Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Fringe Venues: Free and Underground

St. Peter's, Fairfield

It's the end of the European football transfer window today which will spell excitement and heartbreak for some - but we have other things to concentrate on here in Buxton.

For many Buxton regulars - artists and audiences - Underground Venues is of huge significance. So the good news is that the Underground Team can confirm that everything is in place to secure a return for this July. Once again there will be a host of brilliant performances upstairs at The Old Clubhouse on Water Street right opposite the Opera House. There will be music, comedy, theatre and much more all day long. In the evenings Underground will present shows at the 90-seat Pavilion Arts Centre Studio. Keep an eye on the UV website and twitter feed for more information.

Buxton Festival Fringe is in its 39th year and over that time it has grown into a vibrant arts event - one of the biggest of its sort in England. At the heart of the Fringe is a cluster of venues within a stone's throw of the Opera House and this guarantees a constant buzz of excitement.
It also means that for some Buxton residents there are few Fringe events within comfortable walking distance. For 2018 the Festival Fringe organisers are taking some steps to try and bring the Fringe closer to home for some. It is hoped that performers and artists will take their shows and talent to residential areas a bit beyond the town centre.
The Fringe has identified some good performance spaces that have been underused in the past and is offering to cover the cost of room hire and rental for Fringe entrants putting on events during this July's Festival. The venue are:
The Town Library - on Kents Bank Road;
The Working Men's Club on Lightwood Road, Fairfield;
St Peter's Church, Fairfield.
The intention is that the Fringe will refund the hire fee after an event has taken place - subject to a maximum of 20 separate performances. For those who have already entered for Fringe, or are planning a show at other venues, this means that you have the chance to put on another event for a different audience at little cost.
The Library has set aside Thursday July 5th and 19th as Fringe days (from 1000-1700 hours) - though other dates may be available.
The Working Men's Club is generally available from Monday-Thursday.
St Peter's Church, Fairfield may be available all day on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday (after 3pm).
For full details about these venues and how to contact their managers please see the Fringe page here.
If you have any questions about how this scheme will work or if you want to discuss whether or not your show or event might be suitable for either of these venue please contact Keith Savage via

Buxton Fringe

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Friday, 22 December 2017

Merry Christmas to you all.

Still Life: Arbor Low, 21 December 2017

We're shutting up shop at Fringe Towers for the next week or so. Before we do there are a couple of messages we'd like to share.

We've had a great time in 2017 and owe thanks to many, many people who contributed so much and made it possible. If you are taking the trouble to read this then you are one of those people. So, sincerest thanks to you.

We have started to receive entries for Buxton Festival Fringe 2018 and we shall be updating the website as quickly as possible with entries as they arrive. We had a lovely time formally launching Fringe 2018 with a party at the Green Man Gallery on December 9th and we did our bit to keep some Derbyshire carols alive.

If you are planning your Fringe event for next July, and you need a good piano, you might be interested to know that the Broadwood grand (which dates back to the 1890s) owned by the United Reform Church is currently away for a total recondition. (Thanks to the Bingham Trust for the grant that makes this work possible). It will be back - in the Church rather than the function room - in time for the Fringe and should offer a splendid experience for musicians and audiences alike.

All of us at the Fringe wish you peace, health and happiness for Christmas and the New Year. We look forward to welcoming you to Buxton in July.

Buxton Fringe

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Friday, 1 December 2017

We have a winner!

Joanna Allen and the artwork that will feature on Fringe publicity in 2018

Buxton Festival Fringe has announced the winner of its recent competition to design the cover of next year’s printed Fringe programme.

Joanna Allen, an artist and printmaker from New Mills with a textiles background, came up with the winning artwork, a vibrant collagraph print entitled Orange Festival Folk and incorporating features of Buxton’s architecture. She wins £100 in prize money and some 20,000 programmes featuring her artwork will be printed next summer.

Joint runners up were Amy Whelan with Festival Fun and Pam Smart with Buxton Circular. A selection of competition entries can be seen on the Fringe website

A Fringe enthusiast, Joanna says: “There is something for absolutely everyone at Buxton Fringe: music, drama, comedy, film… even life drawing! I have enjoyed all manner of Buxton Fringe events numerous times in the past. My musician brother Will Hawthorne and my sister Susie Hawthorne and brother-in-law George Telfer (both actors) have been involved in Fringe events over the years, so I am very excited to be able to contribute something myself at last!”

She adds: “My collagraph print Festival Folk celebrates the diversity of people of all types and ages who take part in the Fringe and make it so special. I tried to combine all the elements that make Buxton such a unique town: the historical importance of the natural mineral water, the spectacular architecture and the people. Each festival person has a ‘hat’ which references one of Buxton’s significant architectural features, mostly the town’s numerous domes, both big and small. And of course I had to include an image of spring water flowing from the lion’s mouth at St Ann’s Well!”

Joanna’s winning design will also feature on the Fringe’s flyer to be distributed early next year while more of her work and details of her workshops can be found on her website A recent member of Peak District Artisans, she will be exhibiting at The Dome in Buxton as part of Fringe 2018.

Keith Savage, Chair of the Buxton Festival Fringe states: “We love Joanna's design - it is imaginative, bold and burns with excitement. It shouts out 'Buxton' but is very different to our recent artwork. Everything we want Buxton during the Festival Fringe to be. We had no idea about the family connections - but are happy that the link is there!"

Buxton Fringe

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Buxton Fringe 2018 - call for entries

In what has become an annual event, Buxton Fringe is inviting everyone to celebrate the opening of entries to the 2018 Fringe with a festive village carols sing-along. 

The exciting Christmas Party, hosted by Buxton’s Green Man Gallery, will take place on Saturday December 9 from 7 to 9.30pm with Derbyshire Village Carols from 7.30-9pm. Wine and light refreshments will be provided with all donations going to the Fringe. 

On the same day, there will also be a free Derbyshire Village Carols Workshop from 2.30-4.30pm at The Green Man led by Kaleidoscope Choir's Carol Bowns for anyone who would like to practise the carols beforehand. 

Both events are free and everyone is welcome. Those unable to attend the afternoon session can still join the party and singing is optional! 

The party marks the December 1 opening of entries for next summer’s eagerly anticipated Fringe festival and party-goers will have a chance to meet members of the Fringe team and learn how to get involved or become a Fringe Friend. Following suggestions from last year’s performers, the Take Part information on the Fringe website has been comprehensively updated to be even easier to understand whilst the widely-praised online process is as simple as ever. The attractively low entry fees remain the same as last year’s. 

As ever the Fringe, praised by one entrant as “the friendliest fringe in the fringiverse”, is always on hand to answer any queries on venues, technical matters or other issues. 

Keith Savage, Chair of the Buxton Festival Fringe states: “We all of us have Dr Ian Russell and others to thank for collecting and sharing the dozens of carols sung in many Derbyshire villages. We are pleased that Buxton, the Green Man Gallery and the Fringe are becoming part of the tradition that ensures that these carols are learned and heard." 

Buxton Fringe

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Monday, 16 October 2017

Orange sky heralds return of Buxton Fringe

The morning skies over much of Britain today had an eerie orange tint about them. Social media sites carried all sorts of worried messages about the 'end of the world' and 'post-apocalyptic nightmares'. We are happy to report that it was a simple reminder to those of us responsible for these things to bring you up to date with news of your favourite orange tinted festival. And we have quite a lot of news.
1) Buxton Festival Fringe 2018 will run from Wednesday 4th through to Sunday 22nd July. For those of you that need to take account of the town Carnival and fair then please note that Carnival day is Saturday 14th. If nothing else this may mean that St John's Church will not be available for the first week of the Fringe while the wells dressing petalling takes place.
2) Your geodesic Dome Fringe venue of choice - The Rotunda - is already accepting bookings for shows next July and it will fill up quickly. If you have an interest in putting on a Fringe event at the Rotunda you are urged to contact them soon. (We will be open for entries for next year's Fringe on 1st  December - see point 5 below - but there is nothing to stop you sorting out dates and venues for your shows now).
3) We have an open competition for artwork for next year's programme cover. The closing date for entries is November 1st. We look forward to receiving your work. The Fringe programme at flyer gets seen by 30,000 people across the region and beyond and so it is a good opportunity for artists to get exposure - and a modest cash prize of £100.
4) Our AGM takes place on Wednesday 8th November at The Green Man Gallery starting at 7pm. There will be some informal time - for a drink and some nibbles and a chance to chat with friends and let the trustees and committee know your thoughts about how the Fringe might develop. If you want to become more closely involved in our work we always welcome new ideas and extra energy.
5) Also at The Green Man - on Saturday 9th December - we have a bit of a party in recognition of the fact that Fringe 2018 is open for entries - indeed by then the first batch may well be on our website. For the third year we will be joining local singers for some Derbyshire village carols. Food and drinks will be available from 7pm and we will be giving it our vocal all from 7.30-9.00 led by Carol Bowns. Food and drinks will continue until 9.30 - unless we run out earlier! Carol will also be running a workshop from 2.30-4.30pm for those that want to practice a bit in advance - but you don't have to do the workshop to join the party. Everyone is welcome for the evening -whether to sing, listen or meet up.

Buxton Fringe

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Getting away from the telly

Super Hamlet 64

With the Fringe still in full swing, it is strange the thoughts that come to you. “This is just like Lost”, I mused while enjoying the REC Youth Theatre’s Lord of the Flies. Clearly the hit TV series was influenced by William Golding’s novel rather than the other way round but it was only when watching a modern stage adaptation that I made the connection.

Then later in the day, Edward Day’s zany videogame/Shakespeare mash up Super Hamlet 64: Parody DLC made me wonder whether the American TV thriller Mr. Robot, about a computer hacker haunted by the ghost of his father, was in fact a warped version of Hamlet - something that had never occurred to me before.

I reckon all sorts of strange synapses are firing in my brain right now thanks to the Fringe - I still haven’t got over sitting in the Rotunda at The Unknown Soldier and thinking: “This is like that Siegfried Sassoon poem”, five seconds before that very poem was recited on stage.

All these connections between different artistic mediums - plays, poetry, films, computer games, telly - make for a richer experience of each in my view.

What’s been going through your mind during the Fringe and which shows have really stimulated you? You can communicate with us via social media or by making comments on individual shows on

We’d also love it if you could find time to fill in our short audience survey form

Buxton Fringe

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On Behalf of the People - 19th July

We had some late entries for Buxton Festival Fringe 2017 - and they are not in  the printed programme. Tomorrow night (Wednesday) at the United Reformed Church you can see a touring production that has been impressing plenty of people already. On Behalf of the People starts at 7.30pm and tickets are just £8, available from the Opera House. Here is a review:

On Behalf of the People was commissioned from The Melting Shop by the National Coal Mining Museum as part of its commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the nationalisation of the mining industry. Ray Castleton claims that it’s about the people, not the politics, but in fact, it’s about the politics as well, though the agit-prop element is tempered by measuring every political development against its human effect.
The play covers the years 1945 to 1953, but most intensely the first two of these years. Castleton has deliberately gone for recognisable types that have a strong emotional resonance with many of the older audience members.
George Mason is a miner who survived the First World War to find the land fit for heroes was a deception. A dedicated union man, he is also committed to campaigning for the Labour Party in the 1945 election, despite the onset of emphysema which two years later will take him from his job at the coal face. Connie, his wife, is inclined to accept things as “just George’s way”, but has the strength of character to bring him into line when his single-minded obstinacy gets too much. Tom, their son, returning from the Second World War, and his girlfriend, Liz, are less set in the old ways, ready to consider alternative careers, modestly aspirational. 
So far, so predictable, but Castleton finds subtle variants without losing the sense of dropping in on a mining Everyman circa 1947. The relationship between father and son, almost destroyed by George blaming Tom for the elder, much-favoured son joining up and being killed, is convincingly handled. So is the role of women. Liz has to remind Tom, thinking of signing on as a regular, that the world has changed: she is a bread-winner. The play is not a simple paean to union power: Connie is shocked that George sees the loss of Jud even more as the loss of a good union man than as the loss of a much-loved son and an argument between George and Liz about the treatment of strike-breakers is remarkably even-handed.
For all that Castleton and Melting Shop’s political stance is clear enough and the audience at the Mining Museum empathised with it whole-heartedly. Charlie Kenber’s unobtrusively shrewd direction capitalises on this. The distinction between cast and audience is blurred, not by audience participation, but much more naturally. The acting area is a simple square, before the start the actors set out furniture and props, adjust the lights and chat a bit, items of clothing or props are left under audience seats for the cast to collect later.
Ray Ashcroft is outstanding as George, the authentic voice of four generations of miners, stubbornly uncompromising in good cause or bad, totally convincing in all he does, even to the manipulation of his spectacles. Kate Wood (Connie) bustles around like a less eccentric Hilda Ogden, Adam Horvath (Tom) and Lizzie Frain (Liz) both let us see their characters develop through the play. All four form a powerful ensemble, not least in the “This is my town” recital, an echo of the opening, that provides a moving finale.

Hear what other audiences said here

Buxton Fringe

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