Went to Adelaide for a week of Friends, Festival and Fringe. First off the mark was the Cedar Lake Dance Company with 2 programs a single work on Saturday night, Orbo Novo choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and three short works on Sunday night, Indigo Rose choreography by Jiří Kylián (30 minutes), Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue choreography by Crystal Pite (16 minutes) and Violet Kid choreography by Hofesh Shechter (34 minutes). Great company and really lucky to see them as it was announced just after the Adelaide tour was complete that Cedar Lake’s founder and benefactor — Nancy Laurie, a Walmart heiress — had a change of heart and announced that she would close the company after performances in June 2015 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. ( see New York Times article ).
Beauty and the Beast, an exploration of the lives of American burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz and British disabled performer Mat Fraser via burlesque, shadow puppetry and theatre. The production was enjoyable but a mixed bag, the Beauty and the Beast fable came out second best to the telling of the life stories of the two principles up to their meeting, overcoming the obstacle of Mat Fraser's thalidomide disabled arms and finally marrying. Lots of nudity and (faked) intercourse, none of which was erotic.
Fela: the concert was an exuberant musical life of Nigerian Afro-rock singer, Fela. His travelled to the UK and the USA he honed his music and politics ( via the Black Panther movement in the USA) and on returning to Nigeria became a political activist and popular singer who was jailed by the Government. ( click to see article including youtube footage of Fela in 1971)
The Fringe was its usual self spread all over the city at what seemed like hundreds of venues, all very popular and teeming with people; to the point where complaints from various Hotels owners were appearing in the media saying that too much was happening and the Fringe and Festival were drawing away business from regular venues that were permanent, and the Festival/ Fringe events should be spread out over the year rather than concentrated into one "Mad March". The responses were to these complaints, to my mind were sensible, ie pull your finger out, take , put on some programs / music get a share.
Some of the venues attended were:
Garden of Unearthly Delights, a huge area of parkland in East Adelaide given over to comedy, circus, drama, music, bars, market stalls and food. One of the great food stalls is the aptly named "Pigs on Fire" huge chunks of pork, legs, ribs etc on round metal grills swinging over a charcoal fire.
Gluttony. Across the road and smaller in size but similar to the 'Garden'.
Surrender. Sited next to the Festival Centre, mainly a food and bar venue with live entertainment. Themed as a breakaway country that has seceded from Australia, it is built behind a 'Abbott Proof Fence', with a Dalek police force, staff dressed in military uniforms, a colourful president and interactive games to play.
A little Rave and Rant: The other impressive thing about all the Fringe outdoor venues is that drinks are served in proper glasses not plastic cups, everyone seems to drink and act responsibly; no broken glass, no drunks , no litter - not a scrap. Could it be that if treated like adults people act like adults ? or maybe South Australians are more sophisticated when it comes to eating and drinking in social situations. Transplant the 'Garden' to Sydney and it would be trashed in couple of hours.
FEAR & DELIGHT
Spent the most time at the Garden of Unearthly Delights and while I ate there and went to a couple of the five minute shows
( a flea circus and magic /escapologist ) the main performance was a combination dinner / circus/dance-party called Fear & Delight.
Titled from the Correspondents song of the same name:
I DON'T SHOW IT BUT I QUIVER WHENEVER YOU COME NEAR
AND I CANNOT DECIPHER BETWEEN THE THRILL AND THE FEAR
I WANT TO STOP IT
BUT I LIKE IT TOO MUCH TO LET IT STOP HERE
ITS WRONG BUT I WANT YOU TONIGHT ( Video )
On arrival attendees were given masks to wear and led via various stations where we were offered various foods ranging from"blood" jelly to "hallucinogenic" tea and served sparkling wine by, variously, a Chaplin with no pants on , a naked 'wench' in a bathtub and masked performers, until we arrived at an open air circus ring. Sitting at the edge of the ring, the meal and wine were served by various performers. An hour later the circus started, which kept up the high standards of physical circus in Australia today. The audience were then led to the "Devil's Lighthouse" and a dance party.
All in all a very entertaining night.
No festival is complete unless there is food, after all Festivals have always been associated with feasts, the word itself can be traced back to the Latin word "festa" for feast. This festival we concentrated on just one meal a day and lunching well was the option chosen. Evening, apart from the full on Fear & Delight feast mentioned above, was very light snacks or nothing. Here are the lunch venues
Sunday : The tried and true Salopian Inn in McLaren Vale and a great day out.
Monday: The Danial O'Connell Hotel in North Adelaide has been a really great "nose to tail" eating adventure for the last couple of years, the Chef specialised in offal , tongue, heart, brains, tripe sweet breads etc and other under rated meats. We really enjoyed it in 2014 and in 2015 were lucky enough to catch it before the menu changed back to the usual pub grub.
Tuesday: We also just managed to catch 'The Stranded Store' before it closed. Set up by an up and coming young chef in two renovated suburban shops in the suburb, Colonel Light Gardens. Great food, generous serves, must have been a bit too far "off the beaten track."
Wednesday: 75min drive south of Adelaide, in Second Valley on the Fleurieu Peninsular is a beautifully renovated stone flour mill from the 1800's. Leonard's Mill sits in landscaped gardens and offers a casual menu or a set price menu for lunch and as they state : ".... home to a productive vegetable garden, fig, apple, lemon, lime, bay leaf, plum, pear and mulberry trees. We are proud to support producers who have the same commitment and passion to producing the absolute best - Fleurieu milk, Kangaroo Island Seafood, Hindmarsh Valley Dairy, Wakefield Grange farm gate, Green Eggs and Ham, Carrickalinga Cicada Olives, Scoop and Yankalilla Bakery." A great day out with beautiful scenery and the food of Head Chef Brendan Wessels.
Thursday: Met up with friends who were in Adelaide to put on their show as a part of the Fringe Festival. Four of us went to Andre's Cucina in Frome Street in the city, and opted for the Menu Fisso, at $62 pp, featured seven courses which included one the the best tasting steaks I have had in a very long time. Greta food but the quantity defeated us and everyone flagged on No 6, the polenta course - though No 7, the dessert,somehow managed to disappear.
The visual art program in the Festival is year was not as strong as most years, though this was partly due to the lack of a main program at the Art Gallery SA - the Trent Parke "Black Rose" exhibition had not opened until late in the Festival and a few days after I had left. There were all the usual Samstag and other art centre exhibitions as well as the 'zillion' Fringe art shows in every nook and cafe, however the most interesting was the Helpmann Academy exhibition , work from the graduates of the top SA art schools, it was just great. Sophie Green's "The Weight of Air" was the highlight for me.