Last night, The Tiger Lounge was host to a very special party. Creatives, venues, performers and punters mingled with each other to celebrate the official launch of the inaugural Greater Manchester Fringe, which will see ten venues link up for a programme including live comedy, music, drama, art, workshops and much much more throughout July. The Fiction Stroker was in attendance at the launch to see what treats were in store.
Arthur Bostrom (perhaps best known for his role as Crabtree in ‘Allo ‘Allo) opened proceedings in his role as patron of the fringe praising the “wonderful collaboration” – not only between artists and writers, but also between venues. He also was optimistic about the “good energy” that Manchester has, and in particular the rich arts scene that only seems to be getting bigger.
David Slack, Executive Producer of the 24:7 Theatre Festival also praised the venues taking part in GM Fringe for allowing the increasing number of performers wanting somewhere to try their work and that the momentum between performers and venues was creating a “practical fringe scene” to rival other cities.
A short preview of the Fringe followed bookended with surreal comedy from duo Norris and Parker, the haunting melodies of Jenny Shuttleworth aka Girl Peculiar and compered by the always excellent Sean Mason.
Special nods as well to the Outstanding Brewery Company with their festival ale and Jeremiah Weed – both excellent beers that are sure to be plentifully drunk over the Fringe.
From talking to people, the energy can barely be contained. Manchester’s always had a fertile ground for new talent and independent events, but the umbrella of the GM Fringe is allowing this to blossom. Ideas were being thrown around left, right and centre. I think it’s fair to say that at the rate that creatively is flourishing at the moment, Manchester might have to consider a Winter Fringe too!
Highlights of the fringe (and please bear in mind – these are only the events that have been announced!) include:
- Together in Electric Dreams – Daniel Thackery (director of the critically acclaimed The Ballad of Halo Jones) writes and stars in this play which depicts a meeting between two goliaths of the computer industry – Sir Clive Sinclair and Lord Alan Sugar. Meticulously researched, this story of the toff and the barrow boy is one not to miss
- Desperately Seeking the Exit – Peter Michael Marino (Stomp) brings the UK premiere of his one man show to Taurus bar on July 30
- Robots of Death and Storm Mine – following on from the success of Midnight, Alan Stevens has adapted two Doctor Who-based stories for the stage. As with Midnight, neither the Doctor or his companion feature in this innovative reworking of classic stories. A murder mystery with a twist, the opening night will see Paul Darrow (Avon, Blakes 7) as Kaston Iago. A must see for not only Doctor Who fans, but for fans of high-quality drama
- Porridge – classic BBC comedy takes to the stage at the Lass O’Gowrie
- Jongleurs Comedy Live – the legendary London comedy club brings the cream of new talent to The Dancehouse on July 27
- Manchester City Ballet and Jazzgalore will be showcasing A Dance Review at The Dancehouse from July 5-7
- Comedy MC improv event Freestlye Fictionary will have games and challenges akin to Whose Line is It Anyway? at Sandbar on July 17
Also returning to Manchester, Professor Elemental, Mr B. The Gentleman Rhymer, The Sitcom Trials, The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
If you want to go to one of the events, keep your eyes out at the ten venues taking part or at Quay Tickets, the official partner for the Greater Manchester Festival. Ticketing will go live at the end of May, or you could become a Friend of the Fringe through the Fringe website here which will give you discounts on food and tickets over July.
Alternatively, if you are interested in performing at the Fringe, more information is available on the GM Fringe website – there is still time to get involved!
I’m very excited to see how this will shape up over the next couple of months. The programme is already mouthwatering and these are only the confirmed events! Despite my misgivings about the restructuring of the Cornerhouse and the demise of Not Part Of, now is a good time to be in Manchester. The Greater Manchester Fringe is picking up the baton and running with it. It’s your job now to come and discover something new and keep the flame burning. I know where I’ll be this July – do you?
Venues taking part in the Greater Manchester Fringe include:
The Black Lion, The Dancehouse, Fab Cafe, The Kings Arms, The Lass O’Gowrie, O’Shea’s, Sandbar, Satan’s Hollow, Taurus Bar and The Tiger Lounge