ONLINE registration for this year’s Shaftesbury Fringe Festival is open. The Fringe, this year from 5th to 7th July, is England’s third largest open performance festival.
Sue Allatt (pictured), who chairs the event with Rob Neely, is keen for more local people to take part, as the fame of the event spreads: “We had twice as many performances as the year before. The venues are really behind this in Shaftesbury. It was a great turnout,” she says.
The manager of the Mitre Inn, Jana Hackova, says that Shaftesbury Fringe has become an important event in the town’s calendar. “It’s such a big, big weekend. It is so much fun to have a lot of people around, different performers, and getting to chat to the people. It is absolutely great.”
Jana is building an outdoor stage at The Mitre, one of the new performance spaces this year. She says: “We are going to put a stage on the bottom decking. Hopefully we will get some really cool bands in there. The higher two tiers are going to be for viewers and people to enjoy themselves.”
Artists will also be able to choose to perform on the front section of the Shaftesbury Arts Centre stage, for the first time. “This year we have the Shaftesbury Arts Centre main stage for the Friday and Saturday. That is very exciting for us,” says Sue.
Devon-based tenor, Thomas Cameron, has already booked a performance in the Arts Centre theatre. He made his Fringe debut last year with his repertoire of songs from the musicals and is looking forward to performing at the Bell Street theatre: “I particularly love the audiences and the people. Last time the audience absolutely blew me away with their participation. It’s just a lovely place to be.”
Sue says that there is always time to add new venues to the Fringe list. More spaces will help the festival grow even more, but there will always be limits on expansion. “It would be great if we had some more venues come forward because that could increase the size. But I suppose we also have to remember we are only a small town. We can only fit so many people into the town at one time.”
Acts can register at www.shaftesburyfringe.co.uk