Nanna Bingo At Fringe World – Where Bingo Is Just The Beginning

Nanna Bingo - Image ©
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

What do you get when you blend a gameshow, a comedy night, a disco, and 30 years of nicotine dependancy? You get Nanna Bingo.

It's a night unlike any other – a chaotic event blurring the lines of performance, comedy, theatre and storytelling. The man behind the woman is Kiwi performer Stuart Hayward, who now proudly calls Perth home and is most known for his work as cabaret host and comedian, Sam Madame.

Bingo is a nice night out. Nanna Bingo is a who different experience – bringing variety to the recycled format and keeping every audience on its toes. Nan is sure to give Fringe World audiences a night to remember – even if she is prone to forgetting!

By the way, she's not going to force you to dress up. . . But there IS a bonus prize in the show, for the best dressed table. So start planning your looks now if you want a shot at glory!

Here, Stuart Hayward (Krampt Theatre) gives us the goss on Nanna Bingo.

So, tell us, what IS Nanna Bingo?
The first question people usually ask about Nanna Bingo is: Do you actually play bingo? Yes, we do. It's an actual game of bingo that we play live on stage. It's presented by Nan and her grandchild on the DJ desk who will be playing music throughout the night as Nan draws the numbers. Throughout the night, Nan will tell jokes, play games and give out spot prizes to the audience. We encourage (but we won't force) you to come dressed 'young at heart, old everywhere else' for an audience fashion parade at the end. It's honestly one of the most fun shows I’ve ever been a part of. The TLDR is: Nanna Bingo is what you get if you put a gameshow, stand-up night, a disco and two cartons of cigarettes into a blender with equally messy results.

Where did the idea of Nanna Bingo come from, and who is it for?
I grew up watching Dame Edna and Lily Savage on TV back in New Zealand and absolutely idolising them (much to my father's chagrin). I never intended to perform as a drag character until the passing of these two legends last year and I realised that, at least here in Australia, there's not many if any drag panto performers left, much less one based on an older woman like my grandmother. In creating Nanna Bingo, I sought to make a show that's easily accessible to audiences that perhaps wouldn’t normally consider going to see a live theatre show. I know first-hand how easy it is to stay at home watching re-runs of 'Friends' on Netflix, so I wanted to make a show that would drag folks off the couch to see a live performance you can't recreate on a screen. It's part gameshow, part party and I can guarantee you’ll have something to talk about around the water cooler on Monday. That being said: Nanna Bingo is for people who are looking to have a fun night out with friends. Anyone with a competitive streak or people that are looking for any excuse to dress up with their mates and have a good laugh.

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Tell us about the main character, Nan. Who have you based her on?
Nan is based on my own grandmother who was a character in her own right as well as my own mother who always carries with her an arsenal of witty one-liners and the odd cutting remark (intentional or otherwise). I wanted to create a show that highlighted these women by making them the centrepiece. Nanna Bingo isn’t a send up of old folks, it's a celebration. While Nan may be rough as guts and swear like a sailor there's a genuine core to her character that is part of the reason why Nan is simply named ‘Nan’. I see her as a bit of everyone's grandma.

What’s your favourite thing about presenting Nanna Bingo?
I love to play and playing both bingo and with the audience is at the core of Nanna Bingo. While I’ve long worked as a comedy performer I’ve long held that the funniest moments are always when we are playing and having fun WITH the audience. I’ve been so lucky to perform and work alongside amazing drag artists, comedians and entertainers over the years that inspired me to create a show like Nanna Bingo. Shows and performers like Miss Behave's game show, The Vaudevillians and Nina Conti that not only displayed an insane level of quality but also taught me the power of play in entertainment. I have a real soft spot for shows that that revel in experimentation and didn’t hold themselves above their audiences, but instead directly engage and involve them, and I feel that Nanna Bingo perfectly reflects that.

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Has it played Fringe World before? Either way, what do you love about this festival?
This is Nan’s first year at Fringe World, however it's not my first time playing at the festival. This year marks my fifth year of performing at Fringe. Prior to my work as Nan I was perhaps better known as the Cabaret and Burlesque presenter Sam Madame, hosting shows like Arcana: 'The Devil's Temptation', 'Flights Of Fancy', 'Afternoon Delights' as well as many, many others. What I love about this festival is the sheer diversity of shows on offer. There's something for everyone at Fringe World and it also provides an amazing platform for local and international artists to come together. As someone living in Perth, it's often easy to overlook how lucky we are to have a festival of this size and scope on our doorstep.

Why do you think Nanna Bingo is the perfect fit for it?
Whether you're a first time Fringe explorer or a seasoned festival aficionado looking to spice up your evening, Nanna Bingo promises an evening of laughter, surprises, and style of show I can confidently say you won't find elsewhere at the festival. I can see Nanna Bingo become a staple of Fringe World for years to come.

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What’s the perfect audience response to Nanna Bingo?
The perfect audience response to Nanna Bingo involves uproarious laughter, audiences up on their feet and quietly masking a wee bit of excited pee in their pants. I know I’ve done my job when the audience isn’t leaning back, they are sitting forward, waiting to hear if the next number will have them screaming 'BINGO' or 'BUGGER' at the top of their lungs.

There’s a prize for a particularly lucky table at the show, isn’t there. Can you tell us about that?
Absolutely! At Nanna Bingo, we love to add an extra element of excitement by offering a prize for not only the Bingo winner but for our best dressed (as voted by the audience) as well as the best dressed table getting a feature in Nanna Bingo's 'Golden Oldies' hall of fame!

Nanna Bingo is on at Jester's Court at FANTASIA at Perth Town Hall (Fringe World) 6-18 February.

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