Street fest pumps to busker beat
A growing festival draws performers from around the world to this eclectic West Australian city, writes Sarah Nicholson
FREMANTLE, the bohemian city just outside Perth, is pulsating with Easter activity as people arrive from far and wide to enjoy the sunshine by the Indian Ocean.
Tables at the restaurants on the Cappuccino Strip are occupied; the aisles at Fremantle Market are flooded with shoppers searching for a quirky souvenir; there isn’t a space near the front bar at the Sail & Anchor; and rugs carpet the grass in The Esplanade parks in preparation for picnics.
Most of the people in town on this Easter long weekend are here for the annual Fremantle Street Arts Festival, a three-day event that draws buskers from around the world, and there are performances happening all afternoon on the 10 pitches’’ dotted around the streets.
Crowds gather at the makeshift stages – there’s one by the market’s side entrance and another at Victoria Quay; three more are scattered along South Tce; one is set under the Norfolk pines in Esplanade Park and another sits near the restaurants on Fishing Boat Harbour – with performers doing their thing in the centre of each curious circle.
A woman in red spins hula-hoops at the top end of Essex St; a pair of raucous Americans draw inspiration from the audience in a pedestrian lane; an ensemble is belting out wild African beats in front of the Cappuccino Strip cafes; and an army of pink people have invaded Little Creatures brewery.
A lad using rubber bands to reshape his face is entertaining the folks feasting on fish and chips at Cicerello’s; an Argentinean performer dressed in a black suit is in the park; and a sarcastic acrobat is doing tricks with a ladder and a bemused bystander out the front of the juice bar on South Tce.
This year’s Fremantle Street Arts Festival is on from March 30 to April 1. But don’t expect to see the rubber-band boy from New Zealand, the pink people from Slovenia, the woman in the red leotard from the UK, or the modern-day clown from Spain.
We try not to get the same acts back year after year because it’s important to keep pushing the boundaries,’’ festival director Alex Marshall says.
In 2013, we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the event that started out as the Fremantle Buskers Festival, but we changed the name to the Fremantle Street Arts Festival a few years back and I think it started growing into that new name in 2012,’’ Marshall says.
We changed the name because we wanted to broaden the scope of what the audience understands to be street theatre, because there’s so much more out there than just buskers, and in 2013 we will have everything from comedy and circus acts to acrobats and cabaret.
We have one foot planted firmly in where we come from and we’re