Monday 8 July 2024

Hold the Front Page 6 - Life's Mysteries... and Murders

Hangovers, murders and the meaning of life itself feature in two not-to-be missed shows at this year’s Fringe. Read extracts from their press releases below.

For venues, times, ticketing and further information about all our Fringe shows, see our What's On listings here.

Stephen Bathurst as King Solomon 

In Life Under The Sun – Part 1, Actor and dramatist, Stephen Bathurst asks the biggest question of all: What’s the Point?

Strangers & Exiles: Life Under the Sun - Part 1

'What good is it to gain the whole world but lose your soul?'

Described as Blackadder meets the Bible, Life Under The Sun - Part 1 is a one man show based on the book of Ecclesiastes, asking the biggest question of all - What's the point?

Imagine King Charles delivering his big royal speech, all the pomp and majesty, the trumpets and fanfare, but he's in his pants, with a massive hangover, and it's not old Charlie-Boy, it's King Solomon, supposedly the wisest man who ever lived, he's got 700 wives to deal with (and their mothers) and he can't get it up anymore...

Stephen Bathurst, brings this one-man show back to his native Derbyshire. Previous performances have taken place in Britain (Bedford Fringe, Guildford Fringe), Sweden (Gothenburg Fringe), Finland (OFF Tampere), Norway, Germany, Australia and Canada.

'4**** - Startling & Ambitious' Get Your Coats On

Meanwhile over in Chapel-en-le-Frith, a group of writers aim to entertain you with their gripping tales of murder...

Chapel Arts Creative Writing Group: Murder Foretold

Prompted by the opening line ‘Someone here will soon commit a murder’, the Chapel Arts Creative Writing Group presents its own ‘stories to die for’.

The thriving group of writers will be presenting two shows entitled Murder Foretold, an evening performance on July 11th at 7.30pm and a matinee on July 14th at 2pm, both at Rems Cafe Bar and Restaurant in Chapel-en-le-Frith. Different material is likely to feature at each and the group is expecting to perform stories, poetry, mini-plays and even some music, all with a different slant on this year’s murderous theme.

Led by author Mark Henderson, the group is open to all but includes published writers among its ranks. A booklet of short stories, Murder Foretold, will be on sale at the Fringe events. The group has also had its monologues performed by Glossop’s Partington Players and three writers from the group have had monologues selected by Strajanka Productions for another Buxton Fringe event, The Monologue Project 2024.

Says Mark: "It’s a pleasure and a privilege to work with this talented group of writers. They’ve produced a wide variety of pieces around this year’s theme. Having heard what they’re offering, I’m glad I don’t have to walk home along a dark alley!"

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday 4 July 2024

Hold the Front Page 5 - Time for a Rethink at Buxton Fringe

Canadian storyteller Nancy Edwards offers online audiences an insight into her challenging work as a community nurse in Sierra Leone. Read an extract from her press release below. The Fringe is pleased to include online performances with this year's programme also featuring Strajanka Productions' The Monologue Project in Spoken Word.

For further information about all our Fringe shows see our What's On listings here.

Nancy Edwards in the final scene of Rethinking Good Intentions

Nancy Edwards: Rethinking Good Intentions

Rethinking Good Intentions is a solo show, written and performed by Nancy Edwards, an Ottawa-based, Canadian story-teller.  Nancy is participating virtually at the 2024 Buxton Festival Fringe. This compelling play transports audiences to the rural villages of Sierra Leone, West Africa in the late 1970s and 1980s where Nancy worked as a community health nurse for five years.  

The play chronicles a journey that is both poignant and humorous. With the patience of local mentors, Nancy adjusted to life and the field-work realities of delivering preventive maternal and child health services as a cultural outsider. The play is filled with stories about Nancy’s initially blundered and then inspired encounters with village chiefs, traditional birth attendants, and subsistence farmers. Village experiences rattled Nancy’s cultural preconceptions, provoked her notions of social privilege, and forever deepened her global connections. 

Nancy’s heart-warming and heart-breaking stories about public health work in the villages make audiences laugh and cry. This new play is full of humanity. 

Live virtual performances of the play take place on July 6 and 20, 2024 @ 5 PM GMT. Performances are free. Pre-registration on Zoom is required. Donations are encouraged to the Friends of Nixon Memorial Hospital Fund (details on last page of playbill).   

The play lasts about an hour. Performances will be followed by a live chat with Nancy on Zoom.  

A recording of the first performance will be available to view on Nancy’s YouTube channel between July 7 and July 21, 2024.

See a trailer here

See (“Play” page) for schedule of performances, registration links for live performances on Zoom, YouTube link for taped performance, and copy of playbill.

The play is based on Nancy’s book “Not One, Not Even One: A Memoir of Life-altering Experiences in Sierra Leone, West Africa”, which was released by Friesen Press in 2022.  

It contains brief references to civil war violence, female initiation rituals, and newborn deaths in Sierra Leone. Age guidance 18+

Buxton Fringe

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Tuesday 2 July 2024

Thinking outside the box at Buxton Fringe

Our Fringe entrants take their responsibility towards the audience very seriously. We always love to learn more about their creative processes. Barbara Diesel wrote to us about the thinking behind her play, Dear Eliza, which is being staged at Underground at Spring Gardens. Read her words below. We hope her message sparks a conversation.

For further information about all our Fringe shows see our What's On listings here.

Writer/performer Barbara Diesel in Dear Eliza

Next month, I’m looking forward to performing my debut one-woman play, Dear Eliza, at the Buxton Festival Fringe. It’s been quite the journey creating and sharing this story. It dives into mental health in a completely unapologetic and raw way, with an added blend of dark comedy. I made a pointed effort to ensure my protagonist would be as morally grey, authentic, and real as possible.

I feel strongly about the power of Fringe theatre, particularly in the case of representing mental health issues. A few months ago, I summarised it like this:

 “The problem with depictions of mentally ill characters in fiction is that they are either nothing like a real mentally ill person, or they fit perfectly inside of a box. Often, when a film/book/series/play decides it wants to depict a specific illness, they build the characters around that diagnosis. They seem to tick off the symptoms and only then add in family/occupation/a handful of hobbies… afterwards. Creating what is a nice, neat, symptomatically perfect character.

The problem is that humans don’t tend to tick all the boxes. Humans are hard to diagnose. Humans have comorbid symptoms with other illnesses. Humans don’t fit into neat boxes. Only characters do.

So, most depictions of mental illness are, inherently, fictional. There’s little consideration of the symptomatic murkiness that can exist between different disorders. And the spectrum of experience is disregarded.

That’s why representation of mental health disorders is so different if you go to see Fringe theatre. A lot of the time, it’s been written by someone who really knows what they are talking about. Just as importantly, it hasn’t been surrendered to the industry – an industry that relies on being sensational or romantic or shocking in order to be commodified.

These ‘alternative’ depictions might blur the lines or leave you wondering what was actually ‘wrong’ with the character. They might confuse you because they haven’t been neatly packaged for you. But that is the reality of human beings with mental illnesses, as opposed to characters with mental illnesses. Human beings don’t fit into boxes. Only characters do.”

The best compliments I have received have been from audience members either telling me that they found Dear Eliza to be cathartic, because it genuinely resonated with them, or that they now better understood a family member/friend/colleague thanks to watching the play. That kind of experience is so difficult to have through mainstream media. So, for me, this is what makes Fringe theatre so valuable.

Buxton Fringe

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Sunday 30 June 2024

Hold the Front Page 4 - Take a Trip Back in Time with Buxton Festival Fringe

Three more of our Fringe performers share a snapshot of their entries this year. Although they are all completely different, they all have a historic slant to transport you back in time. Below follow extracts from their press releases giving a flavour of what’s in store from Spoken Word author Shirley Mann, Theatre entrant Pendleton Sixth Form College School of Theatre and in Film, silent screen musicians, Brief Encounter Duo. For full details of their show times, venues etc, see our listings on our website.

If you are a Fringe performer who would like to be featured in our blog, please send
your press release to Thanks to all those who have
already done so - watch this space!

Shirley Mann : How WWII Changed Women’s Lives Forever 

Wirksworth award-winning author, Shirley Mann, is doing a talk at the Buxton Fringe
entitled ‘World War II- How It Changed Women’s Lives Forever.’

Her four novels, one of which won the Romantic Saga Novel Award in 2021 and
another which was nominated for this year’s Popular Romantic Fiction Award, are all
inspired by former World War II servicewomen.

A former BBC journalist, Shirley’s first book, ‘Lily’s War’ was prompted by the
wartime romance of her mother who was a WAAF in Bomber Command and her
father, who was in the Eighth Army. With the offer of a publishing contract, her plans
for retirement were put on hold while she raced around the country to talk to as many
ex-servicewomen as possible and the result was three more books about the roles of
women during wartime.

‘I was lucky enough to meet ATA pilot, Mary Ellis in my research for ‘Bobby’s War,’
Shirley commented, ‘and then I went on to meet Land Army girls, plotters and the
families of policewomen in the Isle of Man for my other books. I feel so incredibly
privileged to have met them and to have heard their stories, especially as they are
now all gone- which means I’m desperate to make sure their legacy is preserved.’

Shirley’s latest book, ‘Bridget’s War’ is about a policewoman in the Isle of Man
internment camp. It’s a little-known fact that when Churchill rounded up anyone living
in Britain, they didn’t know what to do with, German Jews were forced to rub
shoulders with German Nazi supporters behind barbed wire on the south of the

Further information at Twitter – shirleymann07
Instagram – shirleymannauthor

The Pendleton Codebreakers: Breaking the Code

By Hugh Whitemore (performed by arrangement with Concord Theatricals).

Directed by Ben Ventress, a superbly talented cast of young actors from the
Pendleton School of Theatre will perform this moving and powerful biopic of the
great Alan Turing for two nights only. The production was first performed to great
public acclaim last November.
Audiences will be treated to a night of exceptional theatre, which was described as
being ‘worthy of a West End production’ at its last outing.

Brief Encounter Duo: Silent Film Piccadilly (1929) With Live Music

Step back to the 1920s and experience the magic of cinema as it used to be! Brief
Encounter Duo are delighted to present the silent film ‘Piccadilly’ with live music in
Buxton Festival Fringe. Screen goddess Anna May Wong sizzles as Shosho, a
scullery maid who rises to stardom in the glitzy Piccadilly nightclub in London.
This leads to a strange tale of jealousy, betrayal, forbidden love and a mysterious
murder. This classic British film was a rare success on both sides of the Atlantic
despite the advent of ‘Talkies’ two years earlier.

Chris and Veronica Perrin are following in the footsteps of Chris’s grandparents who
accompanied silent films in the 1920s. Using nine different instruments, the duo play
vintage jazz and silent film music complementing the unfolding drama. Expect to
hear at least one instrument you’ve never heard before!

This unique show has received wonderful reviews which can be viewed along with
other information about the film on the website

“An absolute gem of a show. Don’t miss it.”

Friday 28 June 2024

Hold the Front Page 3 - Feeling it at Buxton Fringe

Pepita Productions/ Sweet Productions: Zeit-Heist: More than a Feeling 

Press releases from our performers offer fascinating extra details about their shows. Here two very different shows, both at Underground at Spring Gardens, share an interest in psychology and why we feel the way we do. Read these press release extracts to find out more about Julia Knight's Zeit-Heist in the Comedy category and Barbara Diesel's and Helen Parry's Dear Eliza in Theatre.

For full details of their shows' times, venues etc see our listings on our website.

If you are a Fringe performer who would like to be featured in our blog, please send your press release to Thanks to all those who have already done so - watch this space!

Pepita Productions/ Sweet Productions: Zeit-Heist: More than a Feeling 

After a premiere at Brighton Fringe Festival last year and 3 award nominations and 1 award win at Liverpool Fringe festival, comedy performer, musician and psychologist, Julia Knight brings her second solo show to Underground venues as part of Buxton Festival Fringe.

“Zeit-heist” is the feeling you get when something that you really enjoy – your hobby, interest, favourite singer or food – suddenly becomes extremely popular and it seems as if everyone else is into it. What previously felt like your niche interest is now a mainstream fad. Julia started exploring this concept when she realized that there was no word to explain the mixed feelings involved. She says, “I knew that I should be happy that other people liked what I liked, but I wasn’t – it felt as if they had stolen my joy somehow”.

The show uses songs to delve into the concept of Zeit-heist through Julia’s personal experiences involving gin, avocados and Kate Bush. There is also an explanation of the psychology of Zeit-heist via Julia’s alter-ego, the academic Dr. Yulia Ridder. The audience is encouraged to join in at various points as part of the workshop to sing along and discuss their own Zeit-Heists (totally voluntary). Previous audiences have described the show as “Funny and original”, “Engaging and fun” and “Amazeballs!”

Praise for Julia’s previous work:
“Impressively evocative” Chortle

Barbara Diesel & Helen Parry: Dear Eliza

Bold, raw, and cynical: Dear Eliza is a one-woman short play interrogating the deterioration of a friendship under the strain of mental illness and the fear of being a burden. In a media culture that either villainises or victimises the mentally ill, Dear Eliza navigates the grey area with guts and defiance. Utilising a masterful blend between heartbreak and humour, this not-to-miss performance strives to redefine our perceptions on what it ‘looks like’ to be mentally ill, whilst showing us the power in saying out loud what we’d all rather keep inside of our heads.

Following a short tour of the UK in February and a successful run at the Brighton Fringe Festival, Dear Eliza comes to the Buxton Fringe Festival this July. Shortlisted for the Best Newcomer award at the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival (2023) and celebrated as a ‘must-watch performance’ (***** - Better Than Words) that is ‘captivating from start to finish’ (****1/2 – A Youngish Perspective). ‘It is a difficult task to capture the audience as beautifully as Diesel does’ (**** - Adventures In Theatreland). Due to strong language, and discussions of mental illness and suicide, this show is recommended for ages 16+.

Writer and performer Barbara Diesel brings her debut play to life in collaboration with director Helen Parry, best known for her work on On Me by Caroline Lamb (Off West End Award winner) and The Day the World Came to Huddersfield by Stephen Hornby (Best Drama Award winner; QueerLit Best LGBTQ+ Production winner). Diesel and Parry are thrilled to be bringing Dear Eliza to the Buxton Fringe Festival, with Diesel stating: “This is a story that doesn’t end when the audience leaves the theatre. We’ve had audiences sharing their own stories back, or returning the night after with family and friends, telling them ‘you need to watch this’ – that is a truly special feeling. We can’t wait to get to share Dear Eliza at the Buxton Fringe Festival.”

The production is also proud to be raising money for the mental health charity, Mind, alongside performances.

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday 27 June 2024

Hold the Front Page 2 - Mixing it Up at Buxton Fringe

A poster for a comedy show

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Black Liver's Devilled Eggs

Press releases are flooding in now from Fringe performers eager to attract audiences to their shows. Genre-mashing seems to be in this year as revealed in the following enticing extracts. Theatre company Black Liver’s mix of mystery and comedy sits alongside comedian Adrian Poynton’s take on dealing with grief and composer Brian Wilshere’s musical fusions.


For full details of their shows' times, venues etc see our listings on our website.

If you are a Fringe performer who would like to be featured in our blog, please send your press release to Thanks to all those who have already done so - watch this space!

Black Liver - Devilled Eggs

Featuring a live band, choir and a whole host of stories gathered during the creation of the show.

Commissioned by Black Grand Theatre. Part of Blackpool Grand’s Storytelling Festival and Show Town Comedy Festival. 

Welcome to the Dakota Guest House! The most glamorous B&B this side of Blackpool! The Dakota is the true spirit of Variety; comedy, music and mystery are resident guests here and every room has its tale to tell.

Let your hosts, Roman and Prudence flip through their guest book and regale you with showbiz stories and anecdotes. From their heyday as the B&B to the stars to their present day haven of secrets, Ro and Pru will introduce you to the characters that reside in The Dakota. Expect songs, sketches and verse as each guest room opens. 

From acclaimed theatre makers Black Liver, Devilled Eggs performing at Underground is their latest two-hander play about a guest house over the span of a one night stay (breakfast included).

Like the eggs The Dakota serves at breakfast, this show is fresh, cheeky and devilishly spicy! 

‘Amazing stories and wily lyrics’  Liverpool Theatre Fest

Adrian Poynton - Ashes

Life-affirming comedy from the creator of BBC comedy White Van Man returning to the stage for the first time in over decade. Performing at Underground.

Recently, I’ve been thinking of a thing.

It’s a collection of stories about some stuff that happen. Stuff that plays on my mind.

Exciting huh.

In a nutshell, my Dad scattered my mum's ashes without me.

I'm an only child.

So... yeah. That happened.

Anyway… I started thinking I’d maybe turn them into a funny film or a play or something, like I normally do. For other people to read and perform. 

But recently I’ve realised that these are my stories to tell.

So… please come join me as I bumble through them on stage, laugh a lot, cry a bit, laugh some more and — hopefully — make you do the same. 

True stories of ridiculous families, local pubs, love, dying and trampolining.

As a stand up Adrian has performed all over the world with both his acclaimed solo shows and tour supporting some of the UK’s most famous faces. Having stepped away from stand up to focus on his hugely successful screenwriting career, 2024 sees Adrian return to the stage for the first time in almost a decade with his most honest, personal, hilarious and heartbreaking of shows.

Ptarmigan - Ptarmigan in Concert

Brian describes the music as a “Prog/Jazz/Folk/Classical fusion”. The complexity of Prog Rock, including electric guitar solos, is combined with jazz harmony, folk influence in the form of a prominent acoustic guitar, and a touch of Classical style from Violinist Rob Jourdain, already well known locally as a member of Shanks’ Pony.

Performing at High Peak Bookstore and Cafe, Ptarmigan play a mix of songs and instrumentals, all composed by Brian, who now has 5 commercially released albums to his credit as well as being a published composer in the USA and the UK.  His music has been performed all over Europe and at many venues in the UK including the Royal Albert Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Tickets for the concert are available at Listen to the music here.

Moira Kean

Buxton Fringe

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Wednesday 19 June 2024

Hold the Front Page 1 - Intimate Theatre at Buxton Fringe

John Arthur Sweet of Hard Times

Every day we are learning more about our exciting Fringe performers. Below follow extracts from their press releases giving a flavour of what’s in store from Spoken Word actor John Arthur Sweet of Hard Times plus Theatre entrants Michael Sabbaton and Chicago-based On the Spot Theatre Company.  For full details of their shows' times, venues etc see our listings on our website.
If you are a Fringe performer who would like to be featured in our blog, please send your press release to Thanks to all those who have already done so - watch this space!

Hard Times - Outside, in the Laneway, Under the Stars 

John Arthur Sweet, from Montreal, Canada, invites Buxton audiences to an intimate show about a personal queer journey, the role that art might play in the life of a bullied person, and the limitations of escapism—the need to get outside, in the laneway (Canadian for passage), amongst loving human beings.

outside, in the laneway, under the stars is an autobiographical monologue in two parts that will be presented at the Buxton Fringe for four performances (two performances of each part) during the first four days of the Fringe, at the Green Man Gallery. It uses a mélange of traditional storytelling, spoken word poetry, and theatrical monologue to tell Sweet’s story of growing up as a queer kid in a small Ontario town in the 1970s. In the face of relentless bullying, and in the absence of any knowledge of what ‘those people’ (ie queer folk) were all about, he took refuge in theatre as ‘the alternative to real life’, and an escape from the horrors of the unfolding AIDS crisis.

The show is presented in two ‘parts’, but they are independent of one another and can be enjoyed separately. Part 1 deals more with Sweet’s 1970s childhood and will be presented on 3, 4 July; while Part 2 (focusing on his early adulthood in the 1980s) is on 5, 6 July .

"It is not often we are offered such an intimate glimpse into an artist’s personal journey. Sweet is truly a mosaic of all that he has encountered and he has framed this mosaic for the world to see, offering the opportunity to gain just a little bit more valuable understanding." Sarah Kher-Bek, Binge Fringe at the 2023 Prague Fringe

Michael Sabbaton: The Temple

After previous successful tours of Polaris, The Statement of Randolph Carter and, The Call of Cthulhu, Michael Sabbaton opens up his box of horror once more bringing a new, anniversary production of, The Temple to Buxton Festival Fringe. Another of HP Lovecraft’s classic chillers, The Temple will open for two nights only at The Drama Studio, Buxton Community School on 9, 10 July.

Adapted, devised and performed by Sabbaton himself, The Temple, which last set sail in 2014, is an epic of the horror/sci-fi genre. Originally written by Lovecraft in 1920, it predates contemporary stories such as Alien and Event Horizon but establishes familiar thematic lines. Featuring new material for this anniversary showing, this immersive production captivates with chilling performance and mesmerising soundscape.

It is 1917. When a strange ivory, carved head comes into the possession of the commander of the U-29, the boat becomes cursed as it is drawn into a spiralling descent of dissension and madness. Nightmares, weird feelings and visions of dead sailors begin to haunt the crew. An explosion permanently disables the U-boat’s ability to surface and as it is pulled to the depths by an uncharted, underwater current, a demonic, siren song begins to drive the crew towards insanity and death...

In Sabbaton’s atmospheric and intimate theatre, this character driven world carries the cerebral, terror of the self and the decisions that make us who we are. 

The Temple - Link to Video Trailer on Youtube:

“Sabbaton conveys the staggering ambition of the original text with an added degree of psychological depth”  What’s on Stage

On the Spot Theatre Company - A Mid-Course Correction 

On the Spot Theatre Company of Chicago is pleased to bring to the Peak District the UK premiere of a new play, A Mid-Course Correction, written and directed by Mike Brayndick.  No stranger to the British theatre scene, Mike’s adaptation of Sons and Lovers has played at the Bloomsbury Theatre after touring England and Wales.  Mike’s play, How to Make a Rainbow, about the art and life of Joseph Cornell was also previously featured at the St. Ives Festival.  Now, On The Spot Theatre is thrilled to present four performances of A Mid-Course Correction as part of the Buxton Fringe festival with the preview performance in New Mills at the Spring Bank Arts Center followed by three performances in Buxton itself at the United Reform Church.

Come enjoy this intriguing play about a young mother on a day out from her family responsibilities, a two-hander that is thought provoking, down-to-earth, and fun!  Emma Friend and Casey Brayndick, after a five-week run in Chicago, are excited to be presenting this show in the Peak District as part of the Festival Fringe.

In the new drama by Mike Brayndick, A Mid-Course Correction, a young mother goes astray.  Or does she?  Let AI decide?  Decide yourself.  Time-travel into a Kate Chopin story.  Enjoy the UK Premiere of an intriguing literary adventure inspired by the short story, A Pair of Silk Stockings, by Kate Chopin.  A Mid-Course Correction explores the importance of both critical thinking and imagination in determining our place in the world and forging possibilities for a better future.

Following the company’s Buxton appearance, it will be performing at the Gatehouse Theatre in London.

Further information:

Buxton Fringe

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