One bit of concerning news from North Yorkshire today: the Georgian Theatre in Richmond is launching an appeal fund to – so the Georgian Theatre Trust claims – save it from closure. There’s no immediate plans to close the theatre, but the concern is that as public funding streams have dried up with the various cuts, the theatre cannot continue to break even on box office and bar sales alone.
All-female theatre doesn’t have to be garish entertainment. Two Newcastle plays on this week, Open Clasp’s The Space Between Us and The Killing of Sister George at the People’s Theatre shows what else you can do.
Look, I like women. Most of my friends are female. But I cannot stand girlie entertainment. It took me years to years to recover from the Spice Girls and painful pseudo-feminism. Just when I thought it was safe to go outside, what I do I find plastered over every theatre? Girls Night, set in a karaoke bar featuring songs such as “I Will Survive” and “It’s Raining Men”. Already I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Lauded by critics as Sex and the City meets Mamma Mia! Not good. Pink glow sticks for the audience. Eeek. And the plot? Apparently five women representing the five “types” on a night out: one “born to party”, one who “says it like it is”, one with “issues”, one “boring but handy for driving”, and one “not so angelic angel.” Oh please … Actually, I think might be a blueprint for my afterlife when I die and get sent to Hell.
(Okay, and to give credit where it’s due, this is not some manufactured bum-on-seats product devised by marketing executives, but a play that writer Louise Roche originally put on off her own back without any big players backing her. For that, and getting a smash hit on audience popularity alone, she has my respect. I suppose I shouldn’t really judge this without seeing it for myself; it’s just that if I had to sit through this, I fear I may go insane.)
But help is at hand. All-female plays don’t have to be garish froth. They can be intelligent and thought-provoking too, and two that have been in Newcastle this week are Open Clasp’s The Space Between Us and The Killing of Sister George at the People’s Theatre.
UPDATE: This was a guide I wrote for the 2013 Brighton Fringe. I have now done an update for 2014: nothing different, just a few additions and clarifications. Read the new version here, or view the old version for posterity.
Much as I love the Edinburgh Fringe, the down-side is that after it ends, you’ve got to wait eleven months before the next one. That’s why some fans of the festival fringe format look towards other open-access festivals, and the obvious choice is the Brighton Fringe: the second largest in the UK, largest in England, and the third largest in the world after Adelaide. It’s in May, which leaves a reasonable gap from the Edinburgh Fringe three months later, whilst offering decent weather on the beach.
However, if you have previously been to the Edinburgh Fringe and want to add Brighton to your list, you need to be aware that it’s not just a smaller-scale copy of its Scottish cousin. Unlike Edinburgh, where the audience is dominated by people visiting from all over the country, in Brighton the audiences are mostly locals, plus a contingent of Londoners on weekend visits. As a result, there are a lot of things that make the Brighton Fringe different. Here are a few tip I have from anyone new to the Brighton Fringe who’s previously been to Edinburgh: Continue reading