Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Buxton Festival Fringe: Emotions run high…

Swimming in emotion at Fringe Sunday (credit: Ian J Parkes)

Well it’s the end of another fantastic Buxton Festival Fringe and after the excitement of the Awards Ceremony, I’ve been reflecting on all those other times during the Fringe when emotions have run high.

Here’s my personal list:

- An actor crosses herself in the wings before delivering an intense performance that has the audience in tears

- An art teacher tells me about the supposedly “non-academic” student who ended up creating a degree-level art project

- Crowds applaud our carnival float

- I sell half my art cards at a Fringe exhibition

- Our choir belts out “Things to Say” with its lyrics about “being quiet for too long, me head down in the crowds”

- An actor turns his back on the audience to rein in his emotions during a quietly devastating play

- A naked performer launches himself onto the crowd

- A lump of dough wails from her gas oven off stage

- Children decorate stones in the sunshine at Fringe Sunday

- A comedian finally makes successful synchronised swimmers out of a group of bemused volunteers

- A cascade of red paper engulfs the stage signifying ladybirds, life and hope

- A performer’s tireless publicity efforts result in a full house

- I finally “get” the comedian my husband has adored for years

- Seann Miley Moore shakes my hand!

Will you let us have your emotional highs? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us via Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, thanks again to all our reviewers who know better than any of us how to recollect emotion in tranquility to produce some great pieces of writing.

Buxton Fringe

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Twitter: @buxtonfringe

Sunday, 1 July 2018

On Behalf Of The People returns to Buxton

On Behalf of the People - The Melting Shop on tour

Some shows at the Buxton Fringe play no where else. Others are touring productions. The most ambitious tour is being undertaken by The Melting Shop with its play On Behalf Of The People. Over 30 performances will have been presented by the end of July with many "Sold Out" notices going up.

The play returns to Buxton for three performances at the Bath Road Church Centre between 7-9 July. On Behalf of The People follows the fortunes of the Mason family coming to terms with life and love in a Yorkshire mining town in post-war Britain: how do George and Connie Mason, their returning soldier son Tom and his fiancée Liz, come to terms with their rapidly changing world?

On Behalf of The People was an original commission by the National Coal Mining Museum as part of its exhibition to mark 70 years since the nationalisation of the coal mining industry. The play premiered at the venue in summer 2017 before embarking on a community venue tour, receiving audience and critical acclaim. (‘Poignant and moving’ Buxton Fringe Review; 4* ReviewsHub) .
On Behalf of The People writer and The Melting Shop co-producer Ray Castleton said: “The play is based on extensive research about the people who lived in mining communities just after the war and how the aftermath of the war and the massive change – the election of the post war Labour government, nationalisation, the new health service and the development of social housing – impacted on their lives. I was keen to write a story about real people and how their lives and relationships changed; the audience reaction we received last year confirmed that the story touched people in its authenticity and honesty.” 

Audience reaction to On Behalf of the People has been positive and enthusiastic. and this is what The Stage had to say about it:

"Castleton’s play steadily moves along in just under two hours, full of sequences of gripping domestic conflict and tender moments of stillness as our characters find themselves at the centre of the crucible of change. Beautifully structured and poetically written, with a good handful of Yorkshire grit and stark realism thrown in for good measure, Castleton’s play conjures up an atmospheric play-world that is sensitively informed by careful research into the time period it depicts. Director Charlie Kenber squeezes every last drop of atmosphere and realistic style out of the piece to great effect, providing his audience with a directorial vision that immerses them in the piece, and places them right at the heart of the action.
"The excellent cast also brings the audience closer to the heart of the action and the emotional turmoil their characters undergo, thanks to a sensitive and careful consideration of their portrayals, bringing to life some strong, memorable performances. They uphold the sense of sensitivity and artistic clarity that is woven into the very fabric of Castleton’s play – we get a tangible, respectful nod to the past, and feel as though the real people that formed the heart of Castleton’s research undertaken at the museum are sitting there with us."

If you want to see a play about real people, living real lives, that tells you something about recent British experience then On Behalf of the People is for you. Tickets from Buxton Opera House or on the door.
Buxton Fringe

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Thursday, 28 June 2018

Piaf and Peas!

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Annette Gregory will be singing at The Green Man Gallery
This year’s Buxton Festival Fringe sees a rich and varied programme of music-making. In keeping with the Fringe ethos people will be able to see and hear music in some unexpected places.

Will Hawthorne is leading something of a one-man campaign to reach out to new audiences. His band performs Poole Incarnate, a play with rock music, about the outlaw who gave his name to the local Cavern both at the caves and the Working Men’s Club. Will also leads the music at Give Peas A Chance down at the Serpentine Community Farm.

Some of the local pubs are joining in the Fringe fun hosting free music events. The Tap House - which serves a comprehensive selection of Buxton Brewery product - has six nights of live music featuring some of the best bands in the region. The Cheshire Cheese welcomes back the close harmony quartet Close Enough - which left Buxton with such lovely memories last year. Also at The Cheese is The Occasional Band with a selection of Irish jigs, reels, slides and songs. Nearby at the recently refurbished Old Sun Inn Fringe-goers can hear the Herding Catz Blues Band on part of their tour of the town.

The Catz are also playing at The Palace Hotel and on The Blues Train from Manchester to Buxton. One of last year’s Fringe favourites was the Buxton Studio Choir which goes from strength to strength and is about 50-strong these days. The Choir can be heard at The Palace as can the relaxed sounds of The Basin Street Jazz & Blues Band which will deliver a happy mixture of standards and originals.

Returning for his third Fringe is Egriega bringing a new cabaret-style show to The Hydro Restaurant. Frank Sinistra - Sex and Drugs and PR has all the Egriega hallmarks that many have come to love: his mixture of humour, satire and a compelling delivery. The Burbage Institute has become the venue of choice for classical guitarist Ed Billingham. This year he is joined by Jo Kay in a programme including a Bach Toccata and pieces from the Italian Renaissance.
One of the exciting new additions to the Buxton Festival landscape for 2018 is the Spiegeltent which will be a big attraction in the Pavilion Gardens. Brought by the Buxton International Festival, one of the events being staged there is the prize-winning Kaleidoscope Choir which rehearses and performs in the area all-year long.

The Green Man Gallery has become a regular venue for quality music throughout the year. For this year’s Fringe it has three performances. The excellent jazz singer Annette Gregory returns with her band to present some of the best-loved songs by the Iikes of Julie London and Sarah Vaughan. Cathy Rimer is a local singer and songwriter who unerringly touches on all the things that matter in our lives. She has a beautiful voice and is a charming host, making an evening with Cathy well-spent. Cenote is a duo - mixing songs with piano, fiddle, guitar and bouzouki, drawing on traditions and stories from Derbyshire, the west of Europe and Iraq. Their show Of People And Place will illuminate the lives that pass often without notice.

The team at Underground Venues presents an intriguing mix. French countertenor Adrien Mastrosimone tells of the life of Edith Piaf. Une Vie En Rose is both poignant and memorable. Also upstairs at The Clubhouse is the now traditional evening of songs and music from local performers, Club Acoustic, always relaxing and entertaining with the occasional surprise not far away. Much the same might be said of The Good Ole Boys who draw on a collective history that includes swing and skiffle.

Johnny Dysfunctional & Sounds Bizarre have been gigging in London recently, polishing up some new songs with expert Specials guidance. They are back at The Arts Centre: hear the result.

For details of many more music events at Buxton Fringe see

Buxton Fringe

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Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Comedy troupes on parade

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The Kagools - Claire Ford & Nicola Wilkinson

This year’s Fringe boasts a massive comedy section bursting with originality.
Last year’s Comedy Show Award-winners, The Kagools, are back with their family-friendly, non-verbal comedy, a hoot from start to finish, and one half of The Kagools, Claire Ford will be doing some clowning of her own in her new show Unboxed. The other Kagool, Nicola Wilkinson, will also be stepping out as a solo act, her show Happy offering stand-up, party games, and, intriguingly, pies.

Fringe comics routinely cross genre boundaries with Nathan & Ida’s Hot Dog Stand offering clowning, mime and dance from the stars of The Dead Secrets, and The Big Fat Running Show using live music, songs and comedy to look at running culture. The Shrimps: Prawn Stars will meanwhile use audience suggestions to come up with lively improvisation, fun and games.
The spirit of farce can be felt in KinkyBoot Institute’s Cheaters: A Play about Infidelity while storytelling is at the heart of TMT’s My Friend Tony and the Tiny Circle of Love.

Comedy does not have to be frivolous. Steve Day: Adventures in Dementia is a bittersweet exploration of his father’s Alzheimer’s while Mandy Toothill’s Twin Peaks finds the comic laughing in the face of breast cancer. Professional gambling is the subject of Ross Brierley’s Accumulator, with Steve Vertigo looking at the power of data and AI in his topical show As Far As I Can See.

Aidan Goatley’s The Vicar’s Husband explores what happens when an atheist’s wife trains as a vicar, causing him to question his true purpose. There is more mental turmoil in the fast-paced and visual Id Ego Superego from Col Howarth.
Whole worlds can be evoked in comedy shows, whether it is a Welsh village fete in Karen Sherrard’s warm-hearted A Fete Worse Than Death or something altogether more extra-terrestrial in Gemma Arrowsmith’s Earthling, pondering what aliens did with the earth mementos sent up by NASA in 1977.

The comedy category at this year’s Buxton Festival Fringe is the biggest ever with 42 separate events. See for full details of everything in this exciting section.

The Fringe wishes to thank its sponsor The University of Derby as well as financial supporters The Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust and High Peak Borough Council, its Fringe Friends and the town’s many Fringe supporters and venues.

Buxton Fringe

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Twitter: @buxtonfringe

Monday, 25 June 2018

Punbelievable stand-up at the Fringe

Last year's Fringe Comedy winner, Harriet Braine
back with a new show 20-22 July at Underground Venues

This year the Fringe is packed full of amazing stand-up comic talent.
Inspiration comes from many sources with family foibles being top of the list. In her preview show 10,000 Decisions, Robyn Perkins (English Comedian of the Year Finalist) marries family stories and neuroscience as she explores the nature of decision-making. Australian Adam Vincent, writer for TV’s The Last Leg, believes family demands are controlling his life. Juliet Meyers’ family includes her rescue dog Homer who appears on stage with her. High-energy comic Daniel Cook meanwhile wants to talk about his pet cat.

Comedy can be quite confessional, witness Upstart Crow’s Rob Rouse and his “journey of enforced introspection” or performer Jim Campbell who says he’s had a breakdown “so you don’t have to!” Political comic Alex Kealy considers himself to be a ball of anxiety while joke-writer and stand up Gerard Harris is a self-confessed Attention Seeker. Owen Roberts hit such severe writer’s block that his act is called: “I Let A Six Year Old Write My Show”. Meanwhile joke-merchant Phil Chapman is appearing on stage with his own personal comedy crutch that just happens to be a spatula…

Tone varies enormously with zany puns from masterly comic Richard Pulsford and punbelievable Darren Walsh and a dark edge from seasoned Fringe comedian Amadeus Martin and from Fringe Award-winning Harriet Braine whose Apocalibrary imagines a world where “Trump has literally broken the internet”. The #MeToo movement comes under scrutiny from Harriet Kemsley whilst award-winning Nathan Cassidy exposes the secrets behind - and even his involvement in - the 2008 financial crisis.

Comedy can be found in a variety of settings but particularly in managed venues, Underground and the Rotunda. Offering extra value for money is the ever popular comedy showcase Barrel of Laughs at Underground or new initiative Comedy at the Rotunda in conjunction with Off the Kerb productions.
The comedy category at this year’s Buxton Festival Fringe is the biggest ever with 42 separate events. See for full details of everything in this exciting section.

The Fringe wishes to thank its sponsor The University of Derby as well as financial supporters The Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust and High Peak Borough Council, its Fringe Friends and the town’s many Fringe supporters and venues.

Buxton Fringe

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Twitter: @buxtonfringe

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Fringe Family Favourites

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Radio 4’s multi-award-winning musical comedian Jay Foreman offers Disgusting Songs for Revolting Children as part of Buxton Fringe’s vibrant For Families section also featuring the delightful Darling family in Peter Pan A Musical Adventure, a swashbuckling youth production from Mad Hatters Music.
These are just a few of the eagerly awaited family shows coming to the Fringe in July.

It is never too early to become a Fringe-goer; babies and young children as well as children with complex needs are given a warm welcome by Collar & Cuffs Co offering an award-winning multi-sensory musical, Little Meerkat’s Big Panic, at Underground Venues.

There is also Babbling Vagabonds with their Grinlow Woods promenade theatre piece A Wild Walk - The Golden Thief, and an interactive dragon show The Reluctant Dragon from Munchkins & Monsters Theatre. These last both include a workshop element and “have a go” is definitely the philosophy behind Stone and Water’s long-established Tiny! event in the Pavilion Gardens. This year’s theme is Underwater so be sure to join them in making a mermaid, dolphin or other creature of the deep.

Storytelling never goes out of fashion so Stone and Water will also be offering Lost Stories of Buxton at Buxton Library while Buxton Story Tellers will be offering Soup and Stories at The Cafe at The Green Pavilion.

Chelmorton Village Festival is also in the For Families section this year and with good reason - check their website for details of their family-friendly dog show, scarecrow competition, Saturday stalls, tombola and more.

Keith Savage chair of the Fringe states: “We are glad that there are such interesting shows in interesting venues that will engage young children. There is no more receptive an audience and some of my most vivid Fringe memories are of performances that my own children found absorbing.”

Further Fringe events in other categories, such as Fringe Sunday in the Pavilion Gardens, are also suitable for children - look out for the handy family-friendly, smiley face symbol in the programme.

The Fringe wishes to thank its sponsor The University of Derby as well as financial supporters The Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust and High Peak Borough Council, its Fringe Friends and the town’s many Fringe supporters and venues.

Buxton Fringe

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Twitter: @buxtonfringe

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Speaking of ghosts, slaves and IKEA

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The Glummer Twins: still Taking It Badly?

Tried and tested performers The Glummer Twins are back with their Morecambe and Wise-style comic poetry on the joys of ageing, while Fringe award-winning performers Mr Simpson’s Little Consort return with Ayres and Graces, an adults-only evening in the company of 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys.

History offers a rich source of inspiration with Michael Gibson giving a rare performance of his translation of the 14th-century romance Sir Orfeo complete with harp accompaniment from Gill Page. Trouble At T’Mill, a Discover Buxton/Buxton Fringe co-production, highlights the moving stories of child workers at Derbyshire cotton mills, while actor Paul Webster presents two contrasting one-man shows, one on the last hours of Hitler, the other focusing on author Willie (W. Somerset) Maugham. Past and present collide in Mirth of Forth’s Conflict of Interest in which stand up Richard Pulsford explores the legacy of his ancestors who fought in the First World War.

LJN Company’s Twilight and Darkness is an evening of spooky tales, some local in origin, and a new Buxton Fringe initiative, Bring a Book and Share a Story, at Buxton Library invites readers to share their literary enthusiasms reading out favourite passages and perhaps swapping books.

Spoken Word can offer a quiet interlude and a chance to reflect. Jane & Jim Poetry Theatre presents Town, a sketch in words and music inviting audiences to think about the world’s forgotten souls “left behind by indifference and the lack of hashtags”.

Fringe chair Keith Savage comments: “The Festival period can be a bit frantic at times. It is good to have the chance to slow the pace and concentrate the focus. Many of the stories - intimate or broad in scope - that can be heard as part of the Fringe will entertain and give pause for thought.”

The Fringe wishes to thank its sponsor The University of Derby as well as financial supporters The Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust and High Peak Borough Council, its Fringe Friends and the town’s many Fringe supporters and venues.

Buxton Fringe

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Twitter: @buxtonfringe