Playwright Ralph McCubbin Howell performs The Bookbinder at
the Playhouse Theatre yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The risks a Wellington couple are taking at the Dunedin
Fringe Festival are more than just artistic.
Playwright and actor Ralph McCubbin Howell and director and
designer Hannah Smith are financing the running of the
Playhouse Theatre for the 11 days of the festival.
The venue is hosting six festival shows - Rageface, Melody
Moore, Cherie Jacobson: Diary of a Young Cynic, Velcro City
and Ruby Lady's Harem: A Boylesque Showcase and their own
production The Bookbinder.
Ms Smith said the couple had performed in the theatre at the
Dunedin Fringe Festival last year and fell in love with it.
The couple hired the theatre and then advertised seeking
artists who wanted to sublease a space in it.
''It is a great way to meet other artists and learn from each
other when you're all working in the same building.''
Mr McCubbin Howell said the audience benefited too, because
they could have a drink at the bar between shows rather than
travelling to another venue.
The ease of access to more shows allowed the audience to
watch more than one show in a night, he said.
The same multi-show theatre created the ''buzz'' at the
Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Ms Smith said the Dunedin Fringe had the potential to be
among the best fringe festivals in the world.
''This is the perfect city for fringe because it's compact
and has all these huge empty spaces that are relatively cheap
to stick stuff in. It could become a real destination event
and I don't see why it shouldn't be.''
Most of the six shows would be held in the main theatre, with
the exception of Cherie Jacobson's and their own - which had
its first performance last night in the upstairs space that
seats about 40 people.
Mr McCubbin Howell said The Bookbinder was a ''dark
story'' for children and adults.
It creates and realises the same ''intimate'' world as when
someone reads a book by using paper art, shadowplay, and
puppetry and original music by Tane Upjohn-Beatson and
Dunedin band Brown.
The first season of The Bookbinder, performed at the
New Zealand Fringe Festival in Wellington last month, sold
out for all 24 performances and won Best Theatre and Best of
Mr McCubbin Howell said the couple would like to return to
the Dunedin Fringe next year to host more artists at the
''We would love to come back next year providing we don't
lose a whole lot of money.''
- The Bookbinder is on until Sunday.