‘Dystopian’ telephone play wins top award

Elsa Couvreur performs in the Best in Fringe-winning show The Sensemaker. PHOTO: LUX PRAGENSIS
Elsa Couvreur performs in the Best in Fringe-winning show The Sensemaker. PHOTO: LUX PRAGENSIS
The winner of this year’s Best in Fringe managed to transform talking to an answering machine into a thought-provoking examination of powerlessness.

After 11 days of the Dunedin event, which ended on Sunday, adjudicators selected The Sensemaker for its top award.

The one-woman show was described as a "dystopian battle between a woman and an answering machine".

The show’s creator and performer Elsa Couvreur, who brought it to Dunedin from her home in Geneva, was glad it struck a chord with Dunedin audiences.

"It’s so nice to see that this show that I created in Europe five years ago can reach audiences here in Dunedin five years later, and it seems to be relevant for people who watch it, and it’s so nice to be rewarded for that," Ms Couvreur said.

Her act explored "powerlessness" as her character interacted with a faceless answering machine.

"I can’t remember how I got the idea for it, but I started to play with automated voices and got the storyline of waiting on the phone."

The Dunedin Fringe Festival was at the top of Ms Couvreur’s list when planning her tour with the show.

"I looked at the programme from the Dunedin Fringe last year and thought it would fit right in."

Co-director of the festival Kate Schrader thought the show was a "beautiful piece".

"It was very fringey."


Fringe award winners

Visual art: City Planners 2023 
Dance/physical theatre: The Sensemaker
Comedy: Presentation is Everything
Dunedin favourite comedian: Tama Alexander (Fresher)
Music: TwentyNineteen
Theatre: Dark Radio
Outstanding performer: Marea Colombo
Outstanding emerging talent: Tama Alexander (Fresher)
Outstanding design: Lamb to the Slaughter
Outstanding technical achievement: Dark Radio City of Literature ‘‘Beyond Words’’: Wonderful
Most promising Pacific artist: Rosie Roache
Phil Davison special contribution to festival life: Gareth McMillan
Warwick Broadhead Memorial: City Planners 2023
NZ Touring: Out at Sea
Best in fringe: The Sensemaker