I sat here at my computer trying to write a blog post about Fringe in the 'Stings for a good twenty minutes. This is perhaps what they call writer’s block. I think it might just be the first time I’ve been speechless. This was a foreign and bizarre concept for me. Luckily it didn’t last long.
I would say it’s fair to say it’s incredibly difficult to create a Fringe Festival in New Zealand. Let alone in provincial New Zealand. I feel qualified to make that huge call because it’s actually hard to start up anything in New Zealand. As kiwis the general public are programmed to be automatically cynical. We appear to be skeptical of anything a bit bizarre or a bit experimental. And we also apparently hate pre booking tickets. As a fellow commitment phobe I get it. Pre booking a ticket can sometimes just be a bit bloody much. However, once we’re sitting in the venue (never the front row though, don’t push it mate), with a glass of wine or a packet of jaffas, we take a long exhale and fully commit to experiencing the experience. Most of the time.
This kiwi mentality I saw a lot of in Hastings.
Hastings is a town of 70,000 people situated in the Hawke’s Bay. It’s a thriving little town full of creative vibes, red wine and hot chips. It apparently never rains there* but it rained 2 out of 3 days of the Fest. Which was a tad annoying but at least it was watering the grapes.
*no one actually told me it never rains I might’ve made that up but I swear I was under the perception that it never rained in Hawke’s Bay...
We had artists running around left, right and centre desperately trying to promote their shows and stressing about the lack of ticket sales. You could see the fear in their once sparkly, a bit hungover and tired eyes. For a lot of us though, this came as no surprise. It’s kind of the name of the game. We are constantly trying to prove to the audiences their bum should sit on one of our seats, so that’s not unique to Hastings.
But in the end Hastings came out to play. And they came out in the hundreds. The locals were taking risks on performers from Auckland with Resting Bitch Face, an Aussie who talks about cocks for an hour, 80s rock operas about being Allergic To Love and the infamous Gorilla show to name a few.
(This was great but seriously Hastings, book some tickets next time okay. You nearly broke some of the performers!)
If there’s one thing Hastings knows how to do properly it’s hospitality. They can smell a visitor in the air and they make it their mission to show them a good time. I’ve never felt so looked after at a Fringe Festival and I have never felt as genuinely supported from every member of staff as I was Fringe in the 'Stings. Hastings, you sure know how to party.
So naturally when I got the phone call from Andrea (Director of Fringe in the 'Stings) offering me a position on their team as Fringe Ambassador it was an easy decision to say yes. I had a wonderful time at the inaugural Fringe in the 'Stings Festival in 2016 and I fully support what they’re trying to achieve in Hastings. I feel passionate about making art (for lack of a better word) accessible to everyone around the world. Be the change you wish to see and what not - so I’m starting with New Zealand.
Fringe in the 'Stings is quickly becoming one of the best open access festivals we have in New Zealand and the sassy little diva in me doesn’t want to tell you this so I can have this festival all to myself. But if one person is working in this industry we’re all working, so I am ultimately excited to share this festival with you.
And you should want to know about this festival because Fringe in the 'Stings is going from strength to strength, and being only in year two I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this team.
I’ll be back Hastings! Stay classy!