she laughed.

Harcourt, Head of Acting at NZ Drama School, now sees characters from the published version of Verbatim in the audition process every year.

Oscar Kightley is now famous for TV3’s ‘The Panel’, but in 1998 he co-wrote and performed in ‘Eulogy’ the story of Samoans and Germans imprisoned on Soames Island in Wellington Harbour during WWII.

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“The Fringe is a really neat thing,” said Kightley. “It’s great to get together with friends you don’t normally get to work with and just put something on. It’s so easy because Fringe represents so many different things it’s like everything to all people.”

“I was at the Edinburgh Fringe this year and our Fringe is just really good by comparison because of the talent that exists in NZ. It represents a spark that I hope keeps expanding to become something even more weird and wonderful,” Kightley continued.

Sonal Patel won the Playmarket NZ Young Playwright’s Competition in 2000 and 2001. She is taking part in her fourth Fringe NZ Festival in 2003 and will premiere ‘Ava’ an absurdist piece of theatre about a young woman strapped to a platform at the Bats LAB Initiative.

“Personally I have received a lot of support over the years from the Fringe team, not only through funding but also having somewhere that I could ask for help,” said Patel. “Because of institutions like the Fringe I've been able to build up confidence and know that I can have a vocation in the theatre.

“It's nice to know that somebody is cheering you on,” she said.

The tenth anniversary Fringe will be bigger than ever before - with the number of potential venues rising to 55 for the 2003 Festival.

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