Canadian trans-non-binary performer Grumms certainly has a story to tell. After touching down in Australia this time last year for Adelaide Fringe, the artist and their partner has since been stuck in the country, endured two lockdowns in Melbourne and had to support themselves and their partner throughout this period, doing odd jobs and the best they can to survive.

A regular fixture at fringe festivals around the world, speaking with Star Observer, Grumms told us that they had “come down last Adelaide Fringe with my partner who is American and who I met at another Fringe Festival the year before. We came down and I worked front of house to get a feel for it, to see if I wanted to bring a show here.

We were then supposed to go to Japan for a week before going back to North America to do a season. The intention was too come back in 2021 to do Adelaide Fringe, but then in the last week of Adelaide Fringe, everything was cancelled, and everything was put into chaos.”

Optimistically, the pair thought they would stay until it blew over, which we thought would be six weeks tops,” Grumms added. I am Canadian and so with the US Canada border closed right now, if we had gone back it would have meant going to different countries with no idea of when we would see each other again.”

In comparison to Canada and America and the whole northern hemisphere, and no matter what your opinion of the government is, Australia has it pretty good here for COVID cases and restrictions. But yeah, we have spent most of the year being mostly unemployed picking up gigs here and there.”

 Like many internationals stuck in Australia, Grumms and their partner have been unable to access any support from the Australian Government, a point to which has drawn criticism from many advocacy groups and from all sides of Australian society. However, it is a point which is exacerbated when, as Grumm’s explains, Canada did extend financial benefit to Australian citizens provided they were working in the last year and it’s not perfect because people fall through the cracks, but it was like ‘come on Australia what about me?’”

A lot of the economy and a lot of the hospitality industry stays afloat because of international students, and backpackers and people like us. To be without benefits was really hard. We are still contributing, we still get taxed higher than anyone else. I know people that have been here for almost a decade and they didn’t qualify at all.”

On the tyranny of distance and being away from Grumm’s friends and family for so long in such unprecedent times, they add that “Its been hard, I’m not going to lie and say it’s been easy.”

“The silver lining of it all is that most people haven’t been able to see their family, even if they live in the same town. Everyone has to adjust to video chatting with friends and family, so being so far away really didn’t feel like we were that far away. That being said, Christmas time rolled around, and we were really feeling how far away we were. I’ve been worried about my grandparents and hoping they are safe.”

 Making the most of a bad situation, Grumm will be presenting one final work before hopefully heading back home as part of Adelaide Fringe. The work, Something In The Water, has already won stacks of awards and garnered critical acclaim, and is described an hour filled with “infectious silliness” which see’s Grumms transform into a horrible squid-like monster when they must hide their secret identity and disguise as a “normal, human woman”. Cartoonish chaos ensues, and only by being their true self can Grumms become the superhero they’ve always wanted to be.

If you’re in Adelaide for Fringe Festival, be sure to check out Grumms show, you can find more info by heading to the Adelaide Fringe website.

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