Fringe benefit as Adelaide sells half a million tickets

The Adelaide Fringe has sold almost half a million tickets in its first 10 days, putting the event on track to pass the magic million mark for the first time.

Festival director Heather Croall says the annual month-long extravaganza has so far sold 488,000 tickets.

“The whole city is overrun with artists at the moment, which is fantastic,” she told AAP.

“The festival landscape in Adelaide during Fringe time is like nothing else.”

The program features 1250 shows involving 6000 artists, about half of them from South Australia, 1800 from interstate, and 1200 from overseas.

The return of international performers has greatly boosted the number of shows on the slate.

On Tuesday, English comedian Daniel Kitson was added to the line-up at The Garden, with four shows on the final weekend.

More than 1000 acts have sold out so far but there have been complaints the overwhelming number of events to choose from has smaller shows struggling to sell tickets as audiences favour tried-and-true, big-name performers such as Kitson.

Ms Croall is encouraging people to take a punt on unknown performers and first-time shows.

“The beauty of the Fringe is the lucky dip,” she said.

“You just have to try and encourage everyone to spread the love and go and see the small shows but not everyone’s going to have a sell-out season.”

The Fringe can’t control the number of shows on its bill each year.

Slots are open to any artist with a bubble machine, circus skills, or even a penchant for knitting-related cabaret.

One performer testing new material in 2023 is high school teacher and Fringe stalwart Libby Parker.

Her comedy cabaret Extracurricular, which she wrote with her husband, also a teacher, features songs including We All Hate PT Interviews and Don’t Touch My F***ing Mug.

“It’s about when you take your own mug into the staff room and somebody takes it,” she told AAP.

“I had a mug that I loved. I kept it in my pigeonhole and somebody took it and I never saw it again.”

With her endometriosis-themed cabaret Endo Days a hit at last year’s Fringe, half the dates for Extracurricular have sold out.

Organisers help performers such as Parker find venues and have this year handed out almost $1 million in grants, mostly to develop new shows.

The festival is still about one-third of the size of the famed Edinburgh Fringe, held in a city less than half the size of Adelaide.

It is also a big money-spinner for South Australia.

The Fringe made $19.7 million at the box office last year and brought in more than $50 million for the state economy.

The Adelaide Fringe is on until March 19.


Liz Hobday
(Australian Associated Press)


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