Thomas Gorham Talks About New Adelaide Fringe Precinct Fool’s Paradise

If you’re looking for something new at the Adelaide Fringe then Fool’s Paradise is the place to check out. Located at Victoria Sqaure/Tarntanyangga just a tram stop away from Rundle Mall it’s another option in the city to get your Fringe on! Offering a list of shows that will please everyone along with food and drink options from locally based well known Adelaide businesses. Head First Acrobats are behind the Fool’s Paradise project and Hi Fi Way spoke to Thomas Gorham about how the concept came about and what crowds can expect.

You’re back once again for Adelaide Fringe but this time with a new Fringe destination Fool’s Paradise. Firstly, can you tell us what is Fool’s Paradise?
Fool’s Paradise is a new festival precinct right in the heart of Adelaide in Victoria Square. We have two new exciting venues one being The Vault which is a geo-dome custom built for circus performances as it has an almost entirely circus invisible theatre line-up. Then there’s a brand-new exciting venue called The Pyramid which is a 20-metre-high square pyramid that seats 350 and it’s got a brilliant music line-up, theatre and a whole bunch of things!

We’ve also got an outdoor firing trapeze rig, outdoor aerial performances, bars by Pirate Life and Hither and Yon Wines so its going to be an amazing festival precinct.

How did you come up with the concept for Fool’s Paradise?
We’ve been slowly increasing our responsibilities in terms of providing a venue, so our dream was to own our own circus tent and then supplied that tent to The Garden of Unearthly Delights for the first time for Adelaide Fringe 2022. Then we went on to supply to Melbourne Fringe and also to a new festival in Brisbane called the Wynnum Fringe. Each time we were responsible for more; the first time was the venue, the building, then it was sound lights, production and staging. Now this time it’s the full festival precinct.

So, was it a slow progress to get to Fool’s Paradise?
Yeah, you could say it was incremental, but it’s been fast; in one year! Going from providing to a venue to now providing a festival precinct. I think the thing that makes it so quick is that Adelaide’s ready for it. They really want another festival precinct in the city.

I guess a few years back Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga was one of the liveliest precincts until it wasn’t!
Yeah, we loved the Croquet Club. It was brilliant.

I think its great that somethings coming back in that area and its exciting that you are bringing it back to life!
I’m very excited and can’t not wait to walk in there and see it!

Last time we spoke you mentioned you had a custom-made tent for your shows, is this why it was important for you to create your own venue and go into the next progression?
Originally the idea was to land our tents in other people’s precincts but in the end when the option came up to do everything ourselves and have complete artistic control it was just too good of an option. To be able to direct the entire festival it’s so brilliant the next logical step. It came so quickly but we’re so happy it did.

Was that important to have creative control? Was it a major draw card?
Yeah it is a major draw card. It was also the opportunity to give back to other up and coming Fringe artists because it’s becoming increasingly difficult financially to survive in the open access festival market. It’s gotten to the point that like the Edinburgh Fringe the contracts have become so damaging basically the risk has been offloaded from the producers on to the artists. A lot of people struggle and Adelaide Fringe is slowly following its path and we’re trying to take it back to basics with a totally fantastic risk-free business model. Not just for artists but to food and drink vendors as well where greed doesn’t come first but quality and experience does!

As Adelaide is the first place you have presented Fool’s Paradise, will you be taking around the country as well or will you take it one step at a time?
We’ll take it one step at a time. I’d love to have Fool’s Paradise on tour. The first thing we did was name it Fool’s Paradise Australia. We are in chats with other festivals about the potential in taking it state to state. Hopefully the model proves really successful, and everyone enjoys working with us so we can do that.

Your Head First Acrobats shows GODZ and Crème de la Crème will be at Fool’s Paradise. What other shows will be playing at Fool’s Paradise?
Yes, and PreHysterical. The Vault has a really good line-up of physical theatre and circus so if anyone has an interest in circus then it’s worth checking out. We have a bunch of previous award winners Barbaroi, YUCK Circus which is a cult classic, and we also have what used to be Blunderland but has now reformed into a new company called CAKE. There’s magician Paul Dabek who is awesome and has done a whole bunch of shows around Adelaide Fringe over the years. He’s created a Vegas themed London show which is doing a test run in Adelaide before going to Vegas!

In the Pyramid there’s a fantastic music line-up Fringe Ambassador Penny Arcade, a Michael Jackson impersonator as well as an Elvis one so it’s a brilliant line-up. There’s something for everyone!

You mentioned food and drink vendors, who will be there?
It’s actually turning into a bit of a container city! We thought when we approached vendors, we’d end up with food trucks but most of them really wanted to drop new and exciting infrastructure for the project. So, Pirate Life will have a new 20 Foot container bar and Hither and Yon a new customed made 20 foot container bar for their wine range. We’ve also got The Filipino Project has a new food project called Bao Bao along with locals Pizza Regina bringing their wood-fried pizza to the precinct. All the food vendors will be locally based.

Lastly you will be performing in GODZ and Crème de la Crème and GODZ won a few awards so people should put those shows on their must-see lists!
Yeah, we won a couple of awards, and we did really well. I’m going to brag now (laughs). GODZ won Best Circus Fringe World in Perth then Best Circus Weekly at the Adelaide Fringe then in Melbourne Fringe we won the People’s Choice Award and in Brisbane’s Wynnum Fringe we also won the People’s Choice Award. So, every festival we’ve gone to we’ve won an award!

Fringe Interview by Anastasia Lambis

Tickets and show information for Fool’s Paradise at Fringe Tix. Grab Ya Tix!

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