Press coverage for Lancashire Fringe Festival 2019
It was a one-man show about a curious sexual fetish which sees buyers on eBay purchase dirty sweaty socks and used tights with their well-earned money.
As one audience member who had travelled to see the show from Manchester asked before the performance commenced: “What else are you going to do on a Monday night except come and see something weird?”
Photographer and journalist Garry Cook welcomed the audience to Worn in an upstairs room at The Stanley Arms in Lancaster Road, Preston saying: “This is going to be quite an experimental night for all of us.”
Members of the audience gave each other critical side-eyed glances – were these people present because they sold intimate secondhand clothing online or had they been drawn into the performance out of intrigue for the trend?
Promotional material released ahead of the show described what to expect of the evening.
It stated: “Worn is a unique, socially-aware show that will give you an insight into other people’s lives and force you to reflect on your own attitudes to sex, society and the British media.”
The show began with Garry spitting words of judgement onto the sellers and buyers who partake in the trend – ‘disgusting’, ‘shame’, ‘shocking’.
It was almost cringe-worthy in its damning nature but there was a point in Garry’s venting to come later.
The brilliance of the show is that there’s no need for Garry to ham anything up. He is droll and the laughs from the audience come when he just states as a matter of fact the various traits of the underworld trade in worn clothing.
It is the absurdity of the fetish which is getting the laughs.
Reading an account from one seller on eBay on how she found herself selling used garments, Garry relates: “I put my foot in the shoe to show the product and that’s when the strange requests came in.
“One [buyer] has just asked me for worn tights with all the trimmings then said he was going to give them to his mum as a birthday present.”
What do trimmings mean? It wasn’t clear but it’s probably not for publication in a family newspaper anyway.
As he slowly uncovers the secret world of selling used and dirty underwear on eBay Garry says: “I don’t know about you but I want to know more. Does this woman do normal things?
“There’s only one way to find out and that’s to ask.”
What he discovers is that yes – the women are normal. Maybe the sales they make on eBay are helping them fund activities or new clothes for their daughters, for example.
But while the requests often have a sexual nature they can also be downright odd – one eBay seller was asked for toenail clippings to come with the socks she was advertising.
Another seller was asked to meet him in Tesco and walk about without shoes on, all of which would be rewarded with money.
In his quest to find out more about what he calls the “fetish fulfillment business” Garry decides to go ahead and buy a pair of used tights himself.
It’s an amusing moment during the performance when he pick up a sword, lit up in gaudy colours, and uses it to brandish a pair of tights so that audience members could get a closer look.
There’s a big moment during the show where Garry points an accusing finger at the British media for the part it plays in dishing out judgement on what behaviour is constituted as shameful, but that will require a ticket – why spoil the twist?
In a final one-liner Garry closes his performance with the words: “Hello, I’m Garry Cook and I buy worn clothes on eBay.”
Behind him appears the legs of a man in bright orange trousers – the very same that Garry is wearing on stage.
His point is that in investigating the trend he has become less judgmental and more sympathetic to people who buy and sell used underwear on eBay. Why should it be perceived as disgusting or shameful?
But the disparity is that there’s nothing weird about buying trousers second hand so his climactic point, although well-meaning, is somewhat lost.
Discussing the performance afterwards Ann Hall, 52, from Kirkham said: “I’m fascinated by people’s private lives. It was a really good introduction into a secret world.
“I entirely clothe myself in clothes from eBay and charity shops to recycle them.”
Giving her thoughts on what she might change about the she added: “I would downplay the use of words like ‘disgusting’. I would be matter of fact about it because the trend speaks for itself.”
Megan Titley’s preview of Worn: Performance in Preston uncovers secret trade in used tights, sweaty socks and other secondhand intimate clothing
Tuesday, Sept 3, 8pm
Skank by Clementine Bogg-Hargroves
Girls just wanna have a clean bill of health. Kate could be a successful writer, if she could just concentrate. Instead, her head is filled with recycling concerns, genius ways to ensnare Sexy Gary, and the persistent fear that her internal organs are against her.
“skank is laugh-out-loud funny, and Bogg-Hargroves reveals a talent for both comedy writing and performance” Hannah Kate, She-Wolf
“Wickedly funny, yet touching, Skank is a play that is a magnificent debut, brilliantly constructed and impeccably performed by Clementine Bogg-Hargroves” Nicola Brierly, The Play’s The Thing
“A constantly funny play” David Cunningham, British Theatre Guide
The Stanley Arms, Lancaster Road
Tickets £8 http://www.wegottickets.com/event/479586
NOTE: This show is also in Blackpool at Bootleg Social on Weds, Sept 4 – tickets: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/479587
Tuesday, October 1, 8pm
Welcome to Paradise by A Ship of Fools
A playful, hilarious and anarchic comedy explores traditional images of Christmas, greed and consumerism.
★★★★★ Northern Soul
★★★★ Broadway Baby
“Master’s of their craft” Porl Cooper – Slung Low
“The cleverest, darkest funniest comedy I think I’ve ever seen” Jonny Unknown
“This shocking and energetic piece of theatre shows bravery and talent.” **** WhatsOnStage
The Stanley Arms, Lancaster Road
Tickets £9 http://www.wegottickets.com/event/479588
Wednesday, October 2, 8pm
My Jerusalem by Avital Raz
A solo performance combining live music with storytelling and projected images. A politically-charged tale of a drunken one-night stand, infused with stories of growing up in the turmoil of 1980s Israel.
“Nothing short of astonishing” Exposed Magazine
The Continental, South Meadow Lane
Tickets £9 (concession £6) http://www.wegottickets.com/event/479645
Tuesday, Oct 8, 8pm
The F**k It Button by Ali Kahn
What makes you press yours? Comedy actor and writer Ali Kahn reveals her f**k it list; how she lost herself in weed and w*nking until she found her spiritual erection. She’ll make you want to f**k it in a whole new way.
Winner – Best Comedy Greater Manchester Fringe
“F**king wonderful show….Kahn lays herself bare…she’s brutally and hilariously honest..” ★★★★★ North West End
The Continental, South Meadow Lane
Tickets £9 http://www.wegottickets.com/event/479649
Tuesday October 15, 8pm
Essex Girl by Maria Ferguson
Kirsty is a sixteen-year-old girl growing up in 00s Brentwood. She also has a secret to tell you. One she can’t tell anyone else. Follow Kirsty’s as she tells you what it’s really like to be an Essex Girl ★★★★ ‘a valuable addition to the current feminist dialogue’ Spy in the Stalls ‘A hilarious nostalgia fest!’ The Play’s The Thing. Show of the Week at Vault 2019.
The Stanley Arms, Lancaster Road
Tickets £9 http://www.wegottickets.com/event/479589
Lancashire Fringe Festival shared this venue with Derelict Mayhem on May 24 at Media Factory, Preston.
Here’s the full list of Derleict artists (and photos by Garry Cook):
KIERAN SPIERS: THE FOUNDATION
The Foundation. Our Foundation. Your Foundation.
In 1991 the Berlin Wall was demolished. On January 25, 2017 Trump gave the order to construct a wall along the Mexican border. A fragmented response to a divided world of walls. Of physical barriers, Of non-physical barricades. The Foundation is a work-in-progress, interactive performance which explores why we build walls. Some would say it is a how-to-build-your-own-wall guide.
MARTHA PAILING: SHEEP NIT
Can a sheep laugh? What happens when it’s tickled? Is it still a tickle if they can’t fully feel it? Basically, can you tickle a sheep and how much are they really enjoying it?
Every morning Tim gets up and tickles himself relentlessly and unsuccessfully. He can’t make himself laugh so he’s started doing it to sheep on the daily. Sheep Nit is a scratch performance exploring the sensations and reactions of ‘a light touch’. Expect involuntary movement, consent and control, a hunger for human touch and the signs of feeling happy.
MAIJA OZOLINA: ROOTS
We all have roots, we think of them or not. People move around our little “global village “, have done it for the length of the human history, and for those who move away from their place of birth, family and familiar environment, those questions: who am I and where do I come from, what are my roots to keep me grounded in this turbulent world? arise a lot. There is not a standard answer to those, it can be sad, bad, hilarious and philosophical, anything. At the same time. What am I doing here? Well, shall we talk about this? It might create even more questions rather than answers. And hopefully some food for thought.
ADAM JOHN ROBERTS
A gender-fluid LGBTQIA+ solo dance work taken from my experience of being a gay man with autism in recent years. One feels that homosexuals who also identify as ‘autistic’ feel socially unaccepted within the LGBT community not because of their sexual orientation, but their invisible disability.
This work is being supported from Ludus Dance through the ‘Occupied’ Associate Artist Scheme.
JODEAN SUMNER & HANNAH WOODS: GESTURES OF CARE/RESISTANCE
The performance explores the cultural disconnect with our bodies. While meditation apps and yoga retreats offer us a way to understand our emotional and physical state, we appear to be more and more alienated from the fleshy, felt fabric of our viscera as it moves us from work meeting, political news report, family gatherings and our lover’s beds.
Through the performance we reunite ourselves with our material being and share it with each other and the audience. The work moves from emphasising the materiality of bodies, to attempting to express the verbally inexpressible, what does illness feel like? What does it feel like to be physically invisible? Finally, the performers attempt to find the pleasure in having a body, how focus on our physicality can be liberating and radical.
HOUMI MIURA: IN THE BEGINNING WOMAN WAS THE SUN
What happens when a Japanese kid grows up with no role models that look at all like her? In the beginning woman was the sun is a 1 woman show that explores the immigrant experience and what it’s like to live in a country that does its best to very politely make you feel like an outsider. As Houmi Miura goes on a quest to find some badass Japanese female heroes from history to pin up as her new poster girls.
ALEX DEACON: NOT ALL MEN
Not All Men is an autobiographical solo theatre show which challenges the concept of Toxic Masculinity and normative gender. Through stand up comedy, spoken word and song. Alex takes us through his life growing up a little differently. The nature of the piece was to look inwardly at my own gender in the hope it would paradoxically look outward. Masculinity is such a contested topic right now and this piece goes some way in challenging the stereotypes that men give ourselves and are labeled. It will question how we raise boys to be men and how society boxes them in to behave a certain way.
PLANT CLUB: HORTI(CULTURE)
Plant Club transports their audience into their gardening safe haven, a place where friendship, absence, growth, suffering and loss become pertinent to the discussion. But most importantly, it is a place to refresh, reflect and relax. The performance pays careful attention to calmness in an otherwise chaotic world as it engages with a fulfilling relationship with nature. Horti(Culture) invites its audience on a journey through the four seasons, which reflects the three performers mental health over the past twelve months. Horti(Culture)’s sensory experience evokes a positive reminder about how important self-care is within today’s society.
KRISSI MUSIOL: WORK IT OUT!
Work It Out! is a live performance exploring motivation, exhaustion, motherhood and the female body. Krissi tries to find the energy to work out (exercise) whilst working things out: Both personal (how to be a mother, how to go to sleep) and political (gender pay gap, Grenfell Tower disaster, Shamima Begum’s citizenship). On stage, a guest performer joins her: A Personal (Arts) Trainer/Birthing Partner, who motivates her to perform.
Krissi draws upon language from The Body Coach whilst attempting to embody Kanye West’s ‘Work Out Plan’, to create her own motivational manifesto in this uninspiring political time. The piece is an exploration of wellbeing and wellness trends, about collective responsibility, about time and how we manage it, about what constitutes women’s work and ultimately, about not giving up.
EMMIE ALDERSON: A PILGRIMAGE FOR SYLVIA
A Pilgrimage for Sylvia, follows the final walk a woman makes, the absence and presence of a dead poet and an unanswered telephone call. This is a performance about obsession, the obsessive pursuit of following someone else’s footsteps contained in the streets of London. Within the depths of this obsessive pursuit Emmie begins to look for herself, within the story that she has created.
This lecture performance investigates how you both re-enact someone else’s history and how you document history and experiences you were not there to witness. During the performance the audience are confronted with the issues of how we remember absent figures and perform our own past.
ALL CHOREOGRAPHERS ARE BASTARDS: DEATH BY JUNE
The intention to build armour whilst simultaneously breaking it, creating systems in order to contextualize the action and physically exhaust. The performance is dogmatic, frustration and tension feature to create a narrative of isolation and exhaustion. These actions interpret my position in austerity Britain. Its naturally Political….The climate of Britain is addressed in an unbiased manner.
FRANCES KAY: DO YOU LIKE MY DRESS?
This body art performance presents the performers reaction to Brexit Britain through the artist’s identity journey. The piece not only explores the feelings of the performer through obvious life-based story-telling and verse, but also holds a suitable message regarding the current uncertain future of the artists due to the unknown effects of Brexit. Wearing a union jack dress the performer tells a story of how the dress relates to different ages and events in her life. She asks, “Do you like my dress?”
Oh! Suburbia! is a one-man avant-garde theatrical review by multi-award winning Bob Karper, mixing film, songs, experimental dance and painfully true stories about unjust childhood punishments, playground heroism, meticulously planned escapes, tragedy and comedy, life and death and everything in between. You’ll love it! Come and see! Bob is not a dancer!
Where are the suburbs of our consciousness? What are the suburbs of ourselves? Multi-award winning raconteur/performance artist/musician Bob Karper has made a brand new, inidividually idiosyncratic show about growing up in the suburban American Midwest*.
When he was a boy, Bob’s world turned upside down. His buttoned-up anti-social plumber father joined the Palos Village Players amateur dramatics company, just as they were workshopping the 1970s phenomenon, Oh! Calcutta! According to Wikipedia: ‘The 1970s phenomenon, Oh! Calcutta! was an avant-garde theatrical revue filled with sketches on sex-related topics and featuring extended scenes of total nudity, both male and female.’ Nine-year-old Bob Jr’s** sheltered suburban life was never the same again…
Oh! Suburbia! presents funny, intriguing, surprising tales of life in our residential outlying districts in the form of an avant-garde theatrical revue, a one-man avant-garde theatrical review, mixing film, songs, experimental dance*** and live musical stories about unjust childhood punishments, playground heroism, meticulously planned escapes, tragedy and comedy, life and death and everything in between. You’ll love it. Come and see.
*In Palos Heights, a southwest suburb of Chicago. **Bob’s father is also called Bob. ***Bob is not a dancer.
Bob Karper is a performer, filmmaker and composer whose solo work features true stories mixed with film, song, projected images and a variety of instruments. Work he’s created has won the Herald Angel, Anti-Fest Best of the Best, Live Theatre New Writing and Empty Space Bursary Awards.
“Like Tom Waits soundtracking The Waltons, Karper is part performance artist, part one-man cabaret.” Neil Cooper, Glasgow Herald
“An unsentimental storyteller with an idiosyncratic and beguiling style” Maddy Costa, Guardian
“His musical talent is immense, his gift for expression impressive… Spare no effort, watch him work” John Lydon, FEST
“A profoundly interesting storyteller” Scotsman
“Karper is a Maestro” Mark Shenton, Stage
See Oh! Suburbia by Bob Karper at Harris Museum, Market Square, Preston PR1 2PP on Saturday May 18, at 8.15pm.
Lancashire Fringe Festival is a FREE event. The festival operates a Pay What You Decide model, where audiences can make an optional donation after the show. No tickets required. Just turn up!
We spend so much time looking at screens that we have begun to miss out on life. So, Ruth is coming to Preston to tell some of the stories she’s heard about love, friendship and families.
Look Up is the party you always wished for as Ruth sets out on a one-woman mission to get people out of their houses and into venues to enjoy life.
Experience songs, poetry and laughter as we all come together to laugh and clap in a room with other people. It will make your life better.
The songs and stories you’d miss if you didn’t look up and listen.
‘Warm and Disarming…HIGHLY RECOMMENDED’ Buxton Fringe
‘She’s a real talent’ ****Broadway Baby
‘Impossible not to be won over by this host’s charm.’ ****One4Review
See Look Up by Ruth E Cockburn at The Ferret, The Ferret, 55 Fylde Rd, Preston PR1 2XQ on Monday, May 20 at 7pm.
Lancashire Fringe Festival is a FREE event. The festival operates a Pay What You Decide model, where audiences can make an optional donation after the show. No tickets required. Just turn up!
May 3, 2019
Performers announced for Lancashire Fringe Festival
Some of the UK’s most hard-hitting, controversial and funny shows are coming to Preston as part of Lancashire Fringe Festival.
Hugely respected names in contemporary performance will play alongside acclaimed poets and award-winning performers, giving the people of Lancashire a unique festival experience – and all the shows are free to attend.
Lancashire Fringe Festival, funded by the Arts Council, will see acclaimed performers like Kate Fox, Louise Orwin, Bob Karper, Joana Nastari, Louise Fazackerley, Lee Mark Jones, Ruth E Cockburn and Katie O’Brien perform across Preston between May 15 and May 24.
The festival aims to engage a wide range of audiences, particularly people who do not usually come and see live shows, and includes everything from comedy and poetry to shows covering complex social issues like addiction, sex work and fracking.
Poet Louise Fazackerley opens the festival at Vinyl Tap on Wednesday, May 15. She will be supported by three poets who she has been working with as part of the festival’s artists development programme.
Several newly-commissioned pieces of work by local artists have also been included in the line up, so regional talent gets a chance to perform to a wider audience. This includes Neil Procter’s Lancashire People’s Theatre who have paired 14 Lancashire-based writers with professional actors to deliver a series of monologues over two nights during the festival.
Preston Central Methodist Church hosts Katie O’Brien’s brilliant Catch 22 Years, which examines addiction in a unique and unexpected performance by the award-winning actress. That is followed by new work from writer Karen Featherstone who is performing I Surrender! for the first time.
The Harris Museum hosts four stunning pieces of theatre on Saturday, May 18, kicking off with Dan de le Motte’s comedy-lecture about the Royal Family and Daily Mail Online message boards, followed by the hotly anticipated Control Pant Symphony by Natalie Wardle and Goth Diary by Karina Azlanova. The night ends with the brilliant Oh! Suburbia! by Bob Karper.
Acclaimed writer and performer Louise Orwin brings her new show Oh Yes Oh No to The Continental on Sunday, May 19. This stunning piece of theatre – hailed as “bold, brave work” by The Guardian – looks at female sexuality, consent and power.
A fantastic double bill at The Ferret on Monday, May 20 sees new work by Lancashire’s Ruth E Cockburn alongside outrageous show A Rock N Roll Suicide by Lee Mark Jones.
Kate Fox brings her hugely successful touring show about strong Northern women Where There’s Much There’s Bras to the Harris Museum on Wednesday, May 22. Also on the same bill that night is Blackpool-based Jo Catlow Morris’ play Nanners With Banners, about the Preston New Road’s anti-fracking nannas.
Poet Benjamin Guilfoyle stops off in the city on Thursday, May 23 at Vinyl Tap to perform. His performance is part of a 12-day walking tour between Lancaster and Brighouse.
And the festival ends in style with hard-hitting show about about strip club workers called F*ck You Pay Me by Joana Nastari. This show is at UCLan’s Media Factory, and is a collaboration with of Derelict Mayhem, a two-day contemporary performance festival of new work.
Lancashire Fringe Festival, created by local producer Garry Cook, is using a Pay What You Decide model, where audiences making an optional donation at the end of each show. Some shows cost over £20 per ticket when performed at other venues across the country.
Preston-based Cook has already put on several one-off shows in the city this year, including pulling off a major coup for the city by persuading poet Hollie McNish to come to the Harris Museum for a sell-out gig in March.
Cook said: “The one-off shows I’ve been doing for the past year have gone down brilliantly with Preston audiences – everyone has loved them. And it’s the audiences who have turned up to these shows – some people come to every performance – who have helped make this festival possible. I can’t thank them enough.
“There are some absolutely stunning shows in the festival. It has taken a lot of work to get some of them here but I’m delighted with the line up, and hope the people if Preston and Lancashire will come and help make this festival a huge success so that we can carry on doing it for years to come.
“I want to encourage people who do not usually see this kind of performance to come to one or two shows and experience something remarkable. All these shows have been chosen not just because of their subject matter but because they deliver a message in a hugely engaging, entertaining and exciting way.
“Even if you think a show covers a topic that doesn’t interest you, you will be blown away by the visual storytelling techniques these artists use. There are some exceptional talents coming to Preston over these 10 days – it’s a wonderful opportunity for Lancashire people to see shows which usually only come to London or Edinburgh Fringe.
He added: “If you turn up, you will experience something that will stay with them for the rest of your life.”
Lancashire Fringe Festival takes place between May 15 and May 24 in various venues across the city. Find out more at enjoyshow.co.uk
FULL SHOW LINE UP
Weds May 15 (venue: Vinyl Tap)
7.30pm The Secret – Louise Fazackerley + Helena Ascough, Richy Integer & Amy Lee Tempest
Thurs May 16 (venue: Stanley Arms)
7.30pm Lancashire People’s Theatre Monologues #1
Fri May 17 (venue: Preston Central Methodist Church)
7pm Catch 22 Years – Katie O’Brien
8.15pm I Surrender! – Karen Featherstone
Sat May 18 (venue: Harris Museum)
7pm From the Message Boards – Dan de la Motte
7.45pm Control Pant Symphony – Natalie Wardle
7.55pm Goth Diary – Karina Azlanova
8.15pm Oh! Suburbia! – Bob Karper TBC
Sun May 19 (venue: The Continental)
7.30pm Oh Yes Oh No – Louise Orwin
Mon May 20 (venue: The Ferret)
7pm Ruth Cockburn
8pm A Rock N Roll Suicide – Lee Mark Jones
Tues May 21 (venue: Stanley Arms)
7.30pm Lancashire People’s Theatre Monologues #2
Weds May 22 (venue: Harris Museum)
7pm Nannas With Banners
7.30pm Where There’s Muck There’s Bras – Kate Fox
Thurs May 23 (venue: Vinyl Tap)
7pm The Wandering Poet – Ben Guilfoyle + Lyndsay Price, Flora Martyr, Rikin Parekh & Lorna Smithers
Fri May 24 (venue: Media Factory, UCLan)
8.15pm F*** You Pay Me – Joana Nastari (part of Derelict Mayhem festival) FREE tickets link: https://cutt.ly/Vrzf5m
Garry Cook is a photographer, writer and producer. He has put on several one-off shows in Preston and his Arts Council-funded Lancashire Fringe Festival takes place across the city this May 15-24, 2019. Follow him at @gazcook
More information available at enjoyshow.co.uk
All the shows can be seen as Facebook events at facebook.com/enjoyshowUK
Photographs available on request.
I’m writing this from the perspective as a fan of the arts. By arts I mean exhibitions, performances and theatre, but not the theatre of big shows and musicals – they leave me feeling a bit empty inside.
This short article is about events – and how important it is to go to them. And when I use the word ‘events’, I mean art and photography exhibitions, live-art performances, contemporary theatre, stand-up comedy, processions and festivals. And I also mean kids play groups, bonfire nights, Christmas festivals, street theatre days or anything you can take your family to, except those god-damn awful fun days in pub car parks where parents get slowly p*ss*d and subconsciously show their kids that alcohol is an acceptable form of addiction.
Why am I writing this? And why do I feel the need to say this?
Most of our lives shuttle along at 100mph without any time to stop and think. If you’re a parent that speed will regularly hit 120mph, or until you’re engine overheats and you have a nervous breakdown (this is similar to doing a phd but you don’t get a job with a university once you’ve recovered). What this means in real terms is that we all have our daily and weekly structures in terms of the things we do, the things we have to do and the things we enjoy doing. And often this does not include going to events like the theatre (adult or children’s) or similar events. For some people, a free festival in a nearby town or a weird little performance in the back of a pub is just not on the radar.
I know this because that was me. I went a dozen years without seeing any type of theatre performance, save for the occasional panto with my kids. Live-art performance festivals, fringe festivals, comedy festivals – it’s not that they weren’t on my radar, I didn’t even know they existed. I was doing other stuff. Like watching television. And drinking.
But here’s the thing. Live events, like those described above, offer something to us as humans mentally that we don’t quite understand. Academics sometimes refer to the effect of art and culture on people as wellbeing. But that does not do justice to the experiences involved.
The best way I can describe it, which most people get, is comparing watching a football match on TV compared to being at an actual stadium. At Old Trafford or Anfield or Holker Street, Barrow (delete as appropriate), there is the extra, intangible ingredient of atmosphere and sense of thrill that can only be experienced in a crowd, as part of a crowd. It’s this feeling that comes from watching events in person that I am talking about.
And it’s this feeling – along with other invisible benefits like nourishment for the soul, mental stimulation, feeling good – which makes going to events of any type hugely important to our wellbeing.
If we’re talking about theatre, there’s two main obstacles here (I could actually come up with six but it gets too complicated talking about social issues and the inaccessibility of some subject matters to a non-traditional theatre audience). The two obstacles are: people thinking theatre is too posh for them; and people (who do go out a lot) preferring to spend their time binge drinking. I can accept that drinking is an experience – and quite a fun one – but when you sit there scratching your blotchy red alcohol-soaked skin, looking back over those nights on the lash stretched across three decades, all those memories merge blur into one. It’s the extraordinary nights which stand out.
And extraordinary nights usually mean seeing Maxine Peake at the Royal Exchange, experiencing the anarchy of spoof magic show Peter and Bambi Heaven at Edinburgh Fringe, learning about social protests at a Mark Thomas gig or spending two hours laughing at Daniel Kitson (he’s the best stand-up comedian in Britain by a mile but does go on the telly so you might not have heard of him. I’d recommend you get seek him out, get on his mailing list and see him live).
But live experience does not end there. There’s also a myriad of processions, dances and performances at festivals up and down the country which can trigger feelings of joy some of you reading this did not even know existed.
The effect of art and culture on the mind is immeasurable. And believe me, I’ve read some reports which have tried to measure it. It’s immeasurable because you can’t measure how someone feels. But what you can do is ask people about their experiences and question your own – and the answer is always the same: art and culture makes us feel good. And that’s why experiencing stuff like this so crucial, especially to those of us a bit worn down by life. The effect could be as quick as the flick of a lightbulb, or it could be a more gentle, slower provocation of thought and feeling. But it will always be good and always be worth it.
There is actually of lot of theatre and performance out there – and a huge amount of it is totally free (both indoor and outdoor events). I’ve seen my fair share of weird sh*t – and you could too. So do yourself a favour, give yourself some memories. Go and see some theatre, or enjoy some live art where, for example, a naked man cellotapes his cock up his backside. Yes, you too could have memories like mine.
There will be some amazing experiences at Lancashire Fringe Festival in Preston, between May 15 and 24. Some of the shows, in my opinion, are by the absolute best performers currently working in Britain today. Can’t quite believe they will be in Preston. And you know what? I’ve organised it all so that it is free to attend. This is your wake-up call – it’s time for you to make some changes in your life.