Friday 29 May 2015

Dolls House Teaser

We are happy to share news of Fringe shows. Here we have details of a premiere for Buxton. If you want your show or event featured here then send details to:

A MODERN day ‘whodunit’ is the new theatre play ‘Write Yourself Free: Female Fact or Male Fiction?’ which has its first outing at Buxton Festival Fringe in July.
Audiences decide who wrote a controversial new book – was it ‘wannabe’ celebrity Felix Wright or his wife Jill? And is that book her facts, as she claims, or his fiction?
The play features Dolls House cast, Alan Charnley, Nici Preston and Joanna Lavelle and tackles the topical issue of historical abuse, friendship between women and why women sometimes keep dark secrets for too long inside and out of marriage.
Jaunty Felix claims he wrote the novel in bizarre circumstances in order to film a reality TV show and the work is pure fiction.
However if Jill wrote the book with the help of her new friend film-maker Belinda Gold as she asserts - then her husband is in big trouble as she reveals home truths.
Not only is ‘Write Yourself Free: Female fact or Male Fiction?’ a theatre play but it is also available as a book or download on Amazon 1505931215 – and can be read before or after the show.
Alan Charnley is a Buxton-based writer and singer/songwriter and a previous Fringe award winner. Nici Preston acted in ‘Checking In’ which won last year’s Best British Film in the London Film Awards and Joanna Lavelle is best known for her one woman shows - one of which is a tribute to Joyce Grenfall.

Write Yourself Free: Female Facts or Male Fiction is showing at the Old Clubhouse, Water Street, Buxton, on Friday July 10 and Wednesday July 22. Tickets from Buxton Opera House Box Office 08451 272 190 or 01298 214 454.

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday 28 May 2015

Small is Beautiful at Buxton Fringe

Big as the Fringe is, it is true to say that some of the smallest categories in the Buxton Fringe programme offer some of the most beautiful experiences.

Dance is a case in point featuring last year’s Fringe Award winners dotdotdot dance returning with No Frills, an amazing flamenco show described by many audience members as world class. A small but stunning Dance section also includes former Fringe Award winner Makoto Inoue from Japan, this time with a brand new, non verbal Shakespeare intriguingly entitled Clown Macbeth. Adding great variety are the Chapel-en-le-Frith Morris Men with their weather-defying Day of Dance and Colin & Yozy fresh from touring in China and Japan and bringing contemporary dance, music and beat boxing in an audio-visual show.

The Other Events section is as eclectic as it sounds with Fringe bookends, The Launch Party at Underground Venues and the by-invitation Awards Ceremony on July 26, listed alongside a book-swap run by The Springs shopping centre and the ever-popular Evening of Close Up and Stage Magic organised by High Peak Magic Society and usually a sell-out. There is even a festival within a festival as Chelmorton Village festival enters the Fringe for the first time with a full week of enticing events.

Film has just one entry but that’s not really true as Buxton Film’s Open Shorts competition features a wonderful selection of drama, comedy, sci-fi, documentaries and more, all in bite-sized mini-movie chunks from a host of talented film-makers.

Free is always beautiful and it is worth noting that every single event in Street Theatre is free, whether it is the town carnival, complete with Fringe float, or Fringe Sunday, offering a free showcase of events on July 12. Meanwhile modern-day jester Paolo Ferrari offers irreverent street buffoonery and popular and acclaimed regulars The Shakespeare Jukebox perform Shakespearean scenes of your choice from their location outside the Opera House. Fringe at Five, with 30-minute samples of Fringe shows, also makes a welcome return at the Pavilion Gardens bandstand.

And to make things even easier, we list all the free shows in one place for you:
So there's no excuse not to have a great time at Fringe 2015 whatever your budget!

Buxton Fringe

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Monday 25 May 2015

Fringe Music:in pubs, cafes, hotels

The Octagon, Pavilion Gardens, home to youth orchestra concerts

There's a wealth of live music to be heard throughout this year's Buxton Festival Fringe (July 8-26) – with everything from full-scale symphony orchestras to solo jazz piano. Much can be heard in the town's churches but a dozen other venues host gigs.

The Old Clubhouse – right opposite the Opera House – has live music all-year round and half-a-dozen gigs are scheduled there during the Fringe. Club Acoustic is the name given to the town's open session which meets twice monthly – and five of the regular singers and musicians will be playing at a special session. (15 July)

One of the successes of Fringe 2014 was Buxton's own Sam Slide who – accompanied by friends – told something of his life and played a variety of music on his trombone. Sam will be aiming to repeat the trick this year. (14 & 21 July)

There will be a bit of jazz in Sam's set – Dale Storr will be playing non-stop jazz. Dale is a leading exponent of New Orleans style piano and has dazzled at the Clubhouse already this year. His two gigs during the Fringe are not to be missed. (18 July)

Jazz and blues from a nearby era is the cornerstone of the repertoire of a vocal-led sextet – Basin Street Jazz & Blues. A mixture of standards and more recent covers makes for a relaxing evening. (12 & 20 July) The HerdingCatz Blues Band is a quartet that draws on the work of great musicians of the post-war years – you can expect a tribute to BB King as part of their gigs. (13 & 25 July)

Two hard-working and popular local musicians come together in a new project. Singer/guitarist Will Hawthorne teams up with violin hero Graham Clark for a programme of film music from the 1960s. Spaghetti Westerns and James Bond are definite contenders. (8, 16 & 17 July)

Buxton Brewery's Tap House is less than 100 yards from the Clubhouse and they have their own mini-festival going on. The programme – briefly – is: 14th: Honeyfeet: folk, blues and jazz; 15th: Skutchmanos: acoustic, instrumental music; 16th: Rach & John: guitar and vocals; 17th: Rodina: contemporary jazz; 21st: Tom Kitching & Gren Bartley: guitar, fiddle and banjo; 22nd: Open Mic Night; 23rd: 12 Strings: acoustic guitar duo; 24th: Emlyn Vaughan & Friends: jazz and country. Music will start at 9.30 each evening and is free. Give yourself plenty of time to sample some the beers.

On the subject of pubs and beer the Railway is one of Buxton's best-loved hostelries and lunch there is popular. Over three lunch times this Fringe local bluegrass band Aprille & The Shower will be on hand to entertain. Expect a lively mix of songs and music drawing on tunes made popular in the 50s.

The cellars of the Old Hall Hotel become Underground Venues for the duration of the Fringe. Among the music being made there is: 2084 a brand-new song-cycle that contemplates what our world might be like 100 years after Orwell. (9, 10 & 16 July). Songs with more contemporary social comment are the hallmark of Darren Poyser who made many friends at the Fringe in 2014. Darren's history of the protest song will be entertaining and informative. (11, 14 & 21 July)

Sam Dunkley's easy charm and polished musicality won him many admirers in Buxton four and five years ago. He has been missed, but returns for one show – a mix of traditional and original songs accompanied by Sam's piano. (17 July) More folk-tinged music will be on offer at Underground Venues from the Raintown Seers who focus on song as story-telling. (20, 23-25 July)

One of the most exclusive gigs will be at Scrivener's Bookshop. The Sideways Band with guests Serrated will be doing two shows of songs that are witty – with humour on the dark-side. By the time the bands have fitted in our guess is that an audience of 10 could be the maximum. (8-9 July). Sideways play on their own at the Hydro Restaurant – which will seem like the Opera House compared to the space at Scrivener's. (17, 18 & 24 July)

The Green Man Gallery has hosted an ambitious series of musical events over the past year. For the Fringe it presents a recital of French music and song. Buxton singer and choir-leader Carol Bowns will be joined by two pianist friends for something of a musical reunion. (24 July). Carol will also be leading an open-rehearsal of the Kaleidoscope Community Choir in the Pavilion Gardens Octagon.(14 July)

Dozens of young Derbyshire musicians can be heard over two evenings in the Octagon. The Derby & Derbyshire Schools' Orchestra, fresh from a four-day residential course, will play alongside Sinfonia Viva. The programme will include the third movement of Brahms's Symphony No 4 .(16 July). Following a five-day residential course the Derbyshire City and County Youth Orchestra will play a full-length concert featuring Tchaikovsky's Italian Capriccio, Khachaturian's Adagio from Spartacus, Shostakovich's Jazz Suite and Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 3. The soloist is Ana Šinkovec, a 26-year old pianist from Ljubljana, Slovenia. (17 July)

Away from Buxton – at the Spring Bank Arts Centre, New Mills – there is a real treat on offer. Eight cellists from the Hallé Orchestra get together in arrangements of opera pieces from Purcell to Puccini. That should be enough it itself but cake comes with admission too. (12 July)

Finally, but not least by any means, Indigo Empire headline an evening of classic and contemporary rock hits. This concert showcases some of the freshest talent to come out of Buxton and Greater Manchester. The show includes music from Thin Lizzy, The Maccabees, Arctic Monkeys and The Beatles. Come Alive is at the Arts Centre Studio. (20 July).

Buxton Fringe

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Friday 22 May 2015

Fringe Music in Five Buxton Churches this July

Buxton's Methodist Church on the Market Place

Over the course of the Buxton Festival Fringe (8-26 July) there will be more than 40 musical performances in 15 different venues – many of which can be heard in five of the town's churches.

St John's is a much sought-after venue – partly because of the splendid acoustic, partly because it can accommodate the largest ensemble. This year it hosts an intriguing variety of music-making including a joint Buxton Festival/Fringe show. Members of the Ukulele Orchestra play and sing with internationally-acclaimed lutenist Liz Kenny's Theatre of the Ayre for something of supergroup. Lutes & Ukes first joined forces in 2013; two years later they are back with a programme of songs from Shakespeare to Presley. (18 July).

Early music specialists Partita return for their 21st Fringe – this time with guests Stringboxes – with music ancient and modern; Baroque and Renaissance from Europe with some jazz and West African melodies for contrast. (17 July)

Rachel Johnson and Jemima Palfreyman won a Fringe Award for their piano and flute duets last year. They return and you have the chance to hear what so delighted the judges. This year's programme includes a musical ghost story and a sonata by César Franck. (21 July)

Music-making on a larger scale is offered by the High Peak Orchestra which plays Bruckner's Symphony No 6 and Rachmaninov's Paganini Variations for Piano and Orchestra. The soloist will be Ryan Drucker – a student at the Royal Northern College of Music. (12 July). The Peak District Music Centres have provided opportunities for young musicians for many years; the current ensembles are playing better than ever and the String Orchestra will be hot-footing from competition in Birmingham to play in the Fringe alongside the Wind Band. (10 July)

The Amaretti Chamber Orchestra has deservedly built-up a reputation for its playing across the north-west. This year we shall have the chance to hear two very different accounts of the Four Seasons; Vivaldi's and Piazolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. (18 July)

Also at St John's is the Sheffield-based Albion Choir with a late-night programme of traditional British songs. The Choir has been on Radio 3, and events regularly sell-out; this performance includes the offer of a free pint of Abbeydale Brewery Albion Ale. (24 July) A feel-good show is promised by DaleDiva, an award-winning Derbyshire chorus that will be singing in competition in Las Vegas in October. Hear and see this show choir perform anything from the Hallelujah Chorus to God Only Knows. (25 July)

The United Reformed Church welcomes the Ordsall Acappella Singers who come the Buxton for the the fifth year. The Singers have developed a loyal following – partly for their enjoyable repertoire and partly for their home-made cake. Seconds will be available at a further performance at St Mary's. (25 July).

St Mary's has other musical treats on offer. Drum Tribe – a six-piece percussion group from South Africa play nine one-hour shows that are high in energy and give you the chance to join in. (8-16 July). South African singing from the Tshwane Gospel Choir will also be uplifting and provide an intriguing contrast to the British choirs in Buxton. (8-12 July). The other music event at St Mary's features solo cellist Melanie Dawn Jones. Melanie studied at Chethams and the RNCM and now teaches. She will be playing Bach and Gershwin amongst other music. (17 July).

Trinity Church is worth seeking out for the return of the Manchester Recorder Orchestra. If you want to know what 40 recorders sound like, here is your chance. The Orchestra will play Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave as well as a tango based on a Dowland tune! (18 July)

The fifth Buxton church hosting music-making this Fringe is the Methodist Church – and what a packed-programme is on offer. For those wanting more opera the City of Manchester Opera will be singing some arias and choruses from Italian favourites. (25 July). Margaret Ferguson – a soprano with COMO – is back with her own solo recital; in a programme of song from lieder to musicals Margaret will be accompanied by pianist Jonathan Ellis. (17 July)

Jonathan plays a solo recital – including works by Mozart, Mussorgsky and Scriabin, who died in 1915. Jonathan is a passionate musician and has won Fringe Awards. (24 July). New to Buxton is pianist Emmanuel Vass; he has broadcast on national radio and is touring extensively this summer promoting his new album Sonic Waves. Luckily for us Buxton is part of his schedule. (13 July)

There will be an intimate account of Gerald Finzi's cantata Dies Natalis sung by tenor Tim Kennedy accompanied by pianist John Gough. Tim and John have delighted Buxton audiences in the past with the warmth and grace of their music. (18 July). Later that day the 40-strong voices of the Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir will fill the church. The Choir has a wide-ranging repertoire and for this show will be joined by Hindle Wakes, a Manchester-based folk trio. (18 July) The Bel Canto Community Choir – with guest tenor Terence Roberson – brings a mixture of traditional song, opera, cake and summer punch to the Church (19 July - afternoon).

Finally, two very different ensembles for your pleasure. The Sovereign Saxophone Octet return with a programme of arrangements for at least four different members of the saxophone family. The Octet draw on music written over the past 600 years to showcase the range and potential of the instrument. (19 July – evening). On a similar scale – but drawing on a different tonal palette - there will be an evening of mixed chamber music including Beethoven's ever popular Septet for violin, viola, cello, double bass, clarinet, bassoon and French horn. The performance is by the Cheshire Chamber Collective – all members of Cheshire Sinfonia. (16 July)

Buxton Fringe

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Tuesday 19 May 2015

Packing a Punch at Buxton Fringe!

Punch and Judy over three decades ago
Back in the early 1980s, Punch and Judy was one of the very earliest shows at Buxton Fringe. So it is fun to see this knockabout entertainment back  for 2015, this time in a version brought to Buxton by FoolSize Theatre at Underground Venues.
Having just submitted our Fringe programme to the printer, we’ve been looking closely at all our categories and can tell you that the For Families section, while by no means one of our largest, is significantly bigger than it was last year and full of gems.

Punch and Judy is just one of a number of family shows at Underground Venues including ComedySportz, in which two improv comedy teams battle it out for laughs, The Kagools, offering fast-paced physical comedy and sketches, and Fringe Award-winning Victorian magic duo Morgan & West.

Over at the Arts Centre Studio, also managed during the Fringe by Underground Venues, acclaimed local company REC Youth Theatre presents Grimm Tales, featuring some of the world’s most enthralling fairytales, and Dame for a Laugh entertains tots with Nana & Nunu – The Big Sneeze!, featuring a cuddly but snuffly aardvark!

The Pavilion Gardens is enchanting at any time but never more so than during the Fringe, when it hosts a number of fantastic children’s shows and workshops. Look out for HandMade Theatre’s Flying the Nest teaching us all about birds with the help of a giant nest, and The Magical Storytelling Yurt, courtesy of High Peak Community Arts. Fringe regulars Stone and Water are also back inviting us to make Tiny! Pirates, plus the odd mermaid. While you are in the Gardens, don’t forget to pop into our Fringe Desk at the entrance to the conservatory for a free balloon and badge.

The fun continues with shows as diverse as Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury in a double bill with Cox and Box from talented young people’s company, PB Theatricals, and the irrepressible Theo the Mouse, back with an all-new circus-themed show. 

One of our Fringe reviewers described kids’ shows as his ‘guilty pleasure’. I can confirm that they are lots of fun for all ages so let’s spread the word about these top quality shows and performers. It’s also worth remembering that there are a host of little smiley faces dotted about the Fringe what’s on listings. These are not just because we are so happy – they are used by performers to suggest events in all sections that might be suitable for families. Our very own Fringe Sunday at the Pavilion Gardens bandstand on the afternoon of July 12 is just one of these so do bring your kids along to discover why Buxton Fringe is one of England’s very friendliest Fringes whatever your age.

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday 14 May 2015

Another box ticked.

Well that election business was more straightforward than most of us had supposed it would be. 259 weeks until the next dose of political swings and roundabouts.

Back to the Buxton Fringe,though. Today was a big day for us, we saw the printer's final proofs for our 52-page full-colour programme and signed it off. 18,000 programmes on recycled paper expected before the end of May. We'll be working hard to get them out to as many distribution points as we can from then on. We have hundreds of places to deliver to - if you think you might be able to help on that task please let us know. We always welcome help!

You may have read already that we have 171 separate events planned for the 19 days of the Fringe. In the last Blog post we identified some of the options available to you on Day 1 - Wednesday, July 8th. On Day 2 there are many further choices to make. Here are some possibilities that offer a varied day's entertainment and stimulation.

High Peak Community Arts runs a number of projects - one of which is Project eARTh. Some of the work resulting from the Project will be unveiled in the Pavilion Gardens Conservatory on Thursday July 9th. Caroline Chouler-Tissier has been working with many young artists and we look forward to seeing the results throughout the Fringe.

You could then nip to the Museum to hear Jim MacCool's Parliament of Fowls. Now this is free and a one-off. So that makes attendance pretty much mandatory - what is there to lose? This is a brand-new version of Geoffrey Chaucer's parable dream vision of a woman's right to choose NOT to choose, Jim's rhyme royal brings the poem into the present day whilst preserving its St Valentine's Day charm, with music to suit.

For some of us 1984 seems just 5 minutes ago: so a show called 2084 is just around the corner. 2084 is a brand new show featuring original songs by Steve Roberts and Matt Hill. A song cycle set in the future where your every thought, movement and word are under surveillance. The world premiere is in Buxton at 5.15pm at Underground Venues.

Stay in Underground Venues for comedy at 7pm with Sajeela Kershi and her new show Shallow Halal. Sajeela has been on the comedy circuit for 2006 - but we think this is her first appearance in Buxton. She describes herself and this show in these terms: a Muslim agnostic Sajeela is sitting on the faith fence. She's fed up with the fanatic atheists and the religious fundamentalists who try to tell her how she should feel and behave. We think this is a show to catch.
Stick at Underground for some theatre to round-off the evening. Lilly Posnett has reworked the Cinderella story and tells it from the point of view of the Ugly Sisters (8.45 - 9.30pm) and Together in Electric Dreams (10-11pm) invites you to listen in to a dinner party with Sir Clive Sinclair and Lord Alan Sugar. Set is 1986 this is described as a comedy drama and was well-received when it premiered in 2012. We welcome this revival which is touring the north-west this summer.

Buxton Fringe

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Wednesday 6 May 2015

Nine weeks to go

St Mary's Church, Dale Road, Buxton

Tomorrow the UK goes to the polls - and if the pundits are to be believed negotiations about who will be in or out of the next government should be concluded by the time Buxton Fringe starts in nine weeks time. No doubt Italian Fringers are comfortable about periods of political uncertainty but we are used to things being tidy and sharply concluded. The idea of spending weeks arguing about governmental legitimacy - whilst a change from talk of the weather and the pathetic English cricket team - would be hard to bear.

What we like to call "England's biggest summer open access arts festival" now has 171 events listed in its programme. Buxton Festival Fringe opens on Wednesday July 8th with 13 separate events - starting at 9.30 in the morning and going right through to 11.00 at night.

You could have a relaxing day taking in four art exhibitions at the Buxton Museum and the Green Man Gallery - which are adjacent and just up the hill on the way to the market place. If you need sustenance there is a deli - Bon Appetit  - next door, or a choice or pubs and restaurants all around the market place.

Beyond the market place is St Mary's Church built in the Arts & Crafts style; it is worth a visit in any case but all the more so during the Fringe. On our opening Wednesday there will be a feast of South African music and song. From 5-6pm Drum Tribe play the first of nine shows. Drum Tribe have played to 1,000,000 people in 25 countries but this is their first visit to Buxton. They promise an interactive show and audience members get to play.

At 7pm The Soweto Spiritual Singers take the floor for what should be a rousing and joyous hour of song. The Singers were at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and one reviewer wrote: The Singers know how to dazzle and excite their audience. Pitch-perfect songs in a variety of tones and paces unfold, each as pleasing as the previous. Energetic, playful soloists relay one another with professionalism and unwavering confidence. The show is pure spectacle, indulging in numerous pleasing costume changes - from the elegant, to the shimmering, to the colourful.

You might want to unwind a little and stroll back down towards The Crescent for something a little different later in the evening. If so Underground Venues - based in the cellars of the Old Hall Hotel - may be just the ticket. Their opening night of comedy and theatre sees the return to Buxton of Danny Pensive, Lifecoach. If it is not comedy you are after Cameryn Moore reprises 'Phone Whore (A one-act play with frequent interruptions)'. Last year's reviewer reported: There are no secrets, nothing to hide, and extremely little held back. It’s a frank, honest, and funny production that chronicles an evening with Larissa while she’s working, takes moments out to talk about what she does and take a hold on her emotions.

You'd still have time to get to The Old Clubhouse - sampling Mobberley Fine Ale's special brew 'Fringe Thespian' - to hear violin-hero Graham Clark team-up with Will Hawthorne for a late-night session of film soundtracks from the Sixties. Sounds like a perfect end to Day 1 (of 19) at Buxton Festival Fringe.

Buxton Fringe

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