Monday, 14 April 2014

Cake and close harmony at the Fringe

Buxton Food and Drink Festival 2013 (credit: James Bissett)

Fringe-going can be hungry, thirsty work so it is with some excitement that our blog today rounds up Buxton Fringe events involving refreshments!

Nothing creates harmony like cake so it is no surprise to see Ordsall Acapella Singers back for a fourth year and offering cake along with their close harmony singing at The United Reformed Church. Not to be outdone, ChorAlchemy youth chamber choir are promising summer punch and cake at St Mary's Church.

Some of the best art is created with a cake in one hand and a paintbrush in the other and in recognition of this, Burbage Art Group provides free cakes and refreshments at its popular annual exhibition. You can also find a cuppa if not necessarily a cupcake at Paula Hobdey's exhibition of acrylics in her home and at The Green Man Gallery where the artists have mounded a group exhibition, Square Roots. 

Buxton Drama League say bring a sandwich but that drinks will be provided at their Panto Capers Workshop. Meanwhile if you're after something stronger, we hope to have Fringe Beer on offer at hotspots including Underground Venues.

So that's our official round up for now but don't forget all those eateries in town that will be working extra hard to make sure you get fed in time for your show. Last year The Old Clubhouse rose to the challenge of providing a burger in double quick time for me and my husband as we rushed between acts and I know The Old Hall Hotel is similarly aware of its responsibilities to manic Fringe-goers trying to catch some food in the bar before being ushered upstairs or through curtains as the case may be.

About the only time I sit down with food and any semblance of leisure at the Fringe is on Fringe Sunday so we do hope you will join us in the Pavilion Gardens on Sunday July 13 from 2.30pm. Bring a picnic or take advantage of the Pavilion's lovely array of ice creams and refreshments.

Oh and did we mention our free Fringe programme launch party at The Green Man on June 6? At the risk of being dubbed posh again, I'll be bringing vol-au-vents...

Buxton Fringe

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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

All ye who enter here...

We had an interesting conversation the other day at Fringe Towers about the phrase ‘to enter’ as in ‘we hope you enter the Fringe’.

It’s one of those phrases that means a lot to us but possibly not so much to outsiders. Anyway chances are that if you are reading this you are used to our funny little ways and know that what we are trying to say is that the Fringe is open to all and anyone can enter/take part/put on a show/put on an event/participate (delete according to your preference).

We are really thrilled with our 112 ‘entries’ so far with exciting recent additions including the Dotdotdot Flamenco Company, award-winning poet Mark Gwynne Jones and Anna Beecher’s Hans My Hedgehog, a story about being different aimed at families. Also can’t wait for the return of magicians Morgan and West, The Off-Off-Off Broadway Company with Back Door, based on Hitchcock’s Rear Window and set in 1920s’ Paris, and the ever-popular Barrel of Laughs comedy nights - just a few of the highlights at Underground Venues.

But back to that phrase – if ‘enter’ makes us sound like a competition, then that’s definitely wrong. If it makes us sound like a wonderful new kingdom (or queendom) then that’s not far off the truth with some magical new events including the Grinlow Art and Storytelling Trail through Buxton’s beautiful woods behind Poole’s Cavern.

You don’t have to be a performer to ‘enter’ into the spirit of it. For a start there are a whole load of shows and events that are absolutely free! Check out to see them all at a glance.

Then there are all those shows that rely on some audience participation whether it’s Buxton Drama League’s brand new Panto Capers Workshop or enjoying children’s activities as part of Paula Hobdey’s family-friendly new exhibition of acrylic paintings at her home.

There are so many ways to join in the fun – come along to Fringe Sunday in the Pavilion Gardens on July 13 or help us with our carnival float on July 12. From July 14 you can see our Fringe buskers doing their stuff at the Bandstand from 5pm in our newest bit of fun, Fringe at Five.

You can enter into things by becoming a Fringe venue, a Fringe supporter or a Fringe volunteer. You can become a Fringe committee member or offer a room in your house as accommodation for Fringe performers.

Best of all you can help us party. Watch this space for news of the official launch of our Fringe programme at Buxton’s Green Man Gallery on June 6 – free entry for all!

Buxton Fringe

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

An Extraordinary Light - review of world premiere

This review may whet your appetite for the performances scheduled over the first few days of the Buxton Fringe.
Dear performers and artists - please send us your news and reviews. We'll happily Blog and tweet away. 
Review: An Extraordinary Light - Smiths Restaurant, Eccles
By Andrew Nevill

Writer / Director Rob Johnston’s latest play received its World Premiere over at Smiths Restaurant as part of its Bite Size Theatre, before going on tour culminating in a run at the Edinburgh Fringe.
I wanted to see this as I’ve really enjoyed Rob’s previous plays and the subject of this one particularly appealed to me.

It’s the true story of scientist Rosalind Franklin whose early experimental work on DNA enabled Francis Crick & James Watson to make the leap that unlocked the double helix. This contribution was unrecognised during her own life and – because it can’t be awarded posthumously - she was excluded from the Nobel Prize they went on to receive.

This was a one-woman show - Rosalind’s show - as she told her story directly to the audience, giving us an insight into the character and achievements of this remarkable, yet often overlooked, figure.

Katherine Godfrey as Rosalind gave a contained, controlled performance, perfectly capturing Franklin’s logical and analytical scientist – but shot through with a dry wit and deadpan humour that made an otherwise prickly character likeable.

This was maintained throughout the piece so that Rosalind’s one moment of anger at being overlooked was all the more palpable when it came. Always engaging, Godfrey held the audience’s attention throughout the piece.

The set was simple but integral to the play, a scientist’s office with desk, microscope, and Bakelite phone and a model of the DNA double helix. The excellent use of the set and various props is worth a mention. The simple costume of white blouse, black skirt and the obligatory lab coat screamed scientist.

I was able to chat to Rob after the play and he said that he’d tried to play fair with History. Indeed during the play, Franklin admits that Crick & Watson were geniuses. However, this is drama and it’s from Rosalind’s viewpoint so there was always going to a little bias.

Raising themes such as sexism and the virtues of pure analysis versus a little intuitive thinking, the play provoked an enthusiastic after-show discussion amongst the audience – in which Rob and Katherine happily participated ……… and any play that leaves you talking about it must be a considered a success.

In this case, a resounding one. 

Buxton Fringe

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Friday, 4 April 2014

A Year of Derbyshire Festivals

We're very excited about the Buxton Festival Fringe - of we course we are. We work all year to see it happen and some of us have been doing that for 20 years.

Around and about Derbyshire there are many other groups planning their own bit of excitement. Arts Derbyshire has just produced a neat flyer listing 16 Festivals taking place in our county from April to the end of the year.

Briefly they are:

Belper Arts Festival from 18 April - 31 May
Derwent Valley Mills Discovery Days in May, July, September, October & November - check the website for details
Derbyshire Open Arts - 24-26 May throughout the county
Derby Comedy Festival - 13-22 June
Chesterfield Canal Festival - 28-29 June
Peak District Artisans - 19-20 July (in Buxton and part of our Fringe)
Wirksworth Festival - 5-21 September
Barlow Proms - 6 September
Melbourne Festival - 6-27 September
Matlock Bath Illuminations - 6 September-25 October (weekends only)
Derby Feste - 26-27 September
Woodland Festival - 27-28 September at Elvaston Castle Country Park
Erewash Festival of Light - September 2014 - February 2015
Derby Folk Festival - 3-5 October

Those that count will notice only 14 Festivals listed above. Well this Fringe is #15 and the Buxton Festival is #16. A reminder that tickets for the Buxton Festival are now on general sale and are going like hot cakes - so don't delay if you want seats for your favourite event.

Tickets for the Fringe will be generally available from the beginning of June in most cases - check our website for more information.

Buxton Fringe

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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

111 Not Out

The end-of-March deadline for lower-priced Fringe entries brought the expected rush with nearly 40 entries arriving in the space of 48 hours.
This takes the  current Buxton Festival Fringe 2014 score to 111 entries. If we were Australian cricketers this might cause us some anxiety - but we aren't and so we're not [anxious].
With just 18 days to go before we close for entries (if you want to be included in the glossy, full-colour programme that is) more frenzied activity is likely in about two weeks time.
Meanwhile spend some time identifying the shows and events that you will be on your 'must see' list for July. I usually end up seeing 30+ shows and events and here are a few that I'll try to include.

Near the top of my list will be hearing Will Hawthorne singing The Kinks' Arthur album. Now the Kinks are one of my favourite bands and Arthur is an album that I treasure especially. So, Will, don't mess this up! [I've every confidence in Will - he's great].

Tony Earnshaw has a political play coming up called The Speech. I graduated in 1975 and Tony was on the same course. I haven't seen him since - so I'm bound to want to see this.

Other drama includes Rob Johnston's play about scientist Rosalind Franklin - this is at The Old Clubhouse early doors as they say - 9-11 July. Make sure you are awake and alert. You'll need to be even more wakeful to catch Jim MacCool's My Uncle Donald and other [Hebridean] island rambles. It is on Day 1 (9th July) at 1-2pm at Scrivener's Bookshop. A small space and the reading is Free.

Those of us that have been watching the toe-curling W1A on BBC will have seen the silent and perplexed Max and Ivan in programming meetings. Less silent, and perhaps perplexing, Morgan & West will be part of the comedy 'offer' at this year's Fringe. [Also at the Bollington Festival I do believe].

The dance programme this year is to be enhanced by the Dotdotdot Flamenco Company. Always a sucker for that stuff.

Finally, for now, there looks to be a lovely show in the For Families section - The Theo The Mouse Show is at the United Reformed Church from 24-27 July.

The enormous High Peak Orchestra are in the Fringe. Before then they are in Buxton this coming Saturday at the Methodist Church. A mere £7 for a programme including Schubert 8 and Bruch 3. Proceeds to Blythe House Hospice.

Buxton Fringe

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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Ton Up for the Buxton Fringe Blog!

Wait for it folks, this is the 100th Fringe blog post, at least in its current format. Before this, it was hosted by the website of our friends the Buxton Advertiser and it was the Advertiser that first suggested we give people a flavour of what's going on behind the scenes at the Fringe.

From the outset Keith Savage, now our Fringe chair, has proved a blogger extraordinaire - entertaining, gloriously indiscreet, generous with his time and support of the arts, occasionally random (still don't understand the Venues and Mares headline) and hardly minding at all when back in the days of my chairship I'd send him the odd 'vital' correction moments after he'd put cyber pen to virtual paper.

I'd be much happier if he was writing this now as Keith I think has his own following and I've already been told by a committee member that this 100th blog should be something special - no pressure then! Such are the wonders of technology that we can see whose blogs catch the most hits (Keith wins hands down) but sometimes I think it is the headline that really draws people in. Pantastic Dinosaurs Land in the Pavilion raised over 100 eyebrows (or 200 if you consider that most people have two), while A Poem for Buxton and Buxton One of the Best Places to Live drew out legions of loyal fans of our lovely town.

Quite the most phenomenal result however came with the post headed simply John Beecher, attracting over 550 page views, so over five times more than any of our blogs before or since. This remarkable young man from Buxton died tragically young of cancer but is someone who packed a huge amount into his short life, being a historian, writer, actor, tireless Underground Venues and Fringe supporter, twae kwon do medallist and friend to many.

Stats show that the Fringe blog has had over 8,000 hits since relaunching here on Dec 2 2012 and Keith claims that stats also show that China has produced a great number of these?! Answers on a postcard please!

I'm fairly confident we can double that hits' figure and proceed to a celebration of 200 blogs in due course. The reins of the blog tend to be passed fairly freely - former Fringe press officer Steve Walker has done some great ones while (or so Steve claims) Keith was smoking cigars and having his feet nibbled by fish in the Pavilion Gardens. The important thing is that one way or another we'll try to make sure you have something to read up here.

Hope you've enjoyed this nostalgic interlude. Next time we'll be bringing you up to date with a flurry of exciting entries coming in right now to meet the end of March £65 deadline!

Buxton Fringe

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Friday, 21 March 2014

Buxton Festival Launch Feels the Fringe

Enjoyed attending the Buxton Festival launch yesterday and hearing about their exciting, expanded programme full of opera, literature and music, all carefully planned to fill a festival-goer's day (though we reckon there are still more than enough gaps in which to squeeze a Fringe show or two).

It was gratifying to hear the Festival's executive director Randall Shannon acknowledging the Fringe as the Festival's 'partner in crime' and pointing out how together the Fringe and Festival provide a 'riot of activity' every July. The launch was shared with the Buxton Spa Prize (see, a brand new competition to encourage artists to work in the open air and create 2-D pictures of Buxton landmarks. This was the brainchild of Trevor Osborne, a longterm supporter of the Fringe, and Trevor paid his own heartfelt tribute to the Fringe and the Festival alike in his speech. The feeling from everyone at the moment seems to be that Buxton is really celebrating its identity as a 'festival town' and undoubtedly that has helped raise its profile when it comes to being recognised as a finalist in the Great Town Awards 2014 and in recent The Sunday Times's guide to the 'best places to live'.

So it was a good do and much networking was done - I learnt along the way that Beltane is to reopen shortly for example. And of course I particularly enjoyed the Waitrose-style posh snacks (thanks Keith for pointing out that other supermarkets are available.) I myself can be found in many of them though not all at the same time...

Buxton Fringe

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