Monday, 13 March 2017

Buxton Fringe Ensures The Hills Are Alive...





With the hills of the Peak District all around us, it is no surprise that Buxton Fringe attracts its fair share of performers eager to celebrate the joys of nature.


This year’s programme - already featuring over 80 entries and with many more to come - is no exception with inspirational events including Love, Nature & Shakespeare with a mix of lute songs and soprano arias performed by Sue Morgan and Espérance, and Spoken Word’s Heading for the Hills, in which Peter and Gillian Byrom-Smith combine music and poetry in a nature-themed evening. Not surprisingly, our Visual Arts category is full of artists capturing our fantastic landscape with High Peak Artists and The Green Man Gallery both celebrating water and the Derbyshire Open at the Museum traditionally featuring many atmospheric renditions of local scenes amongst its eclectic offerings.


We are also intrigued by KEMS Contemporary’s Sound Scape whereby musicians and audience move around nine sculptures representing natural objects. This art-in-nature installation by sculptor Lorna Green has music by Julia Harding and takes place in the spectacular setting of Fringe sponsor, the University of Derby’s Dome.


TICTAC Theatre meanwhile offers a humorous take on man’s effect on the natural world with its series of two-person plays through the eyes of seagulls, seahorses and, those Fringe favourites - sheep.

On a more serious note, it’s worth saying that the Fringe works hard to reduce the impact of the festival on the environment and is supporting the work of the not-for-profit organisation Positive Impact for the 2017 United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. We have recently created a page on the Fringe website www.buxtonfringe.org.uk/environment.html where we set out some of the ways in which we try to be green. We would love to hear your ideas on this and, if you are a performer, the eco-initiatives that you have taken. Do let us know!

Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Sitting Down and Being Counted

Buxton's magnificent Palace Hotel - a Fringe venue


The arts, in all their aspects, are a source of entertainment and pleasure of course. They can also stimulate, challenge and contribute to social cohesion. It is best if our experience of the arts does all of these things and there is plenty happening at this year's Buxton Festival Fringe that does just that!

We are delighted to see that Stone & Water have organised a Buxton Pride Picnic for Saturday July 22nd from 3-6pm on the Old Bowling Green in the Pavilion Gardens. As they say in their invitation: "Celebrating Queer Buxton (LGBT+ and all our friends!) with a picnic of gracefulness, silliness and frivolous strength. Bring your own exquisite nibbles, an umbrella or parasol if appropriate, and join us on the lawn. Add a poem to read, an elegant dress or simply your own wonderful self." We look forward to being there for an hour, or two, or three. We may bring more frivolity than grace - and cannot guarantee elegance - but a clutch of poems will be to hand.

Recently in New Mills a group of people headed by Rebecca Harman organised an evening of music and food with the purpose of raising money to support charities working with refugees. The evening was a brilliant success and Buxton Fringe is really pleased that Rebecca is putting on an evening at The Palace Hotel - also on the 22nd, so stay in costume - to benefit the Hummingbird Project which has been doing excellent work in aid of refugees for last two years.

You can have a very busy - and not expensive - day in Buxton on Saturday July 22nd. There is some exceptional artwork to be seen - at the Green Man Gallery, the Pavilion Gardens and the Dome (University of Derby) - throughout the day. At the Green Man and the Pavilion Gardens (Art Café) there will be the opportunity to compare two exhibitions which share the theme of water in the Peak District. At the Dome the Peak District Artisans bring their annual show - 60 different artists and craftspeople will be exhibiting their work, running workshops and selling (and you won't be able to resist).

See you in the Gardens and the Palace - sitting down (or maybe dancing) for diversity and human rights.

Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Fringe Half Full

Eyam Parish Church - venue for The Eisenach Ensemble

We've been open for entries to Buxton Fringe 2017 for 3 months and we close in less than 7 weeks - so it stands to reason that a significant number of shows have been booked in. By the end of February we had over 70 different events confirmed - a record for that date. Our best guess is that about half of this summer's Fringe is in the calendar. And it is looking like an outstanding Festival already!

On this blog we try to give some coverage to every event - and if you have news or background to any of this year's shows do let us know and we'll share it as widely as we can. It makes no sense to try and run through 70+ events in one go - so for now here is news of some of the acts and venues new to Buxton Festival Fringe.

The village of Eyam has hosted Fringe events in the past - memorably a promenade production of a play about how the plague infected the village in the 17th century. It is a beautiful and evocative place to spend some time in. We are delighted, therefore, to see that on 16th July (3-5pm) the Eisenach Ensemble will be at Eyam Parish Church performing vocal duets and solos by Monteverdi, Handel, Bach and Telemann including Zefiro Torno, Sheep may safely graze and Handel's Italian duets.

The Fringe also extends as far north as the handsome town of New Mills. The Spring Bank Arts Centre (15th, 7.30-9.00) is hosting a show CUPID AND THE KING: THE KINGS' COURTESANS. You ought to read the small print: “Cupid and the King” explores the lusty, rancid world of English kings and their “mistresses” with period readings and music from the Tudors and Stuarts. From the gay lovers of James I to the people’s mistress, Nell Gwynne; be prepared for bawdy, no holds barred, language and adult content. New Mills can take it - but can you?

Another one-off event that demands your urgent consideration is "The Boy Who Grew Wings" (8th, 6-9pm). This is happening in the Grinlow plantation behind Poole's Cavern and is a piece of woodland circus theatre - including aerial acrobatics and music. Whispering Woods are producing the show and it could be the only place to be after the town's carnival.

We have been waiting for confirmation of a new Fringe venue and just this week it was announced that The Rotunda - a circular marquee on the Old Bowling Green in the Pavilion Gardens - will be home to shows throughout the Fringe. Seven events have been announced already with more to come. The initial programme has a strong mix of drama and comedy with a focus on gripping stories about people you can care for. "Call Mr Robeson" tells of the life of the actor and singer who was also an important civil rights activist.

"Gratiano" is described as a sequel to "The Merchant of Venice" and explores the politics and prejudice and hate in Mussolini's Italy to more recent days. Given the political turn in western society and politics of the past 12 months this will surely be resonant here and now?

Richard Pulsford has been finalist in the UK pun championships more than once. We ought to try and find something clever to say there - but let's leave it to the experts. Try and keep up with Richard on the 9th & 12th.

We want to tell you about picnics and benefit gigs, and shows at the Palace Hotel. And we shall tell you - but next week!

Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Modelling in the Park





The last time Fringe personnel went modelling in the Pavilion Gardens we were standing in the river... The question of "Why?" is something even we are still working on, but to cut a long story short, let's just say that there is not much we won't do in pursuit of a striking image for the Fringe programme.

Happily this year's programme cover has happened without the need for any more such shenanigans - though we are sure you will enjoy this relatively sane picture of Tom Mason and Fringe chair Keith Savage posing in the Gardens at the weekend. Tom, in case you are wondering, is our latest programme cover saviour having come up with the great idea of using actual tiny models positioned against a historic map of the town.

A Fringe fan and former Buxton Community student now working as a graphic designer in Portishead, Tom tells us: "I took inspiration from the current trend of photographing model figures in humorous real world/full scale situations. I enjoy model making (in particular railway modelling) and therefore I wanted to use my skills in this field to produce an image that reflected the fun and vibrancy of the Fringe in miniature.”

The background map, reproduced by permission of The National Library of Scotland, brings a great sense of heritage and place to the design. Of course great ideas don't come from nowhere and Tom had a few mishaps along the way as he experimented with several set-ups around the town. “During a photo shoot for a potential cover image beside the lake in the Pavilion Gardens we were set upon by an angry goose. The subject of the shoot, a model figure relaxing at the water’s edge, unfortunately didn’t make it…”

Just to make things more difficult, Tom’s cover image also had to work with the programme’s new format this year. Explains Keith: “Our programme has been printed with a ‘portrait’ shaped design for years. We asked designer John Tromans to do a mock-up in a ‘landscape’ format and we think it makes the programme look more spacious and easier to read. We’re delighted with the outcome.”

Can't wait to see it? While you can of course see all our events building up on the Fringe website, the printed programme is due out at the beginning of June and will be launched officially and in style at a party at The Green Man Gallery on the evening of June 3rd. All welcome, so please come and raise a glass with us. Who knows, we might even take your photo!



Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

End of the Pauper's Pit - Real Fact!



          
   

We've spent the last couple of days dismantling the Pauper's Pit theatre in readiness for the arrival of the team which is working on the Buxton Crescent Spa Hotel redevelopment. For those that doubted the day would ever come here is some photographic evidence. Recent events suggest that photos can be interpreted in all sorts of truthful ways and some may say this is evidence that a really great theatre is being constructed.

We hope to recycle all the equipment and open a new theatre/cinema somewhere in town - but it will never replace the atmosphere that the Pauper's Pit had. Thousands of shows were presented in the Pit - comedy, theatre, dance, magic, film, music. We laughed, we cried, we shouted and were stilled.

You can hear an interview on High Peak Radio which touches on the Pit and its successor venue - The Old Clubhouse. While it is tempting to look back, we are at the stage where Fringe 2017 is barely five months away and we must press on.

Already we have over 20 shows and events lined up for July. At this stage 'Music' is the biggest category and some exciting shows have been added in the past few days. Our collaboration with the Buxton Festival has already produced one exciting show. The Dodo Street Band play on Tuesday July 11th as a Festival/Fringe showcase. The DSB will bring an exciting mix of European and British folk tunes played with energy, passion and great delicacy (when required!) They also have some smart hats - check out the video link.

A little more restrained, we suppose, will be Annette Gregory with her tribute to Ella Fitzgerald at The Green Man Gallery on July 7th. Also on the 7th (and the 8th) Close Harmony Classics will be singing at Scrivener's Bookshop, the Cheshire Cheese and the Green Man Gallery - so no excuse for missing them. They'll be singing four-part harmony versions of 'Hello Dolly' and 'Coney Island Baby' among other things.

Plenty to look forward to already with another 120 or so events still to come!


Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Underground - but not as you knew it!

The Old Clubhouse - Buxton


We knew that Buxton Fringe 2017 would have to have a different shape and face to that of 2016 after confirmation that the two venues in the cellars of the Old Hall Hotel would be lost as performance spaces as a result of the multi-million pound redevelopment of The Crescent as a 5* spa hotel. Over the past 11 years "Underground Venues" has been at the heart of much Fringe activity presenting numerous award-winning shows - comedy, theatre, music and more besides. People have been asking for months - "What is happening to Underground Venues?" Well, now we know. The following was posted on Underground's website earlier this week:

"We are very pleased to announce that Underground Venues has arisen from the loss of our original home under the Old Hall Hotel, to find a new home for 2017 in festival hub The Old Clubhouse. Following eleven successful years, Underground will return with another hand-picked programme of events at the 2017 Buxton Fringe.
"Popular with Festival and Fringe audiences for many years, The Old Clubhouse, opposite the historic Opera House, will form our new base of our operations. A brand new theatre space for 2017 will join an all-day Fringe Club and information desk, while the Arts Centre, just over the road, will continue to host our larger-scale acts.
"Underground Venues 2017 will run 4-23 July.
"Applications for all types of performance will open at the very start of February.
Keep an eye on the website and our Twitter and Facebook for more information."

This is excellent news for everyone involved with Buxton Festival Fringe - audiences, performers and other venues. It will help maintain the profile of the Fringe and draw people to it. If you want to bring a show to Underground at The Clubhouse make www.underthefringe.com a favourite and watch out for news.

Meanwhile a clutch of exciting shows are already confirmed for Fringe 2017. Mart Rodger's Manchester Jazz has a short residency at the Conservative Club. Mart's New Orleans inspired band played to almost 150 people at a recent Buxton lunchtime gig and we are thrilled to bits that the Band will be with us on 7, 14 & 21 July.

Among others returning to Buxton is the Sovereign Saxophone Octet which plays at the Methodist Church on 12 July. The Octet can be expected to bring a varied programme of arrangements - some music associated with the saxophone, other pieces that had origins long before the instrument was invented.

New to Buxton, and we very much look forward to welcoming him, is Richard Navarro who will be travelling from Kent. Richard writes for choirs and he will be working with local singers and put on a very special concert in Trinity Church on 8 July. You can see and here examples of Richard's past work here.

Over the coming weeks and months we'll be doing our best to highlight the shows Buxton audiences can look forward to this summer. If you are performing here send us your news and stories and we'll share them with audiences and readers.

Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe


Saturday, 31 December 2016

Wishing for a happy 2017



We know that 2016 was a difficult year for many people in so many ways and that the 'difficulties' experienced in Britain pale into insignificance compared with those endured by citizens of Aleppo, for example. However, we add our hopes and wishes to those for a happier 2017 wherever you live.

For Buxton Fringe 2017 holds out some exciting prospects and developments. New venues, new performers and some new shows are in the pipeline and news on all these will be published in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile we are delighted to share with you a taster of the artwork created for us for 2017 by Tom Mason - we love his playful image that draws on Buxton's past as well as capturing the joy and excitement of living in the moment.
The flyer for Fringe 2017 will be distributed in the coming months and Tom's work will be used on the cover of the programme published late in May.
For now, peace, health and happiness.

Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe