With her theatre hub in the Adelaide Botanic Garden, and producing work across the city, this year’s Fringe sees Adelaide theatre identity Joanne Hartstone present a wide range of emerging, small scale and fringe works.
Hartstone is a true theatre all-rounder: an acclaimed actor, producer and presenter, who for many years has performed and brought admired work to the Adelaide Fringe. Hartstone will take an artistic, as well as production, leap this year. She will perform her first solo show that she has written and will perform, and follows la st year’s staging of the brilliant Bunker Trilogy at the Botanic Garden’s Noel Lothian Hall with a suite of local and international productions at the Hall, which becomes the Black Box Studio for the Fringe season.
“It’s a great space that I felt was being underutilised considering how Adelaide is crying out for bricks and mortar theatres rather than tents,” Hartstone says. “It’s still got that pop-up feel to it, it’s being created for the Fringe, but we can have a blackout: shut the doors with air conditioning and there is silence, which is so much better for theatre.”
There will be seven shows at the Black Box Studio, six of which will be produced by Hartstone. She says she wants to promote small scale local and international theatre from different artistic points of view.
“I want the shows to sell themselves rather than show how fancy the surroundings of the theatre can be. I want the theatre to be humble and for the shows to be the heroes.”
My Name is Saoirse will be staged at the Noel Lothian Hall
Her solo performance, The Girl who Jumped off the Hollywood Sign is one of these shows. She says it is fan fiction to the golden age of Hollywood and is a “bittersweet look at the era through a fresh perspective”.
“I grew up on movies of Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Davis and all these glamorous Hollywood stars, and the stories of what happened to these women and how they’ve had to give so much of themselves in order to work in this industry, this factory as it were: the Hollywood system. I’ve written this after years of study and research and based it around a fictitious character who witnesses all of these things happening in Hollywood, so it’s a bit of a fusion of imagination and reality.”
Hartstone, who has worked with Guy Masterson’s Centre for International Theatre in the past, will be working with emerging local groups such as Actors Ink and Cabbages & Kings Collective, who will perform Blink. Cabbages and Kings Collective is a collective of mainly recent graduates, who Hartstone has taught and worked with in the past.
“I found them a script which was Blink, which has been done at a lot of other Fringes around the world but has never been done in Adelaide. It a great piece about modern love, voyeurism and romantic intimacy.”
The Devil’s Passion will take over St Peter’s Cathedral for a dark performance
A highlight production is Eva O’Connor’s My Name is Saoirse, which Hartstone calls a “beautiful coming of age story”.
“It’s about a young girl in Ireland who finds herself pregnant and can’t have an abortion because it’s still illegal in Ireland so she has to travel to England to do it. It’s a real life awakening kind of thing, beautifully written, beautiful performed and she’s [O’Connor] a stunning monologist. I’m really excited for people to see her.”
Hartstone will also produce work that appears in the Royal Croquet Club as well as St Peter’s Cathedral. We Live by the Sea is one of this year’s hyped theatre shows that Hartstone compares to the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
“It’s a cast of four actors and three musicians on stage who perform a live electronic soundtrack. I think it’s such an amazing piece, it just broadens your horizons so much, and I think that’s what theatre should do.”
We Live by the Sea features a set of fresh young actors
Presenting fringe theatre is time consuming and expensive. Hartstone says she takes a massive risk each year with a suite of local and international productions because she simply loves it.
“That’s such a cop out thing to say, but it’s true. I love it. I also think because I’m from Adelaide, I know that in my career I’m elevated to a point where I do feel like I’m contributing to the arts scene and I’m giving back, that’s what it feels like. I’m not making any money, so it’s certainly not for profit. I do it because I engage people with great theatre that I’ve seen from around the world, and I get to inspire young people to join in, do something and take risks.”
Black Box Studio (various shows)
Noel Lothian Hall, Adelaide Botanic Garden
February 17 to March 19
We Live by the Sea
Royal Croquet Club
February 16 to March 19
Header Image: Joanne Hartstone in The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign