Steampunk show now on despite setbacks

After two years of "gut-wrenching" setbacks The Dangerfield and Vladevescu Steampunk Theatre will debut its new show at the Dunedin Fringe Festival 2021 today.

Retrospective Futuristics is one of 104 shows that will feature in the 10-day festival which began with an opening night party in the city last night.

The script was originally written in 2018, but just two days into 2019 when the cast were set to begin rehearsals, the show’s lead, Sandy Cleary, fractured both her wrists in an accident.

Preparing to perform their new show in the Dunedin Fringe Festival 2021 after facing multiple...
Preparing to perform their new show in the Dunedin Fringe Festival 2021 after facing multiple setbacks are The Dangerfield and Vladevescu Steampunk Theatre actors (from left) Thomas Makinson, Emer Lyons, Sandy Cleary, Edward Matthews and Craig Storey, at the Dunedin Gasworks Museum. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
About 20 days later, she was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer.

Ms Cleary, whose steampunk name is Alexandrina Vladevescu, said it was decided to postpone the show until she had recovered.

After a year of operations, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, she was able to get to work on a fresh script for the 2020 Fringe.

"Surely nothing could be worse than cancer," Ms Cleary said she thought at the time.

But the hurdles did not stop presenting themselves.

Covid-19 had become a reality in New Zealand and just 10 days before their first performance, they had to pull their show and the whole festival was forced to cancel.

"It was gut-wrenching."

But Ms Clearly said she refused to give up, and this year’s show would be bigger and better.

The show, which offers a retrospective futuristic look at the lives of pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly and one of the first authors to write science fiction Jules Verne, will be performed at the Dunedin Gasworks Museum at 6pm from today until Sunday, with an extra 2pm show on Saturday.

Festival director Gareth McMillan said about 100 people attended the festival’s opening night party in Dunedin’s Emerson’s Festival Theatre last night.

Traditionally, the opening of Fringe had been a sit-down affair, but this year they brought back a "party vibe" for the festival’s 21st birthday.

The evening was hosted by comedians Michele A’Court and Jeremy Elwood, with music from the Dodgy Disco Party Band and the Beat Skips, he said.

"We have got a packed programme of 104 events this year so there is plenty to celebrate," he said.

The events, which include a weird and wonderful array of comedy, art, music, dance, and theatre shows, will take place at venues across the Otago Peninsula, Dunedin City, Waitati and online, until March 28.

molly.houseman@odt.co.nz

 

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