We are delighted to welcome Nigel Osner as a guest blogger at Buxton Festival Fringe. Nigels’ show, Angel to Vampire runs at Underground Venues 10th & 12th July (10pm-10.50pm). Read our Endinburgh Fringe 2016 review here.
Visit our main Buxton Fringe page here
18th July 2017
-So I am now back from the Buxton Fringe. Unlike in Edinburgh, the Fringe has not swamped the International Festival, which is still the main event. However, the Fringe is thriving and manageable. I did just two performances of my show ‘Angel to vampire!’ It was at 10PM on a Monday and a Wednesday in Underground Venues at the Old Clubhouse.
Cons: Mine was the last show in the Fringe programme on both days. I believe that by 10PM on a Monday and a Wednesday many people in Buxton are thinking of bed. (Damn it, I’m thinking of bed!) Or indeed have gone to bed. Or, if they have come into Buxton for some reason – even festival orientated – they will be thinking of driving over the hills to Macclesfield or on a motorway to another town or city. On the Wednesday some people I met earlier in the day had kindly stayed on to see my show. Just before 10 I saw them waiting. But my show started late due to earlier technical problems. That was obviously too much for them because they weren’t in the audience. I get to chat to the audience at the end of my show in the guise of my last character, so I see who is there! On the other hand, they did say if they couldn’t mange Buxton, they would come to see the show at the Camden Fringe at the end of August. This will be at 7.30. We can all manage that.
Pros: Keith Savage, the Chairman of the Fringe. He is a friendly and supportive presence and makes you feel wanted and valued. He is there if you perform at the Bandstand in the Pavilion Gardens, a way of attracting people to your show. On Fringe Sunday a lot of people were sitting near the bandstand and they had come to listen. At Fringe at 5 (a daily event for up to an hour), there are fewer people around, but even so many have come to listen. This makes for a less frantic performance than in Edinburgh and Brighton, when you are trying to stop people from walking past. Further pros relate to my venue. The performing space at the Old Clubhouse was cleverly constructed and made for an intimate and very pleasing room, with a proper stage and good lighting. It was a great place to perform. The staff and techs at the venue were cheery and supportive. And of course a very big pro was the reaction of the audiences. They related to and enjoyed the show. So, happily, did the Buxton Fringe Reviewer. At first, this seemed a curious idea – for the Fringe to review its own shows – but the huge plus is that you will get a review. This cannot be guaranteed elsewhere.
Oh, I wouldn’t like you to think I had an entirely trouble free journey home. Some wires were cut on the line back to London, and at one point it looked like we would have to get on a coach. Happily we didn’t. As the delay was over an hour, apparently we get the fare refunded. You have to take your wins where you find them!
9th July 2017
Plainly I am not destined to get to Fringes without some sort of challenge or obstacle. I’ll leave aside the Northern train strike and the return of a tooth issue which I thought had been properly settled Much more alarming wad the incident on the up escalator at Euston. I was going up to a waiting room and for some reason thought I could take two heavy suitcases with me. I couldn’t, it turned out. I toppled backwards but was saved by a very quick thinking man who grabbed me and saved me from falling any further. He seemed to rescue the cases too. I was completely uninjured. There was a lift of course. I had failed to notice it.
I arrived in Buxton without further incident, then went off to spend 15 minutes singing and promoting the show on the bandstand in the Pavilion Gardens. I tried to do this in the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, but that didn’t work for my show and no amplification was provided. It sort of worked in Fringe City in Brighton. This however was a much more satisfactory experience. Many people had come to listen and were sitting on the grass on a sunny afternoon. I got some very nice feedback and friendly interest, as did the other performers I watched. People might or might not come to the show but it was very pleasing they liked what they heard today.
“What also helped with this afternoon was that the performances were introduced – by the Fringe chairman and the whole afternoon was an event.” – Nigel
22nd June 2017
Thanks for giving me this opportunity to write for Fringe Review. I’ve been looking at other blogs in the Review. They are both interesting and informative. They’ve discussed areas I’ve been thinking about. But if I take that attitude, I’ll never write anything. If everyone took that attitude about everything, there would be very little written at all. Of course, some might say, no bad thing! No, all I can do is just write about what has occurred to me.
I am still a Fringe newcomer. Until August last year I was still a Fringe virgin, and at my age being a virgin is less a source of pride and more the indication of an absence. I chose the Edinburgh Fringe for my first Fringe. Perhaps I should have chosen a more manageable Fringe, so to speak, and then moved on to Edinburgh. Well I didn’t, partly because I thought I would never do another Fringe. I didn’t want to go to Edinburgh until I had a show I was proud of. I am proud of ‘Angel to vampire!’, the show I performed in Edinburgh, just took to Brighton and am now taking to Buxton.
Edinburgh was a huge learning experience, in unexpected way. I knew it would be hard work and so on but I didn’t foresee some of the teething problems.
In the early hours before I was due to travel to Edinburgh I had, I suppose, a panic attack. I woke up after midnight and need to toddle over to the loo. As soon as I got up, I felt dizzy. From previous experience I suspected my blood pressure might have gone too low. The last time that happened, I lost consciousness and fell down the stairs, requiring surgery to repair a tear in the corner of my eye. You can imagine I wasn’t keen for that to happen again. So I literally crawled back to bed (after doing what I got up for, in case you are wondering!
Back in bed I took my pulse. It was uneven. If it got even, it was too quick. I know what these symptoms can be, having had heart problems in the past. Great, I thought, I have to get up in the morning, close up the house and take several cases to a station, but right then I couldn’t stand up properly. Without too much hope, I drifted off to sleep. However, as we know, the human body is an amazing thing. When it gets right, it can get right quickly. By breakfast – there always has to be breakfast even if I’m late – I was able to move around.
The minicab came to take me to Kings Cross. I think I could have packed better or less. I had three bags of various sizes – one huge suitcase containing most of my costumes, one containing other clothes and one containing electrical equipment, including a speaker, as I had arranged to do some outside performances on a stage. There were also some specially made angel’s wings, which were inside a suit cover and tricky to handle. I had particularly discussed with the minicab company the possibility of the driver having to wait for a few minutes while I went to find a luggage trolley, because an earlier recce had shown me there was no guarantee that they would be waiting, as they should, for arriving passengers. Obviously there are no porters any more. Network Rail assumes that nobody travels on a train unless they have one easy to manage case or are so feeble they need special arrangements. Foolishly I removed my luggage from the minicab and paid the driver before getting ready to find the trolley. He drove off. For the next fifteen minutes I moved everything a few feet at a time as I crept towards and just into the station. Eventually someone took pity on me and found me a trolley.
When I got off at Edinburgh Waverley I asked a member of staff to guard my luggage while I went off to find a trolley. I found a trolley. What I didn’t have was a pound to set it free. Happily by the time I got back to my luggage, everyone else had gone so the member of staff helped me upstairs to a taxi.
I settled into my flat which was opposite the venue – so sometimes I do get things right – and had a successful tech. I also had a successful first night. On the second night things were less smooth. The initial problem was my recorded music not starting for one song, so after some ad lobbing, I just had to sing without any music, supported by two friends in the audience. The next problem was some long gloves. I play ten characters in my show and the last two are women. I had kept the transformation to the first woman as simple as possible, but I was slightly anxious and that never helps. It required some lipstick. It also required those long gloves because I wanted to disguise my hands. The thing about long gloves is they are very difficult to pull on, especially if there’s an element of panic. I had acquired what were supposed to be easy gloves from a fancy dress shop. One of them tore. The online comment on the Ed Fringe site was sympathetic but harsh about the professional standard of the show. I bought some short gloves and things seemed to work after that
Anyway, that’s more than enough. Except to say I never did more than one outside performance. What I do in ‘Angel to vampire!’ just doesn’t work in the Royal Mile, which requires a bold and unsubtle approach. Anyway the speaker wasn’t powerful enough.
Is there a lesson? Not really. Be practical. Expect the unexpected. There are always pluses. I’m pleased to say there was no panic attack before Brighton. And I packed better.
You can find our coverage of Buxton Fringe here.