Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Memory Book

On Friday night we ran a little event at Central School of Speech Drama. The main purpose of it was to try and experiment with a new kind of space for artists to play in. A bustling little hub in which video installations, audio experiences, one on one encounters and other miniature events could co-exist. A space somewhere between a gallery and a theatre and a party.

You could have Brian Lobel buy a minute of your time, or Debbie Pearson tell you about the music that's been ruined for her by dating, or see a brilliantly disturbing video installation by Charlotte Jarvis, tell Jo Bannon about your claim to fame, have a five minute relationship with Mamoru Iriguchi. We had the first realisation of a travelling audio library that we are working on building. We had a beautiful night time balcony gig by Little Bulb. We had Greg McLaren hidden in a corner of the building. It was a lovely evening and it will hopefully become the basis for a series of exciting events we're hoping to make happen in the Spring across the country.

One of the little pieces we had there was a new collaborative piece by us at Forest Fringe.

We laid out a diary and asked people to contribute a memory for each day of the year. Here are a collection of those that we got.

March 1
This is the beginning of the month where I celebrate the year anniversary of my first love.

March 28
I woke up.

May 6
First kiss of many - in fact, the first kiss and the last time I kissed anyone else.

May 16
Today the first seed sprouted. That made me hopeful, even though I'd spilled the seed tray on the floor.

July 4
My first child was born on July 4. It was a hot night - all the windows were open. She was delivered by a U.S. student - his first delivery. He looked stunned and amazed.

August 1
A year ago today I watched the sun set + rise again over the mount ridges of New Mexico.

August 19
We had a party in a cave for the most delightful of ladies.

September 3
Today I was the recipient of fellatio on a public bus. Teenage wet dream? I was worried terribly that someone would turn around. What would I say? No one did.

September 9
I had an abortion.

November 10
My mother was born in 1947. She is a great woman. She deserves a lot more love than she gets but sometimes she shoots herself in the foot. What an interesting mind. I want so much to giver her the world but in so many ways she wouldn't take it.

November 13
I am thinking of you right now, and I wish I wasn't. I wish it wasn't like this and that it may of ended differently. Who knows what would of happened. But I feel that it shouldn't of happened this way.

November 28
CJ had a one night stand in Manor House.

December 10
After he'd forgotten my birthday for the 3rd time I tried to kill myself. I failed. He's gone. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! :)


Hopefully we can continue to add to the Memory Book as we go and maybe have a full year of memories by Edinburgh to have on display for people during the festival. If you want to contribute something just email us via our website or put something in the comments.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Peter Brook Empty Space Award

Some delightful news for the beginning of maybe the year's most depressing month (it's cold, it's not Christmas and the only thing to celebrate is the ineptitude of some 400 year old Catholics) - today Forest Fringe became the 20th winners of the Peter Brook Empty Space Award.

It was genuinely a total surprise considering the inspiring companies shortlisted - BAC, Soho, The Arches, the Bush and the Minerva. I also got to shake Peter Brook's old man hand. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT FROM A DAY?

At the ceremony, Dominic Cavendish of the Telegraph had some lovely things to say about us so I thought I'd post them here for you all to have a read:

Who knows how this decade will come to be written about in the years ahead? It may well be viewed as a wretched one but perhaps it might be seen as positively halcyon compared to what will follow. One thing's for sure - it started with anxiety about a tech-driven financial bust that proved unfounded and ended with the real deal, the kind of recession that carves itself into people's lives for a long time. In the end, the big theme wasn't war or the clash of civilisations but the one that's never really been out of currency - money.

Money was the making of theatre this decade - there was a lot more of it to prop up the subsidised sector, and even if you couldn't exactly point to a golden time in the West End in terms of art, it was certainly a gilded one. Yet now that the whole house of cards has fallen down, it's probably time for theatre-makers further down the chain, who are most exposed to the vagaries of the economic climate, to say that if they're being forced to beg, borrow or even steal to survive, then 'twas ever thus - because so-called boom years had their downside, too, in keeping costs high, and curtailing unprofitable experimentation.

Nowhere was this more apparent than at the Edinburgh Fringe where spiralling rental charges have conspired to restrict the affordability of a festival that is supposed to be the greatest artistic free-for-all on earth. I've seen at first hand how deranged the economics of bringing up just a relatively straightforward monologue are, even during a downturn; the risks of working on a more ambitious scale seem to grow by the year.

Which is where one has to salute with all the force of a Tattoo gun at midnight the efforts of the team behind Forest Fringe, which has in the space of a few years become an essential fixture at Edinburgh without actually joining itself to the Fringe as such. In its adopted church hall venue at Bristo Place, it operates not merely, prosaically, as a festival within a festival - but as a sort of other world, a boundary-pushing playground where, thanks to multiple volunteer efforts it's not the money that counts at all, but the stuff that happens between performers and their makeshift surroundings and between performers and curious visitors. If I could have wished away the hundreds of other chores that descend on a journalist while covering the festival, I'd have happily hung out at Forest Fringe for the entirety of its duration.

It seems to me that in its back-to-basics approach, it is totally forward-thinking - and potentially revolutionary in scope. Whatever the next decade holds, the seeds of the next wave of theatre - and probably even of our recover itself, lie in the expansive, inexpensive miracle that is Forest Fringe.

Thanks to everyone, artists, audiences, supporters in all their various guises, who have been a part of Forest Fringe. All of you have been totally integral to getting us to the point when such flattering things can be said about us and where we can win such long-standing and well-regarded awards.

The £2000 that is the prize for this award will go a long way to realising some of the plans we have for next year - audio libraries, microfestivals rearing up across the country and of course once again looking to re-imagine and remake our place within the Edinburgh Festival season. But more on all of that very soon...!