It’s been quite a busy March in terms of interesting developments, mostly as the build-up to the fringes continues. So here’s a catchup on things that grabbed my interest.
Stuff that happened in March
Before I go looking at the fringes, a quick bit of local news. Paddy Campbell, hot on the heels of his success with Leaving, has now got himself on this BBC New Talent Hotlist. Before you get too excited, it’s not clear exactly what this entails. He’s one of 200 people in various fields earmarked “as ones to watch.” This is the full press release if anyone can make any more sense of it, but it’s meant to be something good, anyway.
What it does suggest, however, is that out of all the new writers to appear on the scene in the last few years, Paddy Campbell is possibly pulling ahead of the others. With his first two plays getting extra runs to meet demand, and early signs that his third will be getting the same treatment, if the BBC are rating him as the top bet for a writer in the north-east, it looks to good bet to make. Continue reading
Okay, we’re quite a bit into March now, so I’d better hurry up with this. Sorry this is late, but I didn’t want to delay the Vault Festival reviews any further as I had a couple of press ticket reviews waiting on that. But now that’s out of the way, let’s turn attention to what else happened in February.
Beyond the End of the Road
You may recall that last September I reviewed a scratch performance from The November Club, a theatre company heavily based in rural Northumberland. Beyond the End of the Road is set in such a small community, a fictitious village based on interviews with people in similar real villages. As well as the research to get the community feel right, there’s lots of live music in the story, with guitars and other instruments cleverly used to represent all sorts of props. The most promising bit, however, was the story of two outsiders returning to their home village for different reasons. And then, just when things got interesting – it finished. Continue reading
Womble jokes: coming soon to Buxton.
So Underground Venues lives on. After much speculation (well, much speculation from me), they have moved from their extremely popular site in the basement under the Old Hall Hotel to The Old Clubhouse, a pub just up the road outside the Opera House. This was always one of the hot favourites: plenty of venues work this way in Brighton, I gather Tom and Yaz used to run events at the Old Clubhouse prior to Underground Venues, and this option was seriously explored three years earlier when it looked like 2013 would be the final year.
Applications for Underground Venues were supposed to open two days ago, and from this I was supposed to glean more information from what this might entail. However, due to some gremlins in the system the old Pauper’s Pit information was still showing and applications had to be delayed a few days. However, from this blog post we can already work out quite a bit about what’s in store, and from this ask some questions of what happens from here. Continue reading
Wow. We’ve made it past January and the world hasn’t ended yet. I was half-expecting the inauguration to conclude straight after the oath finished and an aide came up and opened a briefcase with a big red button in it, but no, it didn’t. This is going better than I expected. So it looks like I am going to be writing the January 2017 Odds and Sods after all.
This time, I’m going to put a bit more focus in what new works people are up to. I’ve been doing this a lot less than I would, but this January my radar of new work has been very busy. Let’s see what I’ve got for you.
Stuff that happened in January
So, starting off, something from Mark Farrelly that’s grabbed my interest. I last reported on Mark Farrelly at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe (this is coming up in the final week of the Vault festival if you’re round that neck of the woods), but it’s the play he wrote further back, The Silence of Snow, that prompted me to keep an eye on him.
I know you’re all dying to get stuck into 2017 and maybe your optimism’s buoyed by no-one of David Bowie’s calibre having died yet, but one final thing to close off 2016 is a retrospective of what you guys read the most on my site. Always interesting to see what interested you the most.
Most read articles written in 2016
So, what did I do last year that raised eyebrows one way or the other. I’m going to exclude roundups of festival fringes here because they’re at an unfair advantage for obvious reason, but apart from that, what grabbed your attention.
(Obvious caveat: by “most read” I mean pageviews, as measured by WordPress. I have no way of knowing if you read the whole article or got bored by the third sentence. Also bear in mind that articles posted earlier in 2016 have had more time to rack up views than ones published later in the year, although the most-read articles tend to have the most pageviews shortly after publication.)
Most read new comment piece: I write on a variety of issues, some contentious, some mainstream, but I’ve never been able to predict what gets the most attention. 2015’s most read comment piece about Richard Herring got the top spot after a retweet from the man itself. However, this time round the most read article was almost entirely found by Google searches: Why E4’s Stage School is all your fault, where I suggested that the blame for such an appalling depiction of actors must be shared by the people, actors and otherwise, who’ve watched programmes with Made in Chelsea before. Seems there’s a lot of interest from the arts world in this abomination. Only thing I don’t know is where this article was read by people who agree with me or people who think Stage School is the best piece of telly ever. No death threats received yet, but digging my bunker just in case. Continue reading
Welcome December, and what may possibly be the last odds and sods of 2016. I’m not planning to do an odds and sods for December because you don’t tend to hear much other than pantomimes, pantomimes and more pantomimes. Unless, of course, 2016 decides to go out with a bang and have a figure from us beloved throughout the theatre world. (My money’s still on Boris and Sergey’s suggestion though. If 2016 really want to go out with a bang and take a national treasure, David Attenborough’s in big trouble.)
Anyway, let’s not carry on tempting fate by suggesting further celebrity deaths, what happened in November.
Alphabetti needs a new home
Alphabetti Theatre deserves a break. First they lost their original home at the Dog and Parrot, and put all their work into setting up a new venue. They ran into financial trouble and had to do more fundraising. The extent to which they were supported and the acts they’ve had booked is a treatment how well they’ve done. So now what do they get? Their landlord wants the basement back. To be fair to the landlord, this was always part of the deal. They, and many other organisations in the same building, were able to rent the space for cheap because the building was earmarked for redevelopment and no-one else wanted it. Until now, I’d always assumed that this would be like Pauper’s Pit in Buxton, where the redevelopment that is definitely going ahead next year takes place over a decade later, but this time, seems the landlord actually meant it. Continue reading
Are you guys recovered from fringe season yet? I haven’t. Just when one project finishes, along comes another. And I’ve still got a month’s backlog of reviews. Never mind, should have a quieter November, Then it’s my forced break in December when it’s sodding panto season. Oh joy.
Stuff that happened in October
Hmm. Still seems to be a relatively quiet months. Only four things to report, and two of them aren’t really new. Never mind, here we go.
Brighton fringe registration opens
Yes. Already. Preparations for 2017’s fringe season are properly underway. At this stage, the big thing to look out for is venues. Who’s new, who’s expanding. The most attention at this stage goes to the super-venue though. With Brighton increasingly dominated by the giants of The Warren, Sweet and Spiegeltent, the decisions they make will shape the festival as a whole. Continue reading