Mullet Fest – the other side of Fringe- is set to bring four new Australian works to St.Kilda across 12 days this month.
Originally scheduled for 2021’s Melbourne Fringe Festival in October, the shows that make up January’s Mullet Fest were programmed by Theatre Work’s Artistic Associate Steven Mitchell Wright in conjunction with Executive Director, Dianne Toulson.
“Mullet Fest began as our Fringe Festival program last year,” says Wright. “Within our Fringe programming, we focused on three aims for the works they needed to either be:
Urgent stories: works that have to happen now, that can’t wait, things that need to be said or stories that need to be told in 2021.
Ambitious works: projects that dream big and make no excuses for their scope and what they want to achieve.
Future thinking: works exploring or in pursuit of the future of theatre/performance in form, content, process or audience relationships.
Obviously, Delta shot down our original Fringe Festival time slot and so we got to rescheduling and in that conversation began to ask well, can it be a Fringe Festival if it’s not on during Fringe? What is a fringe if it’s somewhere else.. If you take a Fringe and put it on the other side.. it’s basically a mullet. Hence, Mullet Fest: a fringe on the other side. We knew it was a cheesy name and a bit of a stretch but we wanted to have fun with it. We all need a bit of fun at the moment.”
The four works were chosen by the artists’ addressing a number of criteria that were then assessed by Wright and, General Manager and Creative Producer, Dianne Toulson who went through the selection process together.
The four successful works are:
- NOW:HERE, the debut event for Crunch Theatre Company inspired by the works of Bertolt Brecht.
- Shakespeare Aliens an affectionate satire of the 1986 movie, Aliens, written in blank verse, with a rhyming couplet here or there, honouring two great masters of popular culture.
- Whitenoise: 12 ghosts, excavates the violence of overwhelming power through three iconic events and drags it into the bloody today.
- Dr Mohammed Taha. Inventor, scientist, wine-enthusiast, sought-after dinner guest, and destroyer of worlds. A 60-minute sit-down comedy talk show breaking into Theatre Works’ new outdoor venue.
The four works will be performed across three stages: Theatre Works, the outdoor stage adjoined to the revamped forecourt at Blackbox Cafe / Bar, and Explosives Factory – the new performance and rehearsal space on Inkerman Street
“Festivals are a logistic jigsaw puzzle, they provide challenges and joys unlike any other kind of programming,” says Wright. ” The greatest joy though is working with the amazing artists we have in the program and doing what we can to support them achieve their vision and get their work up.”
For Wright, inclusion and opportunity is important to Theatre Works year round, not just during Fringe or Mullet Fest. “We believe in creating pathways and opportunities for artists who’s voices, works and likeness are often underrepresented on the mainstages,” explains Wright who thinks the primary difference between Mullet Fest and the general programming is that Mullet Fest allows for ideas that need to get up quickly, things that are super current or speaking to the immediate zeitgeist.
“Often when theatre artists are making new work they are looking at 12 – 36 months of lead time and that can sometimes mean that what was urgent when you began it is retrospective when you stage it. With our festivals the run up is much faster. The call outs happen mid-year and shows go up in Sept-Oct. So, that opens it up to more urgency and immediacy.”
Wright says that Festival call outs and programming have become a part of his job at Theatre Works but as far as what his role in the festival is: “To be honest, we’ve never really discussed it as an organisation, he says. ” We are a very small team and we do a lot so we jump in and get things done in different ways. I would say practically that I’m operating as a Festival Producer and Artist Liaison but really it’s just a part of my job as Artistic Associate.”
As part of a small team, Wright acknowledges that all involved do a lot of different jobs within the organisation with Wright’s role straddling: event and festival producing, programming, photoshoots and video work, branding, some graphic design support, grant writing, strategy, artist mentorship and development, overseeing the FOH, delivering the Associate Artists program, supporting our General Manager and Creative Producer.. .”whatever comes up and needs to be done really!” In amongst all of that, this year will see Wright directing a new work for Theatre Works as they begin to produce and present their own shows again after a few year-long hiatus.
“Working for an organisation like Theatre Works is a huge honour,” says Wright. “Historically, Theatre Works has and continues to contribute so much to the Australian Theatre ecology – to work at an organisation that has been at the coalface of our industry for over 4 decades humbles me and keeps me passionate and connected to my craft.”
Theatre Works is one of Australia’s longest-running independent theatres, constantly reinvigorating and reimagining the sector by providing a hotbed for artists and audience development.
“Mullet Fest is an eclectic and energising jump start to 2022 with something for everyone across 3 spaces,” says Wright. “Established, experimental and emerging artists collide in a wild ride. It’s serious business and a party all at once.. just like a mullet” Support local independent artists and treat yourself to some really exciting new work!”
Theatre Works has a comprehensive and up to date Covid safe plan and operates in accordance with the current DHHS advice. All of the staff, artists and patrons must be double vaccinated or have a valid medical exemption to attend the venue and masks are mandatory indoors. For more information please view the Joint Covid Statement with a number of other Melbourne venues here: https://fortyfivedownstairs.com/arts/joint-statement-by-theatres-and-arts-venues-in-victoria/?fbclid=IwAR2MK50q91BwXL0D0Fv8ssPhOi5a1mYqPUhYQkRuzcBxga4jr7rg1x8nEdE