Over 130 performers, five nights, and a full house twice, the first Hastings Fringe Festival at The Stables Theatre (September 15-19) was an undisputed hit with performers and audience alike. Local actress, director and writer Heather Alexander organised the event to create a platform for emerging and established artists to perform in front of an audience without having to pay for rehearsal space.
Musical interludes and readings took place in the gallery and the bar before and after the performances held in the main auditorium. With such an eclectic range of work, some of which had never been performed, there were bound to be audience favourites. These included the opening night’s, Gli Zii (The Uncles), a wonderfully scored short, silent film about two dysfunctional uncles and their niece, and the visceral and brave, multi-award winning film, Jail Caesar, shot inside prisons with inmates playing many of the lead roles alongside professional actors, which was followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Paul Schoolman and Alice Krige.
Local talent (performers) Penny Pepper and stand up Chris Lloyd provided comedic relief alongside Baghdad’s Got Talent and ‘cinemagicians’ Duo Bogof. On the final day, children’s fantasy author, Kate O’Hearn, and the youth theatre production, Find Me, captured the afternoon audience. Later, Daily Mirror music critic and Hastings resident Gavin Martin kicked off the evening with his energetic spoken word pieces followed by two plays; the intense, A Day in the Life of a Woman, and the dark, two-hander comedy, Kiss Off.
Putting on an event of this scope was never going to be an easy ride, especially given the variety of artists taking part—writers, musicians, poets, comedians and filmmakers. But thanks to the collaborative approach, the hard work of the volunteers running the theatre, and the support of the local community, this inaugural festival should become a permanent fixture on the Hastings events calendar. By Miranda Gavin.