Exeunt Critics’ Picks of 2011

LOTS of fabulous picks here by some people who really know their stuff including some expected and not so expected pieces. Wish I could have mentioned London Road, wish I could have seen Mission Drift…

Originally published on Exeunt

Of course we are wary of the arbitrary nature of these things, the artificiality of seasons, the ordering of experiences into peaks, the hierarchal maps they reproduce, the dangers of placing Fabulous ones next to Those who have just broken a vase.  However at some point you have to be practical.  Our critics have valiantly seen a metric stage-tonne of theatre this year, so what better to relive with sufficient context their most notable moments? And from here it looks like they have produced a list unrivalled for its scope, depth and surprises.  So without further ado-ing, and in no particular order…

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Save The Forest Cafe!

Save The Forest Café!
The Forest Fringe Café on Bristo Place, Edinburgh
 

A shining free beacon in the middle of an inevitably money sucking Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Forest Café is an independent social and arts centre currently located on Bristo Place. Achingly cool and run by volunteers as a charitable self-sustaining not-for-profit organisation, it has presented a refreshingly free alternative to both its artists and audience members.

Now in 2010, the year of the cuts, the Forest Café is in serious danger of being closed down. As the EUC, the charitable organisation that owned the Bristo building, has gone into receivership, the Forest Café finds itself fighting for the very home that staged the beginning of so many careers and the space that inspired the germination of so many cutting edge projects.

And it really is a creative powerhouse; for 4 years it has been home to Forest Fringe (www.forestfringe.co.uk), the brainchild of Andy Field and Debbie Pearson. An artistic collective dedicated to the facilitation and encouragement of new work, Forest Fringe has enabled the promotion and creative development of young companies and artists such as Tinned Fingers, Kings of England, Fringe First winners Little Bulb (pictured), Lucy Ellison and Nic Green whose Trilogy took the Barbican by naked storm earlier this year.

Bastioned by Lyn Gardner, Charlotte Higgins and the Battersea Arts Centre, Field and Pearson are a force to be reckoned with.  They recently tweeted this about the campaign: “Forest Fringe only exists because of everything the Forest Cafe has done to make it possible. Without them nothing would have been possible.”

For all artists coming out of training the shock of how much it costs to produce even the simplest scratch piece in the professional sphere is devastating.  Even in the boom ‘Cool Britannia’ years this was the case and under Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ the irony of the imploding nature of arts cuts is no longer funny; Big Society, Small Art.

Forest Café needs £500,000 to purchase Bristo and it is a purchase that would benefit all of us as we move into a world of stringent subsidised cuts. It would only take £10 from 50,000 supporters, or £100 from 5000.

I’m far from loaded and I donated a tenner. Donate to ensure there will always be a place for emerging artists like yourself to both show and develop their work, to be able to fail and progress without the need of daddy’s £10,000 in the bank. Just click on the link below and become part of your future.

To donate http://forestcafe.tumblr.com/