New venue for biggest ever Buxton Fringe

Steve Orme

Buxton Festival Fringe will be the biggest ever in 2017 and will feature a new venue, a 120-seat studio theatre located in the town’s Pavilion Gardens.

Now in its 38th year, the Fringe takes place between 5 and 23 July in parallel with Buxton International Festival. A total of 186 entrants will stage more than 500 performances.

Entrants are from all over the UK and beyond. Theatre highlights include Lucky Dog’s Hats Off to Laurel and Hardy, Breathe Out Theatre’s Dark Satanic, The Ladder by Derbyshire’s Helen Rutter who picked up a best actor award for her one-woman show Human at the 2016 fringe, Alice in Wonderland underground in Poole’s Cavern, a one-man King Lear and avant-garde theatre from Jeu Jeu La Foille.

The new venue is the Rotunda Theatre, which is the brainchild of Grist to the Mill and Red Dragonfly Productions whose extensive touring identified the need for a medium-sized pop-up theatre.

“With cuts in arts funding, we’re losing a number of small- and medium-sized venues countrywide,” said Ross Ericson, Grist to the Mill’s artistic director.

“Those that are surviving are quite understandably being used more and more for lucrative youth theatre and outreach projects, which attract substantial Arts Council funding. So it’s getting difficult for companies like ours to find sensible dates and put together a practical tour.

“The Rotunda isn’t trying to put itself in competition with these venues but work alongside them, by augmenting their existing spaces and making it easier for them to book touring productions without compromising their ongoing projects.”

Grist to the Mill’s The Unknown Soldier will be part of the Buxton programme and Red Dragonfly will showcase its new writing competition winners Hema and Anjali and Ketchup along with another new piece, Breaking Good.