One of the busiest hubs in this year's Fringe will continue to buzz long after the pop-ups and spiegeltents have been packed up and shipped off to the next stop on the world circuit.
The Blue Room will host 25 shows over four weeks, a healthy microcosm of the entire Fringe program and a good pointer to the fare on offer for the rest of the year, when the compact Perth Cultural Centre venue's two tiny theatres each run a full-time schedule of experimental independent theatre.
Unlike the open-access philosophy of much of the Fringe, the Blue Room's curated Summer Nights program returns with a selection of diverse, hand-picked theatre and dance shows from across Australia and the world.
To squeeze it all in over four big weeks, the Blue Room also will take over the adjoining PICA Performance Space and Tower Studio.
Blue Room executive director Kerry O'Sullivan says the WA theatre incubator plays a vital role in giving opportunities to local artists so they haven't been overlooked in the tide of international Fringe acts.
"It is a given if they get into our program that the internationals will hold workshops for our local artists while they are here so they really feed into the local scene," O'Sullivan says.
"Then there are the first foot-in-the-door opportunities through 600 Seconds (the 10-minute open-mic style theatre performances) and there will be a couple of very first-time dance shows as well."
O'Sullivan says has kept the overseas selection to just three gems: UK performer Joe Bone's Bane Trilogy homage to film noir tough guys; the redemptive tale Eternal Rising of the Sun by Ireland's Amy Conroy; and the multi-character Anglo-French solo show Le Foulard by Lucy Hopkins.
"My absolute pick would be Eternal Rising of the Sun," O'Sullivan says. "I saw this in Ireland and it is a remarkable performance, gobsmackingly good."
WA and national highlights are likely to include Sweet Child of Mine, where Victorian Bron Batten performs a tell-all show with her parents, Minni and Mona from the offbeat Perth artists The Duck House, and Birdboy, the tale of a seven-year-old boy discovered in a flat filled with birds who could only communicate through bird sounds.
In something of a coup, Perth's emerging Wet Weather Ensemble developed Birdboy at the Watermill Centre in New York with legendary director Robert Wilson, who is bringing The Threepenny Opera to the Perth International Arts Festival next month.
And eight local choreographers will re-imagine the first song to which they ever made a dance in the WA premiere of With a Bullet: The Album Project.
In the old PICA clock tower, Perth performer Jeffrey Jay Fowler is remounting A History of Drinking, an interactive performance of tall tales and tall drinks which is different every night depending on what drinks audience members choose.
O'Sullivan says the Blue Room has been under growing pressure from more experienced local theatre-makers wanting to do more shows there because they were starved of opportunities elsewhere in Perth, particularly after the demise of Deckchair Theatre."We have to make sure we have a mix in there so we don't suddenly stop paying attention to emerging artists," she says. "We have to make sure we take care of them to build up the next round of people coming through."
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