What next for Buxton Fringe and Pauper’s Pit? (2016 update)


Back in 2013, when it was announced it would be the final year that Underground Venues would operate out of Pauper’s Pit and the Barrel Room in the Old Hall Hotel, I wrote this article on what might happen next. As you may have noticed, nothing happened, and the in-joke that every year was Underground Venues’ last year ran on and on. However, the mood this year is that this time the developers really mean it and they want to convert the entire basement into a hot tub or something equally fancy. So unless everyone wants to set their plays in hot tubs, we need to look at where else they can go.

Joking aside, this is something that Buxton Fringe ought to be worried about. In recent years, applications to Underground Venues have gone up and up and up, but the numbers to Buxton Fringe overall have remained steady. So it looks like there are a lot of unsuccessful applicants who are opting for not come to Buxton at all. For one reason or another, it’s Underground Venues that everyone seems to love. It might be because of the community and spirit that’s been built up, or it could be that this is the only space with a proper lighting and sound system (apart from the intensely-contested Arts Centre). The apocalyptic scenario is that the loss of Underground Venues spells the loss of everyone who performs there. If that was to happen, this would decimate the theatre and comedy programmes at Buxton – the Buxton Fringe would still have a strong visual arts and music section to fall back on, but it would still be a huge loss. Continue reading


Counting the common mistakes

Infographic for script submission (click on link for details)

A couple of weeks ago, I came across this interesting article. Yes, whilst every man and his dog has their own pet theory about what makes a good script and bad script, one scriptreader has actually gone through the trouble of totting up from 300 unsolicited scripts which problems were occurring, and how often. The results make some very interesting reading, and whilst this will inevitably be swayed by the reader’s own preferences, it’s a far more reliable technique than claims that go “In my experience bad scripts make mistake X.”

This is about screen plays rather than stage plays, so this needs to be treated with a little caution. In particular, it’s unwise to dwell too much on a hero/villain format in a stage play. But, on the whole, I broadly agree with what’s listed here. Also there were some interesting stats, such as male writers outnumbering female writers over 10:1, and the big disparity between male and female leads. That is a serious problem throughout theatre, film and television, and I will return to this another day.

However, you might be thinking that by praising one reader for some openness about what’s being accepted and rejected, that’s an implicit criticism of everyone else who doesn’t. And I’ll admit you’re sort-of right. But rather than criticise, it better to set an example. So, here goes. Based on my own list of 10 common beginners’ mistakes in playwriting, let us bring forth this list: Continue reading