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
So, it’s been six months since my Brighton Fringe escapades. This blog isn’t the place where I promote my own work – the short version is that I got my first four-star review but I had abysmal ticket sales. Still, it appears to have helped my efforts along back in the north-east, albeit in different ways to what I expected. If you really want to read all the cherry-picked ego-inflating quotes I’m using, you can read it here. But this post isn’t about promoting my work, it’s a list of lessons I’ve learned that might have other people.
As with my first two “What I’ve learned” posts, this isn’t a comprehensive list of tips for taking part in a fringe, but rather a list of things I found in in the process of taking a show to Brighton, having previously only had experience of Buxton. Some things scaled up as expected, some things worked out differently. For anyone else trying this, your unexpected experiences will probably be different. Without further ado, here we go. Continue reading
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
Filed under Analysis, News
REVIEWS: Skip to: Skin of the Teeth, Lest We Forget, Samantha Mann, Jane and Lizzy, Jacques Brel: A life in a thousand words, The Beautiful Game, Women Who Wank, Hitting the Wall
And that’s it. Buxton Fringe is over and I can lift my embargo and reveal which shows I saw at Buxton were my favourites. The big news, of course, wasn’t so much the show but the oncoming demise of of flagship venue Underground Venues. Redeveloping the entire Crescent building in Buxton has been talked about for many years, but little actually happened. This time, they’ve finally got round to actually starting the work, so it looks highly likely they’ll get round to changing Pauper’s Pit and the Barrel Room into a hot tub or something. I will at a later point write my thoughts on what might emerge as a replacement venue – in the meantime, you can read this article from three years ago when they first said it was their final year.
For the plays themselves … not my best year, to be honest. The plays I caught from my recommended list delivered, but the best thing that happens on a fringe is when I see a play I know little about that turn out to be outstanding. For me, whilst there was merit in the new plays I saw, there wasn’t anything I saw that really jumped out at me. There again, this was an unusual year with many plays I saw from the theatre section only debatably counting as theatre – and, as such, it was difficult for me to review this as a theatre piece. Continue reading
Eeek. Whilst I’ve been catching up on the Brighton Fringe roundup, Buxton Fringe has been creeping up on me. Better get these recommendations out of the way. I’ve looked through the programme and found six things that stand out for me in theatre. The big news, as I’ve previously reported, is that it looks like this year really will be the final year of Pauper’s Pit and the Barrel Room, arguably the main venue in Buxton.
As always, these recommendations are almost entirely based on the previous performances of the groups involved. Even though I now know quite a lot about who the Buxton regulars are, there are many groups I still haven’t had a chance to see, including some I’ve heard some good things about. So, bearing in mind this is a non-exhaustive list, here’s what I have for you: Continue reading
So, in the short gap I have between Buxton and Edinburgh, let’s get the Buxton Fringe rounded up. This has been my longest stint at Buxton, where I’ve seen plays over a total of seven days. So this is going to be a long roundup.
This time round, I’ve not really had any surprises. There were three acts I’d seen before who I have great expectations for, and they all delivered, but what was missing this time was the usual pleasure of seeing a group I’d never heard of before come out of nowhere and produce something excellent. Nor did I see anything that turned out to be awful. (I’ve heard stories of shows other people saw that were apparently outstanding or abysmal, but nothing I saw myself.)
Nevertheless, with a long stay in Buxton, I’ve got a lot to write about. Where I have not written about things I’ve seen this time, it’s not because I didn’t like it, but because what I saw wasn’t really theatre. Some of it was better thought of as music, spoken word, or entertainment, but this is a theatre blog and that’s what I want to concentrate on. But there’s still a lot of things to go through, so let’s get cracking. Continue reading
Okay, I think I am sufficiently recovered from Buxton to embark on the roundup of this year’s plays. As always, my roundup is always limited to plays I was able to see, and once again, with me taking part myself, I other plays I saw were restricted to whatever I was able to view in the limited time slots available. In particular, apologies to Butterfly – I would liked to have seen Dracula’s Women, but I couldn’t squeeze in everything on my must-see list and this lost out.
Well, after last year’s viewing which left me struggling for a pick of the fringe, the good news is that this year has made up for it. The bad news is that the overall standard has been so good, I’m going to have to get choosy. So, here we go.
Pick of the Fringe
I’ll start with the early suprise recommendation. From the comedy section: Ms Samantha Mann: Stories of Love, Death, and a Rabbit. Yes, that’s right, this theatre blog is putting a comedy in its picks – because this is so much more than a comedy. On the surface, this appear to be a frivolous character comedy. Charles Adrian plays Samantha Mann, a middle-ages spinster doing a woefully inept poetry performance. Except she doesn’t actually get round to much poetry – she spends so much time nervously waffling about herself, half the hour’s gone before she gets round to any poetry. Continue reading