Just one award but plenty to applaud!
First time Fringe chair Stephen Walker has summed up this year’s extraordinary Buxton Festival Fringe in a heartfelt blog that includes the announcement of one formal award and a number of Picks of the Lockdown Fringe.
Stephen said that it hadn’t been “an easy introduction” for him and that Coronavirus had taken a “heavy toll” on the Fringe with very few physical performances able to take place. However he added that the decision to go ahead had been “more than vindicated by the rush of entries that came in to the Fringe in June. We couldn’t believe that we hit 100 entries just before we opened!” The final tally, made up of mostly online events, was 101. He added: “Creative people don’t stop creating just because of a lockdown... having an outlet for their work and something to work towards was important.”
He confirmed that the Fringe would not be making awards in the usual way with one exception, the John Beecher Memorial Award for original, challenging work with high production values. This cash prize has been awarded to The Affinity Initiative from But Why? Theatre headed by former Buxton Community School student Ivan Orson-Kelly and featuring immersive one-to-one performance and real-time interaction.
Stephen went on to thank everyone who had contributed events and to announce that while not making traditional awards, the Fringe wanted to recognise excellence in original work that had been completed during Lockdown to be aired at Buxton Fringe. The following shows, listed in no particular order, were cited as ‘Picks of the Fringe 2020’: Debbie Cannon’s Three Voices, Nathan Cassidy’s Roses from Joe, Ray Castleton’s An Ordinary Woman, Bloom’s The Landscape Jukebox, Orange and Pip Theatre’s Through the Screen, Ian Bowns (with Carol Bowns and Sarah Owens) for A Song a Day, Adrian Lord’s Journey to Sky Blue, Buxton Drama League’s The Shakespeare Jukebox, Three’s Company’s Adventure Department, Egriega’s Xuxu’s Revolt, Two Left Hands’ Alternative Well Dressing, Gordon MacLellan for his children’s events and finally Buxton Fringe of 1’s The Fringe of the Fringe.
There was praise for Fringe committee members, reviewers, financial backers including the loyal Fringe Friends and to audiences who had engaged so thoroughly as well as making donations to performers. He concluded with a quotation from performer Nathan Cassidy: “Creatives can only create with the right support and that’s what this Fringe gives us. A very special place.”
Founded in 1980, the longstanding Buxton Festival Fringe is a registered charity run by volunteers and sponsored by the University of Derby. For further information including how to make a one-off donation or become a Fringe Friend see www.buxtonfringe.org.uk. See http://buxtonfestivalfringe.blogspot.com/2020/07/end-of-fringe-chairs-review.html for the full text of Stephen’s blog.