Wednesday 30 July 2014

Thanks & Farewell Fringe 2014

This might be the last Buxton Fringe blog for a while - there is unlikely to be much of any great significance happening over the next 5 weeks or so.

It would be ill-mannered - and we hope we are not that - to sign-off for the summer without thanking everyone who made this Fringe so memorable. Everyone includes thousands of people and most of them are unknown to us so we can't do a roll-call. It would include, however, all those people who opened-up the venues and served tea and biscuits. It would include all the front of house staff, box office staff, technicians and venue managers. It would include our lovely audiences who were unfailingly generous and enthusiastic. It would include the thousands of dancers, comedians, artists, musicians, storytellers, filmmakers and singers who brought their skills and enthusiasm to the Fringe to share with us all.

The Fringe as an organisation is ever grateful to its sponsor, the University of Derby, and all those others that provide practical and financial support, such as: High Peak Borough Council, the Osborne Group, AM Bromley Ltd, the Buckingham Hotel, Buxton Brewery, Buxton Festival, Buxton Opera House, the Green Man Gallery, the Old Hall Hotel and the Pavilion Gardens.

Next year's Buxton Festival is scheduled to take place between 10-26 July. The Fringe dates have yet to be agreed but provisionally they are likely to be 8-26 July. Confirmation of the dates will be posted on the Fringe website as soon as they are confirmed.

Have a fabulous summer everyone and hope to see you all back in Buxton next July.

Buxton Fringe

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The end of another great Fringe

Shakespeare's Jukebox collect their Street Theatre award

Keith has been so efficient at blogging during the Fringe that I haven’t felt the need to intrude. Well it’s all over now and in danger of feeling a little flat so perhaps it is time to round things off with a few words.

It was great to see so many performers and Fringe supporters at the Awards Ceremony on Sunday, a super occasion upstairs at The Old Clubhouse - the venue beautifully Fringeified with bunting and table decorations. While a few will have been disappointed not to receive awards, it was lovely to see the smiling faces of those acts such as Shakespeare's Jukebox (pictured above) who did come away with something. And there were tears of joy from some of the winners with the John Beecher Memorial Award in particular bringing up many emotions. The highly creative Off-Off-Off Broadway Company picked up this award, telling me later that John had been their dear friend and was an inspiration in everything that they do.

Over the coming weeks, certificates will be sent out and the website's gallery pages refreshed. Some of the photos are just fantastic and we should thank our volunteer photographers – Ian J Parkes, Donald Judge, James Bissett and the webmaster Dan Osborne (the latter performing various unwise acrobatics on top of the Fringe float to get the right shot). We are lacking video however so do get in touch if you can plug this gap by posting something on Youtube to which we can link.

The thank you game is a dangerous one as it sometimes seems that the whole town is in on the task of making the Fringe successful, but three cheers for Fringe chair Keith, a ubiquitous figure seeing around 45 shows as well as organising new venture Fringe at Five, and to the tireless Fringe desk managers and volunteers who helped paint the town orange.

See you all next year!

Buxton Fringe

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Friday 25 July 2014

Last weekend of 35th Buxton Festival Fringe

Well it’s the ‘last chance saloon’ for all Festival Fringe events as the final weekend of the 35th Fringe approaches. Blessed with brilliant weather – apart from the poor old Morris men – there will be much to remember. But first what still can you see and hear?

On Saturday only you could a musical feast: the fabulous K’antu Ensemble bring early music up-to-date with a concert of Shakespeare’s Music at the United Reformed Church at 12.30. At 2pm in St Mary’s Church the Bel Canto Singers will be presenting a programme of songs in joyful summer celebration including a tribute to First World War heroes.

At the Methodist Church at 3pm John Kilpatrick brings the Sheffield Lydian Ensemble for what he says will be his final concert. High standards of musicianship and fun in equal measure is guaranteed in a choral collage that includes John’s Jumblies Suite (‘they went to sea in a sieve they did’).

You could complete a tour of Buxton churches by going to St John’s at 7.30pm to hear the City of Manchester Opera singing some of your favourite arias and choruses. Fringe regulars COMO never let their appreciative audiences down.

If it is folkier, more contemporary, music that you are looking for there is a straight choice at Underground Venues. At 3.45pm The Raintown Seers draw on songs from both sides of the Atlantic in a mix of traditional and original compositions. At 4pm Darren Poyzer delivers the final performance of ‘The War To End All Wars’ – his moving reflections on the First World War.

The excellent Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz will be delivering their own brand of Dixieland and trad jazz at the Methodist Church at 7.30pm

There is a raft of comedy in town. Radio and TV presenter Terry Christian is presenting his ‘Naked Confessions of A Recovering Alcoholic’ which has been touring to great reviews. He is at the 300-seat Arts Centre Auditorium at 8pm. At 9.45 in the Arts Centre Studio is Lolie Ware with ‘Too Cool To Care’ in which she finds humour in her account of life caring for two elderly parents. She totally won-over audiences when she was in Buxton earlier this Fringe.

At Underground Venues you have a choice of late night comedy. Alfie Moore draws on his experience as a police officer for his show ‘The Naked Stun’ which has at its heart the business of trying to catch a flasher. There is plenty of humour but also plenty of exasperation in Alfie’s stories. Simon Feilder starts last at 10.30pm with ‘All the things I’m not’ in which he examines his life so far with the aid of flip charts, histograms and some songs. Simon is worried that much in life he finds difficult – such as relationships – but can he work out ways of coping?

There is plenty available on both Saturday and Sunday. If you haven’t yet seen the free art exhibitions at the Art Café in the Pavilion Gardens, the town Museum & Art Gallery or The Green Man Gallery then Sunday may be a good opportunity to make good that omission. The galleries are open all day.

Buxton has seen a number of premieres this Fringe. Possibly none has been better than ‘Shrew’ a new play written by, and starring, Ami Jones. The play revisits Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ from the point of view of Kate. She is still angry, hurt, resentful – but she also questions herself and her complicity which led to a life that was not what she wanted or hoped for. This is a totally gripping performance and Ami Jones is a name to watch out for. The last performances are on Saturday at 6.15pm and Sunday at 1pm.

The amiable Doug Devaney is back this weekend with ‘The Angina Monologue’ in which he considers how fags, booze and a fat-filled diet led him to surgery, death’s door and life-style choices. Doug clearly has a message but the story is told in an engaging way and not without humour. Doug finishes at Underground Venues on Sunday at 2.30pm.

Dreamshed Theatre is in town with two very different shows. ‘The Theo The Mouse Show’ is unambiguously a show aimed at children – and their mums, dads or grandparents – and the enthusiastic Fringe reviewer wrote: Although the show had echoes of Basil Brush in its format, it reminded me more of the best kind of panto with singing, dancing, magic and even some ‘Oh no there wasn’t! Oh yes there was!’ moments. There was just the right amount of interactivity, no longueurs, spot on comedy for adults and children alike and not a hint of condescension to younger members of the audience. See Theo at the United Reformed Church at 2pm Saturday and Sunday.

At 7.30pm Dreamshed are back with a very different show – ‘His Letters’. This is a moving one-man play about a man who makes an unusual discovery when clearing out his late mother’s possessions. The reviewer urging you to see the show said: His Letters is an excellent example of story telling that explores family relationships and how we interact with people once they are gone. It strengths were in “how” the story was told rather than “what” story was being told. How the story was told is down to a combination of both the actor and the writing.

The last two events at this year’s Fringe are ‘Swan Canaries’ – also at the United Reformed Church – which tells the story of factory workers in Nottingham who made munitions during the First World War. With a song or two this tells an important story in an accessible way.

Seeing the Fringe out in grand style are the Word Wizards who have put on 16 performance poetry events at the Buckingham Hotel. The last one – starting at 8.15 – includes Derbyshire’s first poet laureate Cathy Grindrod.

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The weekend starts here - Friday 25th July

With forty shows and events to choose from today – including half a dozen new ones – there’s plenty to keep Fringe enthusiasts going all day.

New arrivals in town include the K’antu Ensemble who scooped a music award last year. They are doing two separate events at the lovely St Peter’s Church, Fairfield today. At 4pm they are running a workshop for children and in the evening they are doing a concert ‘Dancing & the Divine’. They are brilliant and engaging musicians – playing early music instruments such as viols and theorbo – do make an effort to see them.

At 4.15pm in Underground Venues is the second show this Fringe with a cricketing link - a whole new genre. Slow Left Arm are Mark - an optimistic Northern slacker - and Dom - a tortured soul. Their new show 'Orthodox' is a mixture of songs, sketches and monologues.

PB Youth Theatricals are doing three performances of Gilbert & Sullivan’s one-act opera ‘Trial By Jury’ at St Thomas More School – at 6.30, 7.30 and 8.30 – so no excuses for missing this one!

‘Swan Canaries’ is a new musical play about the women who filled shells fired during the First World War in a factory in Chilwell, Nottinghamshire. In 1918 eight tonnes of explosives detonated but the workers proved themselves heroes. A bit of nostalgia but also a fascinating and important story at the United Reformed Church at 7.30pm.

There is more First World War related theatre at the Arts Centre Studio with Patricia Hartshorne and her new show ‘When the band begins to play’. Patricia will be accompanied by pianist Peter Dobson in a mixture of letters, poems and saucy songs relating the horrors and humour of wartime.

Jonathan Ellis was in Buxton earlier in the Fringe for a much-acclaimed recital with violinist Duncan Reid. Tonight at 7.30pm Jonathan is playing solo at the Methodist Church. His programme includes popular and well-known works by Beethoven Chopin, Bach and Mussorgsky. He is a splendid and exciting pianist to watch and hear.

At the Buckingham Hotel there will be two performance poetry events – at 7pm and 8.15pm. Get free tickets from the hotel from 6pm. This is part of a run of 16 events with different poets at every show – so variety is guaranteed. More shows right through to the very end of the Fringe on Sunday 27th.

Among the shows ending their run at the Fringe is the brilliant Dotdotdot Flamenco Company with ‘No Frills’ at the Arts Centre Studio at 9pm. They chose Buxton to premiere this show and the dance, song and music has got standing ovations. It really is a thrilling show.

It is also ‘goodbye’ to Professor Harry Stottle’s Music Hall Extravaganza (Old Clubhouse at 3pm and 8pm) and the Library Theatre Touring Company’s production of Alan Bennett’s much-loved monologue ‘Soldiering On’ – 7.30pm at the United Reformed Church.

Buxton Fringe

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Wednesday 23 July 2014

Coming and Going at Fringe 2014: 'The Great War' and 'Shrew'

Darren Poyzer has made many new friends at the Fringe. His show is great but more than that he has supported the Fringe by opening Fringe Sunday and playing at Fringe at Five. His final appearance with his show 'The War to End All Wars' is on Saturday 26 July at 4pm the centenary of the start of the 'Great War'.

"an excellent musician who performs with kindness, honesty and a smile in his eyes ... his music and 
song writing is beautiful ... one of my Fringe highlights" - Toni Saxton, Buxton Festival Fringe 2014

Aged just 18, Darren Poyzer was on the Royal Navy's front line during the Falklands Conflict of 1982. 
Now as he reaches his 50th year, he has written to deliver a genuinely unique, heartfelt and soul-searching WW1 Commemoration performance. Described as an up close and personal, alternative to Pomp and Ceremony, The War To End All Wars charts Darren’s own story and, using a selection of self-penned songs landscaped by authentic video footage, pays breathtaking respect to the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of 'The Great War'.

Known and respected as one of the finest songwriters in the North West, he has performed live at many prestigious festivals and venues across the UK, including Glastonbury, Edinburgh Fringe, Acoustic Festival Of Britain and The International Guitar Festival of Great Britain.

Originally from Glossop and having spent his childhood in The Peak District, Darren makes a very special return to Buxton, having previously played the Opera House stage in 2009.

Opening on 24 July and playing for four nights is a new play 'Shrew' by Ami Jones. Based loosely on Shakespeare see and read more here: 
The Shrew team spent a day on the Thames Path in London painting walls white, tearing up books and bouncing tennis balls.   

Watch the trailer here:

Shrew will be appearing at the Buxton Fringe (24th-27th July) and the Edinburgh Fringe (31st July - 25th August) before heading to New York for the United Solo Festival (uFest) in October.

For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @shrewtheplay  

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday 24 July: Horror, the Shrew and shades of Hitchcock!

Not quite the lull before the storm – but a dozen new shows will premiere over the last weekend of Fringe 2014. Before then there are still 30 shows and events to choose from today – starting at 9.30am and finishing at 11.15pm. That’s big for a ‘school night’.

Among the new shows is a play at Scrivener’s bookshop. Starting at 7.30pm ‘The Good Lady Ducayne’ is based on a Victorian horror story written by Mrs Elizabeth Braddon in 1896 – the year before ‘Dracula’ was published. The creepy nooks and creaky crannies of the shop will make an ideal setting.

Drawing loosely on Shakespeare is Ami Jones’ new play ‘Shrew’. Kate is trapped. She drinks, does housework and reminisces. She’d like her life to add up to much more. This play is going to New York soon – save yourselves the airfare and see it at 6.15 in Underground Venues.

Staring a three-night run tonight is ‘Back Door’ a dramatic re-working of Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’. Tabitha has broken a leg and is vulnerable; she receives reports that her new neighbour is a cross-dressing enigma who may have murdered her dance partner. ‘Back Door’ is at 9pm in Underground Venues.

Leaving the Fringe today is comedian John Cooper with his show ‘Picture of Cats’. The Fringe Review reported of the first night: You never really know what to expect as a Fringe reviewer, descriptions in programmes can be misleading on occasions. This is, however, one of those shows that ‘does what it says on the tin’. Cats and pictures of cats is what you get. Pictures of cats – cute cats, sad cats, angry cats, weird cats, love cats – they were all there and had the audience ooooing and ahhhhhing.

It’s also ‘goodbye’ to poet Mark Gwynne Jones with his family show on the magic of language ‘Wordworms’ which is at the Pavilion Arts Centre at 6.15pm. Mark will happily sell you the book for £5 and sign it for you. The poems should excite any young reader and Mark’s performance will live in the memory.

Tonight sees the final performance of a new play – ‘Boy on a bed’ which explores the relationship between an athlete – Adam – and a painter – Benedict – through the different perspectives of a number of friends. ‘Boy on a bed’ is at 7.30 in the Arts Centre Studio.

‘Completely bonkers’ said the Fringe Reviewer of ‘One was nude and one wore tails’ – a farce about social class. This is ‘bonkers’ in the best possible way; we think she liked the play and it has its last showing at 5pm today.

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The variety that is the Fringe - six new shows

Six new shows open on the Fringe today and in their own way they illustrate the range and diversity of artistic endeavour that is showcased throughout the Festival.

‘Shakespearience’ is the second new show from Three’s Company and it takes bits and pieces of the Bard’s writing and reassembles them. No doubt some purists will object but it will – if previous Three’s Company shows are anything to go by – will be witty, fun, challenging and a chance to hear cheek by jowl bits of Shakespeare that you otherwise wouldn’t. 7.45 at Underground Venues.

‘Hans my hedgehog’ is a new show ‘for families’ by former Buxton resident Anna Beecher. Anna tells anew story with clear roots in traditional tales. A woman longs for a child but her son is born covered in hedgehog quills. A lost man makes a wild promise and a young girl longs for a handsome husband. Recommended for all aged 6 and over Anna begins the story of Hans at 5pm.

‘Over the garden fence’ is a new piece of theatre at the Arts Centre Studio. Join Annabelle and her grandmother Dolly on their heartfelt, amusing and often frustrating journey as they come to terms with the onset of Dolly’s dementia.

‘Dr Sketchy Sheffield’ provides you with an opportunity to draw some of the best burlesque, cabaret and circus-style performers – who will pose for your drawing pleasure as well as perform, live for your entertainment. A one-off opportunity this Fringe at the Old Clubhouse from 7.30pm.

The High Peak Magic Society return for ‘An evening of close up magic’. This always sells-out and you’ll need to check at the Opera House for ticket availability. At The Palace Hotel tonight and tomorrow.

‘Soiree’ is a new play and is being performed at Buxton Community School’s drama studio for the next three nights. A dinner party has been organised to welcome the return of a friend. Two couples make up the party. What should have been an enjoyable evening quickly turns bad and could be the last straw for one of the couples.

The Dotdotdot Flamenco Company opened last night to absolutely rave reviews. They are at the Arts Centre Studio for three more nights starting at 9pm. The dance, song and music were all highly acclaimed. You may want to see and hear what the fuss is all about. If you are in the Pavilion Gardens at 5pm over the next three nights get a free taster at Fringe At Five.

Buxton Fringe

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Tuesday 22 July 2014

The Last Tuesday of Fringe 2014

It looks like being another fine day in Buxton and for those with the time to relax and enjoy it the Fringe offers its usual mix of entertainment today.

This afternoon Mart Rodger’s Manchester Jazz plays at Buxton Methodist Church. Mart reported recently that his trumpet player has been told by his doctor not to play while he awaits a heart operation – but he has a fine deputy lined-up for Buxton. Mart and his band play a splendid mixture of traditional and Dixieland jazz with energy and passion. If you miss out today they are back on Saturday night.

The Dotdotdot Flamenco Company flew in from Madrid yesterday and brought some sunshine with them. The six-strong group of dancers and musicians are playing four nights at the Pavilion Arts Centre Studio. They have also said that they’ll be at the free Fringe At Five events in the Pavilion Gardens on Wednesday-Friday (5pm at the Bandstand). So no excuse for missing what should be an exciting show.

Also starting this afternoon is the first of two new productions by Three’s Company. Today at 3.45pm sees the first performance of ‘The Adventure Machine’ in which the audience helps guide our hero through a spoof fantasy world. Yaz Al-Shaater and Tom Crawshaw who met and grew-up in Buxton and now manage the Fringe Underground Venues at the Old Hall Hotel are two-thirds of Three’s Company.

Sudden Impulse Theatre Company offer new late-night entertainment with a political farce by Italian playwright Dario Fo. ‘One Was Nude And One Wore Tails’ is a comic observation of what makes for class difference in western society.

Today sees final performances from local trombone legend Sam Slide (tickets for his show at the Old Clubhouse are pretty hot); the comic trio, Gein’s Family Giftshop went down very well earlier in the Fringe, “Constantly keeping you off balance, the consummate actors race through their funny, weird, short vignettes. Their energetic acting intensity is full on and one is amazed to find that a full hour has slipped by. You are forced to listen intently to catch some of the punch lines whilst the material seems to arrive in no logical order” was part of the reviewer’s report.

It’s goodbye to another comedian – Caimh (‘Queeve’) McDonnell – who has charmed previous audiences with his adult show: “Ostensibly the show was about moving South, from Manchester to London, but his style and range of subject took the White-Haired Irishman (a passable human pint of Guinness in his black outfit) through a comedy glossary of daft and funny things, eminently bonkers and laugh-out-loud mad.” (Fringe Review).

Buxton Fringe

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Monday 21 July 2014

Final Week of Fringe 2014 starts today

The last week of Buxton’s 35th Festival Fringe begins today – and it is a good chance to catch up with what you might have missed before a host of new shows open later in the week.

Bern and Betsy Budd’s ‘Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve’ finishes its run on Tuesday before they fly back to Boston. Twain’s prose is so rich and fun-filled they can deliver his account of why a brontosaurus doesn’t make a good pet – and various observations on why women seem to be so much more energetic and creative than men – pretty much straight.

Another show that has been getting good audiences – sell-outs in fact – is ‘Lapse’ by Shadow Syndicate. The Fringe reviewer wrote of this new play: What a show! Lapse has taken me on an emotional roller-coaster; this clever and contemporary show illustrates how one event can ripple and cause others to occur. With a small ensemble of just six young actors people may ask if they would be able to honour such a dramatic event in which 9/11 was. The answer is YES. There are just two more performances of ‘Lapse’.

Another play finishing soon is Uproot Theatre’s two-man adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Corioloanus’. Buxton Drama League’s Toni Saxton reviewed this for the Fringe website: I cannot speak for the other ‘people’ in the audience, however, I cannot wait to go and see this production again. I have a feeling that more questions may arise, some may be answered but above all I will have another evening of mesmerizing theatre. Do Not Miss going to see Coriolanus.

Opening tonight is comedian Kelly Kingham with a show called ‘Inside Out’. He comes enthusiastically recommended by other audiences who describe him as provoking ‘gales of laughter’ and as being ‘immensely likeable and talented’. He is at Underground Venues at 7pm.

Also opening tonight is ‘In the penal colony’ – an adaptation of the Kafka short story by Stephen Berkoff. This production is by Sudden Impulse Theatre Company which brings two shows to this year’s Fringe.

Sadly we need to alert you to the fact the much anticipated performances by Soweto Encha due to open in St John’s Church tonight have been cancelled.

Buxton Fringe

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Saturday 19 July 2014

It will be SUNday July 20

On Saturday you may have heard Kenny Robertson history of rock guitar. Today – by way of contrast perhaps – there is a second and final chance to hear acoustic guitar virtuoso David Youngs at Underground Venues at 3.45. At the same venue at 12.45 is an intriguing offer – ‘Lullaby of Andalusia’ which draws on the poetry of Lorca, the music of Falla and flamenco. This show is brought to us by ARKangel and the same company is back at 5.30pm with a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald – who fought racial and sexual stereotypes to forge a great career. Expect a non-stop parade of great songs accompanied by violin and guitar. Perfect for early evening in summer.

The Buxton Festival is putting on a number of productions as part of the Fringe. Today there is a real treat. Olivier-nominated actor Gerard Logan is doing a one-man show ‘Wilde Without The Boy’. Oscar Wilde reflects on his life in a prison cell. There will be wit, of course, and pathos in this presentation of ‘De Profundis’, Wilde’s letter to his lover. This is in the Arts Centre Auditorium at 2pm.

There are other musical choices at 2pm. John Thomson returns to Buxton for a piano recital at the United Reformed Church – he’ll be playing Beethoven, Chopin, Bartok and a sonata that he composed. Sideways Band have been very visible throughout this Fringe and they at Underground Venues today.

Nearby, in the Old Hall Hotel, something of a Fringe tradition continues. Fringe Readings is exactly that – spend about 30 minutes listening to someone reading from a favourite book. You can’t be sure who will be reading- or what they will be reading from – but it that unexpectedness is part of the pleasure; at 2pm and 3pm.

A number of performers leave Buxton today – so it is your last chance to see: comedian Ruth E Cockburn (8.30 at Underground Venues); the improve show ‘The Good, The Bad and the Unexpected’ (9pm at Underground); His and Hers Wild Vaudeville in the Piano Lounge at The Old Hall Hotel (8pm) and Alastair Clark’s political/comedy ‘Vote Russell Brand’ (7pm at Underground).

If you want to study the Fringe programme at your leisure – or read reviews of shows to help you make your choices – go to the Fringe website or visit the Fringe information desk in the Conservatory next to the Opera House.

Buxton Fringe

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Friday 18 July 2014

Saturday 19 July at The Fringe

The middle weekend of the Buxton Fringe is packed with possibilities and opportunities and you could have a whole weekend of artistic indulgence for free. There are art exhibitions at the Buxton Museum and Gallery, the Green Man Gallery, at the Spring Bank Arts Centre New Mills. For this weekend only at the Dome – home to Fringe sponsors, the University of Derby – is the Peak District Artisans Art Fair. Over 50 artists and craftworkers will be displaying a fantastic array of work and there will be free talks and displays.

Taking to the streets of Buxton on Saturday – fingers-crossed for the weather – will be the Chapel-en-le-Frith Morris Men and 19 other Morris dance sides. For many people this will be their only encounter with the Fringe. Chapel Morris have been working hard to engage people with Morris dancing – running a workshop for beginners, producing cut-out paper Morris figures and organising a competition to find 21 Mini-Morris figures in 21 locations around town. Their energy, wit and enthusiasm deserve reward.

There are a number of one-off music events to look forward to and to squeeze in. On Saturday at St Mary’s Church at 3pm ChorAlchemy – a Youth Chamber Choir – will be presenting a wide-ranging programme drawing on cabaret, church music, pop, jazz and folk. At St John's the ever-popular and rightly admired Amaretti Chamber Orchestra brings us the music of Debussy, Vaughan Williams, Richard Strauss and others - starting at 7.30pm.

At the Methodist Church at 8pm the Sovereign Saxophone Octet will be celebrating the 200th birthday of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone. They will be playing music dating from across that whole period (and beyond).

Kenny Robertson will be doing a different sort of musical history – celebrating the blood, sweat and tears behind rock guitar. Beginning with the Delta blues and coming up to grunge and new metal. Kenny is going to get a bit of Django Reinhardt in there too.

If that sounds a bit too heavy for you the prospect of hearing 40 recorders might tickle your fancy. The Manchester Recorder Orchestra is at Trinity Church from 7.30 playing mostly pieces written for such a large ensemble – but with some Vivaldi in the programme by way of contrast.

On the drama front there is an ingenious small-scale adaptation (two-man, one-hour) of Shakespeare’s ‘Coriolanus’ which starts at Underground Venues at 6.15 – giving you just enough time to get to the Hydro for the start of another miniaturised production. ‘The Railway Children’ - should be ‘child’ given the casting – which the Crowd of Two Theatre Company is bringing to the Hydro Café in Spring Gardens starts at 7.30pm.

Amongst the Underground Venues comedy offer you’ll find: Alan Gibbons with tales of life as an Amateur Zookeeper (3.45); The Dead Secrets’ sketch show ‘Bulletproof Jest’ reaches the end of its run (10.30pm) and at the Arts Centre Studio Lolie Ware draws on her experiences as a full-time care (9.45pm). Not obvious comedy material, perhaps, but Lolie aims to break down some of the taboos and negativity around a role that more and more people find themselves taking on.

Buxton Fringe

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Fringe on Friday

As we reach the mid-point of the 35Th Buxton Festival Fringe the daily programme gets bigger and bigger with over 40 shows and events to choose from today.

Among the new events is a world premiere. Derbyshire performance poet Mark Gwynne-Jones has a show called ‘Wordworms’ at the Pavilion Arts Centre Studio. Recommended for all aged 7 and over expect a show that is energetic, funny, compelling and thoughtful. Mark is a brilliant performer and writer. He opens at 7.30 tonight.

At the same time and just along St John’s Road in the Octagon the Derbyshire City & County Youth Orchestra will be performing Holsts’ Planet Suite. The Orchestra meets-up for 5 days every year and learns a new programme and performs it for us. It’s hard work for the musicians but the result is invariably thrilling.

More modest in scale but equally exciting will be a violin and piano recital at the Methodist Church. Duncan Reid and Jonathan Ellis team-up to play sonatas by Beethoven and Brahms as well as Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances.

At St John’s Church, also, at 7.30 soprano Laura Monaghan, accompanied by pianist Mark Cartwright, will be performing songs from the 20th century – including Strauss’ Four Last Songs and Alban Berg’s Seven Early Songs. With such riches on offer we would wish for time travel so as to hear them all.

From the drama programme the well-received new play by Buxton Drama League, ‘Caroline’, end its short-run in the Methodist Church Hall. Also tonight is Sian Dudley’s one-woman show ‘WOW’ at the Loft on the Market Place.

You can have a whole evening of new comedy at Underground Venues tonight: ‘The Good, The Bad, and the Unexpected’ takes its title from a spaghetti western – its an improv show and starts at 6.15; Bill Woolland – a father of 7 – shares his experiences of parenthood; Claire Cogan’s ‘Bite Size Show’ introduces a host of instantly recognisable characters; Amadeus Martin returns to Buxton with ‘God created Brixton’ – this part of south-west London is twinned with Monaco, Amadeus contrasts and compares.

Away from the hurly-burly of Buxton there is an art exhibition at New Mills’ Spring Bank Arts Centre open from 2-8pm today and all weekend too. Sue Astles presents landscapes by Harry Ousey who was inspired by Kinder Scout in the 1940s and later Cornwall and France, where he died in 1985. Sue is Harry’s niece and will be providing insights into his life and atmospheric work.

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday 17 July 2014

Today at the 35th Buxton Festival Fringe

So what’s new today at the Buxton Festival Fringe? The short answer is ‘Lots’ and here is a quick summary.

Early music specialists Partita have been coming to the Fringe for 20 years now and have built-up a loyal following. Led by lutenist Roger Child, Partita always have some new songs and music for audiences to hear and no doubt their concert tonight at St John’s Church will prove to be no exception.

Likely to be totally different – but such is the joy of the Fringe – is ‘Professor Harry Stottle’s Music Hall Extravaganza’ which starts a run at the Old Clubhouse at 7pm. The show aims at a vivid re-creation of the heyday of the British music hall.

Scrivener’s Bookshop is the smallest venue in the Fringe – just 12 tickets are available for performances of ‘The Ghosthunters’ Club’ which is on for just three nights starting at 7.30pm tonight. Be prepared to search all five floors of the creaky bookshop in search of ghosts in this spooky, tongue-in-cheek event.

A new play – ‘Boy On A Bed’ – is back for its second outing at the Arts Centre Studio. Well-received on its first performance when the reviewer described it as ‘sometimes funny, often touching’ the play explores the developing sexual awareness of a young man who is a keen athlete who meets a painter.

Also back on the Fringe is ‘ComedySportz’ – a fast-paced improv comedy show between two teams. Taking place in Underground Venues at 7.30pm ‘be prepared to take an active part, get your funny-muscles well stretched and limbered up to get the silliness going and your ideas flowing: it is fast, frantic and funny’ wrote the Fringe reviewer.

Radio 4 comedian Alfie Moore brings his new show to Buxton. ‘The Naked Stun’. Alfie has been described by David Mitchell as ‘Brilliantly funny, genuinely hilarious.’ He is at Underground Venues tonight at 8.30pm.

More comedy is on offer at Underground from The Dead Secrets in their show ‘Bulletproof Jest’ – a series of inventive, and sometimes absurd, sketches.

If it is music that you are looking for then Buxton Brewery’s Tap House begins a week of gigs starting tonight at 9.30 with the Gren Bartley Band. There are a different bands – in a whole range of styles – between now and 25th July. Admission is Free.

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Tuesday 15 July 2014

Daily Bulletin - Wednesday 16 July

As the second full-week of the 35th Buxton Festival Fringe begins things are getting busier as more new shows open. Here are some of today’s debutantes:

The CHS Youth Theatre Company from Chapel-en-le-Frith begins its run with a play called ‘Crossroads’ which it performs at the United Reformed Church. The question is psoed – ‘What would make your life perfect – but what would it cost you?’ Hints of the Faustus myth.

Buxton Drama League begin three nights at the Methodist Church with a new play ‘Caroline’ which is written and directed by Toni Saxton, a Drama League member. Caroline is found trying to cope with the death of her daughter – can she overcome her feelings of guilt?

More new drama at Underground Venues as ‘Because She Loved the Lion’ opens at 7.30pm. ‘The story of a mother, her daughter, her sister and a mouse consumed by a lion with a beautiful mane.’

For younger audiences, perhaps, but not starting until 8pm is an adaptation of Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in 80 Days.’ Performed by the REC Youth Theatre and presented at the Pavilion Arts Centre Studio this treatment has been written by Tom Crawshaw who grew up in Buxton and is part of the company that runs Underground Venues during the Fringe.

We don’t get much dance in the Fringe and a daring new piece opens at a venue new to this year’s Fringe. Sian Dudley who worked at the Buxton Opera House is managing a number of venues around the Market Place. At the Loft at 9.15 tonight Brick Wall Ensemble will be performing ‘The Remarkable Case of You’ in which nine people, under the influence of a hypnotist will reveal their true selves. The performance will include ‘adult themes’ we are advised.

Perennial Buxton favourites the Tideswell Male Voice Choir sings at St John’s Church starting at 7pm. The show is entitled ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ and the Choir will be joined by pianist Christopher Ellis and other special guests. The church will be full of people and voices.

Among those leaving Buxton after today is Chris Neville-Smith with his play ‘Waiting for Gandalf’ which is on at Underground Venues at 10.30pm. Chris has entered into the spirit of the Fringe wholeheartedly – blogging on what he sees as the ‘Best of the Fringe’ and offering advice to visitors on ‘Surviving in Buxton.’ Chris is just one of many people who have been welcome guests – we’ll miss him and we hope he takes a piece of Buxton with him when he returns to Durham.

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Monday 14 July 2014

Fringe Bulletin - Tuesday 15th July

Just four new shows opening on the Fringe today – though there is plenty to catch-up with.

The Kaleidoscope Community Choir is in open rehearsal at the Octagon from 1-2pm. If you go to listen feel free to join in. The Choir meets regularly to sing and rehearse. It is having a summer break after today – but contact the Opera House for times and dates of the new season’s rehearsals which are open to all.

Comedian Caimh (pronounced Kweeve) McDonnell returns to Buxton with his new show Southbound and Down. Last year Caimh moved to London, trying to be an upstanding member of the society – he says this show is proof that no good dead goes unpunished. High Peak residents could probably have told him and saved him the trouble. Caimh, who has written for Sarah Millican and Mock The Week, is at Underground Venues at 7pm.

Dennis Potter’s play Blue Remembered Hills was first seen on TV in 1979 with a cast including Helen Mirren and Colin Welland playing 7-year-olds. Set in the Forest of Dean in 1943 a childish prank goes terribly wrong. The REC Youth Theatre bring a new production to the Arts Centre Studio at 7.30 tonight.

Local trombone player Sam Slide has long-promised to ‘do’ the Fringe. Finally he keeps his promise – with the help of a couple of mates. He is at the Old Clubhouse at 7.30 telling stories from his life with musical accompaniment and an explanation of how the trombone works. You could hear carols, jazz, Bach and blues.

Among the performers we say ‘goodbye’ to today is comedian Andrew Watts whose show Feminism for Chaps was very favourably reviewed when it opened. Samantha Mann’s comedy show Stories About Love, Death and A Rabbit finishes at 10pm tonight. The Fringe reviewer reported: “You’re in a cellar with a man dressed as a spinster librarian who punctures his act with mimes of a rabbit eaten by a fox, surrounded by an audience who aren’t quite sure what’s going on; you’re going to end up laughing!” 

It will also be your last chance to catch Seriously Funny – a play about the friendship and relationship of Tony Hancock and Kenneth Williams. That starts at 8.30pm at the United Reformed Church.

Tonight’s Fringe At Five – 5pm at the Pavilion Gardens Bandstand – includes some songs from the Sideways Band, who closed the Fringe Sunday show so brilliantly. [If you haven't seen them already Donald Judge took many brilliant photos of Fringe Sunday. If you were there you may well be here:

Meanwhile continuing throughout the Fringe there are excellent art exhibitions at the Art Café (in the Pavilion Graden), at the Buxton Museum and the Green Man Gallery.

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At the smallest theatre in Buxton 24-26 July

Scrivener's may well be the biggest bookshop in Buxton - and for many miles around - but it is also the smallest performance space. However, every year it is a delight to attend intimate performances there. There are 15 tickets only for each show - so don't delay and be disappointed. Coming up is this treat:

Threadbare Carpet Productions presents a new play for the Buxton Fringe: The Good Lady Ducayne based on a story of the same title by Mary Braddon the ‘Queen of the Victorian sensational novelists’ 

‘Before Dracula, there was the Good Lady Ducayne!’
Originally published in The Strand Magazine on February 1896, a year before Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this site-specific production is a classic tale of horror and suspense set in the Dark Peak and will be performed in Scrivener’s second-hand bookshop, the perfect setting for this gothic tale of mystery and suspense. It is produced and directed by Cordelia Howard and adapted by Michael Howard, whose An Evening at the Cabaret Voltaire won the MEN Drama award for Fringe Productions in 1996.
The Good Lady Ducayne

Scrivener’s Bookshop, 42 High St, Buxton SK17 6HB
July Thu 24, Fri 25, Sat 26 at 7.30pm
Tickets: £5 at Buxton Opera House Box Office  -  Tel: 0845 127 2190
Numbers are limited to 15 per show - Suitable for age 8 upwards

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Monday 14 July - Fringe At Five begins!

The brilliant weather continues for the second week of the Fringe as a clutch of new shows arrive in town.

Also new is ‘Fringe At Five’ – a free sampler of shows that are taking place. Fittingly this is launched today by the person whose idea it was. Carol Bowns leads the Kaleidoscope Community Choir workshops in Buxton and the Choir kick-off “Fringe At Five” on the Pavilion Gardens Bandstand at 5pm today. Following the Choir is Augustus Stephens with extracts from his show “This Way Madness Lies” – in which good humour proves to be a blessing. The line-up will be completed by Chris Neville-Smith previewing “Gandalf’s Last Stand”. A varied 30 minutes of free entertainment before dinner!

Among today’s new shows we see the welcome return of Butterfly Theatre with their hugely popular show in Poole’s Cavern. They have done Shakespeare in the past but this year they bring “Dracula’s Women Underground”. An hour-long promenade through the caves following the vampire women in search of Dracula and blood! Remember to dress warmly it is just 7 degrees in the Cavern. There are shows today at 5.30, 7.00 and 8.30.

A new play is “The Speech” by Tony Earnshaw. Liz Oldfield is the British prime minister and she is presiding over a difficult period. She turns to her speechwriter for help, but can they save her government. This thoughtful and humorous play opens at 7.30 in Underground Venues.

Chris Neville-Smith will be rushing from “Fringe At Five” to perform “Waiting for Gandalf”. Kevin is a “Lord of the Rings” superfan and is off to a book-signing where he waits to meet “Gandalf”. But what else motivates him? Be in Underground Venues at 10.30 to find out.

If music is what you are looking for then the St Peter’s Fairfield music festival continues – tonight at 7pm with Keith Donnelly a singer and comedian. The Clouds Harp Quartet is back after their hugely successful Fringe debut last week; you’ll find them at the Buckingham Hotel at 8pm. Singer/songwriter Cathy Rimer is doing a one-off gig at the Green Man Gallery starting at 7pm.

Maxine Jones offers early-evening comedy – 5.30 in the Barrel Room, Underground Venues.

Continuing today are Betsy & Bern Budd with their charming “Mark Twain’s Adam & Eve Diaries”.

For full details of all shows and events please see the Fringe website – or get a Fringe programme at the Tourist Information Office or visit the Fringe Information desk – right next door to the Opera House where Gemma, Gaye or the super-friendly volunteers from Buxton Community School will be happy to answer any question.

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Saturday 12 July 2014

Fringe Sunday - come to the party!

Sunday 13 July is Fringe Sunday. There are two other Fringe Sundays but on this first Sunday in the Fringe there is something of a party going on in the Pavilion Gardens. Starting at 2pm at The Bandstand a dozen acts and performers will be playing for free: singer Darren Poyzer kicks things off with songs from his First World War-themed show The War To End All Wars. Darren will be followed by Will Hawthorne whose Kinks’ songs went down a storm on his opening night. He’ll get the whole park singing-along.

As the afternoon progresses there will comedy from Maxine Jones, poetry from Derbyshire legend Mark Gwynne Jones plus ever-popular guests The Belly Dance Flames. The ‘Victorian’ comedy/magic duo Morgan & West and a chorus from PB Theatricals singing extracts from ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ are also in the programme. We shall also be pleased to welcome another guest performance - Reforma Movement Theatre will be joining us for a dance piece which we suspect will be very different from our other two dance groups!

While all this is going on the Chapel Morris Men will have been teaching beginners how to dance the Morris. Freshly trained, the new Morris side will dance in public for the first time at 4pm. Fringe Sunday will close with The Sideways Band who are sure to keep the party mood going.

The High Peak Magic Society will also be on hand to demonstrate their skills – and no matter how many times you’ve seen the tricks you remain confounded. Bring a rug and some sandwiches, stretch out and enjoy yourselves. There is plenty of ice cream, tea and coffee for sale at the Gardens café.

Away from the Gardens there is much, much more to see and hear. The Grinlow Art and Storytelling Trail finishes today. Go to the Poole’s Cavern car park from 10.00 to follow the trail. It has really caught the imagination of those that have followed it so far – it has a real ‘Wow factor’ one Fringe veteran reported.

There is a lovely ‘one-off’ flute and piano recital by Rachel Johnson and Jemima Palfreyman at the United Reforemd Church at 8pm. There is a one-man, one-act production of ‘Treasure Island’ at Underground Venues at 9pm tonight.

There is just one film entry in this year’s Fringe – and it clashes with the World Cup Final! Buxton Film runs a short film competition every year and this year six films from the entries have been selected for screening. Starting at 7.30 in the Arts Centre Studio there are films about a middle-aged couple who miss their son who is in the army, a lovely comedy about a man who is waiting to meet a new date following the end of his marriage and a brilliantly executed one-take, 9 minute film about two men who await a very important phone call. The programme includes some strong language and some difficult themes and is recommended for those aged 15 and above.

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Friday 11 July 2014

It's Carnival Time!

Saturday the 12th of July is the day that Buxton takes to the streets – it’s Carnival time! The Fringe Festival will have its, now traditional, orange bed-decked float (courtesy of Lomas Distribution). The only thing more orange will be the Billerettes – so you can’t miss the Fringe or Bill and his gang. [At this point some Irish friends usually caution us to make it clear that Fringe orange has nothing to do with certain other Oranges].

Away from the hurly burly of the fair in the Market Place and the swelter of the streets there is much else going on as the Fringe picks up pace.

One of the quiet triumphs of last year was a week-long music festival (within a festival) at St Peter’s Church Fairfield. Much of the Festival Fringe is around the Crescent and the town centre and so it is especially important to have performances elsewhere. As Fairfield residents are keen to remind us theirs is the oldest settlement. The St Peter’s music festival really does have something for everyone – it is free to children. They kick-off at 7pm tonight with a Chamber Choir with jazz, folk and classical guitar to come.

The Buxton Festival Fringe has always included events beyond the town boundaries and this year there are some shows at the beautiful Spring Bank Arts Centre, New Mills. At 7.30 tonight Trace Taylor and her band are performing. Trace has promised to join the Carnival procession before heading off to New Mills.

If the Carnival atmosphere and the sunshine get to be all too much for you then retire to St Mary’s Church at 3pm. The Ordsall Acapella Singers have become firmly established in the Fringe programme but they are here just for one day. Enjoy an hour of their singing and a slice of cake! Alternatively hear the Sideways Band. They are popping-up all over the Fringe this year (see below for more) but debut in The Barrel Room at the Old Hall starting at 2pm.

If you are staying in town for the evening you’ll be spoiled for choice: you can relish the High Peak Orchestra tackling Mahler’s 4th and Schumann’s Cello Concerto featuring local soloist Miriam Brown; Morgan & West return with their mixture of comedy and magic laced with Holmes & Watson; for late night comedy Ruth E Cockburn is on at 10pm at Underground Venues – she reassures us “We are all in control of our own happiness. As long as we are near a toaster”; or you could catch the first of two performances of a theatrical adaptation of ‘The Elephant Man’.

Will there be time for a glass of Buxton Brewery’s specially brewed Fringe Beer at the Tap House? Let’s hope so.

Back to Buxton after 40 years

Guitarist and song writer Peter Buxton of Sideways Band, has moved back to Buxton after 40 years away.
Sideways, a duo who have achieved a following on the South Coast in Sussex for many years, will be playing live in venues all over the area. 
Peter's great Grandad sold clothes pegs on Buxton market and the wheel has turned full circle in being back to contribute to the buzzing bohemia that is Buxton.
A new song will be performed specially for the Fringe festival about coming back to the places you belong.
The Sideways repertoire from Bob and Peter is a personalised journey through blues folk and rock over the years, and has some laid back acoustic music for everyone.

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Thursday 10 July 2014

And on the third day: Fringe Bulletin 11 July

Today is the day when the Buxton Festival itself starts and the Fringe monopoly ends. There are, however, about 25 Fringe events listed for today – and it is only going to get busier. Here are just a few of the highlights from shows and events that debut today at this year’s Fringe.

One of the greatest British pop albums is The Kinks’ ‘Arthur (Or the decline and fall of the British Empire)’. Recorded and released in 1969 the songs were originally intended to accompany a TV play about post-war English suburban life. The play was never made but thankfully we have the album. Buxton-based singer Will Hawthorne will be performing ‘Arthur’ in its entirety at 5.30pm today.

If musicals on a big-scale are your thing then get along to St Thomas More School at 7.30 for performance of ‘Les Miserables’. This will be a schools’ edition sung by a youth community choir comprised of children from across the High Peak.

In terms of drama the Fringe welcomes back Ginny Davis. Ginny has a loyal following for her plays about the Rich family. Think ‘Outnumbered’ and you are close. This year it is Ruth’s husband’s 60th birthday and her son’s 18th. A joyous family celebration is a must. What could go wrong? Find out at 9pm.

What with the World Cup and the Tour de France the fact that there is a test match going on has passed barely noticed. In ‘Godfrey’s Last Stand’ we have a topical and good-natured play from Talking Stock Productions who are on tour. Godfrey is a village green cricket umpire. He dreams of officiating in an Ashes test match. He has a big lottery win. Can his dreams come true? 6pm at Underground Venue. All profits from the show will go to Macmillan Cancer Support – they are the nicest of people at Talking Stock.

There is something of a science+comedy+magic genre developing. Finding humour in geekiness and nerdiness and testing audiences on their GCSE Sciences is almost fashionable. For three nights only the Fringe has Oliver Meech with his show ‘When magic and science collide: 2.0’. Oliver sold out in Buxton and Edinburgh last year and there are only 40 seats in the Pauper’s Pit. Be sure that one of those seats is yours.

For something completely different go to the Poole’s Cavern car park and follow a woodland way-marked trail. The Grinlow Art and Storytelling Trail could bring a little bit of magic and exercise into your lives. From 6pm today – all day Saturday and Sunday.

PS Betsy & Bern Budd flew in from humid Boston to fresh, clean Buxton. The are here for their show 'Mark Twain's Adam and Eve Diaries'. It is a joy from start to finish. Don't miss it.

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Wednesday 9 July 2014

Stage 2: Thursday 10 July - Buxton, via Massachusetts and Edinburgh

Well, Day 1 was a cracker and I've squeezed in 8 events so far. If nothing else do  go and hear the Clouds Harp Quartet - they are playing for free at the Buxton Museum next Thursday (July 17th) at 2pm. While you're at the Museum you'll also be able to enjoy three splendid art exhibitions. All for precisely no money!

But what of Day 2? 

It’s Stage 2 of the 35th Buxton Fringe and there are some cracking shows opening today.

Bern Budd has visited the Fringe twice before from his beautiful home in Massachusetts. He charmed and delighted audiences then with his telling of stories by Mark Twain - “the first great American writer”. So it is exciting to see him back in Buxton. Bern and Betsy Budd are in town until 22nd July with Mark Twain’s Diaries of Adam & Eve. It will be a warm and witty account – but not necessarily 100% true.

One of the plays that won many friends at Fringe 2013 was Spoonface Steinberg. Beautifully performed and directed the play presents the thoughts of an 8-year-old girl. She is autistic, has cancer, lives with a dysfunctional family and loves opera. It will make you smile and quite likely cry. Rebecca Fenwick delivers a bravura performance as Spoonface and there are just two performances – today and tomorrow at the Old Clubhouse.

There is the usual mix of comedy at Underground Venues. Russell Brand isn’t appearing – but Alastair Clark is. Brand provoked some controversy earlier in the year by suggesting that not voting would lead to a political revolution. Alastair takes issue with Brand – and promises to be funny at the same time. His show starts at 7pm.

Be at Underground at 6pm to hear Simon Feilder. You may have seen Simon on Channel 4’s ‘The Big Breakfast’. He is en-route to Edinburgh but will doing four performances of his new show All the things I’m not in Buxton.

One of the important things about the Fringe is the opportunity it provides for new and young artists and performers. Spotlight Theatre is a company of school students and they will be tackling Arthur Miller’s play All My Sons tonight and tomorrow. This was Miller’s breakthrough play and is based on a true story of how during World War Two an engineering company conspired with army inspectors to get defective aircraft engines approved for military use.

Late-night entertainment is offered by another American guest - Cameryn Moore - as she continues her run. Her show Phone Whore is not for the faint-hearted but is a frank (and sometimes funny) account of her life as a telephone sex worker.

Buxton Fringe

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Fringe Is Go!

Today is the first full day of the 35th Buxton Festival Fringe and there are plenty of comedy and theatre shows tonight to shake you out of any mid-week lethargy.

Underground Venues at the Old Hall Hotel is the place to head to for laughs. Kicking-off at 6pm are His and Hers. Lovable diva Sharnema is joined by charming, but none-too-bright, sidekick Leo in a mixture of love songs, absurd comedy and vaudeville.

They are swiftly followed by a quartet enigmatically named Gein’s Family Giftshop. They are en-route to the Edinburgh Fringe in August and promise to bring a “warped world vision” as they “marry tragedy with hilarity.”

Hot on the quartet’s heels comes Joe Rowntree – from Sky 1’s Brainiac and Dave’s One Night Stand! In his show Morgan Berry Live we get an hour of character-based comedy.

Joe’s show clashes with Scott Bennett’s About A Roy – presumably they are playing in different spaces in Underground Venues. Scott has picked-up plenty of acclaim and notice in his career so far and in this show he draws on his childhood experiences growing up with Yorkshireman father Roy.

Quality drama is assured in an early evening show at The Old Clubhouse. Playwright Rob Johnston has won a hatful of awards and his new play An Extraordinary Light celebrates the achievements, and records the tragic life, of scientist Rosalind Franklin whose work on the structure of DNA helped Crick and Watson win a Nobel prize.

Starting a long Fringe run at the United Reformed Church is Dreamshed Theatre’s His Letters. This is a one-man play about the discoveries a son makes when he clears out his late mother’s possessions.

The Fringe website – – gives full details of every show and event and most shows will be reviewed and the reviews will be posted on-line within 24 hours of the first performance. Make sure to visit the Fringe desk at the entrance to the Conservatory next to the Opera House for all the latest news and chat about shows and performances.

The Fringe got off to a great start on Tuesday with the now traditional launch party at Underground Venues. We were royally entertained with music by Sideways Band and Darren Poyzer, comedian Joe Rowntree and stories from phone sex operator Cameryn Moore. You can hear more from her tonight at 10.30 - prepare to be challenged. She happily quotes one review: "Incredibly brutal, piercing and thought-provoking." You'll laugh as well.

Finally the 2014 Fringe beer mats are now around and about - though you'll have to enter licenced premises to find them. The Fringe beer goes on sale today - many thanks to Buxton Brewery for that. You should find it at all their usual outlets: Buxton Tap House, Old Hall Hotel, Underground Venues & The Queen's Head. Enjoy the Fringe to the limit and drink responsibly!

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Monday 7 July 2014

F Day Minus 1: July 8th

Buxton Festival Fringe 2014 (number 35 in the series) starts for real on Wednesday, July 9th. So here is a further taster about what to expect...

The Buxton Festival Fringe opens tomorrow, but tonight there is something of a party going on to get you in the mood. In the Barrel Room of the Old Hall Hotel some Fringe performers will be on hand to entertain you for free. Expect some games, a little party food, songs and sketches. The fun starts at 8pm.

Come tomorrow and parts of the town will be completely transformed as the Fringe gets into full-swing. Many events and shows are free to attend and some art exhibitions run throughout the festival. The Buxton Museum & Art Gallery is hosting three exhibitions. The Derbyshire Open is a sometimes controversial but always fascinating exhibition of work submitted on a Derbyshire theme. Around 50 pieces are selected for exhibition in the first floor gallery. Downstairs you will find Michaela Wrigley’s Landscapes for Dad; she has created sculptural pieces using clay and other materials that have been inspired by local landscapes. Kate Pheasey’s exhibition is called Taken from the Landscape and she uses mosaic techniques to create her pieces.

The Green Man Gallery has gone from strength to strength over the past 18 months and is hosting two exhibitions. Square Roots is the result of a challenge set to the Gallery’s own artists who were asked to use a kilometre square from Peak District Ordnance Survey maps as the inspiration for new work. Artists have submitted paintings, photographs, drawings, prints and textiles in response. Up to 40 Buxton & High Peak Artists have put together a separate exhibition; Within the Fringe.

At the Art Café in the Pavilion Gardens 30 High Peak Artists present works in response to the challenge to represent Sea Fever. A wide range of techniques and images will present us with seas in different moods and guises.

Some Fringe shows are presented just the once and, if you’re not careful, you’ll miss small treasures. Poet and story-teller Jim MacCool will be reading from his new book My Uncle Donald and Other Island Rambles. The reading takes place in Scrivener’s Bookshop between 1-2pm – and then Jim leaves the Fringe.

Other shows opening on Wednesday include Freerange Theatre’s double-header of plays Phillipa & Will Are Now In A Relationship and The Wake. This touring company are Buxton regulars and always deliver good quality work – this year upstairs in the Old Clubhouse.

On the music front CLOUDS Harp Quartet (if there is another harp quartet I've never seen nor heard it) give the first of four Fringe recitals – each in a different venue. On Wednesday they will be at the United Reformed Church.

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Sunday 6 July 2014

Fringe Daily Bulletin - July 7th

OK the title isn't going to sell many copies necessarily - but it is honest. Every day for 21 days we'll try and give you a bit of a Fringe lowdown and rundown. If we can think of a truthful but more exciting title then we'll do that meanwhile....

This week sees the start of the biggest arts festival of its sort in England. The Buxton Festival Fringe began in 1980 and the 35th Fringe runs from this Wednesday, July 9th right through to Sunday, July 27th. Over the course of 19 days there will be nearly 600 separate events and performances from around 150 different Fringe entrants. It is hard to calculate but something like 1000 artists, singers, actors, comedians, storytellers, magicians, dancers and musicians will be taking part.
Performances will take place in churches, parks, pubs, cafes, private homes, galleries, shops, theatres, on the streets and in the chilly Poole’s Cavern.

Many Fringe events take place in the cellars of The Old Hall Hotel. The Pauper’s Pit – a 40-seat theatre – and The Barrel Room are managed and run during the Fringe by Underground Venues, a small company spearheaded by Yaz Al-Shaater and Tom Crawshaw who met in Buxton more than 20 years ago. Tom and Yaz – along with another Buxton Community School friend, Michael Grady – wrote and performed plays together as teenagers. They set up Three’s Company as a vehicle for producing their plays. This will be Underground Venue’s 9th Fringe – and, as ever, there is some uncertainty as to whether this may be their last year at The Old Hall. The planned re-development of The Crescent is likely to see the cellars closed for public use.

Apart from running Underground Venues in Buxton Tom and Yaz are also heavily involved in Oxfringe – which takes place in Oxford in May – and most years they take shows to Edinburgh in August. July is the time for their many Buxton friends to catch up with them again.

For Fringe 2014 Tom has written an adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days for the local REC Youth Theatre group which will be performed at the Arts Centre Studio between 16-19 July. Later in the Fringe Three’s Company will be putting on two new family-friendly comedies. In The Adventure Machine the audience will help guide our hero through a spoof fantasy world. Shakespearience is a Bardic mash-up which will be an entertaining presentation of our greatest playwright.

For full details of what is happening in the Fringe either pick-up a free 52-page programme – at Buxton railway station, the Tourist Information Centre in the Pavilion Gardens, at the Fringe Desk next to the Opera House at the entrance to the Conservatory – or go to You can also follow the Fringe on Facebook and twitter.

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