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+++ Next Scratch Night on Friday 3 February 2023 +++

Salisbury Fringe toasts 10 years!

Salisbury Fringe has just celebrated a decade of staging new work by local writers, performed by a talented and versatile roster of professional actors. The free festival, now in its tenth year, ran throughout the first weekend of the month at venues around the city.

Fringe 2022 kicked off on Friday 30 September at The Pheasant Inn with a pair of funny, provocative dramas. The packed room upstairs saw Rock Paper Scissors by Andrew Thackeray and Down and Out in Salisbury by Pete Talman, two exciting playwrights from the South West. After the show, audience members mingled with the cast and writers in the cosy bar downstairs.

On Saturday morning, Salisbury Library hosted a Storytelling Workshop led by Madeleine Grantham who demonstrated how a simple folktale like The Three Little Pigs could kick-start a piece of creative writing. This was followed by a captivating performance by Madeleine entitled These Woods More Free, in which she conjured up a magical, atmospheric world involving Robin Hood and a mysterious, wise widow.

Next, it was over to The Salisbury Museum for an afternoon dedicated to the life and work of novelist and poet Thomas Hardy. A trio of actors brilliantly brought to life a series of miniature dramatic gems inspired by the museum’s exhibition on the writer. We learned of Hardy the proto-feminist, his strong female characters, and the complex relationships with his first wife Emma who was the subject of most of his poetry and second wife Florence.

The pieces were: The Last Verse by Bryn Strudwick, The Pink Corset Lady by Christine Diment, Distressed Dress by Clare Campbell-Collins, Morning Post by Estelle Phillips, Thanks Mum by Jonathan Edgington, The Letter by Miriam Coley, Fanny and Tommy by Paul Whitby, The Proposition by Pete Talman, Pig-Killing Time by Rachel O’Neill, The Merry Maid of Melchester by Vivian Oldaker, and Her Own Words by Miriam Coley.

In the evening the Fringe’s flagship event, Short Cuts, featured half-a-dozen punchy, entertaining mini-dramas upstairs at The Pheasant: Three into Two by Nicolas Ridley, Can’t Fly by Nicola Rodriguez, Tube Strike by Sally Whyte, Thursday’s Child (an extract) by Clare Campbell-Collins, Wedding Favours by Stephanie Weston, and Phoney War by Pete Talman.

In the six short plays, the bureaucracy surrounding illness, how people relate to robots, and the all-pervasiveness of social media among other subjects were all tackled in amusing and thought-provoking ways.

The festival stayed at the pub for Sunday’s events. First, Sunday Scratch featured an exciting and eclectic mix of standalone pieces plus extracts from full-length works: The Family by Rosie Lewis, Happy Hour by Linda Morse, Kit-Cats and Cider by Rachel O’Neill, and Dear Khrystyna by Estelle Phillips. After each piece, there was an informal Q&A where everyone gave interesting feedback. It was very animated and collaborative and the writers all found the session really useful.

Following that, the hugely popular Monologue Mash provided the traditional finale to the Fringe. In this light-hearted and fast-moving knockout competition, people heard eight monologues on things as varied as an unusual mother-and-daughter meeting, train cancellations, and the three little pigs (again!) but this time from the wolf’s point-of-view. The packed audience voted for their favourite monologues – after a tense battle, Linda Morse emerged as the winning writer with her poignant tale, A Particular Day.

As ever, the Fringe is indebted to the amazing professional actors involved: Geoff Adair, Brooke Camilleri Agius, Dan Avery, Tori Deffee, Alice Hudson, Craig Phelps, Kerry Stockwell, Christopher Wareham, Sally Whyte, and Jan Wyld.

Everyone connected with the festival would also like to warmly thank all the supporters who helped to make the event such a success. Five Rivers made invaluable rehearsal space available at Hale Hall, Salisbury Library provided the venue for the Storytelling Workshop and Performance, Salisbury Museum hosted the Thomas Hardy afternoon, and of course The Pheasant, the hub of the Fringe, a welcoming, friendly pub serving great food and drink which ensured writers, performers, and audience members were well fed and watered throughout the weekend.

Thus another fantastic Fringe concluded. Here’s a toast to the next ten years!

Review by Alex Chambers

Scratch nights return

We are excited to have our scratch nights up and running again, in person! We would love your scripts (see the Submissions page for details) and your company at The Pheasant, Salt Lane, Salisbury SP1 1DT.

The next Scratch night will be Friday 4 November 2022, 7pm. Don’t miss it!

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