Current Issue #477

Katie Noonan: Leading Lady

Katie Noonan: Leading Lady

While still on the bill as an artist in 2014, Katie Noonan is trying on a new hat as Ambassador for the festival.

As a performer, Katie Noonan has a 15-year relationship with the Adelaide Fringe. While still on the bill as an artist in 2014, Noonan is trying on a new hat as Ambassador for the festival. Despite the many thousands of shows in between, Noonan still remembers her very first experience behind the scenes of the Fringe. In the city after a long, long drive from Brisbane, Noonan and her band at the time, george, were struck by the vitality and “craziness” of the place. Aside from adventures with carnies and an outlandish rental property, Noonan recalls that her popular song Special Ones, from george’s number one album Polyserena, was named at that first Adelaide Fringe. She has been back nearly every year with various bands and as a solo artist, watching the Fringe get “bigger and better”. Noonan takes the Ambassador’s reins from national treasure Paul McDermott, whose enthusiasm, charisma and artistic flair made the 2013 festival such a success. His successor is not intimidated, but admits, “his are incredibly large shoes to fill. He’s the all-rounder— comedy, acting, painting—he’s amazing.” While admitting that she can be “unintentionally funny”, Noonan feels that the divergence from a comedic ‘face of the Fringe’ is intentional. “I guess they wanted someone who comes from a really different point of view, to reflect the diversity of the festival. Obviously there is a large comedy focus, but to be honest, I’ve never actually seen a comedy show at the Fringe—I’ve always thought of it as this amazing theatre- circus-burlesque festival.” Like McDermott in 2013, Noonan will be part of the Fringe as an artist, bringing back the theatrical, musical, carnival performance Love-Song-Circus, which premiered at 2012’s Cabaret Festival. A collaboration with director Yaron Lifschitz and Brisbane acrobatic troupe Circa, the show tells the stories of Australia’s first female convicts. Noonan drew inspiration for Love-Song-Circus from Love Tokens, an exhibition at the National Museum. The collection displayed pennies with inscriptions by convicts to their loved ones. “We reflect these women’s stories through song, words and movement,” Noonan explains. “It’s really fun, and possibly interesting for Adelaideans because you’re all “purebloods” — you don’t have any convict ruffians in your closets.” After satisfying her artistic streak, Noonan’s job lies in luring people to the Fringe instead of the other attractions offered up in Mad March. A major drawcard for the Fringe is its strong showing of local and national acts. However, a quota to keep a balance between international and Australian performers is unnecessary, Noonan says. “The quality of the local shows being presented is so high, I don’t think there’s any chance of any festival being outrun. There used to be a bit more of a notion of that in Australia— people used to think, ‘Oh, if it’s from overseas it must be better,’ but I really think we’re breaking down that preconception. Obviously, I think it should reflect local talent, but because the local talent is so good, it holds its own against anything in the world. Ultimately quality and integrity should be the only real agenda.” Katie noonan & circa love-Song-circus Garden of unearthly Delights Tuesday, March 11 to Sunday, March 16 katienoonan.com

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