Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Out with the old, in with the new

Things being what they are the Fringe blogging team will probably fail to work out who is doing this and multiple messages wishing you a Happy New Year will be posted. But better two or three good wishes than none at all?
With the Fringe we don't expect many entries before January and then things pick up steadily. So thanks and congratulations to Tideswell Male Voice Choir for getting the ball that is Fringe 2014 rolling. The Choir has deservedly built up a huge and loyal following over the years and we can confidently predict a sell-out for their show in July.
If you can't wait until then there is much in the new Buxton Opera House programme that is Fringe-related. The Kaleidoscope Community Choir has its origins in Local Vocals which was established by Carol Bowns and performed at the Fringe on two occasions. Carol directs KCC which meets on Tuesdays (1-2pm in the Pavilion Arts Centre) and on Monday evenings (7-8pm) upstairs in the Old Clubhouse on the following dates:
Feb 10 & 18; March 4, 10 & 18; April 1 & 15; May 6, 12 & 20; June 3, 9 & 17; July 1 & 14. There is a promise of a Fringe Concert on July 15th!
Buxton Film runs an annual short film competition and screens the best entries during the Fringe. From March 25-30 it also screens, in collaboration with the Opera House, a Festival of World Cinema. 17 films, in 9 languages over 6 days in 2 venues. This year's programme includes at its core, films about the lives and experiences of children as well as recent box office successes such as Blue Jasmine, Le Week-end, Philomena and Sunshine on Leith.
Crimes Against Taste went down very well at Fringe 2013 and they are at the Arts Centre Studio on Friday February 14th at 7.30pm. A mix of song-cabaret-satire their new show is "Tales of Lust, Love and Heartbreak" a mixture of original songs and comedy classics this will be a memorable Valentine's Day!
Regular Fringe visitors are theatre companies Library Theatre, Cotton Grass Theatre and Black Box Theatre Company and all are at the Arts Centre Studio in March and April.
Library Theatre will be doing two of Alan Bennett's much-loved Talking Heads extended monologues. Cotton Grass is doing "The Unknown Land" written by Buxton playwright Caroline Small. A play for one actor and many characters it is a compelling tale of extreme survival with musical accompaniment by singer/accordionist Keith Kendrick.
Black Box have a history of innovative Shakespeare productions and it will be interesting to see their account of "Romeo and Juliet".
Fringe (and Buxton) favourite Matt Pritchard will be presenting his show "Extra Sensory Deception" at the Arts Centre on Sunday 1st June - an entertaining mixture of magic, comedy, deception and silliness suitable for all from 6 upwards.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Shouting about the Fringe

My new role as marketing officer has thrown up a few dilemmas. Just how much do we want to shout about the Fringe – to the tune of 14, 18 or 20,000 Fringe flyers? Despite our meagre budget, can we pass up the chance to take an ad in the Tourist Board’s new Welcome Brochure with its massive print run of 150,000? Do we keep up with the big boys and renew our membership of BAFA (the British Arts Festivals Association)? The short answer to these questions, if you are interested, is 20,000, ‘No!’ and ‘Yes!’
In truth, as our logo might suggest, we are always involved in a juggling act to wring the most out of the money we have and to spread the word about the Fringe and the arts generally to as many people as possible at as low a cost as possible. So we have a hard-working Fringe press team and thankfully a very supportive local media – the Buxton Advertiser, Pure Buxton, Radio Derby, Artsbeat and more – who help us publicise everything we do for free! We also do a lot of work on the ground networking. Tonight for example I’m putting on some orange and representing the Fringe at the presentation evening for Buxton Community School, whose students regularly help us at the Fringe desk. For those of us on the Fringe committee it becomes second nature to tell people what we do and more importantly what our performers do.

And that’s where you come in really. Will you help tell people about our friendly festival and encourage them to put on a show, become a Fringe Friend or just come along and swell our audiences in July? With the panto season beginning (and I can’t wait to see Cinderella at the Buxton Opera House this weekend) ,  I guess we’re just encouraging our own kind of audience participation. That way we all get to have a ball!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Beyond the Fringe

With Keith having taken up the reins, what's a former Fringe chair to do? Take up blogging of course. What to say is another matter but in my new role of Fringe marketing officer it is probably not inappropriate for me to announce that as of last night, the committee has approved our new cover for the 2014 programme (above), a lovely piece of art from Helen McIvor, chosen from a number of excellent designs produced by third year illustration students at the University of Derby. The printed programme does not come out till next June but you will see a cropped down version of Helen's design on our flyer which will be in tourist information centres by Easter. We think she has captured the Fringe's sense of fun, variety and inclusivity as well as some aspirational sunshine!

As you know we are now open for entries and are eagerly waiting for somebody to take the plunge and enjoy the kudos of being the first event up on the website. I may seem as wrapped up in the Fringe as ever but I have been playing hooky from a few committee meetings and indulging my interest in some of Buxton's arty goings on, from sketching burlesque dancers at a Dr Sketchy session at The Old Clubhouse to attending preview nights at The Green Man Gallery and tonight at the Jarva Gallery in Whaley Bridge where Rob Wilson will be unveiling his latest mixed media works. Way back in his career, Rob won the Fringe Artist award in 2006 and is decent enough to mention it in publicity. We certainly backed a winner!

The Fringe may be a way off but there is plenty to do in the town in the meantime. I'm involved in Sensational Salsa's dance classes at The Clubhouse on Tuesday nights and am part of the Kaleidoscope choir which will be having its Christmas showcase at The Octagon on Tuesday December 10, 1-2pm, with mince pies and mulled wine. Come along. It's only £3.50.

Our Fringe party at the Green Man on Sunday 1st is already seeming a while ago but we had a great time thanks to the swinging presence of Basin Street Jazz and Blues and a festive sing-along. So the Fringe has probably done Christmas now. Roll on summer!

Monday, 2 December 2013

A poem for Buxton

Buxton was recently shortlisted by the Academy of Urbanism for the Great Town Award 2014. The award went to the Irish city of Cork.
Buxton did get a poem from Ian McMillan though - Ian performs in Buxton regularly and was part of an award-winning Fringe event in 2011. Ian is welcome back any time he wants to come.

Buxton by Ian McMillan

Stretch out in Buxton and you touch the sky,
Walk uphill in Buxton and you hear the sound
Of history dancing and learning to fly
And holding you close to the Derbyshire ground.
A stroll to the Opera House: an aria in itself,
A three-act-drama involving shopping and cake
In a town standing proud along a rocky shelf.
If you've a cultural, artistic or literal thirst to slake
Then this is the town on the North's solid roof
This is the town where it can snow in June
This is the town that is never aloof
This is the town that is always in tune.
An evening dress and a pair of thick socks on:
That's how you should dress for the nuance of Buxton!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Chairs, Beards and Cracking Codes

See what happens when you make a good job of this blog? You get promoted.

At last night's Buxton Festival Fringe AGM your usual blogger, Keith Savage, was elected our new Chair by popular acclaim.

Stephanie Billen has stepped down as Chair after five very successful years in charge. In her final Chair's report Stephanie looked back at her time on the Fringe and thanked our volunteers, the venues and the town for their support. Afterwards, Fringe committee members and friends gathered to pay tribute to Stephanie and thank her for her tireless efforts with some gifts. We'll miss you, and hope you're not too far away!

In other changes, Maria Carnegie becomes Vice-Chair and Pam Mason is our new Secretary. Thankfully Barbara Wilson stays on as Treasurer, so someone still knows what they are doing. Good luck with the new roles everybody.

Meanwhile, in preparation for his ascension to the throne (it's just an ordinary chair like everyone else's really) Keith has grown a beard to help acquire the necessary gravitas for the role. Other easily led members of the committee have followed in cultivating hirsute accoutrements to their chins in an effort to fit in with the new regime, but Reviews Tsar (Czar?) Robbie Carnegie has taken the opposite course. Robbie has shaved his beard in preparation for his role as computing and code-cracking legend Alan Turing in Buxton Drama League's Cracking the Code at the Pavilion Arts Centre this weekend. Don't miss it!

Also on this weekend in Buxton, starting tonight and carrying on through to Sunday is Buxton Film's Mini-Festival with a series of films at 7pm and 9pm at the Paupers Pit in the Old Hall Hotel. There is a great selection of films on offer and you can find out more at their website.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

A Few Reminders

If you live in or close to Buxton (sadly not The Great Town of 2014 - the Academy of Urbansim award going to Cork, land of my great grandfather so I'm told) just a couple of reminders.
1] The Buxton Festival Fringe AGM takes place this coming Wednesday, November 13th, in The Old Hall Hotel (starting at 7pm in the Shrewsbury Room). It will, no doubt, be a tearful and emotional occasion as we say thanks to Stephanie Billen who is standing down after 5 years of chairing the Fringe committee. If you want to say 'Thanks' in person - and maybe get your picture in the Buxton Advertiser, we'd love to see you there.
2] We open for entries to Fringe 2014 on Sunday December 1st. We'll be taking some time off from processing the first entries by having a bit of  a launch 'do' at the Green Man Gallery starting at 6pm. The prospect of mulled wine, superior cheese straws and vol-au-vents and singalong carols should be all the enticement you need.
While you await Fringe 2014 you could do much much worse than see the Buxton Drama League production of "Breaking The Code" at the Pavilion Arts Centre, 15 & 16 November. Based on the life and work of Alan Turing you'll spot some Fringe regulars in the cast and possibly front-of-house.
Finally, if you are struggling to remember the glorious weather we enjoyed at Fringe 2013 check out the videos posted on the Fringe website that capture some of the heat and the drama.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Artsbeat November 2013 - Scrivener's & The Green Man Gallery

The brand new issue of Derbyshire's free Arts magazine - Artsbeat - is now to be had. It can be read online or if you prefer, and can find it, there is a full-colour 64pp paper version. Got my copy at Buxton Library but there are other places that stock it. It is pretty much a solo effort by Amanda Penman and is always marvelous.
A couple of Buxton stories in the new issue: a nice interview with Alastair Scrivener - his legendary bookshop stocks the mag of course. Alastair seemed to enjoy talking to Amanda and gives an interesting account of how he came to be a bookbinder.
Also an interview with Caroline Small - on behalf of The Green Man Gallery. Caroline is talking about how the Gallery is planning to survive for a second year (and we all hope much longer). You can, of course, support the Gallery by shopping there or attending any event or workshop that takes place. You might also consider becoming a Friend of the Gallery and giving £25. If you can afford it your kindness and generosity would be appreciated and rewarded. The Gallery is available on Mondays for hire for private events. It makes an interesting venue.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Exciting times ahead for Buxton and Buxtonians

Some people seem to find it easier to moan and complain than to see the exciting possibilities on the horizon. Maybe experience has taught them that a dense fog will shortly hide the horizon - so let's not get too excited, because what we thought might be there isn't in fact. So maybe the horizon I think is visible will never get any closer. However if we want reasons to be optimistic and hopeful here are some.

The current issue of the free and glossy magazine Pure Buxton includes a story about a possible new live music festival for the town. Well it's still a long way off and the exact shape and nature of the beast remains uncertain but it looks a real 'maybe' if not quite a definite. Vision Buxton will be continuing to develop the idea and more further news should follow early in the New Year.

If you want something that is 'definite' and sooner - well the Buxton Festival of World Cinema 2014 has been confirmed this week. Held from 25-30 March in the Pauper's Pit and the Arts Centre Studio, 17 films in 10 languages are being screened. Classics such as The Bicycle Thieves and The 400 Blows will be rubbing shoulders alongside newer films such as Philomena and Sunshine on Leith. For the full programme keep an eye on the Opera House website or Buxton Film.

The British Legion building - just behind the Museum - has been empty for a couple of years now but may be brought back into use as part of exciting plans to re-configure a number of buildings in Higher Buxton. No doubt it will be complicated and conversations will have to be had with Derbyshire County Council and High Peak Borough Council but the prospect of making fuller use of the Town Hall, the Museum and the Legion building (including some space for the arts) must be welcomed by all.

The Opera House has a new programming team and it is putting finishing touches to the Spring season. The annual Four Four Time festival is in February - among the headliners is the old Queen himself, Brian May.

Sooner than that, of course, November 2nd sees the town's Bonfire party at the cricket ground, Park Road. After the fireworks make sure you head for Beltane and enjoy pyrotechnics of a different sort with the music of Fuzzy Felt World who were a joy in Fringe 2013.

Oh, on November 8th The Academy of Urbanism announces its awards for 2014. Buxton is on a shortlist of three for the Great Town award; no disrespect to Cork or to Hastings - both fabulous places - but surely there can be only one serious contender? Hope so.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Sensational Salsa Dancing in Buxton

Sensational Salsa is back in a new venue, The Old Clubhouse, next to The Opera House in Buxton.

Organiser Linval Smith says he is delighted with the new location. “It’s really central and there is a great atmosphere with the opportunity to enjoy a drink in the bar afterwards.”

The pay-as-you-go sessions are at the same time as before – every Tuesday with beginners’ classes at 7.30pm and improvers at 8.30pm. Says Linval: ‘We’ve had a few ups and downs recently and we apologise to those who have been missing their weekly salsa fix.’

Following an informal introductory session on Tuesday October 22, the classes start in earnest on Tuesday October 29. Classes cost £5 on a pay-as-you-go basis and there is also an option for book six weeks for a discounted price of £25.

Unlike high-energy zumba, salsa offers a slightly gentler form of exercise as new steps are marked out slowly before putting them to music. Says Linval: ‘By the end of the class, you will have had a real work out but it often doesn’t feel that way because you will have been so absorbed and having such a great time!’

The classes are suitable for adults of all ages and there is no need to bring a partner as pairs tend to swap around. There is also a follow-my-leader section where participants dance in rows behind Linval and dance partner Justine.

For further please contact Sensational Salsa on 07811 100191 or email sensationalsalsa@yahoo.co.uk .

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Not The Messiah - in London's Leicester Square

The Buxton Festival Fringe blog team is seldom to be found in London - and next week is no exception. It is half-term week evidently and some may have a chance to roam and wander.
If you are in Leicester Square between 22-26 October at 7pm - well say 6.45 to avoid being embarrassingly late - you can see the much praised and awarded Three's Company production of Not The Messiah. It was in Buxton and Edinburgh but for those for whom crossing the Thames is a journey far enough (and in this case I know what of I write - even if I can't actually write it) then the Leicester Square Theatre may be just the ticket. Ferret around on the Three's Company blog for a free ticket offer (buy-one-get-one-free).
The show is great and George Telfer is divine. Tell George we sent you and ask him about Father Christmas at the Co-op, Chesterfield.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Piff is Punchdrunk

This took quite a bit of detective work - so I'm sharing it anyway, interested or not. Piff the Magic Dragon is always loved and cared for when he fetches up in Buxton - especially if Mr Piffles is in tow. Well, John van der Put (aka PtMD) is part of an exciting show at the National Theatre - http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/the-drowned-man-a-hollywood-fable
No one has mentioned free tickets or anything but I'd love to go - perhaps take in the Paul Klee show at the Tate Modern while I'm there...

Fringe-wise what is new[s]? Regular Fringe entrants will know that the cost of entering goes up the closer we get to the closing date. Good news for 2014 is that the cost of entering is the same as it was in 2013, 2012 and probably 2011 (I can't remember that far back). Anyway we open for entries on 1st December and it will cost you £45 to be part of the biggest Arts Festival between Brighton and Edinburgh (very probably). If you enter in March the cost goes up to £65. Delay until April (and we close for entries on April 20th) and the cost goes up to £80. So it makes sense to enter early - a] it is cheaper and b] you get more exposure on the website and 3] your show is more likely to be noticed if you enter before any last minute rush.

We have dozens of potential venues in Buxton and beyond. If you own a pub, club, café, hotel, church or house and want to be a Fringe venue then please let us know. Meanwhile the newest clutch of Fringe venues will be on the Market Place - which is good news for people on the south side of town. It will save walking down the hill and back up again. Entrants, check out The Market Place if you're bringing a show to Buxton Festival Fringe 2014 (9-27 July).

The Learning and Participation team at Buxton Opera House is doing loads of interesting work - with events and workshops run many days. For more information go to Kaleidoscope. The Community Choir is a big hit. The Arts Club is also going down well - next session on 22nd October [Explore printing with collage and drawing techniques] with further sessions on November 5th and 19th.

The Fringe AGM takes place on Wednesday November 13th, 7pm at The Old Hall Hotel. Officerships and committee places are up for election. We'll report on this major democratic event sometime afterwards. You can meet most of the committee more informally if you wish at a small party to launch Fringe 2014. Be at the Green Man Gallery on Sunday December 1st from 6-8pm. There could be mulled wine, nibbles, carols and several floors of contemporary Buxton-grown art to enjoy.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Buxton Festival 2014

The first news of the programme for the Buxton Festival 2014 was announced this week. The Festival runs from 11-27 July and four opera have been announced already. They are:
The Jacobin by Dvorak;
Orfeo ed Euridice by Gluck;
Otello by Rossini and;
Gloria, a Pigtale by Gruber.

It is also worth reminding Buxton people that a community choir is run at the Pavilion Arts Centre on a number of Tuesday lunchtimes. Next meetings - starting at 1pm - are on: 15 & 29 October; 12 & 26 November; 10 December. The first meeting was hugely successful and we look forward to developments.

Finally, for now, Buxton actor Michael Grady-Hall married Mariam today. Best Men were two other Buxton luminaries - Tom Crawshaw and Yaz Al-Shaater. Mike, Tom and Yaz do - of course - make up Three's Company and have been running Underground Venues during the Fringe for the past 8 years. Congratulations, love and best wishes for a long and healthy life together to Mariam and Mike.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Derbyshire Christmas Carols

A new volume of Derbyshire carols has been published - www.villagecarols.org.uk
There is to be a day-long workshop in Hathersage on November 30th, followed by an evening singing.
We'll try and organise an opportunity to sing some of these carols in Buxton. If you have any bright ideas on that front do let us know.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Buxton Festival Fringe 2014!

Less than 100 days since the last Fringe Festival started and we have loads of news about Fringe 2014 already. In no particular order:
1] Fringe 2014 runs from Wednesday July 9th - Sunday July 27th (note this is slightly later than previous years)
2] You will be able to enter the Fringe from Deecmber 1st! [You will have until Easter Sunday April 20th to get your entry in].
3] To mark/celebrate the opening of Fringe 2014 for entries there will be a modest party at The Green Man Gallery on Sunday December 1st - watch this space for more details shortly.
4] The Pauper's Pit - a key Fringe venue - was expected to close later this year as part of the redevelopment of the Crescent. We have been told that the Pit will now be open for the whole of 2014 - and so is available for Fringe 2014!
5] Four venues around the Market Place, Buxton will be run as 'managed venues' in 2014 - http://www.themarketplacebuxton.co.uk/ This is good news for performers and audiences.
6] Fringe Sunday will be on July 13th
7] Buxton Carnival will be on Saturday July 12th. [This Blog was corrected on September 29th - the Carnival date originally posted was wrong. Please check your diaries].
As more news arrives we'll post it here!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Thanks everyone for Buxton Festival Fringe 2013

By any reckoning Fringe 2013 looks to have been a success. The good weather obviously helped. There were new venues - the Pump Room Roof, Litton - and some important new initiatives such as the Music Festival at St Peter's, Fairfield and the Victorian 'tram' among exciting additions.

Audience numbers seem to have held up pretty well with Underground Venues, for example, having a number of sell-out events. The Military Tattoo sold very well again and the Food & Drink Festival ran out of food in some instances.

Artistically there were many impressive achievements. The Fringe Awards recognised 'excellence' in every category - and there were many, many shows that didn't get awards that were really excellent too.

So, thanks to the many hundreds of artists and performers; thanks to the thousands of you that attended shows and events making Buxton a great place to be; thanks to all the people who staffed the venues used over the 19 days of Fringe 2013.

Fringe 2014 will be in July! That much is for sure. The Festival dates are 11-27 July; on that basis the Fringe may well run from 9-27 July 2014 - but we have to talk to a few people yet. We'll let you know as soon we can - but keep those dates free for now.

Meanwhile please let everyone know what a great time you had in Buxton in July 2013 - hope to see you and your friends next year.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Last Post (for a while anyway)

The Blogger stats suggest that not many people are reading this. I don't mind. Either it is not worth reading or you have too much else to do. However for those of you passing by let me - if I may - list some shows on the final 3 days of that you ought to make sure that you catch before Fringe 2013 ends. 

(If your show is not listed - well I'm sorry, do your very best to promote it. I really do hope you've enjoyed Buxton 2013 and we look forward to meeting you again in July 2014 - watch out for an announcement on the dates).

1] Sue Prince - Painted Tales in the Buxton Museum
2] The Great Dome Art Fair (Saturday & Sunday)
3] Amazing Landmarks & Legends in the Art Cafe, Pavilion Gardens
4] Around the World in 80 Days (Underground Venues) - last show on Saturday at 1pm
5] Not the Messiah - last show at 2.30pm on Sunday
6] Spoonface Steinberg - last show Friday at 7.30pm
7] Poldy & Elrieke - A Touch of the Dutch - last show Friday at 5.30pm
8] Titus Andronicus - last show Saturday at 9pm
9] Derbyshire County Youth Orchestra - Friday at 7.30pm
10] Reg, Henry & Jess - an evening of contemporary song, Saturday at 8pm
11] High Peak Orchestra - Sunday at 7.30 performing one of conductor Andrew Hodkinson's favourite pieces, Delius' Florida Suite.

And I've not even mentioned the day of Morris dance (Saturday), personal favourites like Project Adorno (Friday and Saturday) or one of the hardest working Fringe 2013 bands Nine Feet North (final show - and you've earned a rest - on Saturday at 2.30pm).

So spend 10 minutes going through the programme one last time and cram these next three days full of music, art, theatre, dance, song and comedy.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Last Week At The Fringe

Well not 'last week', 'next week' - but next week is the last week of Fringe (and Buxton Festival) 2013. So what is there to watch out for? Well most of the visual arts exhibitions are around for a little longer - though note that the Museum doesn't open on Monday.
In terms of music - well Africa Entsha have excited everyone and they are at St John's from 16-18 (as well as singing on the Pump House Roof and guesting at Club Acoustic at the Old Clubhouse late on the 17th). So you've no excuses for not hearing these guys.
At the Railway on the 15-16 is a hot, hot cabaret show - Kiss of the Red Menace, with songs from Cabaret, Chicago & All That Jazz!
The highly-regarded Early Music specialists Partita do their second show of this Fringe at the Methodist Church on Wednesday 17th. Also watch out for a couple of Dutch singers - Elrieke & Poldy - at Underground Venues from 17-19 July.
In terms of Theatre there are still chances to catch Fringe 'royalty' George Telfer in his Richard Burton show - 18, 20 & 21. What were they doing casting Dominic West when George was available? Virtually simultaneously George is also Graham Chapman in Not The Messiah. [Message to George - should you let your agent be working you this hard? You're 'royalty'!] 
There are a couple of performances of Spoonface Steinberg to come at the Old Clubhouse (18 & 19) - unless it is sold out. Check quickly! 
The Zoo Story has been getting some people excited - more shows at Underground Venues from 15-18 July.
An all-female production of Titus Andronicus opens on the 16th at the Arts Centre Studio - from the same company that brought us the highly-acclaimed Romeo & Juliet last year.
Buxton's Victorian 'Tram' is known the world over apparently. At £5 a trip it is a bit of a steal really. It leaves more or less hourly from the front of the Opera House - or as we prefer to think of it, from the Fringe Desk.
Starting on July 15th in Poole's Cavern is a 'Victorian Candlelit Tour'. With Lord Martin Beard in charge this should be wild fun.
When you've done this lot come back for more!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Busy Bees

Look, I've not got the time to write this; you haven't got the time to read it. There is far too much to do and this glorious summer is to be relished. But just in case you haven't noticed what's happening in Buxton over the next 48 hours or so here are some possibilities:
from 4pm today - Pavilion Gardens Food & Drink Festival and much more besides. So no need to cook tonight. Eat in the Gardens!
7.30pm - United Reform Church - Patchwork Lives. Penultimate performance of a piece of theatre that has rave reviews
7.00pm - St Mary's Church - opera cabaret plus outdoor supper for £10!
7.00pm - St Peter's, Fairfield - Final day of their week-long music festival. Concludes with Elvino & The Ragged Company
8.00pm - Cantibus, choral music in St John's.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is, of course Carnival Day. It promises to be the hottest, sunniest carnival for years. Bring plenty of water, a hat and sun block and cheer the procession through the town from around 2pm - the Fringe Float will be obviously orange (but don't confuse us with the Billerettes).

Buxton Festival has being getting 4 and 5 star reviews all over the place. If you are under 30 you can get tickets for the opera at £5. The French double (14th & 20th) and the Vivaldi (13th) are both very accessible and worth a punt. Next Tuesday's (16th) recital by Anne Sophie Duprels & Pascal Roge (Poulenc's "La Voix Humaine" was highly recommended to me).

Be off with you!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Free Art On The Fringe

I've spent a happy day on the Fringe taking in as many of the art exhibitions as I could. May I recommend that you do the same?

I started at Scrivener's Bookshop on the High Street - if you are coming from the Crescent direction you'll need to go right through the market place (currently the fairground and continue for 100 metres or so). Scrivener's probably competes with Scarthin Books in Cromford for the title of "Derbyshire's Biggest Second-hand bookshop". Apart from getting lost in 5 stories of books - and temporarily losing my hat - I also saw Suzanne Pearson's fascinating exhibition of landscapes on the staircase walls. Take care as you go up and down but her work is getting richer and richer and her self-imposed method is interesting in itself.

At the Buxton Museum -  from Scrivener's going towards the town, down the hill and on the right hand side - there are three separate exhibitions of contemporary art (as well as the permanent galleries and rooms). The first thing you should see is Tony Hall's "From Life" - a collection of small, mostly black and white drawings of flowers, fruit, nudes. Some are drawn on an I-Pad. This is an intriguing little exhibition and easily overlooked - make sure you spent 15 minutes or so admiring the sensitivity and delicacy of this work.

Also on the ground floor of the Museum is the seductive work of Sue Prince. She has produced work drawing on a Swedish technique that resembles in superficial appearance something like the Bayeaux tapestry. A bit like the tapestry closer inspection of Sue's work often reveals a more subversive and questioning element than first strikes you. A memorable exhibition.

On the first floor of the Museum is the Derbyshire Open 2013 - separate exhibitions of young and adult artists. There is a considerable mixture of styles and approaches on display and no one is likely to appreciate it all. Many will take issue with the judges decisions - but that is all part of the fun.

An exhibition that might get overlooked is one called "Amazing Legends & Landmarks". This is on the first floor of the Pavilion Gardens cafe area - in the Art Cafe. About 30 works by local artists each one with a short narrative connecting the image with a story - real or imagined. A very interesting and enjoyable collection.

I made my way back past Scrivener's (to retrieve my hat) and onto The Green Man Gallery which opened about 7 months ago. The Gallery has been a great addition to life in the town.. I was fortunate to be given a personal guide to "It's Not Easy Being Green" - the exhibition is on the first floor and represents a number of responses to doing art that is 'green'. I was fascinated by Harry Knights photograph. Spend some time with that!

I didn't get to see Louise Jannetta's work - her studio is open from 11-14 July.

Reviews of all the Visual Arts entries can be found here: Arts Reviews

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Fringe Sunday

Starts at 2pm today (Sunday).
It's going to be warm - even hot - and beautiful in the Pavilion Gardens. Bring a picnic, a rug, cold drinks and prepare for a cracking family day out. Apart from the Fringe Sunday programme there will the Tideswell Male Voice Choir (page 16 in the Fringe Programme) singing by the Opera House from around 1pm. There is an open-air art exhibition on the railings of Broad Walk. The Winster Morris Men may also be out and about.
There is more free music at 1pm from the Pump House Roof in the Crescent. That was launched splendidly as a Fringe venue yesterday by the Arkham Karvers.

So what have we got for Fringe Sunday? The running order looks like this:
Africa Entsha (Fringe Programme page 13)
Godstar (page 24)
La Petite Famile (page 30)
Crimes Against Taste (page 12) 
Belly Dance Flames
Fuzzy Felt World (page 14)
Nine Feet North (page 15)
James Pelham (pages 11 & 15)
Scott Allsop (page 17).
Many thanks to everyone for giving up their time for a lovely day in Buxton's Pavilion Gardens.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Now's The Time!

All sorts of possibilities to match the Blog title with the album cover - for me a toss up between Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker - but 'Bird wins. Whether this will be a theme for the duration of the Fringe I doubt.

Anyway, freshly returned from the Fringe Launch Party held in the Barrel Room and Bar of the Old Hall Hotel and hosted by Underground Venues. A whole host of acts gave their services for free; all were entertaining and deserve your consideration and custom over the next 19 days. We saw and heard:
Nine Feet North - singing some Crosby, Stills & Nash covers (see p15 of the Fringe Programme and catch them again on Fringe Sunday);
Ishi Khan-Jackson danced Bollywood style - her comedy show I Am Happy (p5 of programme) should be a blast;
The Gambit (p24 in the programme) looks to be an intriguing bit of theatre about a chess reunion, 25 years after the Cold War - this is its premiere tour and it finishes in Buxton on July 6th, so don't miss it;
Jordan (p25) looks to be an ambitious and gripping bit of bravura story-telling - just four shows in the Arts Centre studio between 6-12 July;
Soften The Grey (p30) appears to be something slightly farcical about a diver who dies in an accident only to find himself in a waiting room for the newly dead - more laughs than you might imagine. Starting late on the first night - July 3rd - with further performances on the 4th & 6th;
Diabetic Penguins (p23) is less silly than it sounds but entertaining nevertheless. Three teenagers with mental health 'issues'. But what is 'normal' anyway? Plenty of energy on offer here later in the Fringe.

So thanks everyone for getting us well and truly launched. If you have news of the unicycle race please post it here!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Read All About It!

New publications to hit the Buxton streets this week - all include details on the Fringe and the Buxton Festival:
1] Pure Buxton - a full-colour, free publication with news and stories on life in the town. The back cover looks Fringey and orange - but it's not our ad! Includes an interview with Buxton legend - musician and solicitor Michael Williams, MBE.
2] This week's issue of the town newspaper the Buxton Advertiser - has a 16-page Festival and Fringe supplement, much of which was written by Stephanie Billen who was taking time off from her day job, chairing the Festival Fringe!
3] artsbeat is a newish magazine - "The Independent voice for the arts in Derbyshire and the Peak District". I picked-up my free copy in the Old Hall Hotel. artsbeat is 64 pages packed with information.

Summer is icumen in

I've checked the BBC weather forecast and it's looking dry and warm for the start of the Buxton Festival Fringe next week!

The Fringe kicks-off in earnest on Wednesday but on Monday morning we'll be getting the Information Desk and the noticeboard in Spring Gardens set-up. On Tuesday night - July 2nd - please join us if you can at Underground Venues in the cellars of the Old Hall Hotel for the party to launch Fringe 2013. Starting at 8pm and going through to midnight you can see and hear a whole host of Fringe performers doing bits and pieces from their respective shows. If we're lucky the new Fringe beer will be ready to help us all celebrate!

Fringe Sunday - July 7th - runs from 2.00-4.30pm and is based around the Bandstand in the Pavilion Gardens. We have a programme for the show now and our good friends the Belly Dance Flames have kindly posted it on their website for us. The forecast is for 27 degrees on Fringe Sunday - let's have no complaints about it being too hot!

Yesterday saw the launch of an exciting new initiative for Buxton - the Buxton Spa Prize is a competition for artists to paint scenes of the town en plein air. Now my French is about as good as my brushstrokes so I'll need you to do some research on this one. All I do know is that there is a first prize of £5,000 and that the competition takes place next Spring. Artists can find out more by going to the website.

Finally, for now, the Buxton Festival begins on Friday July 5th with a French double-bill. Saint-Saens' La Princesse Jaune will be followed by Gounod's La Colombe. The word is that the set design by Lez Brotherston is stunning. Some tickets are still available and if you are lucky enough to be under 30 you can get one for just £5. You'll be doubly blessed! 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Pump It Up (with apologies to E Costello)

Just a brief update on music from the Pump House Roof! During the course of the Fringe there will 9 music performances from the Roof of the Pump House. I think the plan is to take a rug, sit on the Slopes, lay back and enjoy it. Alternatively you can get up and dance.
Anyway this is the programme:
Saturday 6th - 2.00pm - The Arkham Karvers
Sunday 7th - 1.00pm - Rebecca de Winter
Friday 12th - 1.00pm - Lesson Six
Sunday 14th - 1.00pm - Part Baked
Tuesday 16th - 1.00pm - Africa Entsha
Wednesday 17th - 3.00pm - Nine Feet North
Thursday 18th - 1.00pm - Africa Entsha
Saturday 20th - 1.00pm - Jungle Fiction
Sunday 21st - 1.00pm - Burbage Brass Band

The gigs are free. Now I don't know much about some of these outfits - so if you can tell us more please add comments, links etc.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Countdown - 20, 19...

More or less 20 days to go for the start of Buxton Fringe 2013 - are we ready? Let's check off a list:
1] Programme Launch Event - that happened on June 7th. Nice relaxed and friendly event at The Green Man Gallery. Wine from Portland Wine. So - TICK!
2] Fringe Launch Party Preview - Underground Venues at the Old Hall Hotel on Tuesday July 2nd at 8pm. FREE PARTY (well you'll have to buy drink - but free entertainment). So - another TICK!
3] Fringe Sunday - July 7th 2.00-4.30pm. Our own party and picnic in the Pavilion Gardens. Acts booked, Fringe banner and ladders ready, balloon modelling organised, Connect 4 and big dominos sorted. So - TICK!
4] Buxton Town Carnival - Saturday July 13th, starting at 2pm. The Fringe Committee has a truck for the day, hay bales, loads of orange stuff to decorate with and a fierecely competitive team aiming to win another prize. Yet another TICK!
5] Fringe 2013 Awards Event - Sunday July 21st at the University of Derby, Buxton Dome. The wine is ready (Portland Wine again). But the winners have yet to be decided. But we're ready to see and hear and argue and agree. TICK!
6] New t-shirts and yards and yards of new Fringe bunting have been ordered. TICK!
7] A lovely team of people have been recruited to staff the Fringe Information Desk from 3rd July. TICK!
So what is there left to do? Well, I've yet to track down a bottle of the new Fringe Ale - so help might be needed there. Apart from that we're ready. Are you?

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The magic of the screen...

Indulge me if you will and I promise just one blog on this subject - but I can now tell you what is being screened on July 6th at the Arts Centre Studio by Buxton Film. Buxton Film runs an annual short film competition - saucily called 'Open Shorts' - and a selection of the entries is shown as part of the Fringe. Judging had to be brutal this year to fit in with the 90 minute showtime and in the end just 7 films were selected.

The unanimous choice as winning entry is a film called Driftwood. This is what the reviewer wrote:
This a moving and powerful short film perfectly balancing the elements of a poor, violent and non-communicative background with the wonderful power of sport in helping overcome obstacles and break through restrictions in an environment where there appears to be little opportunity or inspiration. It starts by showing us a young man against the high-rise block of flats where he lives with his father – his face is unmoving, his eyes revealing nothing of what he feels inside, a barrier against emotion and the outside world. He could be just any other thuggish youth. This changes when we see him swimming at the pool – training for a competition. There are some beautifully shot scenes in the water and underwater showing the sheer physical power of movement through water. Unable to find expression in words or communicate in any meaningful way with the prevalent gang culture or his father, this is where he finds release and a goal. Alternating between scenes of potential violence and swimming, it is a gripping and memorable short film.

There was also recognition from the judges for a film made by young people. Bad Element is something of a Harry Potter spoof - with pretty horrifying special effects it has to be said. Made with wit and imagination Bad Element will be screened first at the awards event.

The other five films to be screened are:
The View From The Window is the work of a new, young filmmaking company and tells the story of a patient admitted to hospital with serious injuries who comes to rely on the voice of another patient to reveal the view...
From Little Acorns is a moving story from a Liverpool-based team. Apparently the whole project cost just £300 - not that you'd know it. It tells of the relationship between a young boy and an older man - and the positive lessons the boy learns. Young Louis Macdonald is a wonderfully natural presence on-screen.
Tigerish Waters is the work of Manchester graduate filmmakers using a story by an Irish writer. Filmed on the beaches of Donegal there is a mystical element to this story which has a series of strong visual images.
Keith Large has brought films to Buxton before. Keith draws on narrative, post-war British comedy traditions. His 5 minute The Crisp Strike is an engaging mix of ideas that begins with an industrial dispute on a building site.
Our final film is Shoe On The Other Foot - written and made by Prince Odunze. This is an intense narrative about a couple who struggle to cope when their roles are reversed.

Screening starts at 8pm on July 6th - and at £2 a ticket that has to be a fair deal, doesn't it?

Monday, 10 June 2013

Gaining some - and losing some: Seven Studies In Salesmanship

In a Festival as big as the Buxton Fringe there will always be some programme changes. Sadly it means we lose shows we really didn't want to - and a list of any cancellations or other changes are posted on the Programme pages of the website. One loss we were sorry to hear about was the cancellation - after injury - of Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks. The very good news, however, is that the Foundry Group is bringing a different show to Buxton instead. Seven Studies In Salesmanship ran at Brighton Fringe - to ecstatic reviews. Here's what Fringe Guru said. [You can see Seven Studies at The Railway on July 10th and 11th - just two opportunities for what will be one of the most talked-about shows this Fringe. Tickets can be bought at the Opera House box office].

There’s not much left at the Fringe which can draw a gasp of shock from this jaded, world-weary reviewer. But in Joseph Nixon and Brian Mitchell’s hilariously intelligent Seven Studies In Salesmanship, one precious moment triggered not just a gasp – but a full-on, mouth-wide-open, did-that-really-just-happen choke. Even more remarkably, it’s a PowerPoint slide which stopped my laughter in mid-flow. So go to this show (you really must go to this show)… and see if you can guess which one.
Seven Studies is essentially a sketch show: a series of vignettes linked, occasionally tenuously, by the salesman’s theme.  So there’s the “hard sell”, which contained that pole-axing PowerPoint, and the “celebrity endorsement”, which married finely-crafted throwaway barbs with a genuine critique of our vacuous media.  The “relationship close” takes a much-discussed real-world issue to a rib-tickling extreme, while “damage limitation” dials down the gag count, yielding a funny but touching two-hander that’s so very at home in Brighton.
Don’t expect laugh-a-minute stuff, though; this is rather better than that.  Each of the sketches is constructed as a proper piece of bonsai theatre, starting intriguingly, building slowly, and closing with an often-outrageous revelation.  There are some serious themes too, and for much of the two hours, I was praying for just one of the stories to end on something meatier than a punchline.  I’m pleased to say that Mitchell and Nixon granted my wish… though my goodness, they made me wait for it.
With all four of the cast delivering impressive performances, it feels wrong to single out anyone in particular.  But it would be a travesty to ignore David Mounfield’s appearance in Coppelia, the piece which illustrated the art of the “soft sell”.  As the eager and nervous innocent caught in a longed-for yet terrifying scenario, his demeanour was a joy, his expression the perfect match for what I was thinking.  Still, that’s just one example: I could equally talk about the cheery-but-vulnerable charity worker, the parodically well-rehearsed estate agent, the astronaut struggling to convey the concept of urgency to an over-solicitous sales rep.

As part of the cheap-and-cheerful £5 Fringe, this performance is packed into a room behind a pub – with co-writer Brian Mitchell also serving as tech guy, chief door-opener, and sometime stage-hand.  I actually quite liked the homely nature of it all, and it’s is a good match of a high-energy show to what can be a rather noisy space.  But I do wonder whether the direction paid enough heed to the lack of raked seating or raised stage.  From my position halfway back, it turned into a radio play whenever the actors sat down… and they sat down more than they absolutely had to.

There were occasional lulls in the pace – not an unusual criticism, on a show’s first night – but there’s already a nice attention to detail, right down to the American salesman who’s tried to impress his Scottish client by wearing a tartan tie.  So there’s self-evident five-star potential in Seven Studies In Salesmanship, once they’ve had a few performances to properly tune it, and either moved up to a better venue or adjusted to its current one.  But don’t wait till then; it’s a delight as it stands.  See it now.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Africa Entsha - 5 stars in Brighton

Africa Entsha will be performing in a number of places during the Buxton Fringe - including our own party-in-the-park Fringe Sunday on July 7th. Meanwhile they are touring England and here is what the reviewer in Brighton had to say.

A Cappella prevails across Edinburgh Fringe in August. Less so in Brighton in May.
Five young men, casual suited, warm-hearted and loaded with stories from African history. This is, in fact, largely song and movement, rhythm and harmony. The hour flies by and so many songs are packed in, the pace never lets up. 
It isn't the English weather that has brought this fine five to our shores but an infectious restlessness to share. (They even sang happy birthday to someone in the lobby afterwards)!
The sheer verve, energy, talent and courageous simplicity makes this an unmissable experience at the Old Courtroom. The quality of all five is very high and none upstages - they've set the level consistently across the quintet. There are different leads for, and during, different songs, but these aren't just songs - there's narrative in the way they move, micro-stories spring up and fade suddenly away like a speeded up movie of a garden over a year. The variety is a feast for the eyes and the ears, as singing and talking blend with dancing and stepping, gesturing and smiling. Individuals pop out of the group and we engage with them as the supporting four do just that - support in the background. This blend of ensemble and emergence of individual set pieces keeps the variety of the show fresh, unpredicatble and vibrant.
Between singing are interludes of spoken introduction and explanation - not too much to get in the way of playful ensemble step work, clapping and body rhythm and, of course,  music born of Life's energy. We find out things, but mostly we lap up things.
We learn about music and about South Africa along the way. We watch them range the styles of music from around the world and through the years but root in the African Heart with ten feet, a hundred fingers and some tongue clicking for easy expert percussion.
They've created a unique style and, in places, we are in the playful jazz of life and song.  In a few other places its almost too busy for its own good. But so often five human voices take flight and the song soars that  you just have to accept that, like a fast-paced comedy, you won't take it all in first time round. Let it wash over you, and through you.
I enjoyed the bits of spoken narrative and wish they didn't disappear towards the end. The second half became more of a parade of songs but each was different, infectiously foot tapping, and full of heart.
These are set pieces, each with its own visual narrative and, and best of all, it's own unique mood. This is theatre, this is cabaret, this is dance and this is music gig all rolled into one with a decent dose of playful comedy. It's this variety in the mix that adds to the outstanding brew. A history of music and culture, never too intense yet intense in its impact. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute and have to tell you this is one of the hottest tickets at the Old Courtroom.
Outstanding: Outstanding because of the unique alchemy, blending comedy, dance, physical ensemble movement, spoken word and rhythm in a way that creates vibrant, life-affirming impact. Huge talent, clever choreography delivered with a collective natural style - a celebration of much, in a way that pitches itself with its audience not to it.  And these young performers achieve this with maturity and poise that serves as a sure-footed through line throughout the entire show.
And the message? Never let go of your dreams. Thank you, Africa Entsha, for bringing your sunshine to a rather chilly Brighton. Here's five well deserved stars in return.

Reviewed by Paul Levy 23rd May 2013

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Programmes, programmes: get your programmes...

I've heard it tell that the Buxton Festival Fringe 2013 programme is available on the streets of Buxton and it is Free! Well not literally "on the streets" of course. Try the Tourist Information Centre, the Library, hotels - e.g. The Old Hall. It is a glorious 52-page riot of colour and information.
Hats off (again not literally) and thanks to our designer - Eric Tilley - who has done an absolutely fab job.

We're having "a bit of a do" formally to launch the programme. This will be on Friday June 7th at The Green Man Gallery. We'll be starting at 8pm. Artist and badge-maker extraordinaire Mr Hope will be host. There will be live music and limited quantities of wine supplied by Portland Wine, a local independent wine seller. Everyone is invited. We hope you'll come and take away quantities of programmes to give to your friends near and far.

I've been asked to let you know of a very handy way of finding out about all sorts of other things going on in the Peak District. Try this link - http://www.visitpeakdistrict.com/events/

Planning has begun in earnest for Fringe Sunday - our spectacular free party in the Park which offers an alternative to watching the men's final at Wimbledon. Sunday, July 7th - 2.00-4.30pm in the Pavilion Gardens, Buxton - the town's 'Crown Jewels' - 23 acres of historic gardens. Already we can promise belly dancing and magic. We're also pretty confident of Morris dancing and Art In The Park and on the Railings (of Broad Walk). If you want to perform during Fringe Sunday please get in touch - we'll be putting a programme together over the next few weeks.

On you way over to the Gardens on July 7th you can take in some live music performed from the roof of the Pump Room in the Crescent. Such deep, deep joy!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Brilliant Adventures start here

Pssst... while Keith has nipped out of Fringe Towers to have a coffee, a cigar and get his feet nibbled in those fish tanks I've grabbed control of the blog.

We like to tell people that the Fringe is a great place to see new young talent as it starts to make itself known. We offer the opportunity to see tomorrow's bright young things today. It's also pretty gratifying to us when we can say "hey, we spotted them and knew they were going to be great!" So when we have an example of that, it's nice to shout about it.

On now at the Royal Exchange in Manchester is Brilliant Adventures, a new play by Alistair McDowall, which won the 2011 Bruntwood Prize for playwriting and is getting some great reviews from The Guardian and on BBC Radio 4's Front Row (about 11mins in), where Charlotte Keatley says 'Any really great play breaks stereotypes..this takes them apart'.

Back in 2009, Alistair received the Buxton Fringe Award for New Writing for his play Eighteen Stupid Reasons Why I Love You Lots and Lots which was about a man using his new-found ability to time travel to keep hold of his memories of his girlfriend, it was funny, innovative and touching. I saw it twice, and as I wasn't reviewing that meant I paid both times - that's a pretty good recommendation from me.

Brilliant Adventures also uses time travel, and explores the relationship between science genius Luke and his hard man brother Ben in a near-abandoned Middlesbrough housing estate.

Playwright Simon Stephens (Punk Rock, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) says "Alistair McDowall is, I think, the most exciting playwright to emerge out of English theatre in the past five years. BRILLIANT ADVENTURES is a bold, touching play."

Definitely looks worth a trip into Manchester, it's on until May 25th.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Never Speechless

We have a section in the Fringe called "Spoken Word". As a title this always seems a bit cold to me - and doesn't really do justice to the passion and excitement often to be encountered. Last year, for example, we had a moving selection of TS Eliot's poetry and a few years ago we were in stitches listening to 'Mark Twain'.

If it is drama, excitement - with a hint of madness - that you want then make sure you catch up with Mark Gwynne Jones in this year's Fringe. He is at the Clubhouse on 10th and 17th July (and in Litton Village for the Poetry Festival too). With Mark you can't have too much of a good thing. His show - Just For A Moment - "This is it! All that exists is this moment...plus the 1001 things you've invented to distract you from it! Combining comedy, poetry and film."

In the first four days of the Fringe you can see and hear Palabras Latinas with their show Souvenirs. At a different pub - The Railway - Anamaria Lines and Mike Payton tell stories accompanied by tango and bolero. An intriguing and passionate show is to be expected.

Matlock isn't Buenos Aires - I think it is fair to say. However, with a show called Fire & Ice The Matlock Storytelling Cafe promise to capture our attention. They will be at The Source on 19/20 July. (You can always get yourself down to Matlock on the first Friday of the month. The cake at the cafe is highly regarded!)

On 14-16 July in Underground Venues Jim Higo insists That's Not How You Spell Pedantic. "A poetic, comedic rage through the trivialities and irritations of modern life. A show of biting wit, wry humour, blatant vulgarity and the occasional smidgeon of social conscience. Join Jim in his quest to rid the world of all the things that have ever angered, annoyed or aggravated you."

So far as "Spoken Word" is concerned that's not even the half of it - make sure you check all the entries and plan your Fringe. There are only 50 days to go!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Family Fringing

We hope that there is something in the Fringe for all to enjoy. It also matters that there are things for families to share and enjoy together. In the Fringe programme there is a section of events especially suitable For Families. This is what we have in Fringe 2013:
ABSOLUTE IMPROV STORIES! - To Be Continued... Family Friendly
Come shout out zany ideas... if you're brave enough, maybe you can get on stage too! This interactive improvised story is based entirely on suggestions from the kids - who knows what could happen! Will giant bogies take over? Maybe it will star a wolf dentist - come find out!
Underground Venues: 12 Jul 4:45pm to 5:30pm, 13-14 Jul 11:30am to 12:15pm £8 (Child and Conc £7), Ages All
LIONEL BART'S OLIVER! - Harpur Hill Primary School Family Friendly
Lionel Bart's famous musical Oliver! is back by popular demand following sell-out performances earlier in the Spring. Join us for an excellent evening of fun-filled family entertainment by the students and staff in a musical extravaganza 'that has to be seen to be believed.'
Harpur Hill Primary School, Trent Ave, Buxton, SK17 9LP: 16-17 Jul 6:30pm to 8:15pm £5 (Child £2.50, Conc £2), Ages 6+
Bookings via 01298 23261

PAN-O-RAMA by Tom Crawshaw - REC Youth Theatre Company Family Friendly
Harriet is a child, but has lived among adults all her life. That is, until a strange visitor delivers her invitation to a magical land beyond the sea. Multi-award-winning REC Youth Theatre presents a Peter Pan/Harry Potter/Lord Of The Flies mash-up comedy for all the family. (New Writing)
Arts Centre - Studio: 16 & 18 Jul 7:30pm to 8:30pm, 19-20 Jul 6pm to 7pm £9 (Child £5, Conc £8), Ages All
Bookings via undergroundvenues.co.uk. Bookings (noon-3pm) & info: 02081 440 070. Other prices/discounts available.

RETURN OF THE TINY! PIRATES - stone & water Family Friendly
Fresh from treasure-hunting around the world, the Buxton Pirates are back. Join the stone & water crew to make your own miniature pirate and tiny ship and venture off into Pavilion Gardens looking for Tiny! treasures.
Pavilion Gardens: 6 Jul 2pm to 5pm Free, Ages All
Join Sigurd, the greatest Viking of them all, on an epic adventure! Slaying dragons, capturing gold and conquering a forest of flame - all with his faithful horse by his side. But when a cruel witch's spell betrays his true love, Sigurd faces his toughest challenge yet. (New Writing)
Arts Centre - Studio: 15 Jul 7:30pm to 8:30pm, 16-18 Jul 6pm to 7pm £8 (Child and Conc £7), Ages 9+

The Smiley Face appears against all these events and is used to indicate shows that the entrants think are particularly suitable for children and family groups. You will find plenty of other events on the website - and in the full-colour 54 page printed programme - with the Smiley Face icon attached. We hope this helps everyone choose the events that they think suit them best.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Fringing for Free

The Buxton Fringe website can do all sorts of clever things - it's 'interactive' so I'm told. One thing it does is to list all the Fringe events that are free to enjoy. Follow the link and you'll find over 30 events that offer free admission to all - or to children.

If you Register as a regular user of the website you'll get the occasional email telling you what is going on in Fringe land - you'll also be able to plan your own Fringe on-line. Put together your own programnme of events and activities making sure that your schedule doesn't overlap and that you see and hear all that you want to.

We have three events in the Street Theatre category this year - and they won't cost you a bean (though donations will be welcome). On Sunday July 7th, around and about the Bandstand in the Pavilion Gardens, will be our annual family party and picnic - Fringe Sunday. From 2.00-4.30pm there will be free entertainment from a range of Fringe performers. Expect magic, bellydancing, music, song and drama! It will also probably be the day that Andy Murray doesn't quite win Wimbledon.

The following Sunday lunchtime (14th at 1.00pm) - on Broad Walk on the south side of the Gardens - the St John Street Theatre Company will be doing  a one-off piece of fun. In I Don't Call That Art pillar of the community Marjorie Mountjoy commissions a piece of public art, she little knows what she has unleashed. A lively farce, mixing satire with unrepentant silliness, and using a host of larger-than-life characters. A popular hit at local festivals in Ashleyhay and Wirksworth.

Our other bit of street theatre is a firm Fringe favourite - the Shakespeare Jukebox. "Join Barrie, Dick, Maria and Paul for one of the Fringe's most popular events - whatever the weather! Pause for ten minutes or stay for the hour and enjoy a selection of the Bard's greatest hits selected by you and performed in our own unique way. Proceeds to charity." Nine Jukeboxes throughout the Fringe on the Buxton Opera House Forecourt: 5-7, 11-12 & 17-20 July 6pm to 7pm.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dance & Film at Fringe 2013

Dance and Film are always among the smaller categories at the Fringe - a shame, but a fact. So it is easy and quick to preview the 5 events we have for these catgories this year.

We kick off on July 4th with the award-winning film Beasts of the Southern Wild. This is screening at the Whaley Bridge Mechanics Institute - about 8 miles north of Buxton. We have a number of events outside Buxton - notably in Litton this year. Whaley Bridge has a regular community cinema - one of half a dozen or so in the High Peak. Beasts of the Souther Wild was one of the most discussed films of 2012 and was prompted in part by the devastation of New Orleans by Hurrican Katrina in 2005.

The other film event is Buxton Film's annual short film competition - the winning films from entries to the 5th Open Shorts are being screened at the Pavilion Arts Centre Studio on Saturday July 6th from 8-9.30pm. Entries haven't closed yet - and judging doesn't take place for another month - so we can't tell you what is on offer, but expect 90 minutes of challenging, provocative, witty and informative films from young (and not so young) filmmakers.

There are three dance shows. First up is A Rose By Another Name - being performed on July 12th & 14th at the United Reformed Church. A take on Romeo & Juliet Brick Wall Ensemble promise to challenge homophobia in a fresh adaptation. Brick Wall Ensemble is made up by former students from the University of Huddersfield and this is their first touring production.

The Nottingham-based Green Robin Dance Company are at the URC from 19-21 July with a piece called The People Next Door. You are invited into the home of Georgie, Hayley and Conrad - three people living together, in relative peace. Discover their personal memories, secrets and experiences. Watch their stories unfold and compare them to your own, perhaps over a cuppa, as you are welcomed into their family home.

Finally, for now, on the final Saturday of this year's Fringe - July 20th - there will be Morris Dancing all around the town from around 10am right through to 5pm. Favourite venues include the bottom of the Slopes, at the end of Broad Walk, outside the Opera House and on the Promenade in the Pavilion Gardens. There will be 10 different sides dancing - displaying the full-range of Morris Dancing traditions. And it is free - but please give generously if you see a bucket being shaken.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

International Performers [Part Deux]

Yesterday we highlighted some of the performers who'll be travelling to Buxton from other continents - so what about the Europenas who'll be with us (incontinent so-to-speak)?

In March Buxton's Club Acoustic was pleased to host a special gig headlined by Elrieke & Poldy - two singers/musicians from Holland. They went down a storm and they're back in Buxton in July (and possibly again in August at Beltane). During the Fringe they'll be at Underground Venues - doing four shows A Touch of the Dutch.

As part of the theatre programme - and performing in the Arts Centre Studio space - is a French company, La Petite Famille. Their musical play is called Tomorrow's Dawn and is described as "An original work by a young, fresh and sparkling French company. Lively, funny, sensitive, sometimes delirious, this musical is about love and friendship. It also explores inter-generational relationships. A kind of immersion into the heart of today's youth, in all its complexity." La Petite Famille are here from 8-10 July.

Finally, for now, is a homecoming of sorts. Steve Bellwood lives in the States now but grew up in Yorkshire. Part of the Spoken Word programme Steve is 'Intelligent, articulate, unique, hilarious.' (California Rogue). A seasoned stand-up story-teller, Steve revives his North country roots. A lively narrative and imaginative musings on mortality and time-travel, inspired by the recent passing of his Yorkshireman father.
Steve will be at Underground Venues during the last week of the Fringe.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

An International Festival Fringe for 2013

We're always delighted to welcome people to Buxton for the Fringe. We get many visitors from the UK and each and every one will - we hope - leave with happy memories, looking forward to returning.

For Fringe 2013 we have a number of performers who will be making longer journies to take part. On the Comedy front we shall see and hear Daliso Chaponda from Africa. Now Africa is a big and diverse place so let's pin Daliso down a bit - he comes from Malawi but began his comedy career with appearances in Canada in a show called "Feed This Black Man". Anyway he's appearing at Underground Venues and doing 4 shows - he promises to be a contender!

Africa Entsha are all over Fringe 2013 - appearing on the Pump House Roof, St Peter's Fairfield and at St John's Church. So it will be hard to miss these guys - and there is no reason to want to miss them. They are here - from Soweto - for a short British tour. When they played in London it was reported that they freely blend western pop elements of the male vocal harmony tradition into their performance, making for a diverse set which draws on the vibrancy of 1950s doo-wop, the all-singing, all-dancing presentation of the 1960s soul groups and the more saccharine tendencies of the modern R&B outfits as much as the soft, healing invocations and exhilarating spirit of their own tribal cultures.

From Brazil we'll be welcoming pianist Emma Souza Lima - follow the link for a clip of her playing. She is playing at the Methodist Church on July 18th - so don't miss the chance to hear her.

Also from Brazil is Ana Maria Lines who is perfroming with Mike Payton in a show called "Souvenirs" which combines story, music and dance. They will be performing at The Railway on the first four nights of the Fringe - 3-6 July - so get yourselves organsied!

We'll have a look at some other international performers tomorrow!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Russian Dolls & Nesting

Someone who reads this Blog with more care and attention than is ever anticipated has asked "The Fairfield Music Festival is one festival within a Fringe Festival. What is the other one?" Never wanting to leave a question unanswered - unless we don't know the answer - we are happy to remind you all of the Litton Poetry Festival. Here is the programme:
7.00 – 7.45 PM    LAUNCH EVENT + Tickets for sale. Glass of wine on the house. ‘Lines in the Sky’- poems on balloons released.
8.00 – 10.00 PM    READINGS IN THE CHURCH – Nell Farrell, Kathy Towers, Conor O’Callaghan and JOHN HEGLEY. Tickets £6.00/£4.00 concs. BYO drinks. Pub will serve drinks in plastic cups if you ask.
10.00 – 11.00 AM    COFFEE IN THE HALL + Tickets on sale.
Bunting poems….Poetry Book Swap….Soundscape in church garden all day…Bookstall in church all day.
11.00 -  12.00 PM  FREE SESSION     Open Mic in the Church
11.00 – 1.00 PM    FREE SESSION    Choice of Write and Walk with Chris Jones or Film Show – ‘Bright Star’(Keats and Fanny Brawne)  PG certificate
1.00 – 2.00 PM    SOUP AND SANDWICH  in Church  £2.50  per person
2.00 – 2.30 PM   SCHOOL CHILDREN READING  (for ages 6 to 11) in the Village Hall or school
2.30 – 4.30 PM  WORKSHOPS  Tickets £6.00/£4.00 concs. cover all remaining events.
Starting to Write – Nell Farrell (Village Hall)
Poetry and Performance – Mark Gwynne Jones (Church)
Writing and Mindfulness – River Wolton  (School or ‘Woodstock’)
Down Your Local - a workshop with Conor O’Callaghan in The Three Stags Heads pub – leaving Litton Village Hall at 2.30pm for a 3.00pm start
Workshop for children – David Harmer in a parked bus (hopefully)!
TIME FOR A BREAK  Coffee, tea and cake at Litton Shop. Food at Litton’s  Red Lion, the Anchor and the Three Stags (good beer) on the main road (A623), and The George in Tideswell. Booking advisable for all pubs.
7.30 – 9.30 PM   READINGS IN THE CHURCH   BYO drinks as above
Three Derbyshire Poet Laureates:  Matt Black, River Wolton and Cathy Grindrod
9.30 – 11.30 PM  CEILIDH  with Fine Fettle band in the Hall (BYO drinks as                                                                                     above)
10.30 – 12 NOON   Coffee in the Hall  followed by POETRY GRAND SLAM

Looks like a fab weekend for those that struggle to cope with the excitement that is Buxton Carnival weekend!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Festivals Within Festivals

The Buxton Festival Fringe only happens, of course, because there is a Buxton Festival. It is also probably the case that some other Festivals happen because the Fringe provides a space. This year we have two mini-festivals as part of the Fringe. One of these is a festival of music (and much more) at St Peter's Church, Fairfield. There is limited space on the Fringe website - here is more detail of what you'll find at St Peter's.


Classic Cars with Fairfield Band during afternoon
Creams teas served in marquee. Other refreshments in church

Light hearted mixture of music and singing
Entry at door Adults £5 Conc £4. Doors open 6.30pm
Refreshments available during interval


Classic Cars
Cream teas served in marquee. Other refreshments in church
Close harmony singing and much more
Entry at door Adults £7. Conc £6. doors open 6.30pm
Refreshments available during interval.


unforgettable evening of
African music, sung in English and Zulu,full of rhythm,
leaving the audience breathless and deeply moved.
Entry at door Adults £10. Conc. £8. doors open 6.30pm
Refreshments during interval


REV CARL and Friends (behind the dog-collar)
evening of Country and Gospel Music
absolutely not to be missed, once in a lifetime event.
Entry at door Adults £6. Conc. £5.00 doors open 6.30pm


Combined Childrens Choirs from
come and support these dedicated children and teachers
Entry at door Adults £3.


JAZZNOTES Fabulous Jazz Swing Band
Entry at door Adults £7. Conc. £6 doors open 6.30pm
Refreshments available during interval


ELVINO and The Ragged Company
Country Rocka Hoola
Entry at Door Adults £7. Conc £6 doors open at 6.30pm
Refreshments available during interval

During the Musical Festival week there will be a exhibition of paintings by Mara Edwards. A talented local artist her work will on display in St Peter's Church from 11am to 4pm.

Full Programme of Fringe 2013 on Website

The full programme for this year's Buxton Festival Fringe is now on the Fringe website.

This year there are 170 different events; 601 separate performances or showings; 46 different venues. We are a fairly modest bunch but the sheer size and scope of the Fringe - taking place in a town of less than 25,000 people over a period of 19 days - is astonishing.

Our thanks to the hundreds - probably thousands - of performers, artists and musicians who have shown once again that they have confidence and trust in Buxton and are prepared to come here and share their skills and talents.

We also thank all those people who have opened up venues so that the Fringe can take place and be accessible to so many people.

It is now up to the audiences to show their faith and join us between 3-21 July. There really is something for everyone - with many events free of charge

The printed programme will be available in 5 weeks time - in the meantime use the website to start planning your Fringe 2013!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Where did all that time go?

Not so long ago - about January 3rd probably - we were sitting around in Fringe Towers thinking this "Festival will pick up soon. Expect it will take off eventually." And now, all of a sudden - as though no one ever told us, we've only got 3 and a bit days left for entries to be submitted. [Well entries can come after April 21st but they may not get into the printed programme]. So despite calendars, diaries, electronic reminders and the like we are left with that initial question "Where did all that time go?" Philosophical questions of this nature are easy to pose and impossible to answer we suspect.

Anyway let's make this as clear as we can. If you want to enter the Buxton festival Fringe 2013 - which starts on Wednesday July 3rd and finishes on Sunday July 21st - and if you want to guarantee that your entry appears in the printed Fringe programme to be published on June 1st - then you must submit your entries by midnight on Sunday April 21st. In short - get your skates on.

Just time and space now for one interesting bit of gossip. Negotiations are at an "advanced stage", sources tell us, with Buxton Brewery for a special Fringe beer for 2013. The Buxton Brewery produces a range of craft beers including the already legendary Wyoming Sheep Ranch. We look forward to this co-operation - especially the tasting.

Various stages of chaos will reign over Fringe Towers for the next week as the final programme is assembled, edited, corrected, revised and generally reshaped. It may mean that your postcards will go unanswered for a while. Apologies for any of that. We love you all dearly.