Tuesday 30 June 2020

The Shakespeare Jukebox takes to the web for Fringe 2020

Malcolm Lomax

One of our longest running shows, since 2005 The Shakespeare Jukebox has been a fixture of the Buxton Festival Fringe, entertaining crowds with scenes from the Bard’s work, winning an amazing 10 Buxton Fringe awards, and earning thousands in pounds in donations to the Buxton Samaritans.

Maria Carnegie
This year, with the Fringe going online to keep audiences and performers safe, the Jukebox wanted to reach out to their audience in a new way. Maria Carnegie, who has been a mainstay of the Jukebox since 2006 explains: ‘The Jukebox has become something of a Buxton Fringe landmark, so we wanted to make sure we could still take part. So, each day of the 2020 Fringe, from 1 to 19 July, we’ll be posting a different scene from the Bard’s work online, for audiences to enjoy from the safety of their homes.’

Jayne Marling
Maria goes on, ‘Recording the scenes has meant we’ve had to approach them in new ways. The speeches have been relatively straightforward, but we also wanted to include some the Jukebox’s most popular multiple-actor scenes, like the Three Witches from Macbeth and the Rude Mechanicals from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so a bit of technical wizardry was needed to bring us all together remotely. The beauty of doing the scenes this way is that as well as members of our regular team, we were able to welcome back former Jukebox actors who no longer live in the area.’

The Shakespeare Jukebox will be posting online here, and there is a link to make donations to the Samaritans if you’ve enjoyed the show. Maria continues, ‘This has been a fun exercise, but we aim to be back in the open air performing live in 2021.’

Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe

Instagram: @buxtonfringe

Sunday 28 June 2020

Even Further Out... A Fringe of the Fringe!

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The Fringe of the Fringe!
If an online Fringe is strange enough, well, things are getting even odder with the announcement of the Buxton Fringe of the Fringe 2020, an event running for the full duration of the Buxton Festival Fringe.

This could be a world first: nowhere else can a town boast so many layers of festivals, fringes and fringes of fringes, could even further tiers of fringes come to the town in the future?

Despite billing themselves as “stranger, audaciouser, fringier” the Fringe of the Fringe have nevertheless found themselves humiliated by reality, and nothing could be weirder or more unusual than real life at the moment. As more of the actual Fringe has moved online it is imperative to remember that although this was always the plan for the Fringe of the Fringe, they claim that they in no way begrudge the Fringe stealing their thunder and heaving themselves into their territory.

“The Fringe of the Fringe is all about the best events you won’t see on the Fringe” said a
BFOTF spokesperson, “and, as many people won’t be seeing many events at all this year, this is all the more important. We know that for many performers the most important thing about putting on a great show and entertaining audiences at a Fringe is getting a great review. Well, we’re literally putting this as our top priority.”

A Launch Party will be held on 1 July, and the first exhibitions and performances also start on that date, and more importantly, the reviews of those shows.

Further information can be found at the BFOTF Facebook page @buxtonfringeofthefringe

Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe

How to Navigate a mainly Online Fringe

Diary page from the Buxton Fringe App

A few days ago I wrote about how we’d come to this point and a Fringe that is mainly, though not entirely, online. Now, it’s time to look forward to what Buxton Fringe will look like this year and how it will differ from every year gone by.

The obvious difference is that we won’t be going out as much to see shows and exhibitions, and that will also impact how we find out about performances or art that we might like, and how we connect with artists, performers and each other. And importantly, it affects how those who create the work can be recompensed for it.

Anyone who knows Buxton Fringe will know how ubiquitous our programmes are, we have a well-oiled machine that gets the programmes out and about and keeps those stocks regularly topped up. But there is no programme this year.

So, as well as most of the Fringe events happening online, how to find out about them will also be online on our trusty website, and on the app (available for Apple and Android) which we introduced last year.

Filter button top right
We appreciate that with most of the events being online, they will be available all day every day, and that could make our diary pages look rather crowded, so there are new filters available to help you to exclude or include events that are online or happening every day. Look out for the filter button on the app (pictured, it looks like three sliding knobs), and the new option buttons on the website’s diary page.

App Home Page
An alternative method is to go straight to the category pages, which will list all the events in each genre (e.g. Music, Theatre, Comedy, Visual Arts etc), links are obvious on the app’s main screen, and on the event descriptions page of the website.

To actually access an online event, click the link(s) provided in the event description.

If you would like to create your own schedule fo the Fringe, you can use My Fringe on the app, or make use of the website planner which now has an option to Synch Your Plan to the app.

Of course with watching at home, or on the move (there are quite a few audio productions), on your phone, tablet, laptop, or even TV screen if it is internet connected or via screen casting, then we don’t get to see each other to talk about the things we’ve enjoyed. So please be active in sharing, whether that’s on social media, or within WhatsApp groups, or emails. You can add comments for each show on the description pages on both the website and app. Let us at the Fringe (social media tags below), and your friends know what is worth catching up on.

Audiences also won’t be able to connect with the artists and performers in the same way. Usually, the beauty of the Fringe is that it is easy to hang around and chat to a performer, or you might run into them in the Fringe Bar upstairs at the Old Clubhouse. The performers are isolated from that kind of feedback, so do leave comments on performances you liked, tag them on social media, or contact them by whatever means they make available.

Let’s all talk plenty this Fringe!

Of course, we are used to buying tickets for shows, and that will be a rarity this year. Many performers will be asking for donations, so if your income is unaffected by the Covid 19 crisis, please consider thinking about what you would normally spend during the Fringe and making a donation. Many people have been hit financially this year though, so if you feel unable to donate, please just enjoy the Fringe and the great entertainment available away from the mainstream. Let’s put away our iPlayer and Netflix for a couple of weeks!

Enjoy Fringe 2020! It will certainly be different...

Stephen Walker
Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe
Instagram: @buxtonfringe

Saturday 27 June 2020

Famous voices join Buxton Fringe regulars to take their adventures online

Following 16 years of productions on the Buxton Fringe, award-winning theatre company Three’s Company are offering a new comedy podcast for this year’s mainly online coronavirus-proof Buxton Fringe (1-19 July).
The Buxton-born theatre company – Yaz Al-Shaater, Tom Crawshaw and Michael Grady-Hall – first appeared on the Buxton Fringe in 2003. Subsequent years have seen them perform all over the country, including a run at the West End, but have returned to Buxton each summer to produce new work. With the 2020 Buxton Fringe going online, their offering this year is an epic new genre-busting radio comedy in five parts.

They are joined in their online adventures by a host of top actors from previous projects, including some very special guest stars. Listen out for Les Dennis as a bungling wizard, Rufus Hound as a bankrupt space-ranger, Youssef Kerkour as an acerbic butler, and Caroline Quentin as an evil scientist who risks destroying the world.

Three’s Company’s Adventure Department follows the trio’s attempts to record a serious theatre podcast, which is unfortunately interrupted each episode by an urgent adventure. Series 1 sees them rescuing an island from a wicked witch, saving the Queen from aliens, solving a murder mystery, and taking down a film noir crime boss – all before attempting to stop a zombie apocalypse in the dramatic season finale.

Sound good? A trailer is available here.

The laugh-a-minute comedy premieres online on 3 July as part of the Buxton Fringe, with the first two episodes available to download from 7:00pm that evening. Subsequent episodes then follow each fortnight – all completely free.

All episodes can be found at threescompany.uk/adventure so be sure to subscribe and join the adventure!

Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe
Instagram: @buxtonfringe

Friday 26 June 2020

The New Volunteer

The verdant (and orange obviously) Fringe Desk (credit: Dave Upcott)

One of our newest commttee members, Carole Garner, has written this lovely blog about her experiences since joining us. Many thanks, Carole! 

If, on reading this, you are interested in helping out, find out more here.

The new Volunteer 

I’d been living in Buxton for 8 months and was looking for opportunities to meet people and make a contribution to my new town. Flicking through Pure Buxton I saw an advert for Fringe volunteers, this sounded good, I’d loved all the Fringe events over the summer. Only problem was I was already busy on the meeting date. 

Had I missed out? Definitely not was the swift answer from Fringe chair Stephen. Why didn’t I go along to the Christmas Carol workshop to chat with some other volunteers? But I can’t sing for toffee was my nervous response. “Never mind nor can I but its great fun!” long standing volunteer Viv assured me. She was right it was and by the end of the workshop I was joining in happily. 

After that I went along to the monthly committee meetings, held in the Cheshire Cheese. I met lots of friendly people who were passionate about Buxton Fringe, many had been involved for years. It was fascinating to listen to the discussion, I’d attended lots of fringe events but never thought about the behind the scenes organisation and planning.  Of course there were other newcomers like me, but unlike me they seemed to have skills or areas of interest that would be useful to “getting the show on the road”.

Don’t worry, both Stephen and Steph assured me, there will be lots to do in the run up to July and you’ll find your role. Over the next couple of months I helped out delivering leaflets, making phone calls and joining a lively group discussion about how to make the Fringe more inclusive. But I still felt I hadn’t quite found my niche.  

Then Covid 19 arrived, lively meetings in pubs and cafes switched to Zoom meetings which sounded like they were at the bottom of a lake. There were debates about what to do, could we save the Fringe and if so how, should we cancel, how could we best protect performers and audiences?

Over the following weeks Edinburgh was cancelled then the Buxton International Festival was cancelled and it became obvious that venues for live events would not be able to operate by July. 

Slowly the idea of the Online Fringe developed and performers came up with creative ideas as the programme took shape.

Last week I helped send badges to participants, so far there are over 80, lots are from Buxton and wider Derbyshire but there are also entries from London, Manchester, Scotland and even Australia!
Our friends and family who were going to stay with us to attend the Fringe will now be streaming from their sofas as will I.  Its not going to be the Fringe that I was expecting but I’m definitely excited to see what’s on and its going to be fun and we can all do with some fun right now.

I’m still not sure what my role in Buxton Fringe 2021 will be but I do know that the Fringe will be back next year better than ever and I’ll be supporting it, having fun with a great bunch of people and contributing  to one of the many things that makes Buxton such a special place to live.

Carole Garner

Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe
Instagram: @buxtonfringe

Sunday 21 June 2020

10 days to Fringe 2020: How did we get here?

The Buxton Fringe Stone in the Covid snake on Broad Walk

There are only ten days to go until the start of Fringe 2020, and it will be a very different Fringe to that I expected when I took over as Chair from the inestimable Keith Savage.

Last year’s Fringe was our 40th and a huge success, well over 200 entrants and more people coming to see shows than ever before - and we’d never ever considered online entries.

This year, well, we all know what happened this year, but we’re heading into the Fringe with over 80 entries, the vast majority online, which is incredible in the circumstances. So how did we get here?

When our early bird entries closed at the end of February we had over 100 entries, which was encouraging and set us up for another successful year. At our committee meeting early in March (the Fringe is a charity run entirely by volunteers) I hastily added Coronavirus to the agenda, thinking we could do some contingency planning in case it became a “thing”.

Within a week or so it was all we could think of and it consumed all our planning - coming up with plans, writing press releases and letters to our entrants and audience. We have consistently taken the view that we exist to put on a Fringe and that is what we have tried to do. We tried to stay flexible for as long as possible so that the possibility of a Fringe happening stayed open.

What we know, and the Covid snake along Broad Walk in Pavilion Gardens shows, is that the desire to create art is natural and irrepressible. We're here to enable artists and performers to share their art.

We are fortunate in this case that we operate on a very small budget, the programme taking up the largest share. By being able to delay and then cancel the printing of a programme, we bought ourselves a lot of flexibility. When it became inevitable that venues couldn’t open and we couldn’t have a Fringe in the normal way, we were able to switch to a mainly online strategy without having committed ourselves financially. It also enabled us to refund all entries and charge no entry fees this year.

But it has committed many of our volunteers to a huge effort to reorient our programme. Our website and entries team of Steph, Dan and Ian, assisted by the venues team led by Sandra and Viv, and supported wonderfully by Gaye, the Fringe Secretary, have been in touch with all the venues and entrants in a massive effort to review every entry in the programme.

Ironically our first ever online entry, which had caused some consternation when it came in well before coronavirus, Alice Goes Elsewhere, an audio drama from Buxton Drama League, was the only entry of over 100 that required absolutely no revision.

Many entries have had no option but to cancel and we are devastated for all those that have worked on their art and performances and have been left with no means of getting them before an audience. We hope that we see you all again next year in happier circumstances.

What has been a happy surprise has been the number of online entrants we have seen come in, initially many local groups, but then from further afield as news of our staying open has spread. We’re delighted to have so many artists, performers and writers with us. And some, like Fringe favourites Orange and Pip Theatre, have even produced brand new lockdown material for Fringe 2020.

And while we are mainly online, there are some events actually happening, mainly in Visual Arts, but we still have TINY! Treasure Hunters, craft adventures for children now in timed slots for social distancing purposes.

For those that don’t have access to the internet, we have our Phone@5 initiative to bring Fringe micro-performances down the phone to you. Find out more here.

So who knows how Fringe 2020 will play out? It will certainly be very different. We hope that many of our loyal audience will enjoy shows online, and perhaps new audiences will discover and enjoy the range of shows on offer.

Our vision of the future may not be all that clear, and many things are very different, but one thing that we can be sure of, is providing a wide variety of entertainment this July. Some things never change.

Stephen Walker
Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe
Instagram: @buxtonfringe

Friday 19 June 2020

Putting the ring into Fringe

Buxton Fringe has been reinventing itself in a big way with over 80 entries now on the website, many of them online.

But what if you don’t have access to the internet or are just missing a bit of actual human contact?

This year’s innovative Phone@5 scheme was inspired by Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Telephone Club and features a host of Fringe stars poised to offer five to ten minute micro-performances down the phone. If that sounds like something you would enjoy, just call 01298 79351 to book one of the 5pm slots running from 6-10 July and 13-17 July. Feel free also to spread the word if you know someone who could do with a bit of Fringe stardust. By using the speakerphone, perhaps a couple of people could enjoy the same call?

If you fancy a little story, we can offer Lewis Hancock who reads The Lion and Albert and other music hall tales (see youtu.be/RjW2yeSuYUQ) Or there is Mark Henderson of Chapel Arts Writing Group who could give you a Derbyshire folk tale (funny, sad, creepy or grisly), or Mike Raffone, an award-winning comedian who will be delivering Gerard Hoffnung’s classic bricklayers’ monologue from the 1950s.

Otherwise we have opera singing or, intriguingly pop in the style of opera, from Poperasops’ Tora Wilson, folk songs from Ian Bowns and rock and pop from Will Hawthorne. Also on the menu is a bit of Chaucer or a Shakespeare sonnet from Debbie Cannon and modern poetry from Don Dolby. Former Fringe chair Keith Savage is also on hand with a collection of readings on a Derbyshire theme and we are also able to offer some relaxing piano music.

So far we have attracted a lot of media interest - see https://buxtonfringe.org.uk/galleryvideos.html for recent radio interviews - but people have been a bit shy to book calls. Let me reassure you that you do deserve a phone call plus it is a lovely thing for our performers to be back doing what they do best - performing live! The show must go on - will you help us make sure that it does?

Buxton Fringe

Website: www.buxtonfringe.org.uk
Facebook: buxtonfringe
Twitter: @buxtonfringe