Wellington Fringe Festival launch - 5 events in one day, including a Many Hands show in the Town Hall and culminating in a dance party in association with Entrain.
Working dates: October 1995 - February 1996
Event dates: 24-25 February 1996
Vital statistics: 24 hours, 100 crew, 1,500 tickets sold
Our team of three developed this project into the opening day and night's events of the 1996 Wellington Fringe Festival. Together we organised five events in ONE, based in the Town Hall - two parades through the city, culminating in the Fringe Launch in Civic Square; the Internet Expo; the VideoArt Fest; the Many Hands performance of ONE; and the dance party Opening the Steam Vent.
The full day's events were captured on video by our team of filmmakers. The Many Hands show and the dance party were broadcast live on the internet - the first time this had been done for a dance party, anywhere in the world. The following year I used this footage to make the promo video for Omnivore. Find out more about my promo videos
THRILLING FRINGE STARTMike Houlahan, Evening Post, 26/02/96
Many Hands took it upon itself to provide the Fringe with a launching event, and did everything in its power to make it a night to remember. An internet expo next door allowed you to see the world from the Town Hall foyer, while inside Many Hands were also off on a voyage of exploration.
Not so much a group as an ensemble, Many Hands are several percussionists who bring in guests to perform with them. The results are thrilling: the smiles on the musicians' faces showed sheer delight with their creations, and the audience responded enthusiastically.
Scottish pipers, Cook Island drummers, an American oboist performing a Middle Eastern sounding piece and several dancers took their individual turns, and then joined Many Hands' groove to create new sounds. With some clever visuals, the effect was magical.
It was a reasonable but not massive crowd which launched the 1996 Fringe Festival. ONE may not have worked financially, but it certainly worked artistically.
My roles included:
- Sponsorship liaison
- Financial controller
My responsibilities included:
- Overall responsibility for the entire day's events
- Initial development of the concept with a core group of performers and technicians
- Successfully applying for funding for the project from Creative New Zealand (we were awarded the maximum grant of $4,000)
- Organisation of all practical aspects of the production
- Negotiation and ongoing liaison with sponsors
- Dealing with publicity for the show including writing and producing our press and sponsor kits (including a 6-minute promo video) and liaising with the Fringe publicist and the national media. Find out more about my promo videos
- Networking and dealing with the needs of the cast and crew of over 100 individuals, including negotiation, mediation and problem-solving
- Coordination and organisation of the 100+ Fringe Festival performers who added colour and spectacle to the party
- Co-ordination of the video documentary and internet broadcast teams
- Financial management
- Liaison and development of ongoing relationship with Entrain
- Drumming, singing and dancing in the show itself.
ONE was covered by The Evening Post, Dominion, City Voice, Capital Times and Sunday Star Times. I was interviewed on The Box, Access Radio, RadioActive 89FM, The Breeze and NewsTalk ZB. TVNZ, TV3, Capital TV and local cable networks covered the day's events as main evening news items.
TV3's Sunday programme filmed the dance party for a piece which was transmitted on 24 March 1996. Over 1000 people attended the Fringe Launch in Civic Square, and a constant stream visited the Internet Expo all day. The dance party attracted an audience of over 1,500, many of whom danced until dawn. The reviews were impressive.
ONE was a lot more stressful than World Without Strangers. The cast and crew was far bigger, and the sheer scale was way beyond anything we had previously attempted. I found myself doing a considerable amount of damage control and mediation, due to the somewhat confrontational nature of our artistic director. Communication and organisation were at the forefront of my responsibilities, and I learned a great deal in a short time.
We didn't do nearly as much rehearsal for this show as we had for World Without Strangers, and at times the Many Hands performance teetered on a knife-edge between brilliance and disaster. The show was under-subscribed, but the dance party which followed was amazing. The biggest turnout thus far in the Wellington dance scene, it was a mind-blowing experience, and one that was to set me on a new path, and a new direction.
Most important lesson learned? That "assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups" - Malcolm Turner of the Fringe Festival taught me that one - and I've never forgotten it... I still apply it to my work every day.