1st – 31st July 2017
Greater Manchester Fringe covers the whole of Manchester, which is a big place. So this is an outreach Fringe, a bold Fringe, an inclusive Fringe – offering a great mix of local and national (and international work.
“The Greater Manchester Fringe first took place in 2012 with 6 different venues and a handful of shows in each.
In 2016, it’s 5th year we used 23 venues across Greater Manchester with hundreds of performances taking place.
“We are a multi-venue open access arts festival providing support for all art forms to show their work, creating an arts community, encouraging first time participation in arts production and performances across Greater Manchester. We provide low-cost tickets for all performances, providing greater access to a non-traditional theatre-going audience. In the first three years of the festival, we had on average 60% first-time performers / producers. Many past productions have moved onto established theatres, such as Bolton Octagon theatre, Re:Play and national tours and have been recognised at the Manchester Theatre Awards.”
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The FringeReview Top Ten for Greater Manchester Fringe
1 – Fran & Leni
“Brings the tale of two lost punk souls alive…Fran & Leni is a darkly romantic comedy that is effortlessly delivered and full of life.” – The F Word. Written by Award-winning writer Sadie Hasler”
“Inspired by the 1984 Kerry Babies Trial, And the Rope Still Tugging Her feet is a dark comic take on a time in Ireland when “the most dangerous place to be in Ireland is in the mother’s womb”
“The show is inspired by Hetty King (an emblematic, 20th century drag king), which embraces women making connections across stages, in time. With song, music, and a bit of comedy, it is a story intertwining family secrets with the history of male impersonation.”
“It was the show that got Manchester talking. Nominated for 3 MTA Awards and receiving multiple 5 star reviews. The true story of a Manchester based actor who’s undiagnosed mental illness nearly destroyed him. Brand new production by award winning Vertigo Theatre Productions starring the actor the play is based on”
“This terrible, tender play tells the true story of a 19th century South American Indian who was sold by her family to the owner of a traveling freak show. Not for those afraid of the dark. Running time 70mins.”
6 – The Homecoming
“‘Harold Pinter’s greatest play’ is the bleak and comic story of a visit by Teddy and his wife to his father’s domineering East End family home.”
“An intoxicating new play with songs about the life and music of 1930s gay cabaret sensation Suzy Solidor, played by Jessica Walker.”
8 – Fan Girl
“A light-hearted look at music and fandom, with stories from dedicated fans, original songs, poetry and a little bit of science! Performed by Quina Chapman – winner of Best Newcomer 2015 (GM Fringe Awards).”
“Brutally funny storytelling show from Canadian comedian Katharine Ferns (MTV, ichannel) is a comedic journey about learning to laugh at the visible and invisible scars of surviving mental illness, domestic violence, drug addiction plus some feminism for comic relief.”
10 – Nick Hall: Spencer
“Spencer Percival has one claim to fame. He’s the only Prime Minister to ever be assassinated. Unfortunately no one’s ever heard of him. 205 years later, Nick Hall tries to tell his story. But will he succeed?”
I want to see … at Greater Manchester Fringe.
We see a lot of Fringe around the world. We keep our ears to the ground. So here is our intuitive show-finding tool for Greater Manchester Fringe Festival.
I want to see…
… a theatre double bill. Then see North of Providence/Contractions
… some Shakespeare. Then see Much Ado About Nothing
… a one-act surreal, absurdist piece of theatre. Then see Stranger in the House
… a multi-media based, live performance that reveals to the audience
what it is like to live with and suffer from anorexia. Then see Aria
… some new writing. Then see Somewhere in the A.M
… some science fiction theatre. Then see Clonely
… a coming of age story. Then see Trolley Girls
… a site-specific play. Then see The Suitcase, The Beggar and the Wind
… a piece of interactive devised theatre, inspired by the children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit. Then see Velveteen: Or How To Be Real
… a dark comedy about romance, pretence and love, all told through the lives of three thirty something couples. Then see The Loves of Others
… two short plays. Then see White is the New Black
… some theatre about Salford. Then see The Salford Belles
… a family puppet show. Then see Grand Dame Theatre Presents: The Dale Wingbottom Experience
… a monologue exploring choice, control and getting your affairs in order. Then see Margaret
… a comedy collision of stand-up and improv. Then see Let’s See What Happens
… three plays from three north west writers. Then see Perilous Tales
… The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Then see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe!
… a darkly humorous, soul-jolting new one man show about sex, violence and city living. Then see Bleach
… some Harold Pinter. Then see The Homecoming
… some clown, mime and slapstick. Then see S/he/it Happens
… a delightful and mordant black comedy about life, loss and loneliness. Then see Auntie & Me
… a musical sketch comedy troupe. Then see The Faces At The Window: The Bandwidths of Balderdash
… a fast-paced improvised comedy show. Then see Thespianage Live Comedy
… a play that looks how people grieve and move on after their worlds have been shaken. Then see Our Kid
… some solo theatre. Then see nerdfucker: a solo play with bad boundaries
… an interactive play. Then see King Jack Queen
… some song & spoken word. Then see Appily Ever After
… a new stand-up comedy show. Then see Maisie Adam – Living On The Edge
… Manchester Fringe’s first Russian alternative comedian. Then see Digital Fart from the Neo-Archaic Futureland (Russia)
… a playful late-night confessional set at Manchester Airport. Then see The B Word
… a journey into the conversations of modern day Manchester. Then see The 43
… some scenes about life in Manchester. Then see Short Scenes About Manchester
… a tragi-comic play about love, delusion and parenthood. Then see The Big Things by Mike Heath
… something exploring the paranormal. Then see The Dead, Live by Daniel Thackeray
… some theatre that offers an insight into the often misunderstood lives of prison inmates. Then see Matchsticks
… a show that explores the absurdity of modern living in the UK. Then see Luke Helly: Please Stop
… a kitchen sink play written by northern playwright Sarah Cassidy. Then see Bleeding With Mother
… the words and music of Leonard Cohen. Then see That’s no way to say goodbye…..The words and music of Leonard Cohen
… an hour of stand-up about the state of men in the 21st century. Then see Chris Kehoe: Manologue
… a staged, script-in-hand reading. Then see It Can’t Happen Here
… a live theatre docudrama. Then see You, Me or Him
… a family-friendly musical. Then see Around the World in Eighty Notes
… a light-hearted look at music and fandom, with stories from dedicated fans, original songs, poetry and a little bit of science. Then see Fan Girl#
… some political stand-up comedy. Then see Stateless
… some family-friendly theatre. Then see Colourquest by A. K. McAllister
… A comedy play about one of the most controversial kings of England, Richard II. Then see Car Park King
… a genre-bent play presented by the infamous Thomas Edison. Then see Edison
… an adaptation of a Jean Paul Sartre play. Then see No Exit by Jean Paul Sartre
… some Ella Fitzgerald. Then see Annette Gregory – Ella Celebrating 100 Years
… a brand new play that promises to entertain the whole family. Then see Planet Caravan
… some visual storytelling and poetry. Then see Jeu Jeu la Follie’s Frontal Lobotomy
Here’s our popular, visual way to find a show at the Fringe. Just click on an image that draws you to it and get booking…
We’ll be adding more to the collage during July.
This is a very popular little show-finding tool. We’ve trawled the descriptions of shows and press releases and pulled out the most interesting phrases and keywords to help you find a show at Greater Manchester Fringe. Simply click on a phrase and find the show…
“1934. Devon. Six old friends. Exposition. A small get-together at the household of Lord and Lady Titan, Drenchblood Heights. Reason: A Murder Mystery Party. It promises to be the night of their lives. By which we mean: the night of their, er, deaths.”
“It started off pretty well. The lamb was in the oven (low and slow), the wine was on the table, and the TV crew had taken their places. Then the doorbell rang. You won’t believe who was stood there…”
“Have you had some thoughts which you were embarrassed about? Like the time you saw an ugly baby and the voice in your head thought “christ.. what a minger of an infant…” but instead smiled and pretended this isnt the real you?”
“J and Danny have known each other longer than they can remember. But as adult life delivers them blow after blow, can they maintain their childhood friendship or is there too much water under the bridge?”
“Finn’s off to Uni, and Lee, his brother’s best mate, wants to teach him how to have fun. Deano’s not so keen to have his younger brother cramping his style. Whilst their developing friendship is a cause for concern. Does Finn misread the signs? Is he certain of what’s on offer? Is Lee? Are we?”
“Isobel Marmion has decided to throw her own funeral, glitter and dancing and all, rather than waiting for her untimely death to occur. Probably from an exploded appendix, since that pain in her stomach is definitely not gas. And everyone’s invited!”
Ben Winterton from WMD Comedy talks about WMD Makes Everything Better
What’s the theme of your show?
The show is about 3 people trying to make things better for themselves and those around them whilst continually pulling in different directions. They start as collective whole, are pulled apart by the demands of delivering a sketch show, before coming back together for a cohesive finale.
What’s new or unique about the show?
WMD Comedy have been putting out a new web sketch each week for the last 18 months, and have developed a unique style that applies logic to ridiculous situations. The show combines theatre, film, stand-up, music, dance and special effects in a way no other sketch show does.
How did the show come into being?
WMD Comedy formed when we took a stand-up showcase to Edinburgh 2013. After a few years of stand-up we decided to focus on sketches, which is where our true passion lies. At first we tried adapting our filmed sketches for stage, but found writing specifically for the medium was a lot more fun, and produced genuinely unique and interesting stage sketches.
Describe one of your rehearsals.
As equal collaborators and long-time friends, we base our creative process around trying to make each other laugh as much as possible. Our golden rule is that all 3 of us have to find something funny before it can go in the show. This means that our rehearsals are an equal mix between practicing, ad-libbing and corpsing.
How is the show developing?
We have just come off the back of previewing the show at Brighton Fringe Festival, which was massively rewarding, as until then it had only been seen by a couple of friends from the theatre industry. Each night the show received a very strong response, but we are still work-shopping each section to ensure it goes from strength to strength.
How has the writer been involved?
As a sketch troupe we are all equally writers, performers and directors. We write entirely by committee; usually we will brainstorm ideas, then each go away and write working drafts, before fleshing them out in a group discussion. The writing process never really stops, as we are always looking to find the weakest part of the show and make it the strongest.
How have you experimented?
Early on we knew we wanted the show to be as visually interesting as possible, and wrote around incorporating technical pieces that would amplify this. We wrote a number of sketches based around video projection, live streaming, and prosthetics. We then focused on finding a balance between experimentation and practicality; we settled on using a laptop, a TV and a full-size mannequin.
Where do your ideas come from?
We normally start by thinking of a visual or structural device that we think is interesting or unique, such as a sketch done entirely in slow-motion, or a sketch where all the story-telling is done through music. Other times we will be trying to make each other laugh with the stupidest things we can think of, and then one person will say “Actually, that could be a sketch..”
How do your challenge yourself or yourselves?
Our main aim when making WMD Makes Everything Better has been to make the show as varied as possible. As such, we try to give each sketch a unique physicality, energy, or stage device, so as to avoid 30 “man walks into a shop” sketches. For example, we took a sketch about an offensive caricature and overloaded it by sincerely offering the audience loads of terrible, but actual, merchandise.
What are your future plans for the show ?
After the Greater Manchester Fringe we are playing the Great Yorkshire Fringe before doing a 2 week run at the Edinburgh Fringe.
What are your favourite shows, and why?
We love any show that we feel is doing something new, or taking an established idea in a new direction. We really enjoy Foxdog Studios’ act, who build their own computer systems and bring them onstage just to achieve something as silly as live-mapping their head onto Cher’s body.
Show dates, times and booking info: 1st-3rd July
19.30-20.30 at The Salford Arms, 11 Bloom Street, Salford
Company web site
More info here
Greater Manchester Fringe News Wire – all the headlines in one place…
28th March 2017: Greater Manchester Fringe Festival returns for 2017 (Manchester Evening News)
19th June 2016: Salford Highlights (Salford Star)
14th May 2015: Why we love making theatre in Manchester (The Guardian)