New Writing at Camden Fringe

Fringe Festivals, as they grow, tend to attract repeaters – people and companies bringing the same show back to the Fringe twice, thrice or even year after year after year. It smacks of opportunism, it reeks of laziness to me. Sometimes the show has truly developed or improved but many shows are just the same thing again.

And that isn’t very fringe if you ask me. New writing has become a label that is also stretched sometimes as a definition with shows that are old writing being naughtily packed as new like past it food relabelled as fresh.

Now, there’s nothing like some mould on a nice bit of stilton but its truly new writing we are recommended here. new, freshly made and ready for the fringe cauldron. Here are a few choices of new writing at the fringe, and forgive us if any of these have duped even us. We think the are all genuinely new…

For a story exploring the relationships between queerness and religion, we recommend taking a punt on Ciara from Footown Productions playing at the Hope Theatre. Written by Bekah Mitchell and directed by Sophie Imogen Wright, “Watch the tale of Ciara O’Brian, a Northern Irish Catholic girl, given her mother’s journal detailing how to be a good Catholic and life during the Troubles. Fighting with her ancestors and the past, Ciara is led to a self-discovery in the modern day. Her life is soon turned upside down when Protestant girl Olivia Devlin stumbles into her life. Despite their history, the two girls start to heal old wounds as they battle to stay in each other’s lives. However, in this story happily ever after isn’t always what it seems. Two worlds collide – but will it be enough?”

For some new devised theatre, take a look at Semblance of a Woman from young company Low Door Productions. The company;s practice “is centred around supporting the artists with whom they work, breaking new ground with each show. They are particularly interested in stories which shed light on introspections into gender and deconstructing historical conceptualisations of the feminine.” This new piece explores “the intricacies of female and queer identity, Semblance of a Woman is an exciting piece of devised theatre that tackles the complexities of attraction. This is a show which firmly rejects the male gaze through the use of projections and movement, taking inspiration from myths of Pygmalion, Medusa and the works of Sappho.” (playing diufferent venues so check the show link).

Brown Girl Noise, also at the Hope Theatre is billed as a show that “through dialogue and spoken word” is “a heartwarming rollercoaster of a show that through laughter and struggle will take everyone on a road to self discovery.” The productiuon poses the question: “‘What if we could just be happy figuring out who we were so we could grow up with that person, instead of growing up and then figuring it out?”

Playing at the Cockpit is a new piece of science fiction theatre for those drawn to the likes of TV scifi series Black Mirror. Adrift from Hagstone Theatre is a “piece of thrilling new writing and a fresh take on staged science fiction.” “Eli drifts hopelessly through deep space with only Ada, the ship’s Artificial intelligence, for company. In the pair’s desperate need for physical companionship, how far will they go when they discover the comatose body of Eli’s ex-lover in an escape pod? As Eli struggles to cling to life, Ada goes to extreme lengths to find what it means to live.”

Mum, Mummy, Mother at the Camden People’s Theatre isHouse Rules Theatre’s debut production explores life before motherhood,, telling “the story of a mother’s firsts – from her first memory, to her first child, and asks the question – who was mum before she was mum?”. And they’ve done their research. The piece is “based on interviews with mothers and maternal figures from all differing backgrounds.”

Now, onto some new writing by Cait Roddam Jones who makes her professional acting debute with The Girl With The Glass Heart. Cait is “ia seventeen-year-old actor, playwright and songwriter. She joined the National Youth Theatre at fourteen, and has since performed at Shakespeare’s Globe and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse as part of their inaugural Young Company”. Her debut pice “explores the story of a young woman dealing with demons from her tumultuous past and a severe anxiety disorder through her unyielding passion for storytelling.”

In a ” one-woman show for four women, combining new writing, physical theatre and original music”, A Woman Called Girl Written by Milja Marttila, directed by Sarah Majland with music by Öncel Camci and performed by Satah Majland is a performance that “examines themes of girlhood, identity and mental health problems through dark comedy. It asks: what makes young women hate themselves and who is to blame for that – if anyone.”

All that Glitters arrives fully formed at Camden Fringe after a successful R&D performance in 2022. It is described as “a two-hander comedy drama which explores body confidence, workplace hierarchies and queer relationships, and asks how long is too long to stay loyal.” Made You Look Productions explain their artistic purpose as “telling untold and unconventional women’s stories with a laugh, a pause for thought and a killer soundtrack.”

The Cockpit also plays host to 90 minute historical theatre piece The Making of Frederick the Great from Larkey Kindred Productions. This piece of new writing ” explores the tumultuous rise of Europe’s most formidable monarch, Frederick the Great.” And some challenging questions are posed by this production: “How does a man forced to join the military by his father become admired by Napoleon? A man transform an insignificant country into a European superpower? A man born into a world that killed men for loving each other, find love? And what is the cost of greatness?”

So, that’s nine to get you started. I counted 28 shows under the Camden Fringe programme’s New Writing category. There may be many more in the rest of the programme who didn’t tick that particular box when they registered their show that are still kosher new work. And the one’s we have suggested here in no way diminish the importance or value of the others who didn’t make it into this page. Look them up, do your research. It’s worth it. For me, new work is always interesting and potentially exciting work.