I have walked past Knox Street Bar during the day. Man-buns smoke in front of coffee that is too dark for me. I have never been inside. At night, the lights of Broadway blur and the red brick cut outs are covered in grilles and graffiti. The now-abandoned Carlton Breweries river still flows beneath this Chippendale street.
Inside the Bar, a high-ceilinged room faces a stage that you will know, as I did not, is the setting for Spineless Wonders’ monthly event Little Fictions at Knox Street Bar. Suits and white-haired dears and uni kids and authors crowd into this grotto of purple and red and light with green plastic ferns. And unexpectedly, for the next two hours, I don’t turn away from that stage.
I can’t stop thinking about Little Fictions. I want more. Luckily for me, during September — as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival throughout the city from September 1-30 — four special Little Fictions events will be held. Curators Linda Godfrey and Amber Dalrymple have assembled a veritable Arabian Nights of contemporary Australian short fiction to take place over four consecutive Mondays — beginning on September 7.
To each of four events during Sydney Fringe — ‘Comedy Knox’, ‘Sydney Stories’, ’The Great Unknown’ and ‘Crime Scenes’ — cult Sydney personality Adam Norris will bring his irreverent charm as host. The smell of fried batter and parmesan will move through the bar as actors use their whole bodies and minds to conjure worlds for us in this dark room.
On September 7, ‘Comedy Knox’ will pair the dark comedy of a failed writer who impersonates a more successful one for sex with a rogue Ross from Friends who lives out all of our Patrick Bateman fantasies. A bland girlfriend tells lies to hide her ‘custard’ personality and the tightening of screws becomes a matter of life and death.
On September 14, the ‘Sydney Stories’ Little Fictions will read Sydney back to us. These stories promise to tell us truths about the pitilessness of the Sydney house hunt and Sculptures by the Sea whilst vignettes in Diurnal Slurry Hills and a mutant Harbour City of the future envisioned by Kate Walter will show our relationship with this city is deeper than we think.
‘The Great Unknown’ is scheduled for September 21. This lineup will throw audiences between a satire of the modern economy in Julie Koh’s Sugar Daddy and the tale of an aggressively alive book, whilst a portrait of an empty rural town in Soft Watch plays on the mind. The futuristic landscape of our ‘post-apathetic’ species presented by Leone Ross in Fix is already stuck in my mind.
On September 28, Little Fictions will present the final instalment of the Sydney Fringe events, ‘Crime Scenes’. In the stories, a house painter studies people as a teenage girl meets an older man in Croc with results you might expect, but I definitely didn’t. A woman visits her jailed husband in The Wasps’ Nest and a Mark O’Flynn’s inquiry into a restorative justice meeting ponders the true meaning of victimhood in The Lovely Outing.
After my first Little Fictions, the room’s corners are overflowing. I sit deep in the velvet couch and want to talk about so many things at once, flushed. Outside, cold air smells of the Sydney Fish Markets and I am happy for the mere existence of Little Fictions at Knox St Bar, and the promise of more to come with the Sydney Fringe Festival.