FiTS, Albert Square

11 October 2018, Hastings
By Rosheen FitzGerald

The sun streams down on Albert Square. We spread the picnic blanket, six kids and a dog, and wait for the festivities to begin. Fringe in the ‘Stings kicks off its programme of free family entertainment in style. The children discover the delights of Rhubarb’s extensive dress-up box and are gently guided through story and song. Even the older kids, at first distracted by their game of giant chess, are drawn into the fold by the spell Mary, Peter and Danny weave with humour and grace. They leave, eyes shining with the memory of what they have been supported to achieve.

A few hours later we wander back past and are reeled in once more by the strains of Soul Reflection – a crew of self-possessed young people who command Albert Square’s stage, and, by virtue of its plein-air location, the streets. It’s a diverse crowd – there’s a convergence of top knots, from ladies in lava lava to bearded hipsters. A pair of wise-cracking wahine emcee bigging up their show, Make a Long Story Short, playing daily at Arts Inc for the duration of the Fringe.

A sister act treats us to an original number – sweet, clear, soulful vocals from the heart, displaying a range and confidence beyond their fresh-faced years. A young man struts on stage, all bleached blonde bouffant and yass queen attitude. His voice rings out true across the square, stopping shoppers in their tracks. A crowd-sourced beat-box battle sees a trio of Hastings chicks conducting themselves with righteous confidence and having a go. A surprise late entry kills it with professional stylings prompting cries of “Ooh, Auntie” from the tamariki she has in tow. Friends and whānau whoop in appreciation – there’s a lot of love in this space.

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