INTERVIEW: Newcastle Fringe Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Sam Lake

For those of us who simply cannot wait for Edinburgh in August, Newcastle Fringe pips its bigger Scottish cousin to the post by a month to give the North East a more direct fix across its two-week programme, which runs at various venues in the city from Tuesday 18th-Saturday 29th July.

Newcastle Fringe Festival is trying to bring the best of UK touring, performing arts to the city. We’ve got music, comedy, cabaret, family shows; there really is something for everyone,” explains Festival producer Chloe Stott, one of the minds behind bringing back Newcastle Fringe for its second year, since its successful maiden voyage in 2021.

The festival ran for a week in 2021 at the Alphabetti Theatre, and that was amazing. We sold out shows, there was a real appetite for it. We’ve been working over the last year or so to bring it back in a bigger format, across more venues. We’ve still got the high quality theatre and mixed programme that we had in 2021, just expanded in response to the demand.”

Why hasn’t someone established a Newcastle Fringe sooner? The North East is rife with culture (as we all know well), and a pit stop for those journeying further North is a prime opportunity. That’s before we think about the rising costs of travel, accommodation and production that affects attendees and performers alike. “We did recognise that there is a bit of a gap in the market in Newcastle and the North East, or even the North to be honest, for fringe festivals. We all know Edinburgh and there are other well-known local fringes, Brighton Fringe, Buxton Fringe etc., but nothing for our artists.”

Warm up for Edinburgh or save yourself a train ticket – the Newcastle Fringe could be a mainstay of our cultural scene for many years to come.

While future Fringes may well become another beloved event on the national circuit, this year’s programme champions local talent across its venues, from theatre at Alphabetti, stand-up, music and more at Prohibition, The Old Coal Yard and the Cumberland Arms, to family friendly educa-fun-al events at Seven Stories. With 42+ acts to choose from, picking highlights is no easy task – but a few events may tantalise enough for you to examine the rest of the line-up.

Writer and comedian Catherine Scott’s WIP show MAM UP unpicks the pressures of parenting at a bring-your-baby-to-comedy morning matinee – perfect for any new mams seeking something different to do during maternity leave, although non-parents are obviously also welcome. From mams to dads, Aspiring DILF sees comedian Sam Lake attempting to work out his own masculinity by becoming the last respectable form of man, a daddy. With perfect comedic timing, Hannah Walker resurrects her beloved one-woman show An Evening With Savvy B to re-examine our relationship with alcohol – in particular, her beloved Sauvignon Blanc – and may or may not be willing to share a drink with her audience. There’s another chance to catch feminist theatre company Menstrual Rage’s retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. New Writing North initiative Brown Girls Write pays homage to South Asian Heritage Month with Our Stories, a spoken word recital featuring selected works from their poetry anthology Sanctuary. Plus there’s much more besides.

Warm up for Edinburgh or save yourself a train ticket – the Newcastle Fringe could be a mainstay of our cultural scene for many years to come.

Read exclusive interviews and features with a variety of artists taking part in Newcastle Fringe Festival here.

Newcastle Fringe Festival takes place at various venues in Newcastle from Tuesday 18th-Saturday 29th July.


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