Sunday, 7 May 2017

Aerial acrobatics and Audience Puppetry

"The Boy Who Grew Wings" is a new show produced by Whispering Woods and is touring in England this summer.
We are thrilled that it can be seen in Buxton as part of our Festival Fringe on Saturday July 8th. There are two performances in the woods behind Poole's Cavern. This really is one for the family and promises to be like nothing else this Buxton Fringe.

Very different from the aerial acrobatics of "The Boy Who Grew Wings" is Mike Raffone's debut show at Buxton. This is what he has to tells us:

At the tender age of 52, and with almost three decades of experience performing interactive comedy in street theatre shows, Mike Raffone is moving indoors. He makes his Buxton Fringe comedy debut with Brain Rinse - Puppetry of the Audience.
Through a series of off the wall sketches Mike tackles all the big themes in life. Love, suicide, Beethoven and The Army to name but a few. But what makes this show different is that Mike doesn’t perform to the audience he performs with the audience in the ultimate immersive TV inspired sketch show with a cast of thousands. Sure, the idea of joining in may fill you with more dread than two hours in the dentist's chair with Dr Josef Mengele, but this still may be the show for you.
“I’m aware”, says Mike, “that asking the audience to do the entire show is a big ask, but it’s my experience that if the audience are treated with respect they will almost always give more than they imagine they ever could. The trick is making the audience feel safe to let loose a bit, and join in without feeling they are doing it badly. It’s also important to me that the audience decide for themselves just how much they are prepared to join in. In this respect they set the agenda for the show. When done with skill audience interaction can be hugely entertaining and great fun”
You can catch Brain Rinse, Puppetry of the Audience as part of The Buxton Fringe at United Reformed Church Blue Room, for four nights only from 20th to 23rd July at 8:15pm. Tickets are £8 (£7 concessions), email Mike at for more details.

Our printed programme will be available in 3 weeks time. It will be a bumper 56-page, full-colour programme - to accommodate the 186 separate events we have for you this summer. Meanwhile the Fringe website gives full details of all the events to be listed in the programme.

Buxton Fringe

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Buxton Festival Fringe to Join World Fringe Day Celebrations

Buxton Festival Fringe will join fringe festivals across the globe on Tuesday 11 July to celebrate the inaugural World Fringe Day. World Fringe Day will be an international day of celebration, reflecting on the collective power and worldwide reach of the fringe movement. We are inviting participants and audiences to join us in celebrating World Fringe Day.
2017 marks 70 years since the birth of the fringe concept, with the founding of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland in 1947. The spark that was ignited in Edinburgh has circled the globe and there are now more than 200 fringes worldwide. The fringe model has been emulated from Australia to France, Canada to Prague, South Africa to Brighton, China to Brazil, and everywhere in-between. The fringe movement has grown from strength to strength, enabling people all over the world to make cultural connections that transcend national boundaries.
Keith Savage, from Buxton Fringe, said:
“World Fringe Day is a fantastic opportunity for people to come together and celebrate all that is great about fringe. Fringes come in many different shapes and sizes but are united in their dedication to providing platforms for artists to bring their work to new audiences, allowing them to share their ideas and develop their skills. We can’t wait to join with our sister fringes for a very special day of worldwide fringe fun. As we mark seventy years of fringe, we will also be taking the opportunity to wish the Edinburgh Festival Fringe a happy 70th anniversary. We hope that Buxton audiences and participants will join us on World Fringe Day to tell the world what fringe means to them. Buxton Fringe is only 37 years old - so it is young compared to Edinburgh - but there are only a handful of Fringes that have been around for longer. We are proud to be part of this movement for the arts. World Fringe Day falls in the middle of Buxton Festival Fringe 2017 and we'll be doing all that we can to make it an extra special day.”
World Fringe Day will highlight the crucial role that fringe festivals continue to play in the international arts landscape. As the Edinburgh Festival Fringe marks its 70th anniversary this year, World Fringe Day 2017 will also celebrate Edinburgh as the birthplace of the fringe movement.
Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:
“From humble beginnings in Edinburgh in 1947, the fringe movement has developed into a global network of festivals over the last 70 years, with fringes now taking place on every continent except Antarctica. 2017 promises to be a very exciting year in fringe history as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and join with our sister fringes around the globe to celebrate 70 years of the fringe movement. I hope that anyone who has attended, performed at, or been involved in organising a fringe will take the opportunity to share their fringe stories on World Fringe Day.”
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe began in 1947 when eight groups arrived in Edinburgh hoping to perform at the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival but were refused entry to the programme. Rather than being discouraged from performing, they went ahead and performed on the fringe of the Festival anyway. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an open access festival where, in the spirit of the original eight, no one is denied entry, making it the largest platform on earth for creative freedom. In 2016, 3,269 shows took place in 294 venues across Edinburgh.
For more information about the day visit

Buxton Fringe

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Friday, 21 April 2017

Buxton Fringe 2017 - Biggest Yet!

The cup the Fringe float was awarded at the 2016 carnival!
[Photo. Sofia Huxford Rodriguez]

This year will be the 38th Buxton Festival Fringe - and it is going to be the biggest yet! When the deadline for entries was reached on Sunday we had 185 different shows and events listed - with well over 500 performances to take place over the 19 days from 5-23 July.

Now size isn't everything, but the quality and range of art and entertainment on offer in Buxton this summer is better than ever too. With little over 70 days to go we shall struggle to preview all that is on offer but we'll be broadcasting all the news that entrants send to us and alerting you to as much as we can.

At the close of Fringe 2016 and the loss of two venues in the Old Hall Hotel we wondered what might happen to make up for those losses. Well, now we know. Underground Venues is back - now Underground at The Old Clubhouse - with nearly 70 shows in the pub opposite the Opera House. The room upstairs will be converted into a 60-seat theatre space for the Fringe and in another, smaller, room will be a brand new venue for 2017. The Buxton Festival Fridge will be the smallest performance space and not one for claustrophobes - but it is bound to be a full-house!

The other new managed venue is The Rotunda - a 130-seat performance space on the Old Bowling Green in the Pavilion Gardens. The programme there is packed with top-quality drama, comedy and music.

These two venues are bound to attract big audiences but there is plenty to see and do at 40 spaces in Buxton and beyond - we have shows in Chelmorton, Eyam and New Mills too.

So, take a look at our programme on-line and start making plans. The printed programme will be available from the end of May and Buxton Opera House will begin selling tickets for many shows around the same time. Meanwhile, there is a Fringe taster on Saturday 22nd April. At 3pm at St Mary's Church the ever-popular Ordsall Acappella Singers will be helping celebrate the church's centenary. The singing will be fun and the home-made cake delicious.

Buxton Fringe

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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Buxton International Festival - tickets on sale

dotdotdot dance - will be performing Los Nacimientos with Gillian Keith and John Reid

What we have come to know as the Buxton Festival is now the Buxton International Festival - a change in name that accurately reflects the character of the event. Tickets are now on public sale - and some events are sold out already, so don't delay. The Box Office is here.

Among the events at Buxton International Festival is Los Nacimientos a new piece by Tom Randle. Tom explained how the work came about for Friends of the Festival: "Los Nacimientos (The Births) is a new interdisciplinary dance/theatre piece created in collaboration with dotdotdot dance. The piece itself began life as a song cycle - a setting of texts by the Nobel prize-winning Chilean revolutionary poet Pablo Neruda.
"Although the song cycle in its original form had been received very successfully, it was after seeing a performance by dotdotdot dance in the Buxton Fringe Festival that the idea was hatched to work with them and put these two elements - 21st century Art Song and flamenco infused choreography - together.
"We hope that those already familiar with Neruda will welcome the chance to revisit his work in a brand new way, and for those encountering his poems for the first time, I can promise an extraordinary and unforgettable evening."
Los Nacimientos will be performed at the Pavilion Arts Centre on Saturday 15 and 22 July at 7.30pm. Gillian Keith will sing accompanied by pianist John Reid.

Another important Buxton event which sees its fruition during the Fringe is the Buxton Spa Prize. "The Buxton Spa Prize is an open art competition celebrating the town’s culture, natural beauty and heritage. Last year the competition attracted more than 150 artists. The aim of the Buxton Spa Prize is to make the town an internationally recognised centre for visual arts.
"The competition, now in it's fourth year, is for artists working in any 2D media (except photography) who are over the age of 17 on 1st April 2017. The winning artist will receive a grand prize of £5000. The Buxton Spa Prize 2017 is proudly sponsored by ‘The Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust’.
"Winners will be judged by a panel of experts from the town and the art world. The exhibition includes the sale of work and runs from Saturday 1st July until Monday 31st July at The Green Man Gallery."
Artists have until May 15th to enter the competition and until June 25th to submit their work.

Back at Fringe Towers we are happy to report that we now have 125 events and shows lined-up for July and there are still 9 days in which to enter in order to be guaranteed a listing in the printed programme which will be published and launched at a party - also at the Green Man Gallery - on Saturday June 3rd. It looks like being a special Fringe indeed.

Buxton Fringe

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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 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 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

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