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.