Monday, 2 August 2010

We have moved!

Thanks to everyone who's followed what we have to say for ourselves here in the bustling online metropolis of blogspot. It's been delightful.

Now that our beautiful new website is finished and online we've moved the whole blog operation over there. You can find the blog here.

So update your RSS feeds and take a moment to join our own miniature online community, via our social networking forum - where you can leave your own posts, start groups and debates and hopefully find yourself ever more involved in the world of Forest Fringe.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

William Shatner Karaoke: Now open for 2010

fig. 1 William Shatner, ready to blast you with his love machine

So you may well have started to hear rumours of this mythic spectacular called William Shatner Karaoke. Well, if you want in, the time has come to lay down your cards, cross the line, and do all the other things that historically designate that you want to be involved.

But first, the preamble.

What is William Shatner Karaoke?

Way back when in the mists of time Forest Fringe co-director Debbie Pearson was almost unhealthily fixated on the musical oeuvre that one-time Sci-fi embarrassment and latter-day post-ironic superstar William Shatner was busily carving for himself.

If you haven't had the opportunity to experience the musical stylings of The Man the kids call Shat, then let us illuminate you:

Shatner takes a popular song.
Shatner transforms popular song into an evisceratingly earnest monologue, to a gentle instrumental backing of the original songs melody
Shatner delivers said monologue clutching a cigarette a speaking straight to camera.
The world looks on aghast/amazed.

In thrall to this spectacular act of re-interpretation, Debbie coined the idea of William Shatner Karaoke. An opportunity for all of us to treat some classic songs with the kind of painfully serious monologuing they never asked for or expected.

A legend was born.

Flash forward several years...

On Monday 9th August, as part of our night of music and performance at Forest Fringe from 11pm onwards, we are going to host William Shatner Karaoke in public for the very first time, with live musical accompaniment from the good, good people of Little Bulb Theatre.

So here's what you need to do to be involved:

1) Choose a song.
2) In the comments or via email to andy[at], leave us the name of that song and your own name, and any accompanying notes you might want us to have.
3) Turn up on the night ready to deliver that song to camera as a totally earnest spoken word monologue.
4) You do not need to deliver it in the style of William Shatner, in fact, you should almost definitely find your own style for it.
5) We'll provide musical accompaniment and a live video feed projected on a giant screen behind you.
6) Try and bring the lyrics along with you though we will also endeavour to supply them ourselves.
7) We'll also try and have some extra spots for people to join in on the night.


Please also note that if this proves spectacularly popular two things will definitely happen.

1) We won't be able to get round to everybody's song.
2) It will make a return at our closing party on the 21st August.

Right. Good luck. Get suggesting.

Let us boldly go where none of us have dared go before.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Festival of Secrets

Not satisfied with the four miniature festivals we've already put together for you we've decided to add another...

As is almost always the way we've had an incredible last minute rush of exciting little projects and experiments that we've decided to smuggle into our programme, all of which we've decided to gather together under the banner of a Festival of Secrets.

We can't yet tell you where and when, or even what, these may be, but keep a track of us on twitter, facebook and by dropping into the venue and you'll find out how you can experience some secret projects by the following artists:

Action Hero
Chris Thorpe
Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari of SHUNT
Kindle Theatre
Charlotte Jarvis
Ryan Van Winkle
Jo Bannon

Just two weeks to go now. Let the good times roll...

Online Reservations

We're delighted to be able to let you know that for the first time ever this year you can book reservations for Forest Fringe shows online, in advance of the festival, thanks to the lovely people at Brown Paper Tickets.

They've helped us to set up a special page where you can reserve a place for any of the shows taking place in our main hall and a number of the off-site projects we're running as well. To have a look around and make some bookings go here.

Hopefully this means that if you're the kind of person that likes to be able to plan everything out in advance you can now do so. If however you enjoy being able to roll up to Forest Fringe five minutes before a show is starting and just jump in, don't worry as we'll be making sure we still have plenty of space available on the door.

Also note that you don't need to book for anything happening in our Festival of Ideas between 12pm and 5pm every day or any of our late night performance events running after 11pm. For all those projects you're free to drop in and out whenever you like.

And, of course, all the shows and events you'll find with us are all still totally free.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Making Days and Manifestos

(Melanie Wilson at the Forest Fringe Microfestival at BAC, image by Ludovic Des Cognets)

This is a call for all the artists and actors and makers and doers who are thinking of heading to Edinburgh this summer. This is a chance to do something different with your time whilst you're there.

We wanted you to be able come together during the festival and make something new. To learn from some incredible artists. To be fired up and inspired. To leave Edinburgh with a new project, new collaborators and a different way of thinking about theatre.

To that end, we have two projects for you:

Forest Fringe's Making Days
13, 19 & 21 August 2010

Thanks to the support of the lovely people at the Jerwood Charitable Foundation we've been able to bring together an eye-wateringly exciting collection of artists to help us with a new project we're calling the Forest Fringe Making Days.

Part scratch, part workshop, part discussion, each making day is a chance for a group of artists to explore a different way of making live performance. Beginning at 10am, over the course of each day you'll create a new piece, something very raw and new in which hopefully will be the seeds not just of a new future project but of a broader understand of a whole way of making theatre. Spread over the course of the festival we'll have three of these making days, each led by two incredible artists:

Friday 13 August - Audio Performance: A chance to explore the diverse possibilities of making audio work, experienced via headphones, led by Duncan Speakman and Melanie Wilson.

Thursday 19 August - Intimate Performance: A day spent looking at the kind of intimate relationships that theatre can create between artists and performers, led by Adrian Howells and Deborah Pearson.

Saturday 21 August - Site-specific Performance: A day for exploring how performance can be site-specific and what that might mean for the relationship between a place and what we make of it, led by Grid Iron's Ben Harrison and Geraldine Pilgrim.

Each day will finish with a sharing where an audience can experience the result of your day's work, followed by an informal discussion involving artists, audience and anyone else who might be interested.

The Making Days are, like everything at Forest Fringe, a totally free opportunity. If you're interested in being involved please email andy[at] with a brief description of who you are and why you're interested.

There is unfortunately a very limited amount of space for each day. You don't need to have any prior experience in any of this kind of work to take part but if you could let us know why you're interested that will help us try and make the very tricky decision as to who can be involved. For the same reason we'd appreciate if people could apply for no more than two of the Making Days and state which of those two they are most interested in.

Take This Longing:A DIY project by Simon Bowes
20-22 August, 2010

For a weekend, outside Edinburgh, off from the Fringe, we will encourage each other. Participants will negotiate between themselves (and then name) an achievable outcome – a project for the future – enriching our various practices and creating a point of convergence between us. Together we will identify needs, wants, and frivolous wishes and aim, somehow, to fulfill them. We might discover common ground or shared need (or we might discover we have nothing in common). Whichever the case, we will find a way to agree on what needs to be done. We may end up calling this “a project”, a practice”, “an ethos” or “a movement”.

For more information please have a look here.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Forest Fringe 2010 Part 4: A Festival of Experiences

(STK International, image by Briony Campbell)

The reason Forest Fringe is able to exist at all in Edinburgh is thanks to the people at the Forest Café. It was they who first invited Debbie to use their beautiful upstairs space to create a performance programme for Edinburgh and their involvement with Forest Fringe continues to be one of the main things that gives our place its character.

Every day during the festival when we finish at 10 the hall becomes home to a series of incredible music nights and parties hosted by The Forest café. This year they are going to be particularly spectacular as it’s the Forest’s 10 year anniversary – a pretty incredible lifespan in the face of an ever-changing and city.

After experimenting last year with hosting a couple of these parties ourselves as, including a legendary night of STK International’s Live Art Speed Dating, this year the Forest have given us the chance to programme a whole series of late night events across the festival. Come along on any of these nights for a delirious cocktail of performance, music, film, unusual encounters, strange experiences and general good times.


LoveSong (a night of music and performance hosted by Forest Fringe)
Monday 9 August, from 11.30pm

Live performance and live music bleed into each other in unexpected ways. Hosted by Little Bulb Theatre, you’ll get a chance to experience music from Over the Wall and our house band The Suitcase Royale alongside hidden experiences with artists including Brian Lobel. There’s also an opportunity to play Forest Fringe’s very own William Shatner Karaoke, with live accompaniment from the lovely folk at Little Bulb.

MoveyHouse (a night of film and performance hosted by Forest Fringe)
Tuesday 10 August, from 11.30pm

A chance for artists to have a meddle with cinema and see what they come up with. Featuring an audio-visual set from Fiona Soe Paing, Andy Field’s participatory happening Moveyhouse and a secret video installation by Charlotte Jarvis, plus another set from our delightful house band The Suitcase Royale.

Cruising for Art (Brian Lobel and special guests)
Wednesday 11 August, from 11pm

A night of queer delectations. Grab a hankie, cruise the hall, and have an intimate encounter with a stranger. Your smile or wink will start a wild journey, a tender moment, or an intimate conversation. 'Cruising for Art' celebrates a history of cottaging and similar activities in public spaces and includes one-on-one performances with some of the UK's most exciting performers. Punctuated by cabaret acts and gently led by our delicious djs, 'Cruising for Art' will be a night to remember.

Ping Pong Quiz Show (STK International)
Monday 16 August, from 11pm

Following last year’s incredible Live Art Speed Dating, the boys from Stoke Newington return to Forest Fringe with another new project.
Hosted by a disgraced ex-primetime TV show host, an over the hill regional ping pong champion [U16] and held together by the adjudicator/lovely assistant, Ping Pong Quiz Show is a game show style quiz and tournament where teams pit their wits and ping pong skills against each other in a dazzling array of challenges. Part Satirical Show, part absurdist parlour game, the evening rounds off with a full on ping pong tournament and some dancing.

My Time (BAC Young Producers)
Saturday 21 August, from 11.30pm

To say goodbye to Forest Fringe for another year we’re giving the space over to BAC’s delightful and inspiring young producers, all aged between 16-20. There’ll be programming events and encounters across the building, along with music and partying to celebrate the end of another year in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Forest Fringe 2010 Part 3: A Festival of Adventures

(James Baker, 30 Days to Space)

We like the unlikely places in which live performance can make a home for itself. The strange encounters you might discover in tiny rooms or on park benches, in grand cinemas and cramped video stores. We like the ways we find to look at the things around us in a different way.

These are projects that will take you somewhere unusual. Some of them are scattered across Edinburgh, others are hidden in corners of our own building. Some happen only once or twice, others are repeated throughout the day, and others are available whenever you want or need them. Come down to Forest Fringe and you can guarantee there’ll always be some miniature experience to be unravelled.

Regardless of where you’ll end up, all these events will begin at Forest Fringe. You’ll then be guided by us to wherever you need to be.


every minute, always - Melanie Wilson & Abigail Conway
Monday 9 – Saturday 14 August, 4pm

every minute, always is a headphones performance taking place in the main auditorium of the Filmhouse cinema on Lothian road, created for two people to encounter together. From the intimate, low-lit vantage of the cinema seat, the participant is guided by the voice of the narrator into a rich and sonically transporting world of cinematic perspective.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a performance for pairs. You must register for this performance with another person.

Away Into the Night – Sarah Hopfinger
Monday 9 & Tuesday 10 August, 6pm & 8pm

Away Into The Night is a new performance that investigates the question: How do we say goodbye? For a small audience at a time, this personal and participatory piece asks us to remember in order to move forwards into an unknown future with hope.

Like You Were Before – Deborah Pearson
Monday 9 – Saturday 21 August (not 14), 10pm

Debbie will take you on a journey through time but she can only access her own time and she can only access it through a video. The video never changes, but she does. An intimate performance in Alphabet Video in Marchmont, Debbie’s old place of work.

DEDOMEGAMIX – Richard Dedomenici
Monday 9 – Saturday 21 August, all day

To commemorate the looming tenth anniversary of his leaving art school, Richard DeDomenici forensically reexamines the first decade of his creative output and draws some damning conclusions. In what is described both as a groundbreaking challenge to the existing Fringe venue status quo, and a pragmatic austerity measure, DeDomenici intends to perform DEDOMEGAMIX in a small portable tent, which he stubbornly refers to as a ‘Pop-Up Nomadic/Boutique Autonomous Microvenue’.

Jarideh - Tania El Khoury
Monday 9 – Friday 13 August, all day

A secret encounter and a suspicious one on one performance. It is inspired by both crime films and real events such as the Metropolitan Police’s terrorism awareness and operations made in the past by women fighters in the Lebanese resistance.

The Bench – Ant Hampton (Rotozaza) and Glen Neath
Monday 9 – Saturday 21 August, all day

In the same vein as Rotozaza’s internationally successful ‘autoteatro’ work, 'Etiquette', TheBench invites two audience / participators to respond to instructions given via headphones, but with some significant differences...- they are outside, on a bench and, they don't know each other.

30 Days to Space - James Baker
Monday 9 - Saturday 21, all day

I want to become an astronaut. I want to get to Space. Space (as defined by NASA) is 50 miles up from the Earth’s surface. That sounds doable. By climbing a 6ft ladder 1467 times each day for 30 continuous days I will eventually reach a height of 50 miles; space. Each climb of the 6ft ladder will be marked by drawing a chalk star onto the wall.

As if it were the last time: A subtlemob – Duncan Speakman
Friday 13 August, 7pm

'as if it were the last time' invites you to take part in a secret event this August.
You've seen the people freeze in train stations and the mass pillow fights, well this will be a more invisible experience, like walking through a film.

To take part in this event register in advance at and you'll be invited to download an MP3 and turn up at a secret location to listen to the soundtrack at a specified time.

When We Meet Again (introduced as friends) - Me & The Machine
Monday 16 – Friday 20 August, all day (till 8pm)

When We Meet Again is a wearable film and a one to one sensorial performance featuring you, your invisible friend, a 3D soundtrack and an old forgotten dance, an ocean, a flavour and me. Video filmed from a first person perspective and played on video goggles replaces your point of view by that one of a film character.

This is just to Say – Hannah Walker
Monday 16 – Friday 20 August, 5pm & 9pm

This is just to say is… a conversation with poems in it. It’s about manipulation, Britishness, love and winning. This is just to say… is smudging its make-up, buying you bouquets and screening your calls. This is just to say… is an intimate audience piece set around a table. Pull up a chair and drink some wine.

It’s Like He’s Knocking – Leo Kay
Tuesday 17 & Wednesday 18 August, 6pm and Thursday 19 August, 4pm

A stripped back performance incorporating storytelling, dance theatre and afro Brazillian percussion, set in the intimacy of a bedsit. A collage of moments taken from the lives of three generations of men. Drink a toast to loved ones, bet on some cards and close your eyes to remember your past.

Audience capacity 12.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Forest Fringe 2010 Part 2: A Festival of Ideas

(Search Party Growing Old With You. Image by Finlay Robertson)

From 5pm every afternoon Forest Fringe will once again have the kind of brilliantly diverse line-up of works-in-progress and unusual performances that people have come to know over the last few years. We’re delighted with this year’s group of artists – some who we’ve worked with before but many others we haven’t, but all of whom make things in a brilliantly unique and fascinating way.

If there’s any theme running through all of this work it is perhaps, like the whole festival, one of reflection. Whether it’s Polarbear reflecting on where he’s from, or Dylan Tighe and Kieran Hurley reflecting on where they’re going, Search Party thinking about growing old together, or Tinned Fingers thinking about falling in love, everyone seems to be looking again at our everyday experience of the world.

Maybe at a time of irresistible globalisation, of epic international crises broadcast on 24 hour news, we need to begin here – by thinking about the politics and the meaning embedded in how we live our own lives day by day; in how we understand our relationship to each other and to the world around us.


Chip – Glas(s) Performance
Monday 9 & Tuesday 10 August

This is a show about fathers and daughters that stems from the real life experience of Jess Thorpe and Tim Thorpe. ‘Fabulously life-affirming and beautifully-structured’ **** The Scotsman

Journey to the End of the Night – Dylan Tighe
Tuesday 10 – Friday 13 August (with a special show on Sunday 15)

A solo performance based on Dylan Tighe’s personal diary written on the Trans-Mongolian Express from Beijing to Moscow, spanning five time zones and two continents.

Hitch – Kieran Hurley
Monday 9 – Friday 13 August

Kieran Hurley recounts his journey across Europe to the G8 summit protests in this intimate and uplifting one-man show, with live music from Over The Wall.

Two Trillion – Fish & Game
Monday 9 & Tuesday 10 August

There are many creatures in this world, and I am one trillion of them.
Glasgow’s Fish & Game take it right back for this new performance – back to basics, back to nature, and all the way back down to the trillions of cells that make up their bodies – real old skool.

Never Park Your Body in a Wadi (Working Title) – Tom, John & Len Frankland
Wednesday 11, Thursday 12, Monday 16 & Tuesday 17 August

A show created by three generations of the same family about being a man, the twentieth century, fathers and sons and cowboys and indians...

Return – Polarbear
Wedesnday 11 – Friday 13 August

Return tells the story of Noah, a man trying to figure out where he fits. Convinced he had to leave home in order to make his mark, Noah returns to find a world where a lot of things seem the same but nothing actually is.

Doris Day can Fuck Off – Greg McLaren
Monday 16 & Tuesday 17 August

Greg McLaren has been singing in the street. Where he would talk, he has sang. This has resulted in many hilarious encounters. But it has also resulted in a feeling of isolation and rejection. The problem with singing is that it is too heady a means of communication when buying stamps or a bun, or trying to change details with the gas man.

The Last Romance Club (ever) – Tinned Fingers
Monday 16 – Friday 20 August

We are hopeful. We are looking for love. We want to get lucky. We want to serenade you outside your window at night. We want to give you our last rolo. We can't sing but, for you, we'll try.

“I Belong to this Band!” (work-in-progress) – Kings of England and others
Wednesday 18 & Thursday 19 August

“I Belong to This Band!” uses live/performance art to explore folk traditions. We are doing R&D residencies and Scratch showings, making songs and dances, before a Rural Tour of Great Britain 2011/12.

Growing Old With You (work-in-progress) - Search Party
Wednesday 18 – Friday 20 August

Growing Old With You is a life long performance project which attempts to document lived experience in real time. Starting in 2010 and for every 5 (or so) years for the rest of their lives Search Party will create a performance exploring ideas of age, duality and accumulation.

Senior Moments – Kristin Fredricksson (Beady Eye) & Robert Vesty (Box Social)
Friday 20 August

Kristin Fredricksson (Beady Eye) & Rob Vesty (Box Social) spend a week in the run-up to each Senior Moments performance during which they meet & recruit older people. They go to bingo halls, housing estates, community groups, shopping centres and Bridge clubs to enlist up to 40 participants aged 65 and over.

Forest Fringe 2010 Part 1: A Festival of Thoughts

(H Plewis' Cabinet of Ideas. Image by Finlay Robertson)

For some time at Forest Fringe we’ve been dreaming of a different kind of space for Edinburgh. We imagined a room that was always open, that you could drop in and out of as you pleased. A place where something would always be happening. A place where you could slip away briefly from the mayhem of the city and experience a miniature encounter that transforms your day, or where you could stay for hours – meeting people, talking, sharing, feeling at home. We wanted people to know, as they squeezed their way through the festival, that there was always somewhere they could return to, to rest and think and maybe experience something remarkable.

This year, thanks to the support of the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, for the first time we’re going to be able to try this out. It’s another new experiment and we’ve asked a whole range of folk to help us realise it, from brilliant organisations such as Artsadmin and Residence to artists like Third Angel, H Plewis and Non Zero One. We also hope that you’ll all offer your thoughts and ideas and help us as we try and build something new.

So how will it work?

Between 12pm and 5pm every day there’ll be something happening to engage with. Miniature encounters, conversations, inspiration exchanges, living archives and sound libraries. Things you can alight upon fleetingly or devote your whole day to.


Forest Fringe Microfestivals: Reminiscences and Restagings
Monday 9 & Tuesday 10

This year we’ve been travelling around the country finding ways of generating some of the unpredictability and experimentation of Forest Fringe in Edinburgh to new spaces and new audiences. This is a chance for you to find out about that adventure and experience some of the projects that came out of it, including work by Brian Lobel, Little Bulb Theatre, Shellshock Theatre and Stadium Rock. Drop by and see what we’ve been up to and help us start dreaming and planning for where we go next.

Future Editions - A collaboration between Artsadmin and Forest Fringe
Wednesday 11 & Thursday 12 August

An interactive archive of visions, involving a dizzying array of people from across Edinburgh and beyond. A chance to find yourself in the most surprising and inspiring of conversations, sharing somebody's dream of the future. More details coming very soon.

Hold Hands / Lock Horns (Non Zero One)
Thursday 12 & Friday 13

Join in / pass up; stick / twist; follow / lead; win a friend / gain an enemy.
Non zero one have some decisions for you to make. You do want the choice, don't you?

Residence in Residence
Sunday 15

Residence are a loose collective of artists and companies based in Bristol who we’ve worked with regularly over the last few years and are generally very inspired by. Their number include Action Hero, Jo Bannon, Tom Marshman and both Tinned Fingers and Search Party who will be performing at Forest Fringe in the week following this event. We wanted to give Residence the opportunity of a space to simply be in residence, with what that might entail left entirely up to them. You can come along at any time and join them, getting yourself embroiled in whatever it is they might be planning.

Travelling Sounds Library
Monday 16 & Tuesday 17

The Travelling Sounds Library is a wandering collection of audio experiences, captured on MP3 player and hidden inside hollowed out hard back books. A chance to escape from the festival and drift away into somebody else’s world. Featuring Stan’s Café, Blast Theory, Duncan Speakman & Unlimited Theatre, Ian Campbell many more.

Wednesday 18

We wanted to play with the idea of getting yourself a slot in Edinburgh by offering people a chunk of time, stripped of all the proscriptions and baggage normally associated with it. We offered anyone the opportunity to apply for a slot, and indeed the chance to apply is still open. We’ll pick the names randomly out of a hat and those selected will be given an entirely free hour in which to do whatever they want – put on a show, have a rehearsal, hold a discussion or just sit and have a think for a while. If you’d like your name in the hat just email andy[at]

Cabinet of Ideas (H Plewis)
Thursday 19

You are invited to buy or sell an idea. Prices range from 1p - £1. Ideas range from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Inspiration Exchange
Friday 20

Developed out of an original idea by Alex Kelly from Third Angel, the inspiration exchange is an opportunity to hear a beautiful collection of stories detailing what has inspired some Forest Fringe’s artists and friends. In return we also want you to let us know what you’ve inspired by – whether it be a book, or a film, or a drunken conversation at 2 in the morning. Featuring Alex Kelly, James Stenhouse of Action Hero, Forest Fringe’s Deborah Pearson and Laura McDermott, joint artistic director of Fierce Festival, Birmingham.

What I Heard About the World: Research Map (Third Angel & mala voadora)
Saturday 21

Created out of Forest Fringe’s Microfestival in Glasgow as part of the development process for their new piece What I Heard About the World, this project is a 12 hour durational performance by Third Angel and Lisbon-based mala voadora. Over the course of the day they will attempt to map the world in stories collected from the audience.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Introducing Forest Fringe 2010: A Year of Reflection

Image from the Forest Fringe Microfestival, by James Baster

So yes, we’re probably repeating ourselves, but it’s really been a breathless few years. The way that people have believed in and helped supported us has been incredible and propelled us to places that we never could have imagined being. Now we want to make sure we make the most of that without losing the messy, resourceful, collaborative spirit that got us all here in the first place.

We’ve met some impressively inspiring people, listened to a deal of good advice and enjoyed experimenting with some new projects, such as the Microfestivals and the Forest Fringe Travelling Sounds Library. We’ve discovered things that work and things that don’t.

We've learnt that maybe the best way of summing up what Forest Fringe does well is to say that we bring people together in ways that make the sum greater than its parts. Opportunities for co-operation and collectivity that mean that out of very little we can create the spectacular and the implausible, benefiting everyone involved. Maybe its flash-mob curating, providing exciting invitations and leaving it up to artists to decide if and when they want to be involved. Maybe it’s just about being a moveable home that people can keep coming back to.

As we’ve been doing all this talking and thinking and sharing we’ve been thinking about our home in Edinburgh and realising it’s a shame there isn’t more space for these conversations and collaborations to happen there. Edinburgh is an arts festival that has a bigger and more dizzying array of people involved than any other. Yet every possible cupboard and dungeon and bar is transformed into a venue, meaning anything other than putting on shows is crowded out. And that can be an exhausting experience, especially when all the bars and cafes are overcrowded and overpriced and your flat is a crampt bolthole 40 minutes walk away.

The thing we’ve always liked about Edinburgh is that whatever you may think its failings may be, the best possible response is to offer your own alternative. If you build it they will come, as sad-eyed baseball-loving movie star Kevin Costner once said. So we've decided to try and create our own space for reflecting and catching our breath. We wanted to see how we might build something more than just a venue for putting on shows. After all, people have often said that Forest Fringe felt more like a refuge or a home – we felt we wanted to live up to that.
Far from expanding ever outwards in some ever-accelerating tidal wave of growth, this year we’d try and take the chance to reflect on what we do and how we do it. To experiment with what else we might do. To find space in Edinburgh for things that should happen but at present don’t really seem to, all the while continuing to support artists and put on weird and brilliant shows and experiments in the way we’ve always done.

All of which is a kind of long, quite heartfelt but potentially over-earnest way of trying to explain what you’ll get to experience at Forest Fringe this year. And the way we’ve figured out of organising all of this is to give you four miniature festivals in one:

Forest Fringe 2010: Monday August 9 – Saturday August 21

A festival of thoughts, from 12pm-5pm, offering a whole range of new and exciting ways for people to gather at Forest Fringe and talk and collaborate and generally be inspired.
A festival of ideas, from 5pm till 11pm, showcasing a lovely collection of work by some great artists in the way we’ve always done in the past.
A festival of experiences, from 11pm till late, where we’ll transform our space into a series of massive late night parties full of music and art and good times.
And a festival of adventures, all over the shop, inviting you to head out into the city and explore a range of hidden off-site projects.

So that’s what we’re up to. In the following few days we’re going to post some more details on exactly what you’ll be able to experience and be a part of in each of these joyous fandangos. But for now we hope you appreciate us trying to explain what it is we’re up to and we definitely appreciate you taking the time to read down to the last but one sentence – good job.

These are frightening times and exciting times – let’s see what we can make of them.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Friday, 14 May 2010

Brizzle and Glazzgo

So it's over.

After a frantic, breathless, deliriously exhilarating few weeks we are back home from our Microfestival adventure. It's been an incredible experience. We've worked with 60 different artists or companies in 4 cities, with a total audience of over 500 people. We've had installations, one-on-one encounters, rock freakouts, secret games, haunting imaginary cinemas, an attempt at mapping the world in stories, Sir Walter Raleigh, a cabinet of ideas, a library of sounds, a human bird table, a man covered in salt, romance, music, heartbreak, tears, wonder, and in addition to all of that we've just a grand old time of it.

Thank you to all the artists and the venues and the volunteers and everyone who has helped make this such a fascinating and brilliant success.

We'll be bringing all that's happened together before Edinburgh so people can have a look at what we did but for now here's some links and photographs from Bristol and Glasgow to give you an idea of what went on. If any of you got a chance to come along to any of the four events please do feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments - we'd love to hear them.


In Bristol we took over the Old Vic for the opening weekend of Mayfest. You can read a lovely review of the event here:
An evening that really had to be seen to be appreciated, the Forest Fringe was like tumbling down the rabbit hole - initially totally confusing, but once I left my reservations behind, and just gave into the madness. It was a novel, unique and memorable evening. If ever the Fringe crew are back in town, I suggest you leave any expectations of normality at the door and get involved.
Or check out Hannah Nicklin's brilliant Microsite which she was updating throughout the weekend, as a means for people to keep track of everything going on.

There's also a beautiful collection of images by Finlay Robertson here, some of which are posted below.

Action Hero

Peter McMaster

Search Party

Little Bulb


In Glasgow we had the whole run of the incredible maze of spaces that make up The Arches. You can read Mary Brennan's truly wonderful review in the Herald here:
What was it like?

Like being a kid, let loose in a sweet shop full of tantalising choices... Much better than sweets. You can gorge on Forest Fringe and never get sick, or tired of the flavours.
We also have another lovely collection of photographs, this time by James Baster, here.

Abigail Conway

The Love Calculator

Jenna Watt & Rachel Moffat

Third Angel

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Live Art Development Agency: DIY 7

We’re totally delighted to be working with the Live Art Development Agency on DIY7, the latest incarnation of their innovative artist-to-artist development programme:

“DIY is an opportunity for artists working in Live Art to conceive and run unusual training and professional development projects for other artists.

We want to hear from you if have an idea for an exciting, innovative and idiosyncratic Live Art professional development project that offers something new and is geared to the eclectic and often unusual needs of artists whose practices are grounded in challenging and unconventional approaches, forms and concepts.

DIY 7 builds on the strengths of previous DIY schemes which have proved to be invaluable experiences for project leaders, participants and organisers alike, and this year we are delighted to welcome even more partner organisations on board.”

We’re hoping to be hosting one of this year’s DIY projects at Forest Fringe in Edinburgh this summer as part of a whole new strand of projects that challenge us to think about the space we have and Edinburgh as a whole in a totally different way. So if you have even an inkling of an idea for a strange and provocative new development programme for artists that you think might find a home in or around Edinburgh during the festival, please do have a look at the Call For Proposals, And feel free to email us if you have any questions specifically relating to Edinburgh and Forest Fringe.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Some reviews of Forest Fringe at BAC

So like a more benign Frankenstein's Monsters with an affection for Canadian Indie music, the Forest Fringe Microfestivals have finally stumbled blinking out of the laboratory and disappeared over the nearest hill, screaming for someone to love them.

Things were wonderful at BAC - manic, exhausting, thick with atmosphere and generosity and everything we could have hoped. Thank you to everyone who came along and the all the artists who were involved and all the volunteers who supported us and helped make them such a special couple of nights.

We've had a few lovely review of everything that happened which I just wanted to flag up for you to have a read of.

Carpe Minuta Prima is just one of the pieces that form part of the Forest Fringe Microfestival, an offshoot of the successful Edinburgh outfit that has rethought the festival model as an artist-led initiative. Out on tour to four venues in London, Glasgow, Bristol and Swansea, the Microfestival offers a mixture of works-in-progress, intimate experiences and surprises from national and local artists over a pick'n'mix evening of art and entertainment.
Then a lovely four star review from Donald Hutera in the Times:
The artist-led producing team known as Forest Fringe has grown into one of the Edinburgh Festival’s brightest success stories. Now the people behind it are taking their loose but loveable brand of theatrical magic on tour...
Also some really thoughtful and interesting personal recollections from Hannah Nicklin and Jake Orr. Always delightful to see people taking the time to tell their experience of it and a real example of the space for thoughtfulness and expressiveness that the internet and blogging offer.

From Hannah:
The microfestival at BAC was a vibrant and buzzing combination of short experiences, fuller scripted pieces, sound work, music, installations and intimate performances. Some of the pieces were more ‘finished’, whilst others just setting out on their first period of R&D. The whole event fitted into the nooks and crannies of the BAC building, and filled the spaces in between with live music and discoveries aplenty – one highlight being the items of clothing dotted around, inviting you to take them in exchange for you’re an item of your own, and it story. Like any good festival, there was more than you could see in one night, and each attendee built their own experience.
And Jake:
The Forest Fringe is now on tour! Another remarkable achievement by it’s two co-directors Andy Field and Debbie Pearson, who have now created Forest Fringe Mircofestival – a smaller version taking residence in a number of cities before August in Edinburgh once more. The Microfestival gives the chance for a festival atmosphere to be replicated in various locations, bringing theatre to the people, and above all – a space for creativity and audiences to meet, play and experience.
So thank you kindly to all those folk.

My own thoughts are mainly that I was delighted by how possible it seemed to recreate the kind of strange and generous atmosphere that we've been able to foster in Edinburgh in other spaces and contexts. People approached all the work and artists with a sense of wanting to understand what they were trying out and why. I loved the atmosphere in the building both nights - the excitement, the conversations that I heard floating round the building. And I loved the way that this diverse collection of pieces were able to sit together as part of a coherent evening - that we had video installations, durational performances, wild experiments, work-in-progresses and everything in between all complementing and supporting each other to make a really diverse, unusual and memorable night.

I think there's still work we need to do on how people sign up for the tinier experiences. We want to be able to accommodate things that only have a very limited audience but it's so hard to do so without it becoming a situation where a very limited number of people get to experience them and everyone else feels that they've missed out. Not only is that not fun for the people who feel they've missed a special treat but it's also difficult for the artists themselves as it then builds an anticipation around their performance which can sometimes be quite difficult to overcome if the piece itself is intended simply as something very tiny and very understated.

How then to be able to include these things whilst giving everyone at least a chance of getting to see them and ensuring that people who don't aren't too disappointed? A lottery? Just keeping those events completely secret and leading people off at random? Will that frustrate people more?

It's a challenge - an exciting and important one and something we're still exploring and experimenting with. I think it's incredible important that we find a context in which these very tiny pieces can be seen by new audiences in different parts of the country, but it has to be the right context and the right experience - for those that see them and those that don't, and of course for the artists.

I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts and ideas.

Thanks again to everyone who was involved in making it such a memorable and succesful weekend - hopefully we'll see some of you in Glasgow, which is where we're off to next.

Friday, 26 February 2010

To infinity and beyond

So the Microfestivals are now properly go. This is both frightening and deliriously exciting.

Our first stop at BAC on the 2 & 3 April is now all but programmed. We have (deep breath):


You can buy tickets here, which you should do soon because they are selling like the hottest of cakes and we'd love to see you all there.

Then it's going to be onwards to Glasgow, Swansea and Bristol but more on that later.

The future is bright. The future is actually quite busy...

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Forest Fringe Microfestivals

Is this country a big place?

Put into context obviously not. It takes three days non stop to drive half way across Canada. And yet you could realistically sleep for almost two of those days and miss virtually nothing bar prairie. Travel from the West Midlands to South Wales in a couple of hours and you’re moving between two different worlds.

We’ve had plenty of time to think about these kind of questions as we’ve roamed up and down the country in the last few months. I’ve learnt new things. I’ve become more outraged by the cost of petrol. I’ve discovered how hard it is to be vegetarian at service stations. I’ve fostered a deep, ingrained mistrust of

The result of all of this is that we have a programme of Microfestivals for you – beginning in London in April and ending in Bristol in May.

Each will be a unique weekend of strange events, intimate encounters and performance installations. In each place one ticket will allow you to be a part of everything.

It goes like this:

In London on the 2 & 3 April we’ll be working with our long-time supporters BAC, using a dizzying array of spaces scattered across the beautiful Old Town Hall in Battersea.

In Glasgow on the 16 & 17 April we’ll be with The Arches in their epic subterranean maze of railway arches beneath Central Station.

In Swansea on the 24 & 25 April we’ll be sharing an unusual space with National Theatre Wales’ Assembly programme as part of their month of events in the city.

And Finally in Bristol on the 8 & 9 May we’ll be helping launch the brilliant Mayfest by taking over the whole of Bristol’s legendary Old Vic Theatre, from stages to workshops to backstage corridors and other hidden corners of the building.

In each of these locations we’ll be working with a mix of local companies and Forest Fringe artists from across the country. You’ll be able to see some of the most exciting events that we supported at the Edinburgh Festival last summer, and a collection of brand new pieces, many of which we hope will be journeying to Edinburgh with us this summer.

For each of the individual Microfestivals we’ll be announcing a full line-up of artists closer to the time but already we can tell you that featuring in the programme will be Melanie Wilson, Forced Entertainment’s Tim Etchells, Co-creator of the amazing Home Sweet Home Abigail Conway, the legendary Stoke Newington International Airport, Tinned Fingers, Action Hero, Search Party, Brian Lobel and Emma Benson as well as a host of incredible young artists such as Tania El Khoury, Peter McMaster and Swansea’s Shellshock Theatre. We’re also still programming more events for all the locations so if you’re an artist and you’re interested in being involved leave a comment below or get in touch via our website.

The Microfestivals will also see the launch of the Forest Fringe Travelling Sounds Library, an exciting new collaborative project bringing together a brilliantly diverse range of audio-pieces into an interactive library made from recycled hard back books and mp3 players. But more on this very, very soon…

So that’s it, basically.

Hopefully we’ll be coming somewhere near you. We’re stupidly excited by it all and we hope you will be too. As always, if you’ve got any thoughts or comments or questions – just leave them below and we promise we’ll get back to you.

Otherwise – bring on the spring.

Back once again...

(img. by Brandon Christopher Warren)

Well hello there sports fans, we’re back again.

So I know we’ve hardly been gone long, but DOES IT EVER FEEL LIKE IT.

It’s been a busy, dizzying, breathtaking few months and we’re still trying to figure out quite what to do about it all. First off – thank you to everyone who has supported us or congratulated us or has just been pleased for us in winning the Peter Brook Empty Space Award. We listened to the lovely things Dominic Cavendish had to say and shook Peter Brook by his wrinkly and surprisingly small hand and couldn’t quite believe it was all happening. But happen it did and that encouragement (and the £2000 that accompanied it) have been a huge help in the plans we’ve been working away on since then.

Oh and what plans.

Best way of thinking about it is to imagine we’ve been squirreled away in some subterranean laboratory from the golden years of Hollywood, pouring coloured liquids into other coloured liquids and plugging wires into frogs until eventually in at the end of an ever-accelerating montage of experiments something has crawled off the Petri dish and wandered out into the world. We meanwhile, appear blinking into the sunlight trying to figure out where our creature has gone.

But now it’s out there. It’s roaming the streets stealing apples from market stalls and trying to understand this thing they call love. So we figured that we would tell you all about it, before anybody else did.

The Forest Fringe Microfestivals

So Edinburgh has been a wonder the last few years. A truly delirious journey. We’ve learnt so much from the people we’ve worked with and the successes (and failures) that we’ve had about how to create an environment of risk and generosity that can really nurture and support exciting new projects of all forms and sizes. We’ve been able to bring together a brilliant community of artists who collectively make work as exciting as anywhere in the country. And we’ve been able to generate a level of profile for those artists and those ways of working which felt like a really valuable opportunity.

We wanted to do something with that opportunity. To explore something new. To find a way of taking everything that was exciting and vital about Forest Fringe in Edinburgh and showing that it needn’t remain in Edinburgh. That the kind of messy, creative hub that developed there could be re-imagined in numerous other sites and contexts.

And so cue the coloured liquids and the smoke and the Petri dishes and the arguments and the experiments and finally we’ve just about figured out what it is we’re doing. And we called it a Microfestival – a model for a new kind of event, somewhere between a festival and a tour and a scratch night and a gathering.

With this Microfestival model, we wanted to be able:

  1. To create a different context and a new kind of space for artists to try out new ideas and show unusual work – one-on-one encounters, audio walks, video installations, interventions, happenings. In other words, hopefully almost anything that someone might come up with.

  2. To visit different parts of the country and meet new audiences and artists who couldn’t or wouldn’t come to Edinburgh. To have the opportunity to introduce those people to the kind of work that we love and invite them to become a part of the Forest Fringe community.

  3. To explore new spaces. Or to find new ways of using old spaces. To repurpose and reimagine them for what we want to do.

  4. To create an event that can act as a gathering point for artists, audiences and producers in different parts of the country. A chance to come together – so that we can learn from them and they can learn from us. To create a spark from which new ideas and new projects can spring.

Which is all lovely obviously but wouldn’t mean anything unless we could actually figure out how we were going to do this. How to invite an audience to experience all these events in a space that didn’t feel crowded or confusing but similarly didn’t leave you queuing constantly outside closed doors or just wondering numbly from piece to piece. How to create a Minifestival that, like our home in Edinburgh, is built around artists coming together to create an event that has value for them beyond a commission or a fee; where artists dictate how and when and why they want to be involved. And how to find new spaces to work in new parts of the country – figuring out where the right place to go is and why.

So that’s where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing. And now comes the part where we actually do it, which is undoubtedly the most exciting part. In the next post we’ll explain in more detail exactly where we’ll be and when and a few of the people who’ll be there with us, but if you have any thoughts about any of the above please do put them in the comments – it’s all always massively useful.