Swindon-based production company Madam Renard’s has announced a new performing arts mini-fringe festival in Swindon from 5 to 9 April, adding a significant event to the arts calendar alongside the Literature Festival and the Poetry Festival.
Swindon The Opera writer and producer Matt Fox ponders whether this could be an opportunity for Swindon to reinvent itself as a festival town.
“The April Mini-Fringe will be a musical, theatrical and artistic extravaganza and will include performances from Madam Renard’s, TS Theatre and Modern Musicals across a number of different venues including STEAM, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, the Vic pub and at Swindon Dance.
"We’re also going to tie in with the Swindon Recital Series, and there’ll be an artists’ market at STEAM on Saturday 6 April, with performances throughout the day.”
Following his criticism that Swindon Council is pricing community groups and amateur arts organisations out of their buildings, including the Arts Centre, Matt commented: “If you’re going to run arts venues solely as commercial concerns then this is bound to happen. Of course venues need to be financially viable but this shouldn’t rule out interesting arts endeavours and amateur groups who are the life-blood of arts activity in the town. In contrast the private venues I’ve approached have been very supportive.”
As a writer and promoter, Matt is clear that investment is key to the health of a community. He said: “The arts represent this great unwritten thing that has a huge effect on people’s quality of life. If schools and hospitals provide the basics for existence, the arts grab people’s imagination. They make a statement on what life is like, they drive debate and make people think – and that makes life worth living.”
So with a cultural calendar chock-full of enticing arts, music and literature events, could Swindon re-define itself as a festival town? And if so, what would that do for the town centre?
Keep up to date with Madam Renard’s activity by liking their Facebook page, and by visiting their website www.madamrenards.com
Introducing the Madam Renards Mini Fringe!!
Following on from the excellent coverage Swindon arts scene received from Swindon: The Opera (please do look at www.swindontheopera.co.uk for pictures, cast lists and reviews of the show) Madam Renards is thrilled to announce a brand new performing arts festival for Swindon – The Madam Renards Mini Fringe!
The festival will be staged from Friday 5 to Tuesday 9 April 2013 and will feature 7 different theatrical performances, plus music from Swindon bands and musicians, plus an arts market showcasing the best arts, crafts and design work by Swindon’s creative talent.
The fringe is being held across 3 very different Swindon venues – STEAM, The Town Hall Theatre and The Victoria.
The current festival schedule looks as follows…
Friday 5 April – 7.30pm – Hawksworth Hall, STEAM
Madam Renards Mini Fringe Launch Night!
Champagne and Canapés, with music from a whole host of Swindon musicians – plus a Mystery Theatrical Performance, from a special guest theatre company, which is sure to start the festival with a bang!
Saturday 6 April – 10am – The Great Hall, STEAM
Madam Renards Mini Fringe Artists Market – (Free event)
Exhibiting work from a variety of Swindon artists, much of which will be available for purchase. With music from Swindon musicians and children’s entertainment from Madam Renards own children’s music workshops Petite Renardeaux Music Konzerts.
Saturday 6 April – 2pm & 7pm – The Great Hall, STEAM
One Act Play – By Matt Fox. Performed by Madam Renards
A new, comic, one act play exploring the very nature of theatre itself; whilst never taking the subject seriously for a moment. One Act Play is surreal, tragic, warm and funny; playfully abusing theatrical theory and the concept of dramatic intent, whilst creating humanity in a bizarrely inhuman world. (Age recommendation – 14+)
Saturday 6 April – 3pm & 8pm – The Great Hall, STEAM
Oedipus – By Sophocles. Performed by TS Theatre Productions
A distinctly contemporary take on Sophocles’ play, (which was first performed in 429 BC), with all the in your face elements that audiences have come to expect from TS Theatre; a company whose recent productions include, The Pillowman, The Clockwork Orange, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. (Age recommendation – 14+)
Sunday 7 April – 2pm & 7pm – The Town Hall Theatre, Swindon Dance
Madrababes – By Jessie Thompson & Matt Fox. Performed by Madam Renards
A comic and bawdy new musical based on that most ancient of vocal music styles, The Madrigal. With silly humour, cross dressing and lots of general rudeness, Madrababes puts an historical twist on the contemporary jukebox musical…(Age recommendation – 14+)
Sunday 7 April – 4pm & 9pm – The Town Hall Theatre, Swindon Dance
The Last 5 Years – By Jason Robert Brown. Performed by Modern Musicals
An emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two New Yorkers who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. This award winning show employs an unconventional structure, with one character’s story being told chronologically and the other in reverse.
Monday 8 & Tuesday 9 April – 7pm (both days) – The Victoria, Old Town
Nights – By Jessie Thompson & Matt Fox. Performed by Madam Renards
A new operatic adaptation of the Arabian Nights, which toured the south of England during the summer of 2012. Performed by two singers and two instrumentalists, Nights is a very different adaptation of this famous tale, with a distinctly practical, female approach to life and surviving men. (Age recommendation – 14+)
Monday 8 & Tuesday 9 April – 9pm (both days) – The Victoria, Old Town
To Sleep – By Matt Fox. Performed by Madam Renards & TS Theatre
Covering one night in the lives of two suicidal strangers, the play explores how people deal with the most difficult human situations. With warmth, compassion and a fair amount of dark humour, To Sleep shows how relationships can develop between different people no matter how appalling their shared experiences might be.
(Age recommendation – 14+)
We’re very keen for people to be involved in the entire festival and have therefore ensured that no performances are at the same time. We have also created a ticket pricing system with major discounts for multiple show purchases.
The ticket system is as follows:
Single show ticket for any performance, including the Launch Night – £10
Tickets for any two performances in a single session (e.g.. Madrababes and the Last 5 Years on the afternoon [2pm & 4pm] of 7 April or Nights & To Sleep in the evening [7pm & 9pm] 9 April etc.) – £15
The Golden Ticket – Entry to one performance of each show, plus the Mini Fringe Launch Night – £35
Purchase of the Golden Ticket means that each performance seen will cost half the price of a standard ticket. Golden Tickets will be limited to just 70, and will go on sale two weeks ahead of the rest of the festival tickets. Tickets are now on sale.
All tickets are available through Swindon Tickets – www.swindonticket.co.uk, 0844 8221737, 28 Morley Street, Swindon. SN1 1SG
The Madam Renards Mini Fringe is the first in what we hope will be a yearly occurrence in Swindon, and we really hope people will embrace the entire event and come and see every show!
Please see www.madamrenards.com for more information, or call 07876766088.
See you in April!