Determination pays off for Melissa Cantwell with iOTA in The Average Joe at Fringe World Festival


HOMEGROWN theatre maker Melissa Cantwell was determined to work with celebrated performance artist iOTA after watching him on stage at Sydney Festival 2012.

“Blown away” by his act, Young, Hard and Solo, she implored the Perth-born Sydneysider to one day return to his roots and collaborate with her in a local production.

Four years on and the two are thrilled to present iOTA in The Average Joe at Fringe World Festival 2017.

“In September (this year) we explored iOTA’s written material, then decided to pursue it further,” the former Perth Theatre Company artistic director said.

“We spent two weeks together in another creative development with three gorgeous musicians and a design team and we’re desperately excited to share the work with everybody.”

A deeply personal work from iOTA – a multi Helpmann award winner (Smoke & Mirrors, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and openly gay actor, composer, singer and dancer the show explores identity and sexuality through story and song.

“iOTA is such an extraordinary talent – the people who were lucky enough to see him in the Bowie tribute (Nothing has Changed) with WASO recently will be excited to see him in something up close and personal,” Cantwell said.

“He has a brilliant sense of humour and that really shows in his work in terms of where he has come from and where he may and may not be going.

“It’s a joy to be around a performer who is able to laugh at themselves and the people around them and also create some really moving material.”

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The world premiere of iOTA in The Average Joe also marks the launch of Cantwell’s new company, The Kabuki Drop.

She said audiences could enjoy a new work from her later in the year.

In the meantime, people should make plenty of room in their calendars for Fringe.

“Fringe is such a great mix of works, and people are able to go out and find something they want to watch and engage with the city generally, which is really lovely to see,” Cantwell said.

“They can see a couple of shows in one night and with those beautiful summer nights, what could be better?”


What: iOTA in The Average Joe

Where: Studio Underground

When: January 20-28