Goodbye to Pauper’s Pit

UPDATE: This is an old page about Pauper’s Pit when it looked like it was going to close after the 2013 Buxton Fringe. As it turned out, we all spoke to soon, as you can read here. Anyway, this is the original story:

One bit of theatre news I’ve neglected to mention is one small but sad bit of news from Buxton Fringe. 2013 will be the final year that Pauper’s Pit in the Old Hall Hotel is used as a venue. After that, it’s apparently being converted into a hot tub or spa or something as part of a property development.

Normally, this sort of thing isn’t really news. Across the Fringes, old venues close, new ones take their place. However, Pauper’s Pit is no ordinary venue. This space is considered the definitive venue of the Buxton Fringe for years. And along with the Barrel Room and the bar connecting the two serving as the Fringe Club, this had acted as the focal point for the whole Fringe. The whole lot is going in the redevelopment, leaving the Buxton Fringe without its star attraction.

I have no doubt Buxton Fringe will carry on. The locals I’ve spoken to who go to the play are very loyal of their local Fringe and I’m confident they will carry on going. I also assume Underground Venues who run Pauper’s Pit will carry on, either with just the Arts Centre which they also run, or the Arts Centre plus some new spaces. They haven’t clearly stated their plans for 2014, but I can’t imagine them leaving now.

The big unknown is the effect of the loss of Buxton Fringe’s centrepiece. In the long run, it could be a good thing or bad thing. As I’ve previously commented, Underground Venues takes the lion’s share of plays in Buxton, and although you can’t blame them for being popular or successful, I’m not sure this is healthy. Who knows, without Pauper’s Pit, maybe we’ll get a new balance of power where several venues get equal prominence. Or maybe acts who used to come to Pauper’s Pit will stop coming completely. We’ll see.

Alternatively, if we really can’t let these venues go, maybe we’ll have to start putting on lots of site-specific plays set in hot tubs. Any suggestions?