I make it no secret that massage is one of my favourite forms of healing, especially during and after the busy festival time. I caught up with long time Fringer George Fenn from Back Stage Massage to learn more about the benefits of massage as artists and what special deals we can grab this festival!
Jess: This isn’t your first Fringe Festival is it? You’ve been around for a while. How would you describe yourself on the Fringe market? Where do you sit? What do you do?
George: I've been doing stuff in the Fringes since 2013. I've done pretty much everything you can do from performing, designing, directing, writing, improvising and producing in theatres, halls, streets, apartments, buses and boats.
This year I add Massage Therapist to my list of Fringe credits, collaborating with the Fringe Team to provide a pop up relaxation clinic in the Fringe Office. It even says it on my artist card. Legit.
J: So legit! What made you want to get in to massage?
G: I've always liked giving massages and I wanted a job where I could work around rehearsals. As a practice I feel I enjoy it for the same reason I enjoy performance. I get immediate feedback from the clients' reaction to my action in the similar way I would on stage with an audience.
J: Let’s just take a moment – can you describe what a massage actually does for us and our bodies?
G: Relaxation massage is manipulating the body to produce a parasympathetic response. A good way to think of this is as the opposite of your flight and fight response. It affects the whole body, slows heart rate and steadies breathing.
Massage works in tandem on the neural and muscular level. As these are so interlinked it can be hard to distinguish what the therapist is affecting as it is often both. As people commonly perceive massage as "getting rid of knots" it's easy to underrate the impact the massage has on the nervous system and your brain. Relaxing a shoulder, for example, is more about convincing the brain to relax the muscle than literally breaking the muscle down. Not to say that there are no physical benefits. Massage promotes circulation and can stretch adhered connective tissues.
J: What’s your favourite style of massage?
G: I am trained in a range of techniques from different styles. There is a lot of intentional mystification around massage styles although they do have defining characteristics. Thai Massage for example uses a lot of limb manipulation to create pressure and stretches for example. Swedish massage is a very general term for a relaxation massage and is referenced broadly in popular culture but also has the least distinguishing features so I don't use the phrase. I'm also not Swedish. There are also some very cool Polynesian Massage Styles which I hope to learn some day.
My favourite area is myofascial release techniques. This addresses the layer of connective tissue (fascia) beneath the skin that can become adhered. When treating this fascia it can even become audible on some people which is always an interesting surprise for new clients. Your body has a lot of fascia so it amazing that people aren't educated about it in the same we are about skin, muscles and bones. It blew my mind.
J: How often should we be seeing a massage therapist? Is there a magic number of massages one should get a week/month?
G: There's no magic number of sessions as everyone is different. Often if you feel achey I would recommend booking several sessions over a couple of weeks apart to receive treatment over time. This way the therapist can gauge the process and how your body has healed over time.
J: I definitely recommend a George Fenn massage, but for those out there who haven’t been fortunate enough to be massaged by you, how would you describe what makes you different to the rest?
G: I am a Massage Therapist who knows exactly what Fringe Artists are going through this time of year. I can even come to your performance space and for mobile massage visits for when you want to make the most of your production week lunch break.
J: Why do you think it’s so important for artists to get massages?
G: Performance is physical. Our bodies are tools. You need to keep them as best as you can to do your best. Massage equips you with information about your own body and can decrease the chance of injuring yourself.
J: From your experience, any top tips for artists going in to this Fringe festival?
G: Remember that you are doing this festival for fun. If you're not doing it for fun, remember a lot of people are.
J: And lastly, what are your top five shows you definitely don’t want to miss this Fringe (in no particular order)?
G: Alayne's Cat Safari, From the Ground Up, Jacobs After Party, The Rites of Guru Rach (I'm producing this one, shameless plug) and Router Sidewalker: Pedestrian Pilgramage (I'm performing this one, it'll be a pretty lame show if I missed it)
Are you a Fringe Artist? George offers 30 min, 60 min and 90 min sessions for the affordable rate of $1 a min in his clinic based in the Fringe Offices (107 Cuba Street). These sessions include a thorough consultation period so you are assured treatment relevant to your body and your work.
Want a massage but no time in your production week to leave the theatre? Back Stage Massage also operates mobile chair massage to your rehearsal spaces and stages to make to most of your lunch break. This mobile service has the same $1/min rate with a $8 call out fee.
The clinic is open for bookings from 9:00AM to 4:30PM Mon - Fri from the 10th February to the 10th of March.
You can find out more about George and Back Stage Massage on Facebook here.
Jess Brien is a clown, performer, writer and yoga teacher. In her spare time she drinks cider and eats breakfast foods. She loves connecting with people so find her on all the social medias at @jessssbrien or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org