What do you want to do today?
I don’t know, what do you want to do?
Well, maybe we should head down to the Refinery?
Really, why is that? Do tell!
Well, today is the first day of Nelson Fringe 2017!

That’s right, today  we launch into a world of experimental, emerging and exciting theatre.

So, let’s get down to business.  What exactly is “Fringe”?
“Round the fringe of official Festival drama, there seems to be more private enterprise than before … I am afraid some of us are not going to be at home during the evenings!”
– Robert Kemp, A Scottish journalist in the 1940s describing the theatre situation that eventually became the Edinbugh Fringe Festival.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival began in 1947 and has spiralled across the world since. Last year, Edinburgh Fringe had roughly 3,269 shows over 25 days (that’s over 50,000 performances!) and in the 1940s, they started with 8.

In our own backyard, The New Zealand Fringe Festival in Wellington began as a one week festival in one venue at BATS Theatre in the 90s. And that, too, has ballooned into an entire-city, multitude of venues, thousands of acts, month-long jubilee. Do their beginnings sound familiar?

In 2015, Nelson Fringe started with 15 shows. How far we have come!

Typical elements of Fringe theatre include the following:
– Experimental in style or subject matter
– Small casts
– Technically sparse
– Original and newly performed material
– New artists creating something for the first time
– Established artists taking risks

And you will see ALL of this at the Nelson Fringe starting TODAY… some of us may not be at home during the evenings!

Laura Irish, Nelson Fringe director tell us that “Fringe theatre provides artists and audiences opportunities to reflect on pieces that are unconventional. Fringe theatre is new and exciting and on the edge. When you step into the Refinery, I challenge you to leave your expectations at the door.”

“The culture of a theatre is more than just watching a show. It’s about the chats at the bar afterward, about the plans and dreams shared between the artists at workshops and events throughout the week. It’s about feeling moments of anticipation whether you’re an actor preparing to perform an original piece for the first time or an audience member who has no idea what they’re in for. It’s the spark igniting in someone watching who perhaps never felt the urge to create before. It’s about seeing life from another perspective fully without judgement and appreciating what they have to say about the world. And I think Nelson needs more of that. I need more of that.”

So let’s get ready for shows, workshops, chats in the Refinery over food and drink, and to experience some of the finest theatre New Zealand has to offer.

I’ll see you there (I’m be the small one with a loud laugh)!

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