The Greater Manchester Fringe is back bigger and better than ever. This week saw the launch of the programme for this year at Canal Street’s Taurus Bar. We were there to get you the lowdown on what’s sizzling this summer.
This year, venues across and beyond the city will join forces to bring you an exciting programme of cabaret, comedy, music and drama – and some famous faces will be joining in. The Greater Manchester Fringe has arisen out of the community spirit evident amongst Manchester’s cultural scene and an effort to create the kind of festival they want to see – and you’ll want to go to.
Fresh from leaving Coronation Street, Fringe patron Shobna Gulati was on hand to launch proceedings and fellow co-stars were even in attendance. Our appetites were whetted with Norris & Parker and JB Barrington and the chance to catch up with much of the creative talent in front and behind the Fringe.
With the Edinburgh Fringe just around the corner, Manchester will get to see the cream of the crop first as Phill Jupitus (July 16, Kings Arms); Norris and Parker (July 20, Lass O’Gowrie/July 27, 3MT), Andy Wilkinson (July 3, Kings Arms); James Mullinger described by Jimmy Carr as “a great stand up” (July 3, Kings Arms), the darlings of stage and screen, The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre (July 26, Lass O’Gowrie) and many more take to the mic.
There is a host of new and experimental drama to catch including Jess Lee’s first play Diabetic Penguins (5-7 July, Lass O’Gowrie) set in a teenage mental health unit; Static (8/9 July, Kings Arms) a coming of age story that plays out over a decade as generation stands on their own two feet; Wine of India (July 11-14, Lass O’Gowrie), a spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed Year of the Sex Olympics, and an unseen Nigel Keale (Quatermass, The Stone Tape) for 43 years; the eagerly anticipated New Dawn Fades (July 15-17, Lass O’Gowrie) from Brian Gorman telling the story of Joy Division; and there’s dark comedy-drama from the pen of Keith Temple (Doctor Who, Eastenders) in Suspended in Space (July 8-10, Lass O’Gowrie).
Also new this year is 24:7 Under Construction (July 22/23, Town Hall Tavern). Festival director Lisa Connor comments: “We are working closely with 24:7 festival on new scripts that have been submitted to them, and are being tested for the very first time on a live audience.”
MUSIC & LIVE ENTERTAINMENT
Cabaret fans have got a lot to look forward to as Kiss of the Red Menace comes to Manchester (July 6, Fab Café) and you can say “Arrivederci!” to The Ma-Trio-Ska as a taste of Italy comes to Salford in a crazy collection of sketches and surprises (July 23/24, Kings Arms)
Salford hosts its first All Day Hip-Hop Festival with live music from D’Lyfa Reilly, Misfit Music, Stripez, Clava Collective and many more (July 6, Kings Arms). There’s more hip-hop over at Band on the Wall as Bronx outfit Ultramagnetic MC’s bring their 25th anniversary tour to Manchester (July 11, Band on the Wall). Sam Dickinson launches his debut album at Taurus on 20 July whilst ComedySportz UK brings their unique blend of musical mash-ups back to Manchester in Wrong! The Musical (23 July, Taurus).
Festival director Lisa Connor said: “Fringe is experimental. It is all about encouraging new talent and with more than 100 shows in 11 venues in Manchester and Salford there is something for everyone – drama, comedy, music, spoken word and sci-fi sock puppets!
Lisa adds, “It really is a chance to see the writers and performers of the future. We also try to keep the cost down and most shows are less than £10, with some shows free admission or a donation on the door.”
The Fiction Stroker will be running down our ten picks of the Fringe later in the month. One thing is for sure, there’s something for everyone next month in Manchester. Time to get off the sofa, and into the Fringe.
GM Fringe is sponsored by Manchester City Council, I Love Manchester and Outstanding Beers of Bury who will have two new beers for the festival. More information is available on the GM Fringe website.
Fringe Launch photo by Elspeth Moore. New Dawn Fades photography by Shay Rowan. Suspended in Space photography by Simon Lee.