The Fringe began as a small addition to the main Brighton Festival, becoming its own company in 2006, and last year sold 100,000 tickets. It is open access – the festival does not book performers, instead people wanting to put on an event contact the Fringe. This means that you may find yourself experiencing the work of an amateur youth group or an experienced professional, or anything in between. The venues which house these events are just as varied.
Waste of Space is creating an interactive trail in secret locations to revive disused spaces, so if you know Brighton well or are just visiting to see some shows, keeping your eyes peeled for art in unexpected places is a great way to open your eyes to the parts of Brighton you wouldn’t normally see.
The Latest Music Bar in Kemptown is a beautiful listed building, with the downstairs walls covered in the original city stage set for CATS. Here you can see byMoonlight Theatre’s production of Berkoff’s East, about the cut-throat violence and uncertainty of London’s east end, or take one of The Stage’s workshops in Physical Theatre or Theatrical Photography.
Komedia in Brighton’s North Lanes is the busiest venue of the Fringe, with over 100 festival shows including cabaret, comedy, theatre, club, spoken word, music and kids events. With three performance spaces, bars and food, it is a venue which claims to have ‘something for everyone’, and as an established and popular venue probably does.
On the other end of the spectrum, who would have thought that a swimming pool would play host to a musical? This is exactly what the Prince Regent Swimming Pool is doing with Brighton Swimming Club’s production of Eau Eau 7. Synchronised swimmers solve a new Bond plot with an Olympic twist – it seems that the Brighton Fringe has not managed to escape the same Olympics theming which is permeating many cultural and sporting activities this year. The brochure itself shows an ice cream Olympic torch on its cover. But if you want to see a show with a difference, the swimming pool musical may be it.
The Thistle Hotel is hosting two very different events – the Fanti Acrobats International, award- winning traditional African acrobats from Ghana, and Faulty Towers the Dining Experience. The Ambassador Hotel is also hosting a couple of events, open daily as an exhibition space and hosting My Name is Antonio Calderone, a dramatisation of Sicilian Mafioso Calderone.
The Brighton Fringe is as much an opportunity to explore Brighton as it is to explore the eccentric arts scene it welcomes. All over town artists hold open studios – the Kemptown Artists Open House Trail takes in Kemptown to Brighton Marina – and there are a number of tours as part of the festival. You can join the award-winning Famous Brighton Back Passages Tour from the town hall, or join Southern Water for a tour of Brighton’s Victorian sewers. From the Royal Albion Hotel there is the Absolutely Brighton, the wonderful Brighton Story tour, which brings to life historical characters from Brighton’s history, and a tour which takes you to Brighton’s long lost cinemas, discovering historical venues and beautiful architecture. Or you can just walk along the seafront and discover a photography exhibition in the Bandstand Cafe, watch Tribal Wave’s projections of local surf cinematography at Undercliff Walk in Rottingdean and catch an exhibition called The Journey at Brighton Marina.
Even if you don’t have a clue what’s going on, there are 150 free events to stumble across. Fringe City is hosting them every Saturday throughout May, so head to the New Road area and you’ll be sure to find outdoor showcases and an information point. On 6th May The Old Steine hosts the Fringe City Tea Party, followed by the Fringe City Family Picnic in the Pavillion Gardens on 19th May.
As well as the festival brochures and official website, www.brightonfestivalfringe.org.uk, you can navigate your way around The Fringe on twitter by following @brightonfringe, or by downloading the festival app atiFringe.co.uk.