Adelaide Fringe 2019: Meet Benjamin Maio Mackay

Interview by Olivia De Zilva

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Ben Sorensen & Benjamin Maio Mackay are the #bunnypastards. Image via. B. Maio Mackay

We interviewed Benjamin Maio Mackay, of the PREACHRS PODCAST, The Great Detectives 2 and the #bunnypastards, three amazing shows featuring in this year’s Adelaide Fringe lineup. Ben talks to us about his experience in Fringe and how he has adapted radio into a festival friendly medium:

Can you tell us a little about your creative background and what inspired you to produce such a broad range of content?

I fell in love with the creative arts when I first saw Anthony Warlow in Phantom of the Opera many, many years ago. Since then I’ve always known exactly what I wanted to do and have trained with various teachers/schools, graduated AMEB Drama & Speech with honours and performed in over 80 shows. I’ve also directed around 10 shows, written a handful of shows, produced about 10 and toured across Australia. I was very honoured to also do some work for ABC Radio Extra hosting programs there and my podcast Benjamin Maio Mackay’s Talk 2 Me! is also one of the most listened to arts podcast with millions of listeners worldwide — so my creative background is hugely varied! I’ve chosen to produce such a diverse range of content because I love to be creatively challenged and I’d go crazy if I did too much of the same thing! I also love so many genres of theatre/art that it would kill my soul to limit my output.

What drew you into participating in the Adelaide Fringe?

I’ve been working on shows in the Adelaide Fringe since 2012, with various dramas, musicals, live podcasts and a range of other content. The city comes alive during Fringe and audiences are suddenly more willing to go see a show they wouldn’t outside this time. It’s a great place to also debut/refine new works and I love the support that the artistic community has for that brief period.

Is there anything about Adelaide that is particularly different to the other cities you’ve visited when presenting your show?

I’m answering this from Fringe World (Perth’s version of Fringe and the 3rd largest in the world) and being here has really highlighted to me the scale of Adelaide’s Mad February/March. There really is nothing like it and as hectic as it is it’s nice to participate in the craziness. Outside of Fringe time I’m reluctant to perform shows in Adelaide, unlike any other city, as audiences are less likely to take a gamble on something out of the ordinary. So, without Fringe you wouldn’t be seeing a whole lot of Preachrs Podcast OnLine & OnStage productions.

Great Detectives has thankfully built up a nice following and is somewhat of an established brand, so I’m very lucky that presenting it all over the place it often elicits the same enthusiastic reaction. I can’t wait to share Great Detectives 2, a brand-new show to audiences who loved the first this year.

How does bringing broadcasting to the stage work? Is it something audiences can still enjoy and participate in?

Well, radio broadcasting in the 1950s was actually in front of a live audience and Great Detectives 2 always has a little bit of improve. The fact we as actors are able to acknowledge the audience definitely makes it an enjoyable and engaging show for audiences.

What other shows are you presenting at Fringe this year?

These two are the shows I’m producing, but I’m also appearing in Sex and the Musical (a musical version of Sex and the City) and Tales of Adventure (an improvised children’s show being performed in Mt Barker).

Are there any other things you’re working on for future festivals? Can we have a sneak peak?

I’m working on bringing to Australia an exciting new UK production starring a famous TV actor, as well as a tour of Great Detectives 2. I’ll also be assisting bringing a couple of major Fringe World shows over from Perth in 2020 too — it’s going to be a busy time ahead (keep in touch via or on Facebook to be in the official loop)!

Lastly, do you have any words of advice for people who might be thinking about creating and presenting their art in Adelaide?

It’s not easy and to expect to succeed on your first production is an unlikely pipe dream.. This industry comes with a crippling pressure, stress and never ending workload that is relentless. I love what I do, but even I struggle to remember why I do this sometimes. If you’re going to do it you must love it and if you love it go for it. Fail, try again, keep going and never, ever give up!

Catch Ben throughout Mad March in his shows Great Detectives 2 and #bunnypastards featuring at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival.

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