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
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.
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
Okay, this is going to be a shorter list than usual, maybe because everyone has a breather after the Edinburgh Fringe. But that’s okay because I have a shedload of reviews to catch up on myself, so the sooner I can zip through this, the better.
Stuff that happened in September:
As I said, limited theatre stuff, but a couple of things elsewhere in the arts world that grabbed my interest. Starting with the theatre stuff …
This could have been Setepmber’s big news in the north-east, and not in a good way. Happily, something that could have been a disaster now looks to be swiftly averted.
It was a “Save Alphabetti Theatre” crowdfunder that came out of nowhere. In spite of a very successful first 18 months, it was announced out of the blue (well, nearly out of the blue – the fact that the event at which is was announced was called a “fundraiser” was an early hint) that Alphabetti was facing closure if it didn’t get more money. A Kickstarter fund was launched with a £2,500 target, but luckily for Alphabetti, they’ve earned themselves a lot of supporters, because they raised £6,300 (and, interestingly, a lot of backers come from outside the north-east). Together with a whip-round at the original fundraiser that made it £7,100. The Kickstater was only one part of the fund-raising, and the overall target was more like £10,000. It’s not a hard and fast figure – this doesn’t mean that £9,999 means closure but £10,001 means Alphabetti forver – but that’s roughly what they need to clear their debts. But with organisations up and down the country wanting to chip in – another sign of how good a job Alphabetti’s done building its reputation – it looks like this target will be reached. Continue reading
Just before we go headlong into Edinburgh Fringe coverage, there’s just time for a quick roundup on things that happened in July. For some reason, July’s been a pretty quiet month so there’s not been a lot to report, but let’s do a catch-up.
Stuff that happened in July
No turning back at the Gala
Last month I reported on an arguably successful launch of scratch night Next Up … but they’re not stopping there. A very big push is going on right now the get the Gala back into being a producing theatre, like it was in the Stallworthy era.
So there are two productions coming up, both of which are related to the 100-year commemoration of The Battle of the Somme. Running right now is something called No Turning Back. I’m honestly not sure what this is, but the main auditorium has been reconstructed into the trenches for the summer. I’ll be seeing this tomorrow to give you my own verdict. Whatever the verdict, it is unprecedented for post-Stallworthy Gala to do anything on this scale. Continue reading