Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Fringe Festival

is taking place at the moment. It began almost as an alternative to the main Adelaide Festival of Arts which has been held oncer every two years since the sixties.
Unlike the Festival, which brings in big ticket items like ballet, opera and big theatre productions, the Fringe is designed to display smaller and more intimate entertainment. It is also the home to street performers.
There is usually someone performing something in the Rundle Mall (think the Oxford Street of Adelaide) and the quality varies. The Adelaide City Council does demand an audition but the criteria for a licence to busk is fairly low. Performers at Fringe time tend to be of a much higher standard.
My father had to go into the city yesterday. I also had to go in to attend a meeting and collect a book. We arranged to meet for lunch and then he intended to spend a book voucher he was given for his birthday.
I had been aware that the Fringe was on but had not remembered that the Mall would be crowded because there would be street performers working there. This sort of thing fascinates my father. His own background as a retired schoolmaster/conjurer etc makes him far more aware of the skill involved in some of the performances.
When I arrived he had just been watching a young man balancing on a deliberately wobbly board while he juggled three axes, two large and one small. It is not the sort of thing you would want to encourage a child to do.
There was a conjurer, someone my father knew. The conjurer was performing a trick that has been performed since the days of Pharaohs. (I kid you not - the "cups and ball" trick has been around that long.) It still fools people.
And there was a "strong lady". My father and I watched her from above the crowd as we ate lunch. We could not hear her "patter" as we were on the first floor of one of the surrounding buildings. I think it is perhaps just as well we could not hear her.
She was not particularly tall. I have noted that weightlifters tend to be shorter and broader rather than taller and thinner. Her muscle development was obvious. (I wondered about steriods.) She was quite scantily clad, wrestling boots, shorts, a brief top and a cape - all red and black. There was a large red satin rose in her hair. It looked quite out of place and yet not unexpected.
Is it just me or is there something strange about a woman who body builds, weight lifts and wrestles? Is there something strange about a man doing it too?
Here was someone apparently bending iron bars around her neck (and others against her bust), tearing a perfectly good paperback book in halves, lifting two men together (on either end of a pole) etc.
I know that these things take strength, skill and certain techniques. It takes years to acquire the ability. I also have no doubt that many people admired the performance. It certainly collected a large crowd.
I do not expect women to dress in pink and frills or even to look "feminine". I do not dress that way myself. I do not actually own a dress. I suspect I do not look particularly feminine. I know many other people the same.
There is however something strange to me about "body building", male or female. I do not find it attractive.


widdershins said...

I had one of those 'what the ...?' moments when I looked at the date of your blog, (Tuesday 22nd - but that's tommorrow!)then I gave myself a good whack. Of course OZ is a day ahead. How could I forget that? It's only been 7 years! hah! ...

... on to bodybuilding. To a certain point, it's quite wonderful to admire how the musculature of the human body looks like. (although, I once heard Arnold Schwartzenegger compared to a condom stuffed full of walnuts!) But some humans will always go to extremes to the point where they can't function. A bit like breeding goldfish so their huge plumed tails can barely propel them through the water in order to achieve a certain 'look'.

jeanfromcornwall said...

I find body building, male or female, creepy, and I don't really like to look.

It should not be too difficult to tear a paperback in half. I have done two inch thick telephone directories I am pretty weedy. The secret is to snap the spine, and the pages come easily. Best tried with elderly ones where the glue is old and hardened.

catdownunder said...

The book was torn across the spine, not down it Jean. I do agree though, the "body builder" look is most unattractive. Is it sexist of me to say, "especially in a female"?

jeanfromcornwall said...

Sorry I didn't make it clear - I meant across the spine so that the pages then tear in half horizontally. No you are not being sexist - there are differences, and it is not to say either sex is better than the other - just different.
And. "each to their own, as the old woman said when she kissed the cow."