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The Fringe Festival – an explosion of creativity performance art that stimulates, educates, and entertains.

The Nelson Fringe Festival 6-15 of May features workshops during the day and performances by night. It is a ten-day celebration of fringe theatre awesomeness with workshops during the day and performances by night. Local theatre director Giles Burton has taken over the reins as Director. He brings with him vast experience from numerous fringes and festivals around the world, including Edinburgh, Prague, Tbilisi, Wexford and Wellington. He also founded Hong Kong Microfest and was a co-founder of Prague Fringe. For Nelsonians, he is best known as the director of Nelson Summer Shakespeare, and director of the plays Maungatapu (Nelson Arts Festival 2017) and The Man Who Was Thursday (Nelson Fringe Festival 2018).

Nelson Fringe Festival is using 2021 as a year to re-group, re-energise and create some building blocks for the future, by thinking a bit laterally, a bit sideways, and a bit backwards (by showcasing some recent top-performing shows). It is part of the constant challenge of figuring what being a Fringe is all about.

Among the list is Donna Chapman with her workshop Universal Mask – Physical Theatre. Donna with a master in theatre art and directing. She has been a theatre-maker, actor, educator and director and mentor for 40 years. She has been an active contributor to theatre development in Te Tau Ihu, Aotearoa and Australasia. She is a mediator, mentor and external supervisor for Whitecliff College of Art and Design. The workshop Universal Mask is influenced by Jacques Lecoq and by neutralising the expressive face, the expressive body can be found.

Donna explains:
“This mask has no ‘character’, fixed expression or preconceptions. Under the mask, one develops a heightened sense of space, movement and rhythm, and a stronger dramatic presence.”

This is a physical theatre workshop and participants are asked to wear plain loose comfortable clothing with no printed tee shirts. (Ideally, no cleavage or midriff skin should be exposed)
The movement legend Jacques Lecoq writes in The Moving Body, “The look of calm equilibrium of the Natural mask allows the actor to enter a state of perfect openness, discovery and balance. The mask helps actors to set aside their emotions, attitudes and idiosyncrasies to completely immerse themselves in an original character and role.”

A neutral mask puts the actor in a state of perfect balance and economy of movement. Its moves have a truthfulness, its gestures and actions are economical. Movement work based on neutrality provides a series of fulcrum points that will be essential for acting, which comes later. Having experienced perfect balance, the actor is better equipped to express a character’s imbalance or conflictual states. And for those who, in life, are always in conflict with themselves, with their own bodies, the neutral mask helps them to find a stable position where they can breathe freely. For everyone, the neutral mask becomes a point of reference.

Donna’s workshop will be held at Uplift Float Centre on Wednesday 12th of May and it is a three-hour session between 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Cost 1s $25.

To attend see this link:

“The neutral mask opens up the actor to the space around him. It puts him in a state of discovery, of openness, of freedom to receive. It allows him to watch, to hear, to feel, to touch elementary things with the freshness of beginnings”
Le Corps poétique – Jacques Lecoq

Donna is also working together with the Nelson writer Ro Cambridge and they will appear on the Fringe Festivals Scratch Night at the Art Refinery. It will be held at the opening of the Festival and then at the end. Scratch Nights is a sharing platform for artists to ‘test’ a current work on a live audience. Typically, artists will have an allocated time in which to present their work, which is followed up by a feedback session with the audience.
Upon collecting the audience feedback, artists are then able to adjust the piece accordingly. For audiences, Scratch Nights are a great way to see brand new works, contribute to the development of a piece and support the artists, all while having a fun night out!

“Ro and I are going to present a couple of little windows of the work we are doing together and it’s going to be very exciting to have the opportunity to get feedback from the audience about what has worked and what hasn’t. Or what the audience wants more of etc. Then we will re-present it a week later and show how we have used or incorporate their feedback. This is really exciting as that was theatre is all about, to touch and move people, make them feel joy, sadness or even anger.”

For more info about The Fringe Festival


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