Behind The Scenes: The Inner Workings Of A Fringe Artist’s Mind (Part Two)

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In PART ONE, Ruth Wilkin, an award-winning performer and writer who just so happens to be heading to Adelaide for the upcoming Fringe Festival, let us inside her mind, literally. Ok, well not literally but she gave us some insight into what it is like to be a Fringe artist preparing for one of the biggest events of the year.

And so, we continue into the inner workings of her mind with PART TWO:

The growing buzz on my Twitter and Facebook feed tells me there are only a handful of days until Fringe 2016 officially opens! My fellow artists and I are so excited we could all pee our collective pants…

Over the next few days you’ll no doubt notice that nearly every empty room/barn/hole-in-the-wall will be converted into a makeshift theatre. From The Festival Centre to a blow up couch and a rickety seat (found in the last council pick up) in a spare bedroom in Morphetville, the venue of your show can play a huge part in the success of any season. This year I’m stoked to be at the Tuxedo Cat for the very first time.

Tuxedo Cat has a strong reputation for great shows, especially comedy, and has been the place I’ve seen some of my very favourite works. This is where I saw the incredible Trygve Wakenshaw in 2014, whom I have written about before and knows my deep and unending love for his show, Kraken.

With three weeks until my opening night, preparations and rehearsals are well underway. Being the consummate professional that I am, I do what I have coined the ‘Ruth Wilkin Pre-Show Training, Preparation and Management Program’ (RWPTPM) to ensure I have worked through the full gamut of Fringe readiness. This is especially useful at a venue like Tuxedo Cat where the shows are packed in tighter than my leopard print unitard, and only allow a very short turnover between each performance. You have to get your props and equipment in and out in 5-10 minutes so as not to upset the delicate balance of show times. The RWPTPMP includes trial runs to assist artists to prepare for this.

First, I start in a dark confined space dressed in my unitard (which is as tight as the running order at Tuxedo Cat – as mentioned above), assemble my props (these are organised into a system of both size, alphabetical order and the year in which they were invented) get down low and go, go, go!  I also strategically place possible obstacles in the way which may block my path on any given night: that punter who has lost their way to the toilet, the venue owner who is just passing through or the tech person who is off for a quick smoke. I duck and weave like a majestic antelope in the wilderness while my Producer screams at me: “THIS IS YOUR BEGINNER’S CALL! THIS IS YOUR BEGINNER’S CALL!” This assists to make it feel like the real thing.

I have asked venue managers for a rider: only black jellybeans and a lock of Daniel Radcliffe’s hair before every show.

They are yet to get back to me.

Meanwhile back to my training.  Those obstacles are not going to hip and shoulder themselves out of the way.

Ruth Wilkin is an award-winning cabaret performer and writer, bringing her self-deprecating and witty comedy to Adelaide with TRIBUTE: The Story of [INSERT CELEBRITY]’s Rise to Fame at the Tuxedo Cat from Mar 3 – 14 at 9:45pm.

Follow her at @wilkinruth / facebook.com/wilkinruth. Ticket info is here.

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