Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Off we go!

Buxton Festival Fringe desk on opening day, July 8. Top left Stephanie Billen (Fringe chair), then clockwise, volunteers Jenny Pearce, Tessa Hodgkinson and seated George Humphreys (desk manager).

As you can see the Fringe is officially up-and-running - two days ahead of the main Festival so make the most of the opportunity to take in as much as you can. More than a dozen shows opened today including a number of free exhibitions of art by local artists. Check the programme for full details. Reviews will start to appear on the website from tomorrow. See

The return of Johnny Facade
Last week we interviewed Michael Grady-Hall who began his acting career in Buxton. A near-contemporary of his is Matt Pritchard who was a student at Buxton Community School, and who developed some of his magic there. Matt has moved on since then but happily is back in Buxton for the Fringe. He performs in the Pauper's Pit on 11,12, 19, 25 & 26 July. Matt is seriously good and funny - don't miss him. Anyway he took some time out from rehearsal to talk to us. This is how the conversation went.

This is going to be your 3rd year performing at Buxton Fringe, what’s the new show “Parannoyance” all about then?
Fear, trust and the misguided actions of various fairy tale characters. It features the usual mix of magic, multimedia and clean comedy. Surreal and silly. Yet guaranteed to be more thought provoking than trigonometry. The show name came about from my increasing frustration with society’s paranoia and panic. Whether that’s the Millennium Bug or Swine Flu, humanity it seems is always a couple of days away from wiping itself out. Plus having a unique made up name increases my Google ranking.

I notice your show has also been listed under the ‘For families’ section in the brochure.
Yeah, I see it as a way of telling prospective audience members that my show has suitable content (including no obscene content) for children to enjoy as well as adults. I also see it as an open invitation to say that regardless of age you'd be welcome at my performances. The show is fast paced, interactive and visual – so there are lots to appeal to younger audience members. I’ve suggested a minimum age of 8 but that isn’t a rigid rule.

What is the meaning behind the name Lab Monkey Productions?
I wanted a name that summed up the following qualities: experimental, funny, provocative and with a slight science edge to it. Originally it was the name of an improvised comedy troupe I used to perform with. When the cast moved on, I kept the name.

Why do you perform under the name of Johnny Façade?
There are a couple of answers. Primarily it’s due to history. My first show “Futurology Live!” started out as a series of online articles I used to submit under the Johnny Façade pseudonym – which kept me out of trouble and added an air of mystery (only the website’s editor knew my identity). The second reason is down to integrity. One of the main themes in Futurology is truth and deception. Throughout the show I tell the most preposterous lies. I wanted to make a distinction between when I perform as Johnny with his “factual inaccuracies” and when I’m myself. Especially since a lot of my work is teaching and I don’t want to cause confusion.

Scientist, magician, comedian, Christian, teacher – some contradictions here; some similarities. Does this range of roles merely reflect a curiosity on your part? Or are you confused?
Interesting question. My big passion is creative communication. I love exploring the world, simplifying the complex and sharing that with others. My background is atomic physics research where I got to play with stupidly powerful lasers that could easily burn and blind. Science is about discovering the laws of nature. Magic is about breaking those laws. I’ve been performing magic for the last 14 years and love the creative problem solving that’s needed to ‘circumvent’ nature.

My Christian faith is integral to who I am. The interests in both science and magic have given me a fairly healthy scepticism though. I think, for me, there is always going to be a healthy tension between the rational, ‘proveable’ world view and one based on personal experience. I see my work as a way of stimulating the imagination, provoking questions and illuminating truth. Ultimately I’m on a journey trying to discover that truth. And that journey doesn’t have to be a totally serious one. I’d like fun, play and laughter to be my travel companions.

Programme changes
If you are working from the printed programme there are some changes you need to be aware of, viz:
page 14 (Music) - Seachanges - the performances on 17/18 July have been cancelled. Susie Self will be singing in Glyndebourne. The performace on 19 July will now be the only performnace.
page 20 (Theatre) - The Last Laugh - this show has been cancelled, but a performance is scheduled for October.
page 23 (Theatre) - What We Are - this show has been cancelled.

New shows not in the programme:
Music - 9 July - Men Diamler at Beltane
Spoken Word - 19 July - The Glasshouse at the Slopes Cafe Bar
Comedy - 22-23 July - Piff the Magic Dragon at the Barrel Room

Additional performance not in the programme:
Theatre - 23 July - Eighteen Stupid Reasons Why I Love You Lots And Lots in the Pauper's Pit

Any further programme changes will be advertised at the Fringe Desk - next to the Opera House at the entrance to the conservatory and on the Fringe 2009 Stop Press section of the website

by Keith Savage - Published 08/07/2009

No comments:

Post a Comment