First published in The Brag.
For the first time in five years, Newcastle’s This is Not Art festival (TINA) has added a new player to its ranks as Crack Theatre joins Electrofringe, Sound Summit, Critical Animals and National Young Writers’ Festival in October.
When I gush a little over the achievement, modest Crack Theatre co-director David Finnigan tells me about 2008’s rogue This is Not Part festival. After TINA rejected their applications, a group of artists hired a pub in Newcastle and ran a sideshow called
few weeks ago Crack was going to be too highbrow but that’s no longer the case. Guerilla theatre and gutter theatre has a long history at TINA and will be well-represented.”
Guerilla theatre has no posters, might be advertised via SMS and could happen spontaneously on the street with an unsuspecting audience, explains Finnigan. Gutter theatre transgresses boundaries and deals with the ugly elements of humanity.
“There’s a really strong stream of gutter theatre emerging from Melbourne; stuff that’s absurd and grotesque and appears low budget,
even though it may be incredibly polished.
“We’ve also got some good, sharp, funny scripts by groups like the Masters of Space and Time, plus some beautiful abstract post-dramatic pieces such as Anna Barnes’ ‘Revelation or Bust’.”
The jewel in the Crack crown, however, is a five-hour marathon event called ‘Playground’.
“It’s in the vein of a 1960s ‘happening’, like Ken Kesey’s acid tests with the Merry Pranksters,” explains Finnigan.
And it’s interactive. Co-curator Thomas Henning (Black Lung) puts it thusly: “The idea is a performance in which the audience is welcome to [participate] to the extent that those who show up as audience members may well become performers before the end of the evening. It is a multi-faceted, ‘chaos’ entertainment.”
Other headline acts include manic faux-Gypsy quartet Mr Fibby, dance / video / sound installation ensemble The DeConverters, all-female theatre troupe Forty Forty Home, B-Boy dance collective the Sensitive New Age Gang, surreal hiphop duo Julez and Dragonfly, episodic film noir The Hideous Demise of Detective Slate, Old Testament folk-rock duo Irreconcilable Difference, and debauched poets the Tragic Troubadours.