Plymouth Fringe Festival

By Festival Director Tom Nicholas

Plymouth’s favourite theatre festival is back! Running from Monday 30 May until Sunday 4 June, an exciting programme of creative theatre is on offer across the city.

Plymouth Fringe Festival Online

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This year sees the second Plymouth Fringe Festival take place in venues across the city, offering audiences in the city a wealth of theatre, dance and live performance during the Half Term of Monday 30 May – Saturday 4 June.  Produced by Toast – a theatre development organisation led by myself (Tom Nicholas), Dan Baker and Matt Hall – Plymouth Fringe Festival is an artist-led festival which aims to support the growing vibrant theatre scene here in Plymouth.  We’re excited to once again link up with Theatre Royal Plymouth, Barbican Theatre and Plymouth University’s performing arts centre The House to present work in their spaces – and as with last year, we’ll also be presenting work in more unique spaces including The Nowhere Inn and the historic Elizabethan Gardens.

Plans for Plymouth Fringe Festival began to take shape in 2014 when, having long enjoyed and admired similar festivals in cities across the UK, we decided we wanted to bring that energetic, celebratory festival atmosphere to Plymouth.  This coincided with a growing number of theatre-makers creating work in the city and, in this, we saw a fantastic opportunity to showcase the incredible work being made within the city alongside some of the UK’s most exciting theatre companies and artists.  Against the beautiful backdrop of Britain’s Ocean City we worked with our venue partners to make that happen, alongside additional support from Plymouth Culture, TRAC and Arts Council England.

Scratchworks Theatre Company – Great Train Robbery

Cheryl Martin – Alaska

This year’s programme includes theatre, dance, comedy and interactive performance by artists drawn from across the globe, combining some of the best local talent with internationally acclaimed performers.  Returning favourites, and Toast of Plymouth Fringe 2015 Award Winners, Documental Theatre will return with brand new show Pulling Out, while new faces to the festival include award-winning comedian Rob Gee and NOVA, whose show Invisible City amassed a number of five star reviews at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This year’s festival programme also provides opportunities for local emerging companies to raise their own profile in the city – including Giggling Flamingo’s Everything Must Go, a story inspired by the people of Plymouth, and a dance double-bill from With Company and South Dance Company – and there’s a selection of family-friendly shows perfect for a half-term treat, such as Above Bound’s Travellers’ Tales and Scratchworks Theatre’s Great Train Robbery.

When we invited applications for the first festival at the beginning of 2015, we were met with a hugely generous response from artists from across the UK (and beyond!) as well as audiences keen to see cutting edge theatre and performance here in the South West’s cultural capital.  This year we were presented with the unenviable task of whittling down over 150 applications to perform into an eclectic, high-quality programme; from this wealth of applications, we’re sure that there is truly something for everyone. The inaugural Plymouth Fringe saw over 1,500 people attend an event during the May half-term and we’re very much looking forward to building on that success this year.

Our favourite memories from 2015 all come from the fantastic conversations we had with audience members throughout the week, often as they made their way across the city from one show to another.  It was fantastic to hear what shows had moved people to tears or laughter and find out what it is that people love about Plymouth Fringe.

We aim to keep tickets as affordable as possible, with single tickets available at £8 – and there are also discounts for multiple purchases.  This means that two shows are just £7 each, three shows are just £6 each and, if you book for more than four shows, each ticket will be just £5.  Plymouth has a long history of discovery and we’re keen to encourage everyone to take a chance on something new.

Brochures for Plymouth Fringe Festival can be picked up from cafes, shops and art venues around the city, and you can also search through our new website at plymouthfringe.com to plan your week and pick out what shows take your fancy.  All tickets can be booked through the Barbican Theatre Box Office online or on 01752 267131.

As Toast we combine a passion for theatre with a dedication to the city that we call home.  As we look to the future we’re keen to continue to work with our partners and artists from across the city (and beyond) to work year-round presenting fantastic theatre alongside supporting artists to make work in Plymouth.  Each of us believes that theatre, and culture, are vital to celebrating what makes this city such a wonderful place to live, work and visit.

Plymouth Fringe Festival 2016 takes place from Monday 30 May – Saturday 4 June at venues across the city – for more information, visit www.plymouthfringe.com.

Nick Hall – Szgrabble