Monday 8 July 2024

Hold the Front Page 6 - Life's Mysteries... and Murders

Hangovers, murders and the meaning of life itself feature in two not-to-be missed shows at this year’s Fringe. Read extracts from their press releases below.

For venues, times, ticketing and further information about all our Fringe shows, see our What's On listings here.

Stephen Bathurst as King Solomon 

In Life Under The Sun – Part 1, Actor and dramatist, Stephen Bathurst asks the biggest question of all: What’s the Point?

Strangers & Exiles: Life Under the Sun - Part 1

'What good is it to gain the whole world but lose your soul?'

Described as Blackadder meets the Bible, Life Under The Sun - Part 1 is a one man show based on the book of Ecclesiastes, asking the biggest question of all - What's the point?

Imagine King Charles delivering his big royal speech, all the pomp and majesty, the trumpets and fanfare, but he's in his pants, with a massive hangover, and it's not old Charlie-Boy, it's King Solomon, supposedly the wisest man who ever lived, he's got 700 wives to deal with (and their mothers) and he can't get it up anymore...

Stephen Bathurst, brings this one-man show back to his native Derbyshire. Previous performances have taken place in Britain (Bedford Fringe, Guildford Fringe), Sweden (Gothenburg Fringe), Finland (OFF Tampere), Norway, Germany, Australia and Canada.

'4**** - Startling & Ambitious' Get Your Coats On

Meanwhile over in Chapel-en-le-Frith, a group of writers aim to entertain you with their gripping tales of murder...

Chapel Arts Creative Writing Group: Murder Foretold

Prompted by the opening line ‘Someone here will soon commit a murder’, the Chapel Arts Creative Writing Group presents its own ‘stories to die for’.

The thriving group of writers will be presenting two shows entitled Murder Foretold, an evening performance on July 11th at 7.30pm and a matinee on July 14th at 2pm, both at Rems Cafe Bar and Restaurant in Chapel-en-le-Frith. Different material is likely to feature at each and the group is expecting to perform stories, poetry, mini-plays and even some music, all with a different slant on this year’s murderous theme.

Led by author Mark Henderson, the group is open to all but includes published writers among its ranks. A booklet of short stories, Murder Foretold, will be on sale at the Fringe events. The group has also had its monologues performed by Glossop’s Partington Players and three writers from the group have had monologues selected by Strajanka Productions for another Buxton Fringe event, The Monologue Project 2024.

Says Mark: "It’s a pleasure and a privilege to work with this talented group of writers. They’ve produced a wide variety of pieces around this year’s theme. Having heard what they’re offering, I’m glad I don’t have to walk home along a dark alley!"

Buxton Fringe

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Thursday 4 July 2024

Hold the Front Page 5 - Time for a Rethink at Buxton Fringe

Canadian storyteller Nancy Edwards offers online audiences an insight into her challenging work as a community nurse in Sierra Leone. Read an extract from her press release below. The Fringe is pleased to include online performances with this year's programme also featuring Strajanka Productions' The Monologue Project in Spoken Word.

For further information about all our Fringe shows see our What's On listings here.

Nancy Edwards in the final scene of Rethinking Good Intentions

Nancy Edwards: Rethinking Good Intentions

Rethinking Good Intentions is a solo show, written and performed by Nancy Edwards, an Ottawa-based, Canadian story-teller.  Nancy is participating virtually at the 2024 Buxton Festival Fringe. This compelling play transports audiences to the rural villages of Sierra Leone, West Africa in the late 1970s and 1980s where Nancy worked as a community health nurse for five years.  

The play chronicles a journey that is both poignant and humorous. With the patience of local mentors, Nancy adjusted to life and the field-work realities of delivering preventive maternal and child health services as a cultural outsider. The play is filled with stories about Nancy’s initially blundered and then inspired encounters with village chiefs, traditional birth attendants, and subsistence farmers. Village experiences rattled Nancy’s cultural preconceptions, provoked her notions of social privilege, and forever deepened her global connections. 

Nancy’s heart-warming and heart-breaking stories about public health work in the villages make audiences laugh and cry. This new play is full of humanity. 

Live virtual performances of the play take place on July 6 and 20, 2024 @ 5 PM GMT. Performances are free. Pre-registration on Zoom is required. Donations are encouraged to the Friends of Nixon Memorial Hospital Fund (details on last page of playbill).   

The play lasts about an hour. Performances will be followed by a live chat with Nancy on Zoom.  

A recording of the first performance will be available to view on Nancy’s YouTube channel between July 7 and July 21, 2024.

See a trailer here

See (“Play” page) for schedule of performances, registration links for live performances on Zoom, YouTube link for taped performance, and copy of playbill.

The play is based on Nancy’s book “Not One, Not Even One: A Memoir of Life-altering Experiences in Sierra Leone, West Africa”, which was released by Friesen Press in 2022.  

It contains brief references to civil war violence, female initiation rituals, and newborn deaths in Sierra Leone. Age guidance 18+

Buxton Fringe

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Tuesday 2 July 2024

Thinking outside the box at Buxton Fringe

Our Fringe entrants take their responsibility towards the audience very seriously. We always love to learn more about their creative processes. Barbara Diesel wrote to us about the thinking behind her play, Dear Eliza, which is being staged at Underground at Spring Gardens. Read her words below. We hope her message sparks a conversation.

For further information about all our Fringe shows see our What's On listings here.

Writer/performer Barbara Diesel in Dear Eliza

Next month, I’m looking forward to performing my debut one-woman play, Dear Eliza, at the Buxton Festival Fringe. It’s been quite the journey creating and sharing this story. It dives into mental health in a completely unapologetic and raw way, with an added blend of dark comedy. I made a pointed effort to ensure my protagonist would be as morally grey, authentic, and real as possible.

I feel strongly about the power of Fringe theatre, particularly in the case of representing mental health issues. A few months ago, I summarised it like this:

 “The problem with depictions of mentally ill characters in fiction is that they are either nothing like a real mentally ill person, or they fit perfectly inside of a box. Often, when a film/book/series/play decides it wants to depict a specific illness, they build the characters around that diagnosis. They seem to tick off the symptoms and only then add in family/occupation/a handful of hobbies… afterwards. Creating what is a nice, neat, symptomatically perfect character.

The problem is that humans don’t tend to tick all the boxes. Humans are hard to diagnose. Humans have comorbid symptoms with other illnesses. Humans don’t fit into neat boxes. Only characters do.

So, most depictions of mental illness are, inherently, fictional. There’s little consideration of the symptomatic murkiness that can exist between different disorders. And the spectrum of experience is disregarded.

That’s why representation of mental health disorders is so different if you go to see Fringe theatre. A lot of the time, it’s been written by someone who really knows what they are talking about. Just as importantly, it hasn’t been surrendered to the industry – an industry that relies on being sensational or romantic or shocking in order to be commodified.

These ‘alternative’ depictions might blur the lines or leave you wondering what was actually ‘wrong’ with the character. They might confuse you because they haven’t been neatly packaged for you. But that is the reality of human beings with mental illnesses, as opposed to characters with mental illnesses. Human beings don’t fit into boxes. Only characters do.”

The best compliments I have received have been from audience members either telling me that they found Dear Eliza to be cathartic, because it genuinely resonated with them, or that they now better understood a family member/friend/colleague thanks to watching the play. That kind of experience is so difficult to have through mainstream media. So, for me, this is what makes Fringe theatre so valuable.

Buxton Fringe

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