Thursday 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas - if that is what you do.

At this time of year - whatever one's faith or none - it is usual to reflect on what we hope for in the times to come. The hopes we have at the Buxton Fringe are probably not so different to those of anyone else: we hope for health, for happiness, for stimulating entertainment and peaceful coexistence. We don't think we need to be 'good' to get these things - but we expect to have to work for it and invest time and energy. We've started work on Fringe 2016 and half a dozen or so events are listed on the website already. There are some intriguing shows in the pipeline - so keep looking for what is coming along.

The Buxton Festival has announced a significant part of its 2016 programme already. The literary series includes Melvyn Bragg on the Peasants' Revolt and, among others, Alexei Sayle. The music series includes the wonderful tenor James Gilchrist. Do look at the programme and start to plan your Buxton summer.

Those of you looking to perform in the Fringe will want to know of a new venue. The Octagon in the Pavilion Gardens is closed for major structural repairs. High Peak Borough Council has erected a splendid Marquee on the promenade to provide an alternative space. The picture at the top of this post shows the inside close to completion. It's about the size of a tennis court and can hold 700 people. Hire isn't cheap - but it isn't as much as you might suppose. It is terrific for live music and dancing. If you think it could work for your show contact Paul Kelsall to discuss availability and cost:

If the 'legendary' Festive issue of the Radio Times has nothing that floats your boat then try the Discover Buxton podcast. The Christmas recording does include a nice piece about our recent Derbyshire Village carols event - but there is much more entertainment before you reach that!

With best wishes to you all for 2016 - when we look forward to seeing you again in our lovely town.

Buxton Fringe

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Wednesday 25 November 2015

Fringe 2016: a party and some singing to get us underway

The 37th Buxton Festival Fringe opens for entries on December 1st. To mark the occasion the Fringe - along with good friends, the Green Man Gallery - are having a special party and we'd like you to join us.

The singing of Derbyshire Village Carols has begun to be re-established across the county thanks, largely to the efforts of Ian Russell in Winster. In many towns and villages - in halls, clubs, pubs and churches - it is now possible to hear and sing these lovely carols. The Buxton Festival Fringe and Green Man Gallery are pleased to be able to provide this opportunity for people to come together.

On Saturday December 5th - from 7-10pm - in the Green Man Gallery (the old British Legion building behind the Museum) we shall be singing a selection of Derbyshire Village Carols and if you want to listen or to join in please come to the Gallery and join us. This won't be a 'concert' performance and we'll probably sing each carol two or three times so that we can learn it better.

There will be an open rehearsal from 4-6pm - also in the Green Man - to give us a chance to familiarise ourselves with some of the carols. Please feel free to join us then if you wish. Many of us are not singers - this is something we want to do for anyone that values community singing.

There will be food and drink. So if you hope to join us please let us know - so that we can cater for everyone.

We hope to see as many of you as can make it on Saturday December 5th. In any event all best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. We look forward to seeing you during next year's Fringe (6-24 July).

Keith Savage
Chair, Buxton Fringe
t. 01298 70705
m. 07952 193 521

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Wednesday 18 November 2015

The Razzle-Dazzle of the Fringe

Three quick bits of news and gossip for you all.

We brought you news of the triumphs of Helen Keen and Barbara Nice recently well this may top that!
Hugo Chandor who has acted and directed at the Fringe many times is on TV in some adverts for a detergent. Hugo is the butler (or whatever you call the Mr Bates type Downton figure).

The Peak District String Orchestra played brilliantly in the Fringe last July. The Orchestra is now to play at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday 24th November. Here is the full story in the Buxton Advertiser

It has been the warmest November anyone can remember - still nasturtiums and hollyhocks in Buxton gardens - but snow could arrive this weekend to coincide with the town's Christmas lights switch on. Much of the action takes place in the Pavilion Gardens this Friday from 2pm - with stalls and train rides promised. We'll also have a look at the Crescent where there will be another sort of switch-on. Glow - a sound and light installation by Andrew Robinson - will light up the building right through to 3rd January from 5-11pm every evening.

Buxton Fringe

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Sunday 15 November 2015

Nice and Keen

We try to keep an eye open on what Fringe performers go on to do. This week good news of two comedians who have wowed Buxton audiences in recent years.

Helen Keen has been taking part in an event in the Netherlands:

Helen KeenHelen Keen is an award winning comedy writer and performer. She began her career by winning the first Channel 4 New Comedy Writing prize, and wrote material for various established tv and radio shows. As a performer she toured the country with Robin Ince and Prof. Brian Cox as a guest of the Uncaged Monkeys (the live version of Radio 4’s Infinite Monkey Cage which she has also appeared on several times). Helen was later appointed the first Comedian in Residence at Newcastle University’s Centre for Life Science Village.
In August 2013 she compered the first ever live comedy night at CERN, Large Hadron Comedy, the event was webcast and attracted CERN’s largest international on-line audience since the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson…
In 2014 she joined the Stargazing Live live roadshow as a comedian & history of space travel expert, and appeared in the second TV series of The Alternative Comedy Experience (curated by Stewart Lee), broadcast on Comedy Central.
Helen’s first solo stand up show It Is Rocket Science (winner – Buxton Fringe Festival, Best Comedy Performance) was picked up by BBC Radio 4 and has so far launched 3 critically acclaimed series. The show won the 2013 WISE Media Award and was shortlisted for the 2014 Writers’ Guild Award for Best Radio Comedy.
In 2015 she was selected as a Wired Innovation Fellow.
She has also been featured on:
“Embodies all the best things about intellectual comedy. Smart without being elitist, and with just the right amounts of sincerity and sarcasm”
Helen won the Association of British Science Writer’s Royal Society Radio Prize for her BBC Radio 4 comedy show about space history, It Is Rocket Science earlier this summer – and her latest science-comedy series, Big Problems with Helen Keen has just been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in their prime 6.30pm slot.
You can find some very short clips here and some more clips from the Rocket Science show are here
Read that carefully and you'll see that she owes pretty much everything to the Buxton Festival Fringe. Bravo, Helen. See you in Buxton again sometime?

We missed Ms Keen in the Netherlands but still time to catch Stockport's favourite - Mrs Barbara Nice - on BBC Radio 2 at 10.30pm on Wednesday, 18 November. Stephanie Billen, previewing in The Observer reports that Barbara has reached the stage in life where she doubts that she'll have grandchildren but is also worried that she and husband Ken may become "silver splitters."  

Buxton Fringe

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Wednesday 28 October 2015

DaleDiva Triumphs in Las Vegas!

DaleDiva provided wonderful entertainment for a large Fringe audience in St John's Church last July. The chorus recently took part in a World Championships event. Here is a full report on their success from Artsbeat Magazine which is produced every month by Amanda Penman -

Derbyshire women’s chorus DaleDiva has brought home a silver medal after wowing the judges with its 15-minute show package in the World Championships in Las Vegas.
The Divas rocked the MGM Grand stage with their performance in the Harmony Classic competition and were awarded a score of 1,249 – just one point behind the gold medal winners.
DaleDiva, formed by musical director Ally Law in 2007, was selected for the World Championships after winning at national competition level in May last year.
Ally said: “Even to have earned a place in the World Championships was an amazing achievement so to win a silver medal in our debut international competition just one point behind the winners was incredible.
“It’s been 18 months of hard work and dedication leading up to this event and it’s been such an adventure. I’m bursting with pride at our achievement and it will take us all a few weeks to come back down to earth.
“We hope we’ve made our county and our country proud by representing them among the best in the world.”
DaleDiva performed four songs in its show package – its versions of Adele’s pop hit ‘Rolling in the Deep’ and the barbershop ballad ‘If I Had My Way’. This was followed with ‘The British Medley’, a unique arrangement by Diva coach Zac Booles of hits by UK artists including The Beatles, Queen, Elton John and The Spice Girls and ended with ‘The Parting Glass’ – a poignant Irish blessing arranged by Diva Shelley Gray.
Ally added: “The chorus competed against stiff competition from the USA and want to say huge congratulations to the winners and all the competitors – it was a privilege to share that amazing stage with them.
“We also want to say a huge thank you to all our fans, families, friends, local residents and businesses for supporting us in the vital task of raising funds for the trip as well as supporting us through all the many preparations taking part in a World Championships requires. It was a fantastic team effort and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
The chorus raised £29,000 with its ‘Going for Gold’ fund-raising campaign since winning the national competition 18 months ago to make sure as many of the Divas as possible could attend the World Championships.
For more information about DaleDiva and to see its silver medal-winning performance visit and

All of us at the Fringe add our congratulations and would love to see the Chorus back in Buxton.

Buxton Fringe

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Fringe AGM - do join us on November 11th

After the fantastic success of 2015’s bumper event, Buxton Festival Fringe is inviting audience members, friends and performers to have their say at its new-look Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 11th November at Buxton’s Old Hall Hotel.
This year, in a bid to welcome potential new members, the committee has added a social element, inviting anyone with an interest in the Fringe to come to the AGM at 7pm then stay for a chat and a drink. During the short AGM, the chair will share his report on the 2015 Fringe and the committee will vote members into key roles. At 8pm there will be a short business meeting for the committee with newcomers welcome to attend.
The Fringe is always looking for new members and is hoping the new format will encourage people to come along to find out just what happens behind the scenes. It is an opportunity to offer feedback and become part of a very special Buxton event now in its 36th year.
Keith Savage, Buxton Fringe’s chair states: “We look forward to seeing as many performers, audience members and Friends of the Fringe who can make it to the AGM. It is an important chance, as we begin to plan for 2016, to hear from people first hand about what they like about the Fringe and anything that they would like to see change. By having some informal time in the meeting we hope that conversation will be easier. Finally we'd be happy to talk to anyone interested in joining the Fringe committee!"
Anyone seeking further information, about the AGM or generally about the activities of the Fringe committee, which meets all year round, should contact Fringe chair Keith Savage at

Buxton Fringe

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Sunday 25 October 2015

Northern Chamber Orchestra begins concert series in Buxton

Lauren Scott
We've just received some really exciting news! One of the top chamber orchestras in the country – Buxton Festival’s ‘Orchestra in Residence’, the NCO, presents a brand-new, 3-concert series in Buxton, starting 15 November
The Northern Chamber Orchestra has partnered up with Buxton Festival, in association with Orchestras Live, to present a brand-new, three-concert series for Buxton. The series has also been funded by a grant from The Foyle Foundation. Buxton visitors and residents have the opportunity to hear the NCO when it participates in Buxton Festival’s main opera productions as the ‘Orchestra in Residence’ for two weeks each summer. The new concert series is intended to give people living in and around Buxton access to top-quality, live classical music-making throughout the rest of the year and without the need to travel far to enjoy experiencing it. The partners have been busy programming a lovely mix of music and formats and the result is a Sunday evening concert on 15 November at St John’s Church, Buxton, a fabulous Viennese Gala at Buxton Opera House on Friday 8 January and a Lunchtime Coffee Concert at the Pavilion Arts Centre on Thursday 28 April, featuring soloists from the NCO.
Jonathan Thackeray, NCO General Manager said:“I am delighted to announce the NCO’s new series in Buxton for 2015–2016.  We have been a part of Buxton’s arts scene for several years as the ‘Orchestra in Residence’ at Buxton Festival and we see this series as a natural and welcome extension of our activities in the area, which we hope to build on for the future.”
Orchestras Live is supporting the two orchestral concerts and Henry Little, Chief Executive of Orchestras Live, said:“For many years Orchestras Live has co-produced high quality orchestral concerts with the Buxton Festival. It has been an aspiration of ours to encourage more year-round programming of concerts in Buxton and High Peak, and we are delighted that the forthcoming concerts by Northern Chamber Orchestra are a valuable step towards fulfilling this ambition.”
NCO presents a successful annual season in Macclesfield and performs concerts in rural towns across the North. It is keen to build a regular series in Buxton and to work with highly successful arts organisations already operating there, such as Buxton Festival.  Randall Shannon, Executive Director of Buxton Festival said: “I’m delighted that the orchestra will be appearing in Buxton outside of the Festival period, further strengthening our partnership and increasing the high-quality music-making available to local audiences.”
The Hint of Genius concert at St John’s Church on Sunday 15 November at 7.30pm features wonderful interludes from opera, theatre and ballet, along with an evergreen favourite from Holst – St Paul’s Suite. Dramatic, early works – hinting at genius – from Mendelssohn (String Symphony no 10) and Shostakovich (Prelude and Scherzo Op 11) add youthful fire. Debussy’s atmospheric, sometimes sensuous Danse Sacrée et Danse Profane will showcase the talents of soloist, Lauren Scott on the harp.  Harp and strings combine in John McCabe’s 2 Dances from the ballet, Mary Queen of Scots and the Ida Carroll Trust has sponsored the performance of this work, in honour of the revered British composer and pianist, who died earlier this year. The enduring fascination with two of Shakespeare’s most famous literary characters is explored in Fauré’s Nocturne from Shylock and Tchaikovsky’s Entr’acte from Hamlet.
NCO is also performing at Buxton Opera House and the Pavilion Arts Centre in 2016. The Viennese Gala on Friday 8 January, 7.30pm, at the Opera House, will welcome the New Year with a sparkling programme of uplifting waltzes, polkas and memorable marches from the Strauss family and other Viennese masters. Soprano, Alison Langer, will join Nicholas Ward, NCO Artistic Director, and the orchestra for classics such as Vienna City of My Dreams by Sieczynski and the Laughing Song by Strauss. Keeping the mood very jolly will be the Overture from The Merry Wives of Windsor and Vilja from The Merry Widow, along with many others, and of course, no Viennese Gala would be complete without The Blue Danube 
The Lunchtime Coffee Concert at the Pavilion Arts Centre, at 1pm, Thursday 28 April, will feature a top trio of soloists from the NCO playing a brief but delicious programme of Schubert’s Trio Movement in B flat D471Hans Krasa Tanec (Dance) and Beethoven String Trio in G Op 9 no 1.
Tickets for Hint of Genius at St John’s Church on 15 November, are available from NCO Box Office: 0161 247 2220, Buxton TIC at the Pavilion Tel: 01298 25106 and On The Door – priced: £15 / 18s & under £10 (all unreserved). To book tickets and for information about the Viennese Gala at Buxton Opera House and the Lunchtime Coffee Concertat the Pavilion, contact Buxton Opera House Tel: 01298 72190 and visit  Find out more about all NCO’s concerts at
If you are attending the November 15th concert and need accommodation in the town that evening you may wish to consider the following offer from the Portland Hotel: 
Buxton Festival Friends / Buxton Fringe Festival Friends and NCO Friends & Patrons who book for the NCO’s concert have the chance to stay at The Portland Hotel in Buxton’s picturesque town centre for a special, discounted rate: 
 Bed & Breakfast: £25 per person on the evening of Sunday 15 November 2015.* (a single room is normally £40 a night / a double room is normally £35 per person per night).  Parking is available. heck out the hotel: 
 Our ‘Friends’ offer also includes £1 off the price of the NCO concert ticket**  (per Friend), so you pay £14 instead of £15.
*Portland Hotel ‘Friends’ Offer: only available on Sunday 15 November 2015 and is subject to availability.  Offer not exchangeable for cash.  Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.  To access the offer, please quote ‘NCO Friends Offer’ at the point of booking with the hotel - either by telephone: 01298 71493 or by email:
**To book tickets for NCO’s Hint of Genius concert, ring NCO Box Office Tel: 0161 247 2220 or ring/ call in at Buxton TIC, Pavilion Gardens Tel: 01298 25106 and quote ‘NCO Concert ‘Friends’ Offer’.  You have to pre-book to access the £1 offer special offer; it is not available On The Door.
Buxton Fringe

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Thursday 22 October 2015

Up the ladder to the roof?

One of the more exciting - and dare we say exclusive? - Fringe venues of recent years has been the Pump House roof which sits in the middle of the historic Crescent and allows performers to play to an audience sitting on the parkland of The Slopes.

As part of the Crescent redevelopment the Pump House will be renovated and work starts soon. Liz Mackenzie - who some of you will know through her PR work for Buxton Festival - is working part-time as the new Buxton Crescent Community and Volunteer Officer. Liz has hopes that the Pump House roof will be a more accessible Fringe venue in 2016.

She would also be interested to hear from anyone with imaginative ideas about how the Crescent might be represented and interpreted in a creative way - through drama, music, visual arts, anything really. If you have an idea do let Liz know - there is a possibility that some funding might be available. You can contact Liz at  

Fringe favourite Mark Gwynne Jones will be in Buxton for Halloween with a one-off gig at The Old Hall Hotel. It will sell-out quickly wethinks. This is all we know: 

Sat 31st Oct 2015, Buxton, The Pauper’s Pit, A Concert for Halloween with classical guitarist and composer Steve Marsh, the Peak Guitar Quartet and Mr Halloween himself, Mark Gwynne Jones. Expect fine music and the story of a modern day Faust! Tickets £10 Tel. 01629 813624.

More soon on the Fringe AGM and a new series of Chamber Orchestra concerts starting in Buxton in November.

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday 15 October 2015

It's Autumn and We're Back

As part of our commitment to public service blogging here are two reminders: British Summer Time ends on Sunday 25th October and Christmas Day is on 25th December (a Friday this year).

Of more significance, we feel, is sharing some of the Buxton Fringe news that we have been accumulating. In fact we have more news than we can fit into one post - unless we become The Guardian on Saturday and have about six supplements. So here is today's news - there will be more in a few day's time.

1] Buxton Fringe 2016 will run from Wednesday July 6th right through to Sunday July 24th - another 19 days of summer fun. [The Buxton Festival is from 8-24 and they have already announced three opera - see their sparkly website for news of all the Festival is doing. And some of it is in November!]

2] The Buxton Festival Fringe will be open for entries on December 1st. Entry prices have been frozen at last year's rates. So start sorting out your venues all you artists and performers. To celebrate the opening of Fringe 37 we'll be having a bit of a community singalong of Derbyshire Village Carols at the Green Man Gallery. More details to follow very soon. But something like this is what we are aiming at.

3] Among the new friends we made during the last Fringe were Joanne and Chris (Miss Judy and Mr Punch). They'd love to see any videos that you might have of them - and they were pretty much everywhere. If you have anything please post a message on our Facebook page or somewhere and we'll pass it on.

4] Finally, for now, a bit more news on the Past Lives Project which launched a Buxton project during the Fringe. The Project is still collecting home cine film of Buxton and the adjacent area to create a film (about 50 minutes with original music) of the area. The hope is to gather film until around Christmas and edit the whole lot for a public launch early in the New Year. So dust off all your old Super 8 footage and contact the project at or ring 07890 211 524.

More soon!   

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday 30 July 2015

Fringe 2015 - What was your favourite moment?

Balloons at the Old Clubhouse (credit: Ian J. Parkes)

Another year over but what a great Fringe and what fantastic memories! Thanks to all who made it such a wonderful event, from the many volunteers to all the tireless Fringe entrants and not forgetting the enthusiastic audiences who attended some 170 events – that’s around 600 individual performances!

We really did think the quality was excellent overall and the town seemed even more buzzing than usual with all our venues looking very Fringey and welcoming. I’ve seen some great shows but here are some of the special moments that particularly stick in my mind:

-         Dancing in Poole’s Cavern with the cast of As You Like It
-         Making a TINY pirate in the Pavilion Gardens
-         Seeing an elephant emerge onto the stage in Around the World in 80 Days
-         Being picked as Clive Sinclair’s ‘love interest’ in Together in Electric Dreams
-         Waving to all our Fringe supporters from the carnival float (next best thing to being a royal…)
-         Hearing what the arts meant to residents at The Portland Nursing Home
-         Finding about a dozen different friends to talk to one night in the Fringe Club
-         Singing in the Kaleidoscope choir and our most complicated song actually coming out right!

That’s just a few of mine – why not tweet us your favourite #FringeMoments @buxtonfringe?


Buxton Fringe

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Monday 20 July 2015

Hold the front page - fame for Buxton Fringe!
BBC's Colin Sykes in 2012 credit: Donald Judge
The Fringe is very grateful to local media including PureBuxton, Artsbeat, The Buxton Advertiser, Arts Derbyshire, Made in Derbyshire, BBC Radio Derby and High Peak Radio for helping to give performers masses of coverage and we were pleased to have a mention on BBC’s North West Tonight recently, but as our festival grows we’ve noticed that we are getting highlighted on national media as well.

Petroc Trelawny mentioned the Fringe and Amaretti Chamber Orchestra on his morning show on Radio 3 last Thursday while opera critic Geoff Brown also referred to the Fringe in The Spectator last week. The Fringe was also celebrated as part of Radio 4’s coverage of a Festival Mass at St John’s yesterday:

Do let us know if you have heard the Fringe being referenced in other national papers, radio or TV – not to mention the international coverage we receive from World Fringe! Onwards and upwards!

Buxton Fringe

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Tuesday 14 July 2015

Let Them Eat Cake - Six ways to combine Fringe and refreshments

Vintage Cafe, Swap Films, Photos & Memories for Cake

Having just enjoyed an almond slice at the one-off Vintage Café run by the Past Lives Project today, we got to wondering whether there were other opportunities to combine Fringe and cake. Here are some options...
  1.  Acappella and Cake -  Ordsall Acappella Singers. Come along for an hour of close harmony singing plus a selection of homemade cakes.   
  2. Summer Serenade - Bel Canto Community Choir. A feast of traditional songs, popular classics and grand opera, with cakes and sparkling summer punch included!  
  3. 2015 Art Exhibition - Burbage Art Group. Pop into this friendly annual art exhibition with free tea and cakes on offer.
  4. Derbyshire Stone - High Peak Artists. Enjoy artwork on the theme of stone in the setting of the cake-filled Pavilion Gardens Art Café.
  5. The Great Dome Art Fair - Peak District Artisans. Live music and cakey café are integral to this major art and crafts show. 
  6. Nana & Nunu – The Big Sneeze! - Dame for a Laugh. The calorie-conscious can enjoy the cup of tea and slice of birthday cake plot of this children’s show without actually indulging themselves...  

Exceedingly good ideas we think you'll agree! Find details of all these shows and more.

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday 9 July 2015

The Magic of Theatre at Buxton Fringe

Whether it is through the story itself, the unique location in which it is performed, or the sheer quality of the performance, this year Fringe theatre is set to take audiences into another world.

The magic begins with Butterfly’s adaptation of As You Like It, uniquely set in Poole’s Cavern where live acoustic music, love and laughter help create a lively “Shakespeare lock-in” as the audience moves through the atmospheric caves. The enchantment continues with The Ash Girl, Timberlake Wertenbaker’s darkly beautiful retelling of Cinderella performed by the REC Youth Theatre Company, and don’t miss the most charmed play of all, Uproot Theatre Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed in just one frenetic hour by two actors.

Shakespeare continues to gain a magical twist with inamoment theatre company presenting King Lear (Alone), a thought-provoking reworking of the original, whilst Fringe Award winners, Smooth Faced Gentlemen are bringing a new, all-female production of Othello, plus their stripped-down, ramped-up version of Titus Andronicus. Steve Larkin, also adapts a classic with, Tes - Tess of the D’urbervilles Re-imagined, reinventing Hardy’s heroine as a teenaged boy from a Newcastle council estate.

A more spooky atmosphere is also to be found, with The Rats in the Walls by Alexander Arts taking us to sinister Exham Priory, and Peaceful from The Off-Off-Off- Broadway Company focusing on a woman hiding from ghosts in her labyrinthine mansion. Both of these shows are performed in the distinctive setting of Underground Venues, also the place to see the classic gothic horror story The Turn of the Screw performed by That’s My Cue Productions.

Audiences are invited ghost-hunting with the Ghosthunters’ Club by Cul-de sac theatre set over the five creaky floors of the Scriveners Bookshop. Alternatively Lady M Youth Theatre brings a unique portrayal of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem in The Raven, whilst another young company, Dilate Theatre, brings the audience a gruesome murder mystery treat in Murder Weapon.

Action and adventure is also delivered with Curious Grin Productions offering an energetic and exciting production of Around the World in 80 Days. Rhema Theatre Company meanwhile tells powerfully dramatic true stories from the world of human trafficking in The ‘It’s Not Fair!’.

The magic of musical theatre is also very present in this year’s Fringe. Far West Theatre presents Jacques Brel: Une Vie a Mille Temps, a brand-new musical piece based on the life and works of the famous Belgian composer, whilst Departure Lounge, a musical by Sudden Impulse Theatre company, tells a more modern story, about four British boys returning home from a lads’ holiday in the sun. Behind the Blinds by Dreamshed Theatre invites us to a musical revue featuring comic and tragicomic songs, whilst Jim MacCool’s Parliament of Fowls, by the Performance Poetry Society, combines poetry and music in a magical combination, with a brand new version of Geoffrey Chaucer’s parable dream vision.

Sometimes all it takes is just two actors to bring a play magically to life. Seriously Funny by Dreamshed Theatre, portrays Tony Hancock and Kenneth Williams both on and off stage, whilst Sudden Impulse Theatre Company, brings to life Two by Jim Cartwright, just as the writer originally intended.

Who's bringing magic to your Fringe? Do add your comments about shows via the website's Enhanced Diary or in the Comments Book at the Fringe Information Desk.

Buxton Fringe

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Sunday 5 July 2015

Why the Fringe gets Buxton buzzing

Festivals have a habit of bringing people together. Just take a look at the following article about Sidmouth Folk Week.

Here in Buxton, though we are also proud of the economic benefits brought to the town by both the Fringe and the Festival, we are probably even more excited by the feeling of community and fun engendered by our event. "I love what happens to Buxton during the Fringe - I enjoy seeing the colourful thespians, artists and musicians in town and the energy shift is palpable. Buxton feels hip!" said Buxton Tennis Club’s Fiona Holland in a recent issue of Pure Buxton and we get plenty more comments like that from enthusiastic visitors to our Fringe Information Desk, which opens this Wednesday.

Our Community Links scheme also tries to make the buzz reach as far as possible. So we help performers contact care homes, schools and other organisations with a view to bringing them shows and workshops. And the Fringe itself sometimes gets involved with community projects. Last week I joined Haddon Hall Care Home residents in making a colourful wall display about the Fringe and look forward to bringing you some pictures of this when it is finished. This week I’ll be involved in a similar activity session at the Portland Care Home.

Every year we are delighted afresh with the support we get in the town – we know plenty of places such as Buxton Community School mount their own Fringe displays and shops are enthusiastically displaying performers’ posters. Thank you shops, thank you venues, thank you volunteers and thanks to all who help turn Buxton orange during the Fringe every July.

Buxton Fringe

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Wednesday 1 July 2015

Two Concerts by Partita

We think that this year is the 21st consecutive Buxton Fringe for the early music ensemble Partita. This is what they have told us about the two concerts they bring for 2015. 

"The music of the medieval, renaissance and baroque periods ranges from 
extremely simple expressions of reflective beauty and calm or lively charm to 
astonishingly complex blends of musical inventiveness and affecting emotional power.  

"Partita invites you to join us in experiencing the delights this music 
has to offer in two different concerts this year – featuring singers Sasha 
Johnson Manning and Holly Marland, whose voices have been described as 
“remarkable voices with clear tone, no vibrato, precise diction, beautiful line, 
and an air of total engagement with the music and the audience” and 
instrumentalists who play a fascinating range of faithful historic copy 
instruments including lutes, viols, harps, harpsichord, renaissance and 
baroque guitars, vihuela, theorbo, gemshorn, and recorders.

"For our Buxton Festival Fringe evening concert in St John’s Church (17 July
7-30pm) Partita presents, for the first time, a collaborative programme:   

‘MUSICA ANTIGUA E MODERNO’  -  the ‘antique’ sounds of Partita’s 
renaissance and baroque music interposed with the more modern 
contributions of exciting newly formed duo Stringboxes (Partita’s Holly 
Marland singing and playing the kora [African harp] with Romanian virtuoso 
double bass player Michael Cretu in a mixture of African, Romanian gypsy 
music, and new compositions by both Holly and Michael). 

"Partita’s second Fringe concert  -  a lunchtime concert in Buxton Methodist 
Church (23 July 1pm)  will be a sequence of our traditional renaissance/ 
baroque mixture of voices and instruments and will include music from the 
Elizabethan theatre, a favourite song of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, a 
song set to words by Francois I of France, a baroque partita for two bass viols, and songs and arias by Purcell, Handel, and Bach.

For a preview of the sounds of Partita and Stringboxes visit: 


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Tuesday 30 June 2015

A Nasty Little Play - a dark comedy for the Fringe

Chris Neville Smith is pleased to be returning to the Buxton Fringe for the third year running, with a new play written and directed by Alan Godfrey.
A Nasty Little Play is a dark comedy set in a seedy 1950s Soho 'Books & Mags' shop, where three punters and two dancers from the theatre next door are stuck together during a police raid. But in spite of the title, and in spite of the setting, the play is a comedy, set in a world of outwardly moral decency, Watch Committees, and the then ruling that nudes were only permitted on stage if they were not moving.

Author Alan Godfrey was in Chris Neville-Smith's first play at Buxton, two years ago, and had long ago suggested that Pauper's Pit would be the ideal venue for this little comedy. Professionally he is best known as a map publisher, but in the 1970s he wrote several plays for children, for touring nationally to schools. A Nasty Little Play is one of three dark comedies he has written recently, in a revived interest in the theatre, the first of which, Plan C, was performed as part of a 'New Writing Festival' at Durham's City Theatre in 2011, and in which Chris Neville-Smith played a leading role.

All three plays take laughter into otherwise dark or ambiguous settings in the belief that all of us have the capacity to be sad, funny and even ridiculous, often at the same time. Chris Neville-Smith's previous appearances at Buxton included The First Sign of Madness, as a writer/directory in 2013, and Waiting for Gandalf, written by Adrian Marks, in 2014, which was nominated for Best New Writing. This time he takes the - relatively - easy role of actor and producer. The cast of six are all members of Durham Dramatic Society.
A Nasty Little Play is showing at Underground Venues at 10.15 p.m. on the 19th July, 8.30 p.m. on the 20th July, and 5.45 p.m. on the 21st-22nd July.
Further details, including cast information, can be found on Chris Neville-Smith's website. 

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Monday 29 June 2015

7 Reasons to try New Writing at Buxton Fringe

Buxton Fringe has always been proud of its reputation for encouraging artists to take risks and this year’s bumper Theatre section is particularly rich in new writing. Here are 7 reasons why you should make sure you try something new at this year's Fringe:

1.      You are a thrill-seeker: Safe Mode from Theatre by Numbers offers an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi ‘fairytale’ in which refugee Mia runs to a deserted city after watching her home burn down. A chance encounter in the park changes her life forever in this multi-media play. Orange and Pip’s Ugly by Lilly Posnett, twice nominated for a Fringe New Writing award, also offers a fairytale with a twist as we hear the Ugly Sisters’ side of the story in a thought-provoking piece of physical theatre taking off where Cinderella left off.

2.      You like your stories told in new ways: Lightspeed from Organised Chaos Productions actually unfolds backwards as it depicts a fateful romance between Charlie and the game-playing Emma. Last year’s theatre production Fringe Award winner, Arletty Theatre, is back with an all-singing, all dancing musical, The Unfurling of Indigo Higgins focusing on a demanding fashionista. Live music and life-sized puppetry help Sparkle and Dark convey bewitching comic book fantasies in I am Beast and live music of a different kind is integral to Re-Sound’s After Party, recreating one amazing evening in 1820 when Franz Schubert and his friends gathered in a Viennese pub under the noses of the secret police.

3.      You like to think big: No subject is too big for intrepid Fringe writers so in Tattyband’s G&D, the earth is bleeding into the sea, Satan is looking for trouble and God Himself is about to get a wake-up call. Religion and faith are discussed in Two Yolks Theatre’s The Small Things in which two brothers who die together have contrasting experiences at the Pearly Gates. Sheepish Productions offers a black comedy with faith at its core: The Life and Crimes of Reverend Raccoon, profiling a US Army reservist, preacher and healer.

4.      You like intrigue: The secrets and lies of mere mortals are the focus of several new plays. Award-winning young theatre company Shadow Syndicate presents Redaction, a drama conceived in the wake of Wikileaks about the pervasive culture of deception. A husband and wife battle over the authorship of a controversial book that may or may not be about their marriage in Write Yourself Free: Female Facts or Male Fiction? This new work from Dolls House is produced in parallel with a published book of the same title. Popular Fringe regular Chris Neville-Smith meanwhile presents Alan Godfrey’s A Nasty Little Play, a dark comedy set in the back room of a seedy Soho ‘book’ shop in the 1950s as a police raid takes place next door.

5.      You want a taste of fame: Secrets can be especially explosive for the famous. In From the Mill’s Life’s Witness, a famous author finds himself on live television battling with memories that refuse to stay private, while Follow/UnFollow from ShinyNewTheatre/LanternTheatre takes us into the world of the good-looking but vapid male video blogger questioning whether social media is ready for a different kind of v-logger who may actually have something to say.

6.      You’re a history fan: Aulos Productions takes us back to Ancient Rome to consider the Women of the Mourning Fields – Agrippina, Octavia and Poppaea, slandered in their time and subsequently forgotten. Dreamshed Theatre is working hard to make sure we do not forget the legacy of the pre-First World War Dymock Poets in Voices from the Forest. The Second World War provides a poisonous backdrop for the brave characters on the Home Front depicted in Ashrow Theatre’s Troublesome People. Sometimes what we think we know from the past turns out not to be the case. Lucky Dog theatre Productions goes beyond fiction to deliver the truth about Mr Merrick, The Elephant Man.

7.      You like a laugh: Make a date with Lucky Dog Theatre Productions and their show Hats Off to Laurel and Hardy, or check out an excruciating meeting between Sir Clive Sinclair and Sir Alan Sugar recreated in Scytheplays Ltd’s Together in Electric Dreams.

There is always something new in the Fringe and we never forget the contribution of the writers behind our fantastic shows. Look out for the words "New Writing" at the bottom of listings in all categories of our programme and if you see something brilliant be sure to leave a comment about the writing at our Fringe Information Desk or on our website's Enhanced Diary pages. Happy Fringeing!

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Wednesday 24 June 2015

Going Underground for a laugh

credit: Ian J Parkes

With the Fringe's notorious cartoon sheep still to be found somewhere on our website (answers on a post card please) let it not be said that we at Buxton Fringe don't know how to have fun!

So with the sun shining, here's our look-ahead to a host of fantastic Fringe shows that we think will have you laughing this July.
 Underground Venues offers a packed programme with TV and radio stars including Max & Ivan from BBC1’s W1A with The End; ex-policeman and Radio 4 comic Alfie Moore with A Fair Cop Stands Up; and Juliet Meyers, BBC comedy writer for Sarah Millican, with her show None of the Above.

Buxton also boasts the best in sketch comedy this summer: Fringe Comedy Award winners The Dead Secrets offer a whirlwind odyssey through the wondrous exhibits of the Curiositorium; Beasts, familiar from Radio 4’s Sketchorama, make their Fringe debut and LetLuce presents Let Progress Luce, enticingly described as a “weird but relaxing show set at sea”.

Fans of improv comedy will not want to miss the Edinburgh sell-out, Absolute Improv, bringing its quick wit and audience participation to the Fringe again. There is also Rhinoceros, an interactive, virtual board game by Harry Carr, and for one night only, Right Here Right Now Impro, accompanied by Fringe favourite Sam Dunkley on piano. For improv with a difference, Oliver Meech’s magic show is created at the drop of a (top) hat from audiences’ suggestions, and Ben Van der Velde promises to “empty his brain out onto the stage” in his madcap show, Strudelhead.

The Fringe is proud to have thought-provoking shows covering every topic from weddings - with Caimh McDonnell’s Bride and Prejudice and Tilly Mint Theatre’s The Best Man? - to children, with Andrew Watts’, How to Build a Chap, exploring fatherhood. Mortality also gets a look in with Older than the Oldest Dog that Ever Lived from comedian Peter Brush and Stories About Love, Death and a Rabbit from Ms Samantha Mann (aka Charles Adrian Gillott). Phil Buckley’s Big Idea finds the comedian in reflective mood as a chance encounter makes him decide to turn his life around, while comic and poet Rob Gee presents a guide to losing the plot in his show Fruitcake: Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward.

Two shows even offer to solve audiences’ problems with Danny Pensive: Life Coach, by John Cooper, promising to leave us believing we can achieve anything, and Tina Bradshaw bringing her unique brand of warm-hearted life-coaching to Tina’s Proverbials.

The contemporary world proves a huge inspiration with Sajeela Kershi exploring society’s mixed-up views about Muslims in her show Shallow Halal; Three’s Company & KPS Productions tackling the life of Britain’s favourite comedy politician in Boris: World King; and Abi Roberts (now only performing on July 21 because of TV commitments) referencing ITV’s favourite stately home in her show Downtown Abi featuring Labrador, Al Qaeda.

Also offering a great sense of place is award-winning Amadeus Martin in God Created Brixton and local Derby boy Chris Fitchew with his show Oops!, recounting his hilarious journey from Derby to London and back again. Comedian Maxine Jones has been there, done that but is about to come Full Circle as she plans to move back to the UK after 25 years away.

Tackling matters futuristic, 2014 Fringe Comedy Individual Award winner Nathan Cassidy brings two shows, Back to the Future I and II, reflecting on the one thing that really has changed over the last 30 years, whilst Paul Kerensa in his show, Back to the Futon Pt2, expresses his regret that there are still no hover boards in 2015. Time travel is also a theme in MJ Hibbett (and Steve)’s two-man comedy rock opera, Hey Hey 16K.

In a Comedy section boasting all types of entertainment, there is also a musical parody of the funniest disaster in cinematic history in The Room: The Musical and razor-sharp comedy songs from James Sherwood in Sherwood Jam.

Spoilt for choice? Underground Venues’ Barrel of Laughs offers a great selection of sketch and character comedy talent, alongside fantastic stand up all in one show. The three performances sell out every year so early booking is advised.

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