Fringe Focus:

Written for The Stage

The Faction – Andrew Chevalier, Gary Crankson, Richard Delaney, Gareth Fordred, Alexander Guiney, Mark Leipacher, Lachlan McCall, Jonny McPherson, Derval Mellett, Daniel Millar, Jonathan Plummer, Tom Radford, Kate Sawyer, Isobel Smith, Rachel Valentine Smith.

The Faction

Within the fringe an exciting trend for repertory and ensemble work is appearing. Against tough economic odds, two companies are pioneering sustainable fringe models for genuine ensemble, while others are successfully bringing American ideas of repertory to fringe stages.

First up The Faction are coming to the end of their second repertory season at the New Diorama. An ensemble of 15 performers has presented three plays in rotation. Rehearsing during the day and performing at night it is a gruelling schedule – as you can see from their refreshingly honest blog. But the trust built up within this tight-knit group has enabled them to delve deeper into each piece resulting in an insightful and fresh season that has garnered much critical praise. To read more go here.


Fringe Focus: Offies on screen?

Written for The Stage

One of the biggest problems facing the fringe is reaching new audiences.

To raise the profile of some of London’s best kept secrets we needed to think outside the box and after taking part in this week’s The Stage poll – “Will you be watching/listening to the Olivier Awards this year?” – I think I’ve hit upon an idea – let’s live stream The Off West End Theatre Awards (or ‘Offies’ to their friends)

The media coverage of the Oliviers is the reason they are such a good thing for British theatre. By offering both the glitzily edited highlights and live radio coverage, an exclusive event is transformed into one millions can enjoy. And this isn’t hyperbole, in 2012 almost one million people watched them – a profile raising figure if ever there was one…to read more go here

The Stage: Fringe Focus – Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

Fringe picks for 2013

Looking forward into 2013 I thought I would focus on some of the ‘fringier’ fringe venues I think deserve a New Year’s mention.

Where better to start than at The Union Theatrewhich won The Stage’s Fringe Theatre of the year Award. While well known for their superb musical record I hope 2013 will be the year when their line in disputed Shakespearean works – this year kicking off with Fair Em – gets as much notice as their vault-storming hits. To read more

The Stage: Fringe Focus

As 2013 begins afresh here are a collection of my 2012 Fringe Focus blogs to get you warmed up for those to come.

Catch a rising star


Recently, I was asked what I thought of The Off West End Awards (or the ‘Offies’ as they are affectionately known). The person in question had issues with their validity, suggesting that to score one thing against another was unavoidably reductive. But while I could see their point – having a love/hate relationship to awards myself – for Off-West End venues they can be essential. To read more.

Is this theatre’s ‘new’ new writing?

The Bush Theatre announced its new writing policy last week. To do so during the first season without a new play in the theatre’s 41 year history was brave. Sure enough voices of dissent were soon heard, none more frankly than original Artistic Director Mike Bradwell, who wrote – on a social networking site that shall not be named


– well you can imagine the rest. His reaction has elicited more than 80 responses with people anxious not only about the restricted application time but also the workshop and seed funding processes that will follow. To read more

The dramatic appliance of science.

As Nick Payne’s dazzling Constellations or Katie Mitchell’s disquieting Ten Billion shows there are a million and one ways to dramatise science. The Barbican’s exciting collaboration with the Wellcome Trust  and FUEL’s partnership with the UCL Ear Institute continue to explore how art can open up the complicated DNA of physics, biology and chemistry for an audience to experience and enjoy. To read more

We can learn from panto – oh, yes we can!

The cast of Snow White at His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen parody this year's favourite cultural reference Gangnam Style. Photo: Donald Stewart

For some people pantomime is only bearable because it encourages families who never go to the theatre into it, and for others it’s not even bearable then. But I’ve always been rather fond of the “He’s behind you!” hoopla.

I enjoy the silly antics and clever pop culture references (if there’s a pantomime on the planet this year without a Gangnam Style pastiche I’ll run around the stage with bloomers on my head). Most of all I get a thrill about being part of an audience so involved in their own entertainment, proactively working with the performers to ensure a good night out. To read more