Sunday, 13 May 2012

Blog is a four letter word

If you haven’t read Fringe Press Officer Steve Walker’s first foray into the blogosphere, then stay behind after class. He’s asking the possibly unanswerable question 'What the hell is Fringeanyway?'

One thing Fringe often claims or aspires to be, is a hotbed of controversy. This year seems to be no exception, if you’ve been following SO IT GOES. For those of you who are unfamiliar with John Fleming’s blog, check it out for interesting insights into the world of comedy, tv and occasionally, North Korea. Before jetting off to observe rocket launches in rogue states, John Fleming produced Helen Keen’s show It Is RocketScience! V2, which she brought to Buxton in 2010 before heading north to Edinburgh and then on to Radio 4.

Lately (amongst the posts about his trip to North Korea) he’s been talking about the touchy issue of censorship in Edinburgh. The mother of all fringes began way back in 1947 when a group of artists turned up to the Edinburgh International Festival, and refused to let the obstacle of not being part of the programme stop them from staging their shows. Since then it has forged a reputation for the new and challenging and developed into the largest arts festival in the world.

But the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society have managed to disgruntle a good few comedians by using an overly heavy-handed approach in editing the Fringe Programme, the comedians claim. The word 'Puritanical' has been thrown around, following some notable asterisks being inserted pretty much anywhere they’ll fit.

Richard Herring’s show Talking C*ck is one of the casualties, and he points out that in this case it’s the pretty tame phrase 'cock and bull story' from which the title originates. Jackson Voohar commented on his own run in with the editors:

A quote in my blurb was actually censored to ‘the b*st*rd offspring of Eddie Izzard and Noel Fielding’. Surely in that context bastard is a perfectly legitimate and inoffensive term?

One half of Underground Venues, Tom Crawshaw has been musing on the issue:

I’m not sure if this is relevant” he says, “but since Eddie Izzard and Noel Fielding can’t biologically conceive a bastard child by natural means, perhaps people would automatically take the word in its other meaning…

he adds “No, that’s silly.

Censorship is a pretty emotive issue anywhere, but in the context of Fringe, which often trades on its reputation as a home for the experimental and the outrageous, it can get even trickier.

Going back to Steve’s question – 'what does fringe even mean?' it’s important to note that even fringes can’t really claim to know. In Edinburgh, performers pay an entry fee for inclusion in the programme, and sort pretty much everything else out themselves. This unprogrammed model is the one Buxton has adopted, but other Fringe Festivals (or Festival Fringes – we’ll get onto that another time) are selective, and handpick their programme from the artists who apply, meaning only a selected few actually perform.

Buxton Fringe’s hands off approach is staunch in its anti-selection policy. Former Committee Chair and Fringe enthusiast John Wilson said “Art is for and by everybody. It is not for us or anybody else to decide in advance what will or will not be good nor to decide what should or should not be done nor what anybody should or should not see.

Well great. But what about age-suitability, and good old-fashioned decency? Are the Great British public to be subjected to and endless parade of expletives, double entendres and posters depicting obscene gestures? I’m not one to stand in the way of a double entendre, but does the Fringe have a responsibility to the public to ensure that publications such as their brochure are suitable for all ages, and tastes for that matter?

John says “It is a matter of politeness to make clear the nature or the event on offer and we encourage entrants to be clear in their description and their advice on suitability. We cannot and do not insist on this however. Some entrants, for example, refuse on principle to offer advice on age suitability.

Seems like a common sense approach, and Tom is in agreement:

The important part of the Fringe is that anyone can take part and have complete freedom as to the content of their show. When it comes to the printed programme, which is a huge administrative undertaking, the house style should also ensure the brochure is accessible to everyone. If there are shows suitable for or specifically aimed at children, the brochure should be inclusive to this group, so it can’t be x-rated. As long as the style guide is clear about what is suitable content for the programme, then acts can work within the guidelines – the issue of freedom of expression should be about the show, rather than the marketing.

Now I love a good style guide, and I love research. So just you try and stop me researching the Edinburgh Fringe style guide. On explicit titles they have this to say:

Explicit words may be included in a show’s title or copy by replacing key characters in the word with symbols: eg, f$*k or s*%t. The Fringe Programme team will use its own discretion to adjust explicit words within show titles or copy as it deems necessary.

They’re pretty well covered then, although changing all swear words into comic book sound effects as in the case of 'f$*k' and 's8%t' is possibly going a little far, tending closer to the unreadable than the inoffensive.

So is the Edinburgh Fringe morphing into a draconian, Orwellian nightmare seeking to control artistic expression? Has, as the Daily Mail claims, PC gone mad? I would warn any free-spirited and boundary-pushing comedian that sounding even a little like the Daily Mail is a sign that something, somewhere has gone wrong.

If you’re in the business of challenging taboos, restrictions can be, well, restrictive, obviously. Although, if you’re a glass half full type of guy, you might prefer to look at it as a bit of a freebie – firstly, asterisks may be passed off as a star rating, and secondly, comedy fans tend not to be easily offended and I doubt the news that a title has been altered will scare many away. More likely is that people will go along to see what all the fuss is about, controversy means publicity. Probably not a good idea to say that publicly, though. That makes you sound like a money-hungry %*!< (in the spirit of free expression, feel free to read that as any word you deem suitable).

But is the commotion justified? Isn’t a bit of perspective and some understanding of the complexity of the Edinburgh Programme team’s task a much more sensible way to go?

Well, yes – but it isn’t half as funny, is it?

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Another Thrilling Installment of Keith Savage's Blog

This is what happens when you google Keith Savage. Also, you probably have some time on your hands. You might think that googling Keith Savage would suggest that you’re not exactly run off your feet at the moment, but making a collage of things that aren’t Keith Savage is taking things a little further. A little too far, you may say, but a fitting way to mark the first installment of Keith Savage’s Blog Not Written By Keith Savage.

Keith himself probably called it the Buxton Fringe blog, because he’s a humble sort of chap and that was what he used to write about. I’ll also be mentioning the Fringe from time to time, but I’ll probably be calling this Keith Savage’s Blog, and including more pictures that aren’t of him (although he did a lot of that himself to be fair – just look at that one that’s of fruit in the previous post, he’s nowhere to be seen).

But Keith’s Blog wasn’t just an endless parade of pomegranates, breaking some of the biggest news stories of January 2012 including the totally awesome news that the Olympic torch will be heading through Buxton just ahead of the Fringe. When I read that, I got excited in the hope that it would change public feeling towards the Olympics from something that’s going to cost a lot of money, into a way to feel superior to Bakewell. But it turns out that that torch is also going through Bakewell, so we can really only feel superior to Dove Holes, and we probably didn’t need to spend £9 billion quid on that.

As it has become customary on Keith Savage's Blog to mention the Fringe from time to time, I'll close with this exciting/startling/alarming fact - there’s a whopping 170 entries this year, and less than two months before Buxton gets a bit oranger. We better get a move on!

Glasses half full in Buxton

The baton of Fringe Blogger (or should that be Binge Flogger?) is not an easy one to pass on. Not so much the baton, perhaps, as this particular Blog site which is not always the easiest or most intuitive one you'll ever find. For the time being no pics but just a few words.

In three months time we'll be in the midst of Buxton Fringe and Festival 2012. Tickets for the main Festival are now on public sale and some events are sold out already. We can't know who or what floats your boat but to avoid disappointment check it out soon.

The Fringe now has over 100 entries and 300 performances or events listed. Entries close in less than 2 weeks but it is likely that we'll have a Fringe of similar size to 2010 and 2011 - that is around 150 entries and 600 performances. Whatever gloomy news there may be, The Arts in Buxton are flourishing. This optimism on the part of musicians, actors, writers, artists and performers of all sorts is welcome and exciting.

Mind you the mindset in Buxton is pretty positive right now. Regular visitors will be aware that the architectural jewel and centrepiece of the town - the Crescent - has been closed for the best part of 20 years and umpteen proposals for its development have been aired. Finally contracts have been signed for its development as a Spa Hotel. Work starts soon and completion in 2014 is scheduled.

Whatever you might think about the Olympics - and it is fair to say that reports of unconfined excitement would be premature - the fact is that the Olympic torch will be carried through the streets of just one town in the High Peak - Buxton on June 29th. That will be excuse enough for widespread jollity and the Fringe will be playing its part.

Finally, for now, local traders and businesses in the town have put together a bid for funding through the Portas Project to begin some developments that would help 'rebrand' the town and bring a stonger sense of purpose to town life. Even if the funding bid fails there are grounds for optimism that Buxton will thrive rather than wither. So we look forward to seeing you in Buxton in July confident that you'll find us with our glasses more than half full.

by Keith Savage - Published 09/24/2012

Welcome to Fringe 2012

Oranges (naturally) and Pomegranates (oh, well).
Just because it's been quiet here for the past six months it doesn't mean that nothing has happened but it is time to break our silence. It's mild and windy - hibernation is over.

Fringe 2012 is well and truly up-and-running and there are some cracking events to look forward to. The Military Tattoo is back - for the third year. It is the biggest indoor event in town and tickets are already selling fast at the Opera House. It sold out in 2010 and 2011 so don't hang around - get your tickets NOW! Saturday July 7th at the Dome.

The biggest event underground last year was the rapid version of Macbeth in Poole's Cavern. All nine shows sold out in double quick time. I for one missed out. Anyway the same company - Butterfly -  is returning in July. A Midsummer Night's Dream this time - with a software busting 27 performances. That will be over 1000 tickets but it will still be sold-out if the excitement of last year is repeated. First performance on Wednesday July 4th which, it so happens, is Day 1 of Fringe 2012.

Other things to put straight in the diary are: the Jet Collective's music offering The Derbyshire Suite. A jazzy affair at the Methodist Church on July 18th - for one night only. A new musical - Prophet - is at the Burbage Institute on July 14/15. Looks good for all the family.

Finally, for now, the Olympic torch will be carried through Buxton on Friday June 29th. It will be a day of celebration and some chaos (which can be a good thing). Contributing to the event will be some sort of musical offering on the Bandstand in the Pavilion Gardens. A whole host and plethora of local musicians will be entertaining early evening - come rain or shine. Keep looking out for more news.

by Keith Savage - Published 21/01/2012

Fringe Sunday Programme - exclusive!

Fringe Sunday is now firmly established as one of Buxton's entertainment highlights for the whole family - and it's free!. Fringe Sunday is on the first Sunday (no surprise there) of every Fringe - so this year's event is just a week away. Join us in the Pavilion Gardens around the Bandstand from 2.00 on 10th July to be entertained by:

On the Bandstand - Local Vocals (Buxton's own community choir); Ed Billingham - a virtuos classical guitarist; Kooky Babooshka - a comic quartet from Manchester; the Belly Dance Flames - crowd-pleasers making a welcome return to Fringe Sunday; Richard Taylor - a guitarist on a Harmony Tour; Perry Huntsman and Hilary Felstead - a popular local folk duo; the Ashrow Theatre Company with extracts from Being Nice a play by Mark Niel who performed on Fringe Sunday in 2010; Glass Ankle a band from Manchester with Japanese influences; Victor Barstool (pictured above) with songs from Flat on my back seeing stars will close the show from the Bandstand.

Elsewhere - in the Gazebo you can see/hear: Birdy Chick Chick doing time travelling comedic nonsense (their words); extracts from physical theatre by Nose2Nose which promises tears and cheers; there will be close-up magic from High Peak Magicians; GC Morgan will performing excerpts from Witzelsucht & Moria a new play.

Finally - and perhaps bravest of all - a number of performers will be promenading around the Gardens looking for an audience and performimng wherever they find one, so look out for: jwpoetry with Our Little Green Book of Children's Verse; little GIANT productions with The Enormous Turnip and Other Stories; High Peak Magicians will be stopping and amazing all around the place; Catfoot Theatre Compnay will be doing bits from their show Cowboy Baby; members of the Arden Theatre cast will be introducing us to their play Gold Flower's Story which retells events from the Chinese revolution. Three of these acts come from the For Families category in the Fringe programme and we're delighted that free entertainment will be so widely available for children and their carers.

Did I say 'finally'? - what was I thinking of! In the children's tent their will be balloon modelling and face painting - two different people, but who is to know, they might change places.
Let's leave the final word with Victor Barstool, who - if he can stay on his feet - will bring the whole thing to what can only be described as an unforgettable climax:

Victor Barstool’s long-running dispute with his girl backing singers goes public when Barstool and his band appear at Buxton bandstand on Fringe Sunday.
The girls Bubble & Squeak are fed up of doing Sha La La’s and Doobie Doos and want stardom themselves.
Victor and the girls will be promoting ‘Flat on My Back and Seeing Stars’ the third successive Buxton Festival Fringe Show for Dolls House productions. It stars Deirdre Costello as Victor’s long suffering girlfriend Wanda K Lutz, backing singers Emma Shanks and Victoria Plum. Music is by Jim Lampard, who also plays sax and Alan Charnley who also plays Victor.
The story of Barstool who claims to have influenced music all time greats including Bowie and Kraftwerk, but struggles with his personal life, is showing at Buxton’s Grove Hotel on Saturday July 23, 8pm.
Last year Alan played Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Karen Carpenter in ‘Come Back To Blackpool Karen Carpenter’ which sold out at the Fringe and transferred very successfully to the Pavilion Arts Theatre.
Deirdre has had a long career in television, film and radio and is best known for her performance in ‘The Fully Monty.’ Jim plays sax locally in the Boogiemen.
Flat on My Back Seeing Stars is a flashback through Victor’s life and features original songs about his battles with paranoia, drink, serial-killer girlfriends, stage fright and fear of nursery rhymes. Tickets are available from the Opera House or by calling 07960 647 814.

by Keith Savage - Published 03/07/2011

Crime in the Gardens

Those of you local to Buxton have probably been scouring the pages of the Advertiser looking for news of this Blogger's death. Disappointed to find no news no doubt you've tossed the paper into the re-cycling box. Well don't do that to this week's paper for it contains a 16-page bumper pull-out feature on your favourite Festival and its attendant Fringe. I'm glad not to be in the obituary pages of course. It's all been busy, busy, busy.
Part of the busyness has been in getting out and about promoting the Fringe. A week today and we'll be on Day 2 of Fringe 2011 already - Day 1 forever just a memory fading like a favoured old tee-shirt. But enough of this poetry.
Buxton is emphatically not the crime-capital of the universe but the pinching of posters from public railings was never going to make the headlines even here. However, apparently it is true. Honest people have been putting up clean and decent posters promoting local events only to find that the next day some scoundrel has removed them. You could call it tidiness; some prefer to brand it theft.
Anyway here we present photographic evidence - not of theft - but of lawful postering. Stephanie Billen - our glamorous and ever-youthful Chairperson -  has been out and about talking to people about the Fringe in general and Fringe Sunday (July 10th) in particular. Currently posters advertising Fringe Sunday are to be seen in the Pavilion Gardens. A very full programme for Fringe Sunday is promised - details to follow very soon. We can also promise a sensational new feature - the Bandstand will be decorated with its own Orange Fringe, the product of art workshops held with young people across the High Peak in recent weeks.

A couple of events open next Wednesday on Day 1 of the Fringe and don't hang around for long. So make sure you don't miss:
  • Music and the Muse at the Methodist Church from 6-8 July. Singer Susie Self joins cellist Michael Christie in an exploration of life in England at the time of George V 
  • Our Little Green Book of Children's Verse can be heard at the United Reformed Church from 6-13 July (and on Fringe Sunday too).

No doubt you've been keeping up-to-date with our trendier, younger friends on Buxton Fringe Facebook where there are links too many to mention to video and music clips from some of the many artists about to transform Buxton.

The Fringe Information Desk will be set-up in the entrance to the Conservatory adjacent to the Opera House next Monday, 4th July. See you there!

by Keith Savage - Published 30/06/2011

2011 Programme Complete

Chapel-en-le-Frith Morris Men - Coombs, June 2010
The Buxton Fringe 2011 programme is now pretty much complete and the proof-read design is now with the printers. The programme will be ready in about 2 weeks and the formal launch takes place at the Pavilion Arts Centre of Friday June 10th. Tickets are still available for the Fringe First show featuring some recent Fringe favourites. Sam Dunkley comperes and there will be music by Fordante, comedy from Gerry Howell, magic from Piff the Magic Dragon plus proper acting from the Shakespeare Jukebox, Shadow Syndicate and After Dark Entertainment. Tickets are £8/£10. Friends of Buxton Fringe get discounts of £1.50 - so there'e an early reward for all Fringe Friends. To book go to the Opera House Box Office. You should also be able to get tickets for some Fringe shows from the Opera House Box Office now.

Fringe 2011 has over 160 shows and events and more than 550 performances to entice you over a period of just 19 days (6-24 July). Among the smaller categories are Film and Dance - so let's review your options here. There is just one entry in Dance this year - if that is disappointing, the good news that dance will be taking to the streets of Buxton on Saturday July 23rd. Our good friends from Chapel-en-le-Frith Morris Men are organising their annual day of morris and there will be 8 or so sides dancing around the town. Yes, people laugh at morris dancers and the dancers are hard enough to take it. All I can say is if you think it laughable try it out and see what hard work it is. Most Morris sides will rehearse through the autumn and winter and dance out many weekends in the spring and summer - often for local charities.

Much of the film on show has been chosen or presented by Buxton Film. There are half a dozen full length features - all uplifting in their own way. They range from Mike Leigh's most recent (with national treasure Jim Broadbent), a darkish comedy (Skeletons) filmed in the dales around Bonsall (20 miles south east of Buxton) to a high-energy Bollywood comedy Three Idiots. Films entered for this year's Open Shorts competition are to be screened at The Railway on Saturday July 16th. Also being screened are some archive-based documentaries about ice-cream makers in Manchester and a social history of the River Derwent from Hathersage to Derby. This has footage from the 1950s and anyone who has enjoyed times by or in the river will love the film. Go to for full programme details and film reviews.

The other film being screened provides an opportunity to see again a play from Finge 2010. The Last Laugh is on at The Railway on July 10 (8-9pm). The play deals with some difficult mental health questions and at the heart of it is a powerful performance by Fiona Paul.

Finally, for now - the Military Tattoo (Saturday, July 9th at the University of Derby's Dome building) is selling fast. In fact the evening performance is sold out and less than 100 tickets remain for the afternoon show. This is phenomenal and makes it the biggest show in Buxton this summer!

by Keith Savage - Published 13/05/2011

Brian, Helen and Ed

Graham Chapman - in The Life of Brian
Amongst the very many pleasures of the Buxton Festival Fringe is the sense of anticipation created as the programme unfolds and new shows are announced. As the March 31st deadline arrived two shows in particular took the eye of some of us.

Three's Company and George Telfer are working together on a new play written by Tom Crawshaw. Not the Messiah tells something of the life of Graham Chapman - whose early death accounts in part for the fact that his contribution to the Monty Python legend is often so overlooked. Anyway the combination of some of Buxton's favourite young sons (3s C) plus the much loved and equally talented George Telfer and the life of the enigmatic Chapman make this a mouth-watering prospect.

Radio 4 fans - and we suspect that there are at least several among you - have two special treats. Helen Keen - fresh from her It Is Rocket Science! triumph - brings (Robot) Woman of the Future to Buxton. The ever-complaining Ed Reardon (brought to perfect life by Christopher Douglas) is also in Buxton this summer. Chapman, Keen and Reardon will all be on at Underground Venues - actually three separate venues. Full details of these - and all UV events - will be confirmed after Easter. So keep an eye on the website.

Finally, for now, spare a thought for the cast of Butterfly's Macbeth. Apart from all the superstition attached to the Scottish play the actors risk frozen digits. They are putting on three shows a night in Poole's Cavern (temperature 8 degrees celsius). They have put together a brisk 60 minute version which shows some consideration for the audience but more than three hours in the caves, for 5 nights (11-15 July), will be an endurance test.

There are now 109 separate events entered for Fringe 2011 - more than ever before at this date. We're on course for around 170 shows all told. There are many, many delights and curiosities to be explored. Start looking before the diversion of Easter egg hunting arrives.

by Keith Savage - Published 04/04/2011

Counting down

Fringe 2011 is little over 100 days away - someone might give me an exact number but I'm not counting on it. Before we attend to Fringe matters though we should point out that the Buxton Opera festival programme is now available. Sporting an excited cover by local artist Rob Wilson the programme is impressively designed. Tickets go on general sale on April 4th - there is still a week left for Festival Friends' to make priority bookings. No doubt some celebrity recitals are sold-out already. For those that are not regular opera goers and are nervous at paying up to £57 for trying it out - well the £10 tickets are OK. The view can be a bit limited and the back support isn't great (you'll have to make your own judgement as to whether your body can stand this - don't sue us) but you're unlikely to come away feeling that you've wasted your money. In recent years the Festival has presented opera by Donizetti to critical acclaim. Last year's Luisa Miller was fab - though I don't think that was the word the Times critic used. This year's Donizetti is Maria di Rohan. Also on offer is Handel's Saul with TV star and early music heart-throb Harry Christophers conducting. Now Handel died in 1759 and even my limited history education tells me that he could not have set his opera after World War II.
No doubt Handel will survive the updating.

Absolutely free at the Festival are the Sunday morning masses at St John's. Haydn masses are sung on 10th and 17th July and on 24th is Victoria's O magnum mysterium.

Amongst the literary events this year is Betsy Tobin talking about her novel Crimson China which is set around the experiences of Chinese migrant workers of Morecambe Bay. Betsy is at the Lee Wood Hotel on July 14th at 3pm. One of the intriguing events at Fringe 2011 makes use of Betsy's novel. Titled BOOKS IN THE PARK members of Books in the Peak will run a free workshop on setting up a book club. Join them in their teepee for a sample meeting where they will discuss the first chapter of Crimson China. Find out more at and be at the Pavilion Gardens, on the Old Bowling Green on 23 July at 11.00 to 12:30pm or 1pm to 2:30pm.

Quite, quite different but exciting will be the shows by Mart Rodgers' trad jazz outfit. Their programmes will include classic jazz tunes and inspiration from Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, The Ink Spots, evergreens, ballads and even some band originals. Catch them at The Railway on 8th and 22nd July 8pm to 10:30pm.

by Keith Savage - Published 26/03/2011

Blogrades and Blogradeship

Landscape by Alan Bailey
I thought the Buxton Advertiser had put a shiny new link to this Blog on its website the other day. That being the case I thought I should do some housework in case some new visitors turned up. However the link seems to have gone again - so it's back to dossing around on the sofa.
Before we catch up with any Fringe news - supposing we do - here's a link to a Buxton-themed Blog I came across today. It won't appeal to everyone but we Bloggers need to stick together so in the spirit of Blogradeship (see if we can get this new word into the Oxford dictionary this lifetime) I offer it up:

Anyway Buxton Fringe is temporarily resting with 73 entries for this July - the closing date is just 38 days away, which is considerably sooner than the start of the 2012 Olympics so you won't have to contain your excitement for too much longer.

Day One of the Fringe does feature a strong medal contestant though. And it's not in Buxton either. At The Packhorse Inn, Crowdecote - where they do very decent food - you can see and hear poetry legends Roy Fisher and Ian McMillan. So that's Wednesday, July 6th, 7.30-9.30. Crowdecote is south of Buxton on the A515. You'll probably need a car - and a driver who won't drink.

You've got no excuse for missing an exhibition of painting and photography in Buxton itself. Alan Bailey has been part of the Fringe since the very beginning - and chaired the Fringe Festival for many years. I first met hime about 20 years ago when he sang, accompanied by a pianist, as well as exhibited his watercolours. I don't think Alan would mind my saying that his professional singing days are probably behind him now - but he does have a special birthday this year and is marking it with a new exhibition. He is sharing the space with his photographer daughter Judith Kelly and the exhibition is at 134 Green Lane. Check the programme for dates, hours and contact details.

On the Visual Arts front there are at least two other interesting events going on in Buxton homes. Kate Aimson is leading a textile mosaics workshop. You are invited to be inspired by Kate's design and pattern library, and make your own textile mosaic picture to take home. All materials and equipment provided. Lunch, tea/coffee also included. There are limited places, so for further details and to book, phone Kate on 01298 24897. The workshop will be at 4 Wyatville Avenue on 15-16 July, 10am to 4pm and costs £25.

Not from from Alan Bailery and Judith Kelly you'll find Dawn Featherstone displaying her work. Dawn's work includes prints and paintings with a strong local landscape influence.
13 Ecclesbourne Dr, Buxton. 16-17 July 11am to 4pm.

by Keith Savage - Published 17/03/2011

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Old Friends

From Bergman's Summer With Monika (1953) -
A quick review of the current state of play for Fringe 2011 makes encouraging reading. At the end of February we had over 70 separate entries (with 200 performances and events scheduled over 19 days). This is a new record for that date - surpassing the 62 entries received by that date last year. On this basis we might reasonably expect 160 different shows when we reach the closing date on April 24th (Easter Sunday).

It is always pleasing to see Fringe stalwarts returning - Buxton in July wouldn't be the same withouit the likes of Jennie Ainsworth, the Young REC, the High Peak Orchestra and Partita to name just a few.

Jennie Ainsworth leads a gentle stroll around the northern slopes of the town retracing some of the landmarks associated with Vera Brittain who lived here with her family. Jennie always successfully evokes something of what it was to be in Edwardian Buxton.

The High Peak Orchestra - under the expert guidance of Andrew Hodkinson - always present a big, big programme. This year they offer three pieces - Borodin's Polotsvian Dances, Walton's Viola Concerto and Sibelius' 1st Symphony. St John's will be packed for that.

On a smaller scale Manchester-based Partita bring three separate programmes of Baroque and Renaissance song and music - two lunchtime recitals and an evening concert. Roger Child and his friends have been delighting Buxton audiences for 10 years or more and have justifiably built a loyal audience for their warm and expert singing and playing.

Martin Beard has been at the heart of much that is good about the Fringe in Buxton for 15 years or so. Writer, actor, producer, director, entrepreneur (well 4 out of 5 is pretty good) Martin brings energy, enthusiasm and a striving for excellence every year. For the third year he is working out of a marquee in the grounds of Poole's Cavern and two shows will be presented. Martin and the Young REC Theatre Company open with a comedy by a promising playwright - the play is A Midsummer Night's Dream. Later in the Fringe there will be the premiere of a new piece by Martin. Lunar Tics concludes a trilogy about a Scottish clan, extra terrestrials and sundry nonsense. You know it will be fun for all the family.

For full details of all these events go the Programme pages on the website:

While you are there take a bit of time to check out some of those others returning to the Fringe - the Amaretti Chamber Orchestra, the Manchester Recorder Orchestra, City of Manchester Opera, Margaret Ferguson and Jonathan Ellis are all returning with music and song. We'll be previewing their shows in the next few weeks.

by Keith Savage - 10/03/2011

Venue 74 - and 75 on the way?

Martin Beard of the REC Theatre and formerly of Nice Venue, Venue 21
Each Fringe venue has a name and a number. The numbers are a convenient shorthand and if people are aware of them then that will probably be because of the reference to venues by number on the Fringe town map. We now have over 70 numbered venues - though not all are 'live'. Venue 21 was Nice Venues at The Clubhouse but that hasn't been used for a couple of years - and is unlikley to be used in that way again. No 21 has been 'retired' though as a matter of respect . No 69 hasn't been used - it might seem more unlucky than 13 - who knows?

Anyway this small Fringe history lesson is a preamble to the exciting confirmation that there is a major new venue - number 74. The Arts Centre Studio isn't new to the people of Buxton - being part of recently opened Pavilion Arts Centre - the old Paxton Suite. Anyway the 93 seat studio space will provide Underground Venues - who are managing it in addition to the Pauper's Pit and the Barrel Room - room to accommodate more shows and will enable them to attract performers who want a slightly bigger working space. It will be a few weeks before bookings are confirmed but as soon as acts are booked the Fringe website will tell you.

Fringe venue 75 may not be far behind. Close reading of the Spring 2011 edition of the free glossy mag Pure Buxton tells us that the new managers - Judy Dyer and Alan Shanks - of the Charles Cotton Hotel, Hartington are looking to put on events if "suitable performers can be found". They have Sunday jazz brunches at the Charles Cotton, so if it something jazz-inflected that Judy and Alan are looking for then violinist Graham Clark would fit the bill. Graham is hot-hot-hot at the moment and playing on Monday nights at the Queen's Head just off Buxton Market Place.

The Fringe picks up some more plugs in Pure Buxton. Zoe Keeling from the shop Muzik is positive about all things Buxton and local ceramic artist Caroline Chouler Tissier name check the Fringe at least four times. We love you Caroline!

Finally - and this is huge - there will be a big show at the Pavilion Arts Centre on Friday, June 10th. Fringe First will showcase performers from the last couple of Fringes and will also see the official launch of the Fringe 2011 programme. Expect the line-up to be finalised shortly - you'll want tickets anyway, obviously.

by Keith Savage - Published 13/02/2011

Plugging the Underground

Almost half of the Fringe - measured in terms of entries - will take place at Underground Venues which is managed by Buxton Old Boys Tom, Yaz and Mike (also known as Three's Company when they are wearing their actor hats rather than wielding the swords of entrepreneurship). In the event most of the real work is done by a crew of young and talented people but T, Y and M didn't get where they are today by letting other people take the credit. Anyway in the next couple of days Underground Venues (UV) will be confirming the spaces they are using for Fringe 2011 and will be opening for entries.

If Buxton Fringe is new to you it might just be worth clarifying that most of UV's events take place underground in the cellars of the Old Hall Hotel . The Barrel Room is a redbrick vault with its own bar and is the hub of much discussion and a little drinking throughout the Fringe. The Pauper's Pit is a 40 seat theatre - almost by definition it is intimate and there is no where for performers to hide. Anyway keep your eyes on what is happening at Underground Venues through their website (and yes Facebook and twitter)

In the real world of Fringe 2011 the latest entry is another one for the Methodist Church - the Sheffield Chorale will be presenting a programme including Rutter, Delius, Shearing and Kern on Saturday July 9th - from 4.00 - 5.45pm. Even at this early stage with just 17 entries in (against 11 at the same time last year which turned out to be a record-breaking year) you could have a mini-festival of song and music at the Methodist Church at the beginning of the Fringe. So far the Diary for 6-9 July looks like this:

Wednesday 6 Jul
 3:00pm to 4:00pm ... Selfmade Music: THE POET'S WAY: Music ... Buxton Methodist Church

Thursday 7 Jul
 3:00pm to 4:00pm ... Selfmade Music: THE POET'S WAY: Music ... Buxton Methodist Church

Friday 8 Jul
 3:00pm to 4:00pm ... Selfmade Music: THE POET'S WAY: Music ... Buxton Methodist Church
  8:00pm to 9:00pm ... sovereign saxophone octet: PIECES FOR EIGHT: Music ... Buxton Methodist Church

Saturday 9 Jul
  2:00pm to 4:00pm ... ABF The Soldiers' Charity: BUXTON MILITARY TATTOO: Other Events ... University of Derby Buxton - Dome
2:30pm to 3:30pm ... Angela Rowley & James Pelham: MUSIC FOR A WHILE: Music ... United Reformed Church - Room 1
 4:00pm to 5:45pm ... Sheffield Chorale: MUSIC TO HEAR: Music ... Buxton Methodist Church
  6:00pm to 8:30pm ... ABF The Soldiers' Charity: BUXTON MILITARY TATTOO: Other Events ... University of Derby Buxton - Dome
 7:30pm to 9:30pm ... Ladybrook Singers with Ailsa Hoyle and Miriam Brown: SUMMER SERENADE: Music ... Buxton Methodist Church

by Keith Savage - Published 06/02/2011

Summer delights

Girl with orange balloon - by Michael Clement and published in the Guardian on January 22nd
Three new entries to report from the last week or so - all look to be totally delightful and all at the Buxton Methodist Church which is always a good venue.

Making a welcome return to the Fringe are Susie Self and Michael Christie. Susie was voted best vocal performer at last year's Fringe and she'll be accompanied by Michael on the cello in what looks like a multi-media event. With photographs; words by Hardy, Shaw and Joyce; music by Elgar and Ireland (and others) they will telling of John Drinkwater's travels in Georgian England. Performances on the first three days of the Fringe - 6-8 July.

On July 9th there is a one-off Summer Seranade by local musicians and singers. Alison Bletcher will be conducting the Ladybrook Singers and Ailsa Hoyle (violin) and Miriam Brown (cello) will be making music. Many of these splendid people were part of one of Fringe 2009's highlights. This is sure to be an evening of musical warmth.

On July 22nd there will be a lunchtime recital with tenor Timothy Kennedy accompanied by pianist Catherine Hall-Smith. Entitled Songs of Romance the centrepiece of the recital is Schumann's song cycle Liederkreis, op. 39. The Methodist Church is going to be hosting some happy musical hours this July.

Elsewhere Buxton people seem bidding to take over the various pages of the Saturday Guardian. Last week included the photograph by Michael Clement displayed above. This week has two letters. John McGrother succeeds in letting people know of the mixed emotions involved in watching Rotherham United.
Hollow laughter is one response to the dilemmas created by the London-based trough-snouting tendency (Dome, Wembley, Olympics), for whom the easy way is always to pour local concrete than to invest in what the country needs. However, as a Rotherham season-ticket holder, currently observing the beautiful game across eight lanes of an athletics stadium, I should advise West Ham supporters that they would regret losing the smell of the wintergreen and the roar of the crowd.
John McGrother

This week's other football story is discussed by a number of writers including Ian Jefferson who pleads for freedom to have illiberal prejudices.
Your coverage of the Graygate saga, as a disciple of Jill Tweedie and Mary Stott, appals me. Professional football is riddled with prejudices and always has been. But the nature of the game, for fans, is about tribal allegiance and passion; sadly, perhaps, such traits and attitudes can encourage the "dark forces" of humanity. Do we wish to have matches played out in a theatre to polite applause?
This country should permit the freedom to have illiberal prejudices. There is a world of difference between private remarks, however offensive, caught off-air and attempts to disseminate such opinions. And "banter" is a rather more sophisticated method of communication than first meets the ear. Views expressed in "private clubs" often represent long-established conventions of what is expected to be said, when many present, in different environments, would hold different views and, crucially, not act in ways that might be expected.

Ian Jefferson

by Keith Savage - Published 29/01/2011

Green shoots

Near Mam Tor
Fringe 2011 is starting to grow and take shape. There are now 13 entries for our Festival which starts on July 6th.

A clutch of new entries come from Buxton Film which promises a veritable cornucopia of visual delights throughout the period of the Fringe. We can expect full-length features; local, regional and international documentaries; archive footage; and the screening of all the entries to this year's 'Open Shorts' - Buxton's own short film competition. Entries for 'Open Shorts' can be submitted up until May 1st - so check out the terms and conditions - and news of all films being screend across the High Peak at

Once you've finished making a short film you might just have time to write a one act play for Buxton Drama League's Fringe event. Last year the Drama League presented the winning play from their competition - which was so successful at all levels that it is being repeated. For more information write to:

The Military Tattoo is now a confirmed Fringe entry - which is just as well since over 100 tickets have been sold already. Tickets from the Opera House for the biggest and loudest show on Fringe 2011 which takes place at the Dome, University of Derby on July 9th.

The other new entry for Fringe 2011 could hardly be more different to all the drama and excitement of marching bands in an enclosed space. Also on July 9th is a song recital - Music for a While. As you might suppose it includes Purcell; you wouldn't know that strawberries and tea are also part of the deal. Angela Rowley will be singing, accompanied by James Pelham, at the United Reformed Church from 2.30-3.30. The obvious thing is hear Angela and James in the afternoon - take in the art exhibition at Buxton Museum - before shuffling up to the Dome for the evening Tattoo. That's July 9th sorted out then. Only 18 other days to plan for you.

In a recent Blog we mentioned violinist Graham Clark's gigs - well our independent reviewers say they are "great". Graham is accompanied by pianists - a different one each time evidently. Anyway, Graham is now to be heard at The Queen's Head every Monday night - next up on January 24th.

Our local scene for this Blog is from a lane on the way to Mam Tor, from Castleton. Daniel Defoe in his guide to Great Britain was a bit sniffy about the Peak District in general and Mam Tor in particular which others described as one of the wonders of the Peak: "The sum of the whole wonder is this, that there is a very high hill, nay I will add (that I may make the most of the story, and that it may appear as much like a wonder as I can) an exceeding high hill. But this in a country which is all over hills cannot be much of a wonder, because also there are several higher hills in the Peak than that, only not just there." The man had no poetry in his soul.

by Keith Savage - Published 16/01/2011

So, farewell, Nigel

The Limestone Way, near Winster January 3rd 2011
The Archers has nothing to do with the Fringe or the real world at all of course. That didn't stop us following the recently broadcast game of Cluedo that saw Nigel Pargeter dying, falling from the roof of his country pile as he struggled to untie a banner. Most of this had been carefully developed in the story over the preceding days and the outcome was tragically inevitable. Part of us had hoped that David would plunge to his death - nothing against David as such but it would have opened up some bigger story lines.
Not that we had any sympathy for those hoping that this earthquake edition of The Archers would include, well, an earthquake or a terrorist attack. One of the strengths of programmes like The Archers is its general reasonableness - OK there are problems. Things happen much more quickly in Ambridge than in real life - if you want to build an extension the job will be done from scratch in a couple of months; websites are created and go live in an afternoon. How comes no one seems to employ domestic help? But generally life in Borsetshire is nearly plausible and so given the editor's commitment to a 'big' story to mark 60 years on air, the simultaneous death of Nigel and the birth of Henry Ian will create umpteen rich, psychological plotlines. How will David cope with the guilt of contributing to his brother-in-law's untimely death? How will the timing of his birth shape the character and personality of Henry? Will Lizzie manage the estate on her own or will she shortly find that members of the county set are anxious to marry her?

You may have gathered that there is little new on the Fringe front, but some events are of too great a moment to pass without comment. The Fringe committee meets on January 10th; no one will be falling from old buildings but our own small - but worthy - annual cycle begins again.

by Keith Savage - Published 04/01/2011

Should auld acquaintance...

Goyt Valley, December 26th, 2010
Frankly there is nothing I can report with regard to Fringe developments - things have gone quiet. It has been suggested that this is evidence of a habit of winter rest - or hibernation - on the part of Fringe-type creatures. If so then I can only hope that these creatures have more luck than our frogs who froze to death in the pond only to drift eerily to the surface following a slight thaw.

It is anticipated that next week will see a bulge in Buxton Fringe activity, however, so do keep your eyes open.
We are in the very early days of planning for Fringe Sunday 2011. There are only three possible dates - all falling on a Sunday. This good fortune never ceases to amaze me. The Sunday we are going for is July 10th. The event will take place in the Pavilion Gardens and will focus on the Bandstand as usual. Last year's feedback ranged from "Great - best ever" to "a bit of a non-event"; clearly the only way you can be sure is to turn up and see for yourself. Already the Tideswell Male Voice Choir and the Bellydance Flames have said that they want to join the fun. Plans are afoot for spectacular decoration of the Bandstand. It will require help - if you have school-aged children you might well hear more about this before we do. Anyway - 2-4.30pm (or thereabouts) for Fringe Sunday.
We'll be back on 12th night for the latest in Fringe news.
We won't be making any extravagant resolution for 2011 - though as ever we'll try to be kinder and more thoughtful to those deserving of kindness. Not sure what we owe those who are thoughtless or hurtful. We do hope that all involved - at whatever level - with the Buxton Festival and its Fringe have fun, health and happiness in full measure throughout 2011.

by Keith Savage - Published 31/12/10

Merry Christmas and all that

Errwood Reservoir, Goyt Valley - December 26th 2010
Sorry we failed to meet a self-imposed target of updating the Blog every weekend. Internet connectivity problems are an excuse; turned-out that a new cable (£4.99 from Intellect Computers on Buxton Market Place) solved the problem after a frustrating week or so. Intellect haven't paid for the plug (though we paid for the lead) - a crude marketing technique to see if they (or anyone else) reads this thing. Frankly if you are reading this on Christmas Eve - well what kind of a life are you leading?
Up to four live entries for Buxton Fringe 2011. This is the most pre-Christmas entries we have had since records began. Further evidence that Fringe 2011 is on track to be the biggest Buxton Fringe ever.
Entry 4 came from our friends the Tideswell Male Voice Choir. They need little introduction - they will certainly fill St John's Church on July 20th.
Intriguing is entry 3 from the the Library Theatre Touring Company - I Take Your Hand in Mine is based on letters between Anton Chekov and Olga Knipper. They knew each other for 6 years - his ill-health kept him in Yalta whilst she was in Moscow establishing the Moscow Art Theatre. There will be four performances between 15-23 July at the United Reformed Church.

Mark Niel was in Buxon for 2010 - he and his friends from Tongue in Chic brought a lot of energy to Fringe Sunday as well as shows as Nat's Kitchen. There is a collection of poetry now available. For more about "Reflections from Mirror City" an anthology featuring the best of Tongue in Chic including John Hegley, Zena Edwards, AF Harrold, Paul Lyalls, Rachel Pantechnicon and many more go to 

by Keith Savage - Published 23/10/2010

Up and running - but beware of the ice

Local bit of the Isle of White
There weren't any bets being taken on who or what would be the first entry to Fringe 2011 - at least we're unaware of any such gambling. Too much attention given to Wikileaks and World Cups 2018 and 2022 over the past week probably for anyone to set the odds. If it turns out any money did change hands we ought to say that we neither sanction nor condone it. On the World Cup - well we agree with St Arsene Wenger that it isn't a serious football competition, so what's the fuss? That said some human rights intervention will surely prevent the torture of dumb animals implied in a football tournament being held in Qatar? Unless climate change induces a sudden ice age in the middle east.

Anyway, if you come to this Blog at all it will be for news and gossip about your arts festival of choice. As promised we opened for entries on December 1st and before the day was out we had entry number 1. A bit leftfield and out of nowhere came a Saxophone Octet. Now this Blog has a history of sax-playing. Pretty poor playing it should be emphasised so you can imagine the delight on hearing that eight skilled musicians will be playing a mixture Baroque, jazz and contemporary arrangements. For one night only, Friday July 8th at the Methodist Church.

The Sovereign Saxophone Octet reigned alone for just 24 hours before being joined by the much-loved Little Pixie Productions team who are returning for the third part of a trilogy.
Lisbeth Salander this ain't but we can confidently predict that Granny's Big Top Tale will be one the of best, most-enjoyed shows in the Fringe. It will emphatically be For Families but anyone with a heart will love it. At the United Reform Church on Sunday July 17th and the Methodist Church on Saturday July 23rd.

All new entries will be up on the website within 24 hours of their arrival - so check out the site regularly.
Before we forget, our friends at Club Acoustic are having a Christmas/New Year get together at the Old Hall on 29 December, starting at 9pm. Featuring Capella the event will be candlelit. See for more information.

by Keith Savage - Published 05/12/2010

Take your marks...

Priests in the snow - Mario Giacomelli
Just two days to go before Fringe 2011 formally opens for entries. We know that there has been a lot of entrant activity already and we expect an early rush. Apart from the Tattoo - tickets already selling at the Opera House - there could be some good news for traditional jazz fans. Watch this space. (Actually watch the Fringe website - entries will be posted there within hours of their receipt).
Apart from that the only things anyone seems to be talking about right now are the weather and X-Factor. Well it's cold for sure. This week's picture is a favourite snow image from the work of Italian photographer Mario Giacomelli. His work is hard to come by in reproduction and since he's been dead for about 10 years there ain't going to be any more added. With regard to X-Factor expect no intelligent or useful comment here. I care nothing for any of it or anyone in it and only get mildly irritated by the manipulative nature of the whole thing. I heard some students say last week that they admired Simon Cowell because "he is so honest". I rest my case.
Back to things Fringey - the AGM of the charity known as the Buxton Festival Fringe passed almost unnoticed recently. Evidently the usual suspects continue to run things. Given the recent growth and success of the Fringe that may not be a bad thing. In the long-run, however, fresh blood will be needed - unless the Committee can operate successfully from a local care home. So if you read this thing and reckon you could make a positive contribution to the life of the Fringe please get in touch with us.

by Keith Savage - Published 29/11/2010

Back and raring to go

Buxton Military Tattoo - 2010.
In 8 months time Buxton Festival Fringe 2011 will be coming to an end. Blimey! We'd better dig up the last artichokes, prepare the compost heaps, oil the shears and concentrate on matters artistic.

No one sits around waiting for news to appear on this Blog so you should know much of the following - but let's establish a few facts shall we?
1] The Buxton Opera Festival 2011 runs from Saturday 9 July - Wednesday 27 July. Among the operas are Donizetti's Maria di Rohan and Handel's Saul. The literature festival will include Roy Hattersley talking about David Lloyd George we gather. Keep up-to-date at
2] The Buxton Festival Fringe has slightly different dates - Wednesday 6 July to Sunday 24 July. We have a re-designed web site in response to customer feedback. It looks more like the printed programme in style and we hope people find it even easier to use. You know where to find it:
3] The Fringe 2011 officially opens for bookings on December 1st - but intending entrants can be making plans. Indeed one entrant has done more than that: one of last year's big successes was the Military Tattoo. Well it's back - bigger and better. It sold out in double quick time last year so avoid disappointment in 2011 by booking now. There will be two shows - both on Saturday 9 July; the first at 2.00pm and the second at 6.00pm. Tickets from the Opera House or from the Tattoo organisers. Go to for full details.
4] Fringe 2011 will be in all the usual venues - The Pauper's Pit in the Old Hall will be in use again. (There is always some anxiety that the re-development of the Crescent may have knock on effects). Buxton's shiniest new venue - the Pavilion Arts Centre - might also be hosting some events; let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that this can happen.
5] While you are waiting for the second Fringe 2011 entry there is plenty you could be doing in and around town. Consider the following:
  • Graham Clark the legendary jazz violinist is playing every Thursday at the New Inn on the Market Place - starting at 9pm. He'll be joined by a top pianist and no doubt some mates will be passing by. Check out Graham's website
  • Club Acoustic - Buxton's premier regular live music gig is moving to The Sun Inn - just south of the Market Place. Things start there at 9pm on Wednesday 24 November (and every second and fourth Wednesday thereafter). It's very snug in The Sun so don't leave it until too late.
  • If film is your cup of tea then there are things being screened at a number of venues across the High Peak (four venues in Buxton plus Whaley Bridge, Chinley, New Mills and Glossop). Go to to check the detailed listings.

We understand that the Art Trail - which was a huge success in 2010 - won't be back until 2012. The organisers say that the event is so demanding of their time that they wouldn't have time to produce art to exhibit on an annual basis. So it will be biennial. However, you will be able to keep track of what some of the artists are up to at the Art Trail website which should go live soon.

by Keith Savage - Published 20/11/2010