Brighton Fringe launches its programme today (February 26) for this year’s event.
Tickets go on sale tomorrow (February 27), but with some 690 shows already confirmed it can be a bit overwhelming deciding what to see. Reporter Ben James brings you the definitive preview of all the big shows and stand out events.
This year’s Brighton Fringe will be the biggest and best the city has ever seen, organisers have said.
The May event, which will run for four weeks for the first time, will feature everything from cabaret theatre and comedy to visual arts, dance and music.
Nearly 700 shows, including some 5,326 performances, have already been booked with more to be confirmed.
A total of 178 venues will house the 210 premieres with 38 international acts performing along with 220 Brighton and Hove-based groups.
Officially launching the programme today managing director Julian Caddy said: “A Brighton Fringe programme launch feels like the birth of an enormous baby, or make that seven hundred babies.
“It’s the most exhausting and exciting time of the year. Whatever it is, it’s the beginning of a journey that leads us to discover performance and visual art of every kind, to suit all tastes and pockets.”
The event kicks off on Saturday May 4 and runs until June 2.
One of the major additions this year is the number of large scale productions.
At the weekend The Argus revealed that the Spiegeltent is to pitch up on the Old Steine following a seven year absence.
The world famous La Clique group has written a brand new cabaret to mark the occasion – which is sure to be one of the Fringe’s best sellers.
Another of the big events will be the No Fit State Circus, which will be set up on Hove Lawns between May 14 and June 2.
The award winning company is promising a spectacular night out with new show Bianco.
Among the other headline shows will be The Pride Gala featuring the likes of acclaimed comedian and drag queen Jonny Woo and one-man show Ceri Dupree.
Elsewhere the One Way Theatre Solar Powered Cinema, which will set up in the gardens of St George’s Church in Kemp Town, is sure to capture the spirit of the annual event.
The popular Hendrick’s Gin tent will make a welcome return. But instead of pitching up in Jubilee Square it will take over Angel House in Hove.
Comedy as always will be a big part of the Fringe with returning favourites including The Dog-Eared Collective, Mike Wozniak, Phil Kay, Diane Spencer, Late Night Gimp Fight, Kevin Dewsbury and Nick Coppin.
One of hottest tickets in town is set to be award-winning comedian Stewart Lee, who will play an intimate gig at Bom-Bane’s café in George Street, on May 11.
This year will also see performers taking advantage of some of the city’s spectacular outdoor venues A must-see will be The Sun That Casts No Shadows, an adaptation of the thriller The Outsider by Albert Camus.
The travelling theatre show will see the audience walk along the seafront in the retelling of the murder thriller.
And then of course there is the music.
The Meadowlands mini-festival, set in the South Downs, will again be held with everything from rock and pop to folk and swing at venues across the city.
The ever popular Fringe City also returns with an extra weekend of fun.
Thousands are expected to flock to New Road for a taste of what is going on around the city with organisers promising a more spontaneous feel.
Mr Caddy added: “We have had so much fun preparing for this year and now just cannot wait for it all to begin.
“There truly is something for absolutely everybody and we think this year is going to be the best yet.”
With just over two months to go until it all kicks off it appears England’s biggest arts festival just got bigger.
With the country’s austerity measures hitting the arts world hard in the last couple of years, it is more important than ever for events such as the Fringe to promote local performers.
This year will see the highest number of local performers ever with 220 home-grown Brighton and Hove shows booked so far – nearly a third of the total.
More shows in Hove
The Fringe has traditionally been based around the centre of Brighton, with the local pubs, venues and theatres providing ample performing space.
However, this year the organisers have decided to move more shows into Hove, with the likes of The Dukebox Theatre, The Brunswick and the Purple Playhouse all getting involved.
Two of the event’s biggest venues in the No Fit State Theatre on Hove Lawns and the Hendrick’s Tent, in Angel House, will also be across the border.
Mr Caddy said: “It’s great to see the extent to which Brighton Fringe is further developing to include all areas, not just the city centre.
“Hove already has a growing Fringe scene so I’m pleased that this is reflected in the increase in venues and shows, not just during May but throughout the year as well.”
Disability groups hit the stage
The Fringe prides itself on its open access status.
As a result, themes often appear each year which reflect wider trends and fashions.
This year has seen a huge increase in the number of disability arts events, thanks largely to the hugely successful Paralympics.
Among the must-see events will be 23-year-old Nicholas McCarthy, who played in the Paraorchestra with Coldplay at the closing of the September event.
One of the other sure-fire hits will be the Get It Right disability group with their live music, poetry and drama.
Kata Gyöngyösi, from the Fringe, said: “Sometimes these trends appear, and that seems to be the case with disability events taking place this year.
“We have seen double the number of disability arts events.”
I gave up Bond for the Fringe
Julian Caddy, who will head the Fringe for the second year, turned down the chance to work on the multi-awarding-winning film Skyfall to put on the event.
He said: “I was his double for a lot of the publicity on Casino Royale.
“I would stand there in the suit while they got the lighting and everything right.
“They asked me again when they were shooting the latest film, but I was busy working on the Fringe.
“So, yeah, I choose the Fringe over the new Bond film.
“That’s the level of commitment we are used to at the Fringe.”
Be a Friend of the Fringe
You will be able to trawl through the hundreds of events online tomorrow (February 27).
However, only Friends of the Fringe will be able to buy tickets from that date.
The general public will have to wait until March 6 to book their places.
Many of the Fringe's more popular events are expected to sell out before the general release date.
Residents can become a Friend of the Fringe for £27.
For that they get priority booking, two for one offers, no booking fees and free membership to Love Card, Brighton and Hove's independent retailers business card.
To become a friend and to view and buy tickets visit: www.brightonfringe.org.
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