GALLERY: Swindon Fringe kicks off with ‘biggest launch night ever’

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Swindon Fringe co-directors Molly Campbell and Matt Fox ©Calyx Picture Agency

From show premiere’s and award-winning acts, to local and international talent, Swindon Fringe is hosting its best line-up yet – and saw its “biggest launch night ever”.

Swindon’s seventh Fringe Festival kicked off last Friday, hosting its biggest launch night ever at The Crossing. 

Swindon Fringe is taking place across some of the town’s most established venues, including Swindon Dance, The Victoria and Artsite, until Sunday 14 April. This year the Fringe’s co-director and founder, Matt Fox, says in terms of acts this year is the biggest line-up the festival has ever seen.

Matt said: “This year’s Swindon Fringe is the biggest in terms of acts. It’s international again so we’ve got acts from all over the world like America, and we’ve also got a couple of local acts back in this year – which we’re always very keen to have. It’s a whole smorgasbord of acts this year.

“As always, we’re running the events in some of the main venues in Swindon – this year we’ve also retaken up Artsite. We’ll then have Swindon Dance as our finale location.

“Programme-wise it’s also a real mix of stuff – we’ve got some more serious shows, we’ve got a really good feminist show ‘Monstrous’, and we’ve also got some really good kids’ shows. On the other side we’ve got a duo performing Tropez! – they are absolutely hilarious, very tongue-in-cheek.

“The last show of the whole show Fringe, at the Town Hall, has been written for Fringe by a guy called Rob Gee. He’s a permanent Fringe artist who travels the world, and this year he ran out of material to give to us so he wrote a brand-new show – so the premiere of that show will be in Swindon.”

The launch itself proved to be an elegant evening of prosecco, music and street performers. The evening included performances from local band Canute’s Plastic Army, as well as music from Hallelugenia and Flame&Co, and Irish dancing from circus act Madi Worthington. This year the launch also received support from some of The Crossing’s food vendors, – Indy’s, The Burger Priest, Franklin’s and Broccoli Pizza & Pasta – with a bar provided by Swindon-based brewery Hop Kettle.

Speaking at the launch, Matt said: “I don’t actually know who half these people here are, and I think that’s a wonderful thing. All these people here are clearly interested in the arts, and they’re all just coming out of the woodwork.

“At the moment in Swindon lots of people are doing lots of things, but I don’t think they’ve felt that there was a collective and I hope the Fringe is something that can be seen as collective. These are the Swindon bohemians, – we’re like 1800s Paris here, and we’re the people making the art for no money – and that doesn’t just exist in big cities, it can happen in Swindon.

“I’m always nervous before the launch, because I always assume nobody’s going to come because I’m a terrible pessimist. But, from tonight, it’s astonishing. The Crossing was full by half seven, and it’s still full – everyone looks like they’re having a great time. This year it feels like it’s properly landed – you spend years and years building it up, and you feel like no one cares, whereas this year it’s so different – tonight, it feels like ‘we are here’. Seven is a magic number!”

Last weekend saw the popular Groovy Pig Music Festival back at The Victoria, as well as comedic acts ‘Stanley Brookes – I can Make You Rich’ and ‘Step Dad Jokes’ on Sunday evening. The line-up also includes award-winning comedy duo Nathan & Ida in ‘Tropez!’ this evening at Artsite, a “powerful” one-woman show ‘Monstrous’ exploring feminism (11 April, Artsite), The Ocelot’s Comedy Night (11 April, The Victoria) and ‘Everything Wrong With You Is Beautiful’ (12 April, Swindon Dance) from award-winning poet Tina Sederholm.

For the full Swindon Fringe programme, and tickets, visit www.swindonfringefestival.com

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