Write because you want to, not because you have to.
The Adelaide Fringe season injects a whole new level of energy and liveliness to the city and surrounds and in true Fringe-y goodness, there is one show in particular that has captured my interest for all the right reasons - but most importantly because of the nature of the show and its venue of choice.
Floating Melodies by Emma Knights Productions will offer their audience with a unique and exciting experience by taking them on a cruise along the Port River and enjoy the beautiful sights of dolphins around sunset time, as they put together a performance with burlesque dancing, live music and entertainment, and locally sourced food and drink to make this an unforgettable night.
In anticipation of their upcoming show as part of the Fringe festival, I was fortunate to conduct an e-interview with Emma - have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Emma? Emma: I am a musician who studied classical piano and contemporary music. I studied at the Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide and at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. My first long-term contract was with Opera Queensland performing as a piano-playing robot! I chose to stay in Adelaide and created my company Emma Knights Productions to create paid performance work for local artists. I have received many awards for my work within my company in Tourism and Business awards programs. I have also toured the UK performing my own one-woman cabarets and performing with Vintage Vendetta. I was an invited as an accompanist to the International Congress of Vocal Teachers held in Sweden. I am passionate about bringing the community together and spreading joy through the arts.
Tema: What about the performing arts scene attracted you to it? Emma: Growing up, I was always really nervous about performing. I loved playing the piano but did not do so well under pressure. When I was in year 10, my parents bought me tickets to see Cats and I fell in love with the synth sounds and electric guitars and decided that was what I wanted to do! I followed through and studied at university, still never quite finding my place. I loved accompanying and played for a lot of music theatre and cabaret - being in the background suited me well. Then, I became a robot for Opera Queensland and had to act and followed on from this as a very grumpy singing accompanist for a 1930/40s show. That opened up a whole new world for me which led to me creating and performing my own one-woman cabaret shows which I have truly loved and relished being on stage with. I think the most important thing about any performance is connection and you cannot reach or soothe or support any one any better than creating a piece of art, a moment in time where they can escape and let themselves feel whatever they need to. That is the biggest attraction...helping people.
Tema: How long have you been in the performing arts scene and what has the experience been like so far? Emma: My first performance was when I was four years old! My dad is a piano teacher, so it came with the territory! I have been a working musician since I was sixteen when I started playing for choirs. This then led to work as a restaurant pianist when I was at university which then led to performing in Fringe and doing all sorts of things! I have been a full-time musician for almost eight years and have been running my company for six and a half. The compromise I made with myself when I went full-time (as I have a mortgage) was that I would never be able to afford to go overseas again. Since then, I have travelled to perform more than I had ever travelled before. Not quite the holiday you would expect it to be, but you get to be really involved in the arts scene and have some spare time to sight-see. The people - both fellow artists and audiences alike - I have met have been truly amazing.
Tema: What inspired you to create your show Floating Melodies? Emma: I was looking for a way to fundraise for an Australian-written children's opera Space Encounters. I had performed it in Queensland and loved it and so wanted to bring it here to tour and had to purchase costumes, props, and sets. So, I thought about a place where I could hold a concert to raise funds that wouldn't be like every other concert in a hall or church that raises funds. I came up with a concert on a boat. The theme of opera, wine, and cheese goes very well with that so I added local wines and cheeses to the mix and Floating Melodies was born. It was only meant to be three fundraising concerts, but it ended up being so popular that we have run over 100 cruises across South Australia, been the recipient of several South Australian Tourism Awards and a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and in 2019, we left the boat and floated in the sky in a hot air balloon!! Floating Melodies has been part of the OzAsia Festival (with a floating Japanese tea ceremony with music and a Bollywood theme) and in the French Festival too.
Tema: What made you decide on hosting your show on a boat? Emma: I love being on water (although I do suffer from motion sickness and cannot swim).There is something so relaxing about water and so I am quite drawn to it!
Tema: How is the cast feeling about performing burlesque on a boat? Emma: We have run this Burlesque theme a few times now so they are pretty comfortable. When we ran it the first time, we had to modify a few things as the roof is not very high on the Dolphin Explorer! Some of the dancers would do a pose with their feet on the roof!
Tema: What is the basic premise of Floating Melodies, without giving too much away? Emma: Floating Melodies is a uniquely South Australian experience, like a soiree! You get local food, a concert featuring local performers and a cruise on a boat (or hot air balloon). There are local wines and beverages available to purchase as well. The Burlesque on a Boat theme is a homage to the movie Burlesque on a Boat and came about from an intern I had through the Adelaide University program.
Tema: What can people expect from attending Floating Melodies? Emma: People can expect an amazing night out for a very reasonable price that supports local performing artists. You will be dazzled and blown away by local singer Elle Nichelle and the dancers from IMPACT Entertainment. The burlesque artists will leave you wanting more! It is a really fun night out with friends.
Tema: Who would you say is your target audience? Emma: For this theme for Floating Melodies, women in their 30s to mid-40s have been the largest group attending before, but we have also had retirees get up and dance with the dancers in previous versions of Burlesque on a Boat!
Tema: How did you get involved with the Adelaide Fringe (AF)? Emma: I initially was involved in the Fringe through the Adelaide Improvised Theatre scene many, many years ago. I curated venues for the Adelaide Oval and National Wine Centre as well, but this year, I have scaled back a bit to be able to go back to performing more and hopefully seeing some excellent shows!
Tema: As a returning Adelaide Fringe performer, what are you hoping to expect from this year's participation in the festival?Emma: The Adelaide Fringe can be tough, but it brings the whole city alive which I love. The energy, the people (where are they the rest of the year!) and the embracing of the arts scene is energising. I have always loved performing in the Fringe festival - it has been a time of year where you really feel like a full-time musician as you are rehearsing and performing every day...sometimes up to 3-4 times a day. This year, I hope to showcase some of my original works (I am opening for Lenka's Adelaide concerts), to see some inspiring work, and to build new and strengthen existing relationships with other artists and companies.
Tema: What do you think makes Floating Melodies a must-watch show? Emma: There is really nothing else like it - live singers with live dance on a boat with delicious South Australian food...and sometimes dolphins! It is a unique and wholesome experience.
Floating Melodies: Burlesque on a Boat will be performed on the MV Dolphin Explorer in Port Adelaide as part of Adelaide Fringe on March 12, 2020 from 7pm onwards. Book your tix here.