Fairfax Festival Blog Four: Day One

by Jane

First full day at the Fairfax Festival yesterday. I’m already a tad exhausted.

The day was broken up into two halves: during the morning, groups worked with the artists they have participated in workshops with, rehearsing for their Friday night performances. In the afternoon, the groups were mixed up and everyone participated in two of the six workshops they will participate in before the week is through.

The thing that I’ve been enjoying the most so far is seeing some of the absolute diversity of what these kids are working on. With Tristan Louth-Robins, I watched a group of students rehearse for their sound art performance, a work that will combine recordings they created in workshops at their school and live sounds the kids make with their mouths, drumming pens on paint cans, and stomping their feet.

I watched some kids working with the artists behind Norm and Elsie rehearse their work that will be performed in a car parked on the street, and a satire of Australian politics based on a Game of Thrones inspired Shakespeare under Don Bridges. I watched Alex Pinder direct the movement of saris, representing the fall and rise of Lake Boga. I revisited with the kids from Murruk, who will perform in a shipping container, and the now completed giant Snuff Puppets.

The Fairfax Festival stared as a much more traditional multi-school eisteddfod type situation, but here the kids are getting to experiment with the arts and theatre, and be excited by facets of that they might have never come into contact with before. The works are very hands-on, with the students creating works that are theirs and they can take ownership in.

In the afternoon, workshops I first learnt how to make human pyramids – I feel rather a lot more comfortable being the base then the fly, although I perhaps secretly harbour hopes of climbing to the top of a giant pyramid.

I then moved into a workshop about peformance in the outdoors. And, look, a lot of it was the things that annoyed me about drama class: pretending to be an animal. Pretending to be an animal with a particular emotion. Pretending to be an animal with the opposite emotion. Strange vocal exercises that I could totally see the point of, but wouldn’t it just be more fun if we were actually acting right now? It’s no surprise I never went to drama school, and that was for many reasons, but an inability to keep a straight face through three years of this could have weighed heavily on my mind. Of course, for many people, I don’t think writing about theatre is the funnest thing they could imagine, to which I say: it’s brilliant, and you should try it more.

In saying this, though, who knew that practicing your lines with your thumbs in your mouth actually makes you sound so much clearer? I will now assume this is how all actors get good diction, forever.

On to day two, I’m not sure what crazy tasks they’ll have me undertaking today.