Space, time and the Melbourne Fringe Festival ~ theatre notes

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Space, time and the Melbourne Fringe Festival

TN is getting a little obsessive about time. In the brave new 21st century, there seems to be less of it around; a month passes in the flicker of an eyelid, a year seems merely a frantic pause between one breath and another. And what am I to do - really, what am I to do - about the Melbourne Fringe Festival? I've been reading, in the vain hope that some research might bring me some solutions. This briefly caught my eye:

"Psychologists are interested in whether we can speed up our minds relative to physical time. If so, we might become mentally more productive, get more high quality decision making done per fixed amount of physical time, learn more per minute." It sounds exactly the sort of thing I need, but as I read on, I became discouraged:

Several avenues have been explored: using drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines, undergoing extreme experiences such as jumping backwards off a tall tower with bungee cords attached to the legs, and trying different forms of meditation. So far, none of these avenues have led to success productivity-wise.

This led to an exciting moment when I imagined a bunch of corporate executives having bungee-jumping workshops with a coked-up facilitator, but was otherwise useless.

The philosophers are no help at all. Nobody seems to agree on what time is in the first place, and some claim that it doesn't exist at all. (I'm beginning to agree with the latter party). And then you get people like the Nobel Prize-winning physicist David Gross saying that "spacetime is doomed". He's clearly been studying my diary.

It is, I admit freely, a critic's problem, and no one else's. The fact is, TN is a wuss. I've read two real critics recently (Chloe Veltman from the SF Weekly and Lyn Gardner from the Guardian) mention in passing that when they attend their local fringes, they see six shows a day. They must be women of steel. This, to TN's tiny mind, makes bungee jumping backwards off the Eureka Tower seem like a snip. Six shows a week sends me into a decline. I don't know how anybody sees that much theatre without dissolving into the floorboards like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Then there's the Melbourne Festival proper, which opens on October 11, when the Melbourne Fringe is still in full hue and cry. Since MIAF consists of a legible number of events, I've already sorted out my diary for that one. It's pinned on the fridge, looking frighteningly dense and very exciting. If I were a proper critic, I'd have already combed the Fringe program and picked out possible highlights. But every time I look at it, something happens in my moind. Little cogs fall out. Important mechanisms cease to function. I think I am not a proper critic at all. (I suspect this might be very close to the truth).

There are further complications. In a gigantic diary malfunction, I'm flying to both Adelaide and Brisbane in the first week of October. I'm seeing shows, but they are not MFF shows.

Then there's the saga of The Novel. (This is turning into a record whinge; I'm sure that all those not crying crocodile tears at the hard lives that we poor critical flowers lead are probably slumbering peacefully on their keyboards. But hey, this is what blogs are for). As regular readers know, earlier this year, I finished The Novel. And ever since it has been with my excellent and very lovely editor while she considers the myriad ways of making it better.

And late yesterday, I received a phone call from England from said excellent and very lovely editor, who wishes to send me my rather thick manuscript, annotated neatly in red ink, so I can do all the rewriting by, well, say the first week in November, so we can have it all well in hand for publication in July...

Since I am not completely crazy, I told her that was impossible. We have negotiated a deadline that touches the horizon of probability. But, you know, it's another one of those things. I have this uneasy feeling at present that all my lives are out of control.

In the light of which, once again, I turn to my diary, wondering what I can do about the Melbourne Fringe Festival. There's so much of it, and it's so everywhere. Maybe next week I'll feel stronger (TN returned from Sydney with a doozy of a cold) but that still won't solve my temporal, physical and psychic limitations. And we already know that bungee-jumping doesn't work.

I guess this is a kind of extended apology: as I keep saying to people, feeling pathetic as I say it, I can't get to everything. At Fringe time I feel like I can't get to anything. How do others cope?

12 comments:

Geoffrey said...

We cope by just not bothering to go.

Sorry for the burden of additional pressure, but we rely on you to go and tell us about it. In most cases, it's been far more interesting reading about it here in a comfy chair than having to leave the room.

Jana said...

Carry food with oneself (or eat chez inner-city friends); see no more than two shows a night; plan very well; make distinction between core and non-core shows; go to the closing party for stress-cleansing.

But, may I add, at least you don't get to have end-of-academic-year activities at the same time.

naive theatre goer said...

One thing that bugs me is that the Fringe Festival and the Arts Festival overlap for 4 days. There should be a law......

Matthew said...

Stay up for forty hours at a time and write for twenty-four of them.

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks all... Matt, I can't do that any more, I end up in hospital (yes, really!) And I agree, the festival cross-over is a problem. Maybe only for hardcore theatre goer types... Jana, thanks for those handy and very practical hints... as for the academic year, I don't know if it counts, but one of the Complicating Factors is that my daughter is at the business end of Year 12.

I feel like Marvin the Robot. Life, don't talk to me about life...

Matthew said...

If you're the sort of mother who experiences year twelve vicariously -- every essay a pain, every oral presentation a heartache -- then yes, it counts.

Alison Croggon said...

No, I'm definitely not that sort of mother. But I do have the sort of daughter who demands that I sit down now and go with her through her Nietzsche texts for philosophy, sentence by sentence, or discuss her literature essays, or critique her visual art at length. Sweet but demanding. Also there's a fair bit of calming down therapy that has to happen...

Matthew said...

Okay, yeah, that counts.

Ming-Zhu said...

I think there's a spell you can do - you know, Hermione Granger style which enables you to take Divination, Potions Class and Arithmancy at the same time. You should really look into it, Alison.

Anonymous said...

Ah Alison, Adam Cass here, logging on to see how I could seduce you into coming to see my Fringe play, 'I Love You, Bro', wondering if the emotional-blackmail-laced: 'I've written 40 plays and never once made an appearance in Theatre Notes!' might do the trick. I'd love it if you came, because I think it's going to be a cracker... but there will always be other plays... but it IS going to be a cracker... I might jump over to Chris Boyd and see if I can twist HIS arm. Time! (Oh, did I already say that you're my mum's favourite fantasy author??? I wonder if that will work?). See ya!

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Adam, I'll do my best: absolutely, justice must be served. Somehow. I've been manfully fighting off some virus all week (Sydney was like a TB sanatorium) which probably explains the panicked tone of my post: it couldn't be more inconvenient. Also there's that rash of pre-fringe shows. I'll look into that spell, Ming, though I have a feeling I've been doing something like that for some time- and look what happened to Hermione!

richardwatts said...

I'm aiming to see about 30 Fringe shows this year, which I should be able to pull off if I schedule things well. Two to three shows in a row at the festival hub is quite do-able a couple of nights of the week; ditto at Northcote Town Hall. That said, I shall probably fall over once the Fringe is done...