Shaftesbury School Head Boy On Top Form For Fringe Comedy

One of Britain’s youngest stand-up comedians will be the hardest working performer over the Shaftesbury Fringe weekend.

17-year old Jacob Hulland has been writing material for his four shows in between studying for his ‘A’ levels at Shaftesbury School, where he is Head Boy.

Jacob first discovered his talent for making people laugh at school, by impersonating his teachers during a concert four years ago.

His first ‘public’ performance was at Shaftesbury Fringe 2016 and he’s entertained audiences regularly since then.

Surprisingly, Jacob chose comedy to help him overcome his shyness and boost his confidence. “Comedy really throws you in the deep end,” Jacob says.

Both of Jacob’s parents are actors and he says that they have supported and inspired him. “When I was very little I remember dad being on stage and thinking he was so brave. If I’m brave like that then life will be good,” Jacob says.

Although Jacob is a teenager he is confident that older audiences will appreciate his routine.

“I’m 17 but I act like a 55-year-old,” Jacob confides before listing his comic influences, including Eric Morecambe and the late Sir Ken Dodd. “He used innuendo but it was suggestive. He didn’t go all the way,” Jacob muses.

“I don’t like to see a comedian swearing, being negative and pessimistic. People come out to have a laugh.” Jacob says that his shows will be family-friendly.

Jacob Hulland intends to make a career out of comedy. With his determination and devotion, he should achieve the success of his comic heroes.

Nelken Line ‘Flash Mob’ Planned On Gold Hill, Shaftesbury

Do You Want To Feature In A Flash Mob Style Event On Gold Hill? Locals and visitors are being encouraged to head to Gold Hill on Tuesday morning to take part in a ‘flash mob’ style event, being filmed for Shaftesbury Fringe.

Organisers hope the video will be shared thousands of times online and ‘go viral’.

St James Street resident Lizzie Sykes, who works a senior lecturer at Bournemouth University, is arranging a ‘Nelken Line’.

Volunteers who congregate on the iconic hill will be encouraged to make four simple gestures, representing each of the seasons.

“There’s a chilly wintery one and a spring movement, where little grass shots grow. For summer, you make a sun shape with a hand movement. Autumn is represented by a leaf falling from a tree,” Lizzie says. “You don’t need rhythm or coordination. It so simple, it is hard to get it wrong,” she adds.

Filmmaker Michelle O’Brien will coordinate the action, calling out each season as the group descend Gold Hill, accompanied by Louis Armstrong’s ‘West End Blues’.
The late German choreographer Pina Bausch devised these movements in her ‘Nelken’ show. There’s a tutorial video on her foundation’s website at

Lizzie is hoping for a good turnout, although she says the movie will look great, “whether there are five or a few hundred” volunteers on the day.“ The more, the merrier,” Lizzie says.

Videos of groups performing Nelken lines in China, Cyprus and Ireland have been posted online and Lizzie was involved in a recent event at Hengistbury Head.
The finished two-minute movie will be played in a Shaftesbury shop window during Fringe 2018, between 28th June and 1st July.

You’re welcome to join Lizzie for the rehearsal at 10 am on Tuesday 3rd April on Gold Hill. The actual video shoot takes place there at 10 am on Saturday 14th April.

North London Band ‘Hummingbird’ At Shaftesbury Fringe

Chloe Penney’s vocal sound has been compared to Kate Bush. Sometimes she reminds people of Björk. Chloe performs with Adrian Jones as Hummingbird, one of two different groups using that same name at Shaftesbury Fringe 2018.

Chloe’s vocals are very English. There are elements of folk music and sea shanties in the group’s music and the use of a harp adds a Celtic dimension. Chloe talks about their forthcoming gigs at Bell Street United Church on Friday June 29th at 7pm and Bright Blooms at 12 noon on Saturday 30th June.

Kate Dimbleby At Shaftesbury Fringe

Have you wondered what childbirth would sound like if it were a piece of music? You’ll find out at a special Shaftesbury Fringe variety show!

Kate Dimbleby muses on life’s special moments, through songs and repartee. During her 20-year career Kate has played to a full house at the Festival Hall and entertained New Yorkers ‘off-Broadway’. She’s prepared this new show with the respected theatre director who developed the Paddington Bear character for the recent movie.

Kate’s show Sing Happy will debut at Shaston Club at 1.30pm on July 1st, before heading to Edinburgh’s Fringe.

Comedian Winter Foenander At Shaftesbury Fringe 2018

Winter Foenander has been performing on the comedy circuit for seven years. The Hertfordshire-based comedian is bringing his new show By The Power Of Greyskull to Shaftesbury Fringe 2018.

Winter will take to the stage of the Chasten Social Club for an hour-long show starting at 10.30pm on the first night of the festival, Friday 29th June. He’s hoping that the standard of hecklers improves, as he tells Keri Jones.

Kachina Aimee Will Play Her Celtic Harp At Shaftesbury Fringe

Shaftesbury Fringe presents an afternoon of magical music, inspired by spiritual places, myths and Celtic legends. West Knoyle resident Kachina Aimee will return to Fringe to perform on her Celtic harp.

In this interview Kachina explains how growing up in Hawaii and living in the Cranbourne Chase has influenced her composition. Kachina’s 90-minute show is at Bell Street Church at 2.30pm on Saturday, June 30th 2018.

Former Met Police Choir Singer To Perform Political Folk Songs At Fringe

A former Metropolitan Police Choir member will sing songs that encourage social change during his two Shaftesbury Fringe gigs.

Noel Bowman swapped policing London’s toughest beats for the beauty of North Dorset when he retired to Melbury Abbas four years ago.

Noel is passionate about the folk-influenced protest songs that made Joan Baez, Tom Paxton and Pete Seeger famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Guitarist Mike Botterill will accompany Noel at Swan’s Yard on Saturday, June 30th at 11am and at King Alfred’s Kitchen on Sunday, July 1st at 2.30pm.

Fringe podcast voiceover-


Neighbours Star To Peform At Shaftesbury Fringe 2018!

A comedian who starred in the soap opera ‘Neighbours’ is bringing his fast-moving physical comedy show to Shaftesbury Fringe 2018.

Nathan Lang played the character ‘Pinhead’ in the hit Australian series between 1998 and 2000. For the last decade, he’s been performing stand-up around the UK. In his latest show Nathan takes on the guise of ‘The Stuntman’.

“I’ve trained in improvisation and clowning,” says Nathan, who takes to the stage in a distinctive outfit of ‘the tightest day-glo yellow onesie on the comedy circuit today’, along with a silver helmet and matching boots.

Although his material is ‘clean’, Nathan says that the show is aimed at adults and his style of ‘clowning’ shouldn’t be confused with the sort of clown that provides party entertainment for children.


Nathan encourages interaction with his audience and even heckling. His Edinburgh Fringe show brought a particularly memorable response.

Part of his act required him to make animal-like grunting noises. A group of lads mimicked every sound Nathan made, and soon the entire audience was echoing his sounds.

Nathan says he can never predict what he’s going to do or talk about during the show. “Part of the art of clowning is to be responsive to the audience,” he says, adding, “It is a form of total idiocy for everyone’s amusement, pursuing ultimate entertainment in every moment with the audience.”

You can expect to see ‘The Stuntman’ dashing around the stage during his 50-minute set. “It is physical and I work up quite a sweat,” Nathan says.

Nathan’s unsure whether his ‘Neighbours’ fame is a help of a hindrance in his current comedy career but he accepts that the popularity of the series piques interest in his show.

He says that his working experience in TV drama helped him craft his confident stage presence.

Nathan says he’s looking forward to offering something unique at Shaftesbury Fringe. “I love it when people say I’ve never seen a show like that before,” Nathan says.

But most of all, the comedian says he enjoys the immediacy of live performance.
“I get a lot of satisfaction when a show ends and I sense that everyone has had a lot of fun,” he says.

Nathan Lang will entertain at The Shaston Social Club at 3pm on Saturday 30th June. Admission is £8.

The Dilemma – A Sci-Fi Radio Play At Shaftesbury Fringe

Fans of science fiction and radio drama are in for a treat at Shaftesbury Fringe 2018! Enmore Green based writer Sebastian Hayes has written another radio play. The Dilemma will be performed at The Mitre at 2.10pm on Sunday, 1st July.

Listen to Sebastian talk about the plot and the success of the play that his group performed during the 2017 Fringe.

Tisbury Acoustic Duo Hummingbird Return to Shaftesbury Fringe

In 2017, people attending Shaftesbury Fringe voted Hummingbird the ‘Best In Fringe’ and the ‘Best Popular Music’. Fans of the Tisbury-based duo will be delighted to discover that Charlie Greenwood and Liz Coyle-Camp will perform their popular acoustic set of pop, folk and blues twice during Fringe 2018.

Keri Jones spoke with Charlie about the forthcoming show and Hummingbird’s influences.

Shaftesbury Fringe Partners With Young People’s Careers Project

Shaftesbury Fringe organisers have partnered with a project to help Dorset youngsters unlock their creative potential.

Advisors from The Arts Development Company support 15-24 year old locals who are not in employment, education or training as part of the Face Forward project.

Their staff meet with young people on a one-to-one basis to help them develop their skills, boost self-confidence and develop a bespoke plan for personal growth.

So far three Face Forward participants will be working with the annual Fringe event, allowing the youngsters to assess whether they want to pursue a career in the creative arts.

16 year old Tyana and Ben, who is 18 years of age, are set to perform a gig at Angola 76 on Sunday 1st July following their successful performances in Sturminster Newton and Dorchester.

Tyana will sing hits made famous by Amy Winehouse and Ed Sheeran to Ben’s guitar accompaniment. The project will provide a professional musician to mentor the duo.

Shaftesbury Fringe team members will also be offering placements to two young people who want to develop their keen interest in photography. They will be taking pictures during the 3-day event, to assess whether they would like to pursue a career with cameras.

Luciana Vega, Face Forward advisor for North Dorset, says, “The project aims to help young locals who have fallen through the cracks.”

Luciana adds, “We want to help make their dreams reality.”

Sue Allatt, Co-chairman of Shaftesbury Fringe says, “Fringe is a true community event and we’re honoured to be able to help local young people develop their special skills and talents as part of our friendly and inclusive performance arts festival.”

Shaftesbury Fringe 2018 is held at various town venues from Friday 29th June until Sunday 1st July.

The Arts Development Company work with Ansbury Guidance. The European Social Fund and The Big Lottery fund the Face Forward project.

Shaftesbury Fringe 2018 Podcast – The Bard Of Windmill Hill

Shaftesbury Fringe 2018 announces an evening of topical, political poetry and satire on July 1st 2018. Some people have found The Bard Of Windmill Hill’s act provocative. We guarantee that his words will make you think!

The Bard delighted audiences at the 2017 Barnstaple Theatre Festival. Listen to the Bard describe his show and explain why you need to be there!

Fringe voiceover – Natalie Cooper

New For Fringe 2018 – Shaftesbury’s Walled Garden Of Sound

Shaftesbury Fringe performers will be able to pick another new venue for their show – a garden centre in the heart of the town.

Fringe’s venue list already includes a range of premises of all shapes and sizes including pubs, coffee shops, estate agents, Shaftesbury Abbey and a hairdressing salon.

Nick Andrew, owner of Shaftesbury’s boutique garden centre, The Potting Shed, is now making his outdoor area available for acts.

“I think that my Victorian walled garden could provide a really atmospheric place for a music performance,” enthuses Nick.

“Perhaps a folk, country-influenced or acoustic band would make the most of the setting,” says Nick, adding, “This large garden space could prove more challenging for a more intimate performer, such as a poet, but I’m open to ideas.”

Nick says he was impressed by the range and quality of acts that entertained the crowds at last year’s Fringe. He attended a stand-up comedy show at the Shaftesbury Arts Centre and he enjoyed the three bands that he saw perform at nearby Swan’s Yard.

“So many people walk past the shop from Swan’s Yard to Bell Street and they have no idea that I have this large walled garden area behind the store,” says Nick, who is now encouraging acts to call in and view this outdoor venue.

Nick is a qualified horticulturalist and he spent 15 years working for national garden centre companies on the Dorset coast before taking over this Shaftesbury town centre business last year.

“Fringe is very much part of the Shaftesbury community and as a local business owner, I really want to support this event,” Nick says.

Naturally, you’d expect anyone who has pursued a long career in gardening to consider our British summertime weather when making arrangements.

“I have a plan B,” laughs Nick. “I am prepared to move the chairs from the lawn to the gravel area if it has been raining,” he says.

The Potting Shed is open between Tuesday and Saturday from 9.30am to 5pm.

Shaftesbury Hairdresser Putting On Fringe Show In Salon

A Shaftesbury hairdresser will swap trimming fringes for a Fringe performance when she sings in the salon where she works.

Joni Clowrey has formed the group Belle Street with Susan Grant from Shaftesbury and Charlie Greenwood from Tisbury. The trio will sing a selection of songs from the shows in a Saturday evening performance at Sloane’s Bespoke Hair.

“We’ve put together our own twist on some of our favourites from the musicals. We’re performing a mix of classic and contemporary songs from a range of genres, with close harmonies,” Joni says.

The women have been singing together for a year, since they took to the stage for a cabaret performance at Shaftesbury Arts Centre.

Whilst barbershop quartets have been popular for decades, sassy show tune singing in a salon is something new for Shaftesbury Fringe and could be a UK first!

Sloane’s manager Louise Crowley agreed immediately to Joni’s request to use the business as a venue. “Fringe is a real community event. Our salon is a wonderful, stylish space with great lighting. It’s perfect and I said yes straight away,” Louise adds.

The gig will be ‘standing room only’ and the available spaces are expected to be taken quickly on the night. “Many of my clients will be coming along. I can’t wait,” Joni says.

Belle Street will perform at Sloane’s Bespoke Hair on The Commons, Shaftesbury as part of Shaftesbury Fringe at 7.30pm on Saturday 1st July. Admission is free.

A Day Of Free, Family Fun At Shaftesbury Fringe 2018

Shaftesbury Fringe will offer free entertainment for the entire family this year. Organisers of the West Country’s fastest growing performance art festival are planning a devoted children’s hub, for the first time.

“We’re finalising the details of some really exciting entertainment for both parents and youngsters,” says Fringe Committee Member Georgie Kirby.

“Some of the children’s hub highlights will include a singsong with a choir, children’s theatre and interactive workshops. The kind support of our local sponsors will allow us to host a day-long programme of children’s activities at no charge,” Georgie says.

Fringe Co-Chair Natalie Evans says that the volunteers arranging the third annual Fringe were keen to add events specifically for younger residents and visitors.

“Fringe should be a celebration that our entire community can look forward to and enjoy,” says Natalie. “That’s why we’re planning six hours of non-stop family entertainment in the beautiful Abbey Gardens from 10am on Saturday 1st July.”

“As Shaftesbury’s foremost heritage site, the Abbey welcomes the opportunity to be a part of this fantastic community event for the benefit of the townspeople,” says Annabel Turner, Administrator at Shaftesbury Abbey. “The beautiful gardens are a safe green space, perfect for children’s activities and performances. We hope visitors will enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and learn about the Abbey’s story while they are here,” Annabel adds.

The Fringe team is now encouraging children, parents and guardians to share their ideas and suggestions for activities for the Children’s Hub by email to

Miranda Pender Talks About Her 2018 Shaftesbury Fringe Show

Dorset-based singer-songwriter Miranda Pender talks about her forthcoming show of observation-filled folk music at Shaftesbury Fringe 2018. If you’ve ever bought your partner flowers from a petrol station, you should listen to Miranda’s interview!

Miranda has established herself as a popular performer, delighting audiences with her entertaining mix of words and music. Miranda will perform in the conservatory of Turnbull’s Deli at 2.30pm on Saturday 30th June 2018.

The fringe voiceover on the podcast is local voiceover artist Natalie Cooper –

Stu Turner Offers Tips On Preparing For Your Fringe Show

Are you a comedy, cabaret or variety performer? Magician Stuart Turner explains what the Shaftesbury Fringe team is doing to encourage acts to take part in the annual festival, running from 29th June to 1st July 2018. 

In our podcast Stu offers tips on preparing for shows. He also suggests how artists can make money from their appearances.

Listen to our podcast where Stu explains much more:

Locals Asked To ‘Phone A Friend’!

Do you have a friend or relative who can sing, perform stand-up or poetry? Performers’ registration has now opened for Shaftesbury Fringe 2018, which is being held from Friday 29th June to Sunday 1st July.

“We want to put on the biggest range of acts in Shaftesbury Fringe’s three-year history,” said Co-Chairman Sue Allatt. “And we are particularly keen to encourage local performers as well as those from other parts of the UK. So everyone in North Dorset can play their part by ‘phoning a friend’ and encouraging them to register.”

With no minimum or maximum age limit, any form of performance is welcome at Fringe – from dance to opera, magic to drama and singer-songwriters to impressionists.

The committee is hoping that locals who are inviting friends to the Fringe will also help by offering them a bed during the festival. “We know that accommodation will be booking up rapidly in the New Year. We want to save as many hotel and guesthouse rooms for the Fringe visitors or artists who don’t have local connections,” says Sue.

Fringe organisers have made the process even more straightforward for 2018. Performers and artists can pay the small registration fee and secure their place on the Fringe programme in one easy transaction. “The website is linked up to PayPal and that allows online booking for anyone with a bank or credit card. You don’t have to be a PayPal account holder,” said Co-Chair Natalie Evans.

The Shaftesbury Fringe website lists all the venues taking part in the 2018 event, so performers can find a space that will work best for their type of show. Venues range from intimate rooms, like estate agent Gilyard Scarth’s High Street offices, to larger performance spaces such as the Shaston Club. There’s a step-by-step guide to the process here.

Shaftesbury’s Fringe Benefits Business

Shaftesbury’s Fringe Festival is good for the local economy. That’s according to business owners who hosted performances during this summer’s three-day programme of music, theatre and comedy.

Hundreds of people attended the second annual Shaftesbury Fringe, between 30th June and 2nd July.

John Morgan says the Fringe made a positive difference at his café bar, Angola 76. We were, “exceptionally rammed,” he said, adding that he’ll be increasing his bar capacity for Fringe 2018. “I want Fringe every weekend!” joked John.

He believes that Shaftesbury Fringe is giving Frome and Bruton, “a run for their money.” Before Fringe, he felt that the Somerset towns’ arts events had, “stolen a march on Shaftesbury.” John said that he is, “very proud of Shaftesbury for doing such a good job,” with Fringe.

The Ye Old Two Brewers’ large beer garden provided the perfect band performance venue and landlady Sally Francis said Fringe was “great” for her business. “We were extremely busy.”

Sally believes this year’s event attracted many visitors from outside the area. “I think the Fringe brought a lot more people into town. Many people turned up with programmes,” Sally said. “Anything that brings tourists in to see our lovely part of the world is good,” Sally added.

Vicki Hudson manages The Mitre Inn. Vicki noticed that many customers attending the Fringe performances in the pub’s Valley View back room weren’t locals. “I do think it was our busiest weekend of the year,” Vicki said.

Swans Yard manager Dave Martin has credited Fringe for, “the biggest and best weekend I have seen in the yard in 15 years.” Dave says he has no doubt that the festival is good for Shaftesbury. “Saturdays are usually our quieter day but during Fringe you could feel the buzz in town. The cafe here was full from 9.30am until 5.30pm. We had great bands and superb footfall. I can’t praise it enough,” Dave said.

An estate agent’s office might not be an obvious live music venue, but Richard Keenlyside, director of Gilyard Scarth, says he was pleased to offer a performance space and was “delighted” by the feedback he’s received following Anne-Louise Richards’ gig.

Richard says he’s been told that his impressive Victorian building offers excellent acoustics. “People were standing outside, too,” Richard said. Next year, he says he’ll arrange additional seating.

Richard’s firm also sponsors the Fringe signage. “We support the Fringe, which supports the town, which then supports business. It’s all interconnected,” Richard said.

Natalie Evans, Co-Chair of Shaftesbury Fringe 2018 Committee says she really appreciates the feedback from the business community. “Our team are all volunteers who are passionate about our incredible town. We want to showcase Shaftesbury and also support local businesses. It is the best way to ensure our town remains a vibrant community and a wonderful place to live and work.”

Natalie said she’d love to talk with any businesses that would like to be part of next year’s Shaftesbury Fringe, taking place from 29th June to 1st July 2018. You can contact her on

Tourism Bosses Say ‘Book Now’ For Shaftesbury Fringe 2018

Shaftesbury’s tourism leaders are advising people who want to visit the town for Fringe 2018 to book their accommodation early.

The third annual Shaftesbury Fringe Festival will take place from 29th June to the 1st July 2018.

David Taylor, Director of Shaftesbury Tourist Information Centre, says that weekend is a popular wedding date and accommodation spaces in and around the town can get block booked.

Chairman of Shaftesbury Tourism Association, Anne Giberson, recommends that Fringe visitors search to find guesthouse, hotel, self-catering or camping places.

“There’s a map that displays how close our members’ accommodation is to the town Fringe venues,” said Anne. “It’s possible to check availability and book some properties online too.”

Anne feels that Shaftesbury Fringe has the potential to boost visitor numbers and says the “amazing” event “has become better and better each year.”

Joint-Chair of the Fringe committee, Sue Allatt, says that the Fringe weekend is a great time for visitors to discover Shaftesbury on a short break.

“In 2018 we’ll be offering a bigger programme of events featuring talented local artists and performers from across the country. On Sunday, the traditional Gold Hill Fair will be another highlight of the weekend. Fringe is delighted to be working again with the fair’s organisers, the Rotary Club. Together, we’ll offer three packed days of entertainment, which will be worth visitors traveling to,” Sue said.

Calling Street Performers And Buskers To Shaftesbury Fringe 2018!

Calling all street performers and buskers to Shaftesbury Fringe 2018.

There’s no need to pay a registration fee, simply email Kate on to register your interest.

Kate says, “We want to create an exciting buzz in the streets as well as inside our venues. We will promote you on our website and socials – so a great opportunity for some free publicity.”

Keri Jones

Looking after: Press & publicity


About: Keri has a long track record in media management, running several award winning local radio stations. He lives in Shaftesbury and currently produces and presents a weekly radio travel and holiday programme – The Great Destinations Radio Show – which airs on seventy UK radio stations.

Wild Camping At The Shaftesbury Fringe!

If you haven’t already booked your accommodation, here’s an idea for you… why not enjoy a proper festival experience by booking your pitch at our official Shaftesbury Fringe Wild Campsite! Holyrood farm is located a short walk from the town centre with The Two Brewers pub (one of our many fringe venues) on route. And with a communal fire pit to enjoy there will be opportunities for entertainment round the fire in the evenings too.

Local farmer Jason Perry will be your host and will make sure you are well looked after with sausages and bacon available to buy for breakfast along with fire pit hire and wood. With spectacular vale views from Holyrood’s working farm you will see sheep and cattle, alpacas and possibly the odd badger if you’re lucky. You’ll even be able to spot Glastonbury Tor on a sunny day. Wild camping doesn’t get any better than this so pack up your tent and come on down!

£15 per pitch per night. Book your pitch here!

60 Seconds with…Jacqueline Kroft!

The beautiful and amazingly talented Jacqueline Kroft tells us about perfect parents and learning scales on both hands…

Q: How did you first discover your talent?

A: When I was 10 years old, I had my first  fell in love with the piano.
Q: Which three words best describe your act?

A: Passionate, quirky and evocative.

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?

A: Around 700.

Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

A: My parents couldn’t be replaced by anyone!
Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow performer?

A: Learn my scales in both hands on the piano.
Q: Will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017? What’s the plan?

A: Yes and I’m really looking forward to it! Playing at the Grosvenor courtyard, on 1st July 7PM

You can find out more about Jaqueline here on her website. Thanks Jacqueline!

Sssh! It’s The BIG Shaftesbury Silence!

You’ve probably heard of ‘The Big Quiet’ which takes place in New Yorks Central Park, well now we have ‘The Big Shaftesbury Silence…’
Carol Guppy, Mindfulness & MSC Teacher said, “I was delighted to have been asked to facilitate the first-ever ‘Big Shaftesbury Silence’ in the beautiful contemplative setting of Shaftesbury Abbey.”

If you fancy some time out during all the fun of the fringe, please come along and join in with a community open-air meditation within the ancient stones of the Abbey Grounds.
Free, donations for Shaftesbury Abbey. And don’t forget to bring cushions or blankets to sit on. There will be some chairs available.

Carol Guppy works from ‘The Space’ The Commons, Shaftesbury and you can find out more about Carols work here. See you there!

60 Seconds with…Anne-Louise!

We talk to the Shaftesbury based folk singer about classical concerts and middle earth. Here’s 60 seconds with Anne-Louise…

Q: How did you first discover your talent?

A: I’ve always been singing, ever since I was tiny. I daresay I even tried having a little sing whilst still in the womb!

Q: Which three words best describe your act?

A: Inviting, friendly, familiar.

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?

A: A few; a small gig here and there, a couple of classical concerts, fundraisers…my favourite by far and away was the first classical concert I hosted two years ago to raise money for “Children’s Chance”, a Salisbury-based charity that first funded my singing lessons when I was 13. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to give something back.

Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

A: Tough question. I think it would be pretty good to have Aragorn and Arwen from Middle-earth as parents. the bonus is, I’d be in Middle Earth!

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow performer?

A: “If you’re nervous about looking at your audience, focus on a point beyond them first to clear your head.”

Q: Will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017? What’s the plan?

A: I will indeed! I hope to be performing in two places, a gig at Shaftesbury Wines on the 2nd of July at 1pm and on the same day in Gilyard Scarth at 6pm. I hope to have a lovely audience to perform to!

You certainly will, thanks Anne-Louise!

Photo credit: Marcus Photography

60 Seconds with…Sebastian Hayes!

We are very excited to be welcoming local science fiction writer Sebastian Hayes back to the Fringe this year for some more mind blowing entertainment. For now, read on for a 60 second taster…

Q: How did you first discover your talent?

Local Talent Competition at age 12, prize for reciting a poem (“The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare)

Q: Which three words best describe your act?

There are two acts. Three words to best describe Transmissions from the Future :  Uncanny, thought-provoking and original. For playreading Besieged:  Tense, penetrating and plausible.

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?

Many. Favourite was perhaps a public storytelling at The Earth-House of my folk tale The Island of Gulls at a weekend celebrating Viking culture.

Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

Humphrey Bogarte and Ingrid Bergman.

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow performer?

Don’t overdo it.

Q: Will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017? What’s the plan?

Yes. I am repeating last year’s Transmissions from the Future  based on my unfinished SF novel The Web of Aoullnnia ― but with a different excerpt read and presumably different questions from the audience addressed to Yilkin I. Isellyion via a space-time link on Saturday 1st July at 4 pm. The second will be a play reading of my One Act psychological thriller Besieged at Turnbull’s again on Sunday 2nd July at 11am. I, along with other local actors and actresses, will be performing.

You can follow The Web Of Aoullnnia here. Thanks Sebastian!

60 Seconds with…Col Howarth!

We talk to the smiling assassin about The Edinburgh Fringe, coin tricks and Stan Laurel in drag. Here’s 60 seconds with Col Howarth…

Q: How did you first discover your talent?

When I was around 7 years old I’d discovered I could balance coins on my elbow and successfully achieve the elbow coin snatch. Over time I rigorously trained myself to snatch a good 12-15 coins at once. I was so excited that I demonstrated it in class as a thing to show my classmates. I’ve been able to do it ever since. Is this what you meant?

Q: Which three words best describe your act?

Energetic, quirky and fun.

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?

As a stand-up I’ve performed almost 300 times in a variety of rooms, clubs, tents and fields but End to End is actually my debut full show. By the time I reach Shaftesbury I’ll have performed a lot of previews of it and will have performed the show at the Bath Comedy Festival and the Ludlow Fringe, and I will also be going on to do the Cardiff Comedy Festival and then The Edinburgh Fringe in August.

My favourite performance of the show has to be the first time I performed it in Cardiff: on home soil, in front of a big supportive audience and in a great venue. It is quite a visual show so it was amazing to bring the tech together for the first time. It couldn’t have had a better response. It has been a fun show to write and perform, and according to audiences so far, great fun to watch.

As well as this, in the first half of 2017 I have been tour-MC for a show that has been playing at small theatres and arts centres around England and Wales. To be invited to MC a tour is a great compliment and some of the theatre gigs have been amazing!

Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

Stan Laurel (mum) and Les Dawson (dad)

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow performer?

Write as much for yourself as for an audience, because if you enjoy performing your stuff then you will bring the audience along with you.

Q: Will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017? What’s the plan?

Oh yes! I’ll be there alright! The plan is to perform End to End at the Grosvenor Arms on Sat 1st July at 3pm. It is a ‘pay what you like’ show – millionaires welcome. I was going to book the library (20 seats) but was steered towards the Assembly Room (70 seats) so I hope people will come and see my quirky and uplifting debut show about what happens when you look up and engage, and let the moment in. It would mean a lot!

You can follow Col Howarth here on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks Col!

(Looking forward to seeing the coin snatch trick!)

Street Performers & Buskers – Free registration!

If you’re a busker or street performer and fancy a trip to Shaftesbury fringe festival this July then we want to hear from YOU!

This is a great opportunity if you’re looking to build an audience and grab some free publicity as we can offer:

– Great pitches set aside specifically for busking

– An established event with a large attendance

– A friendly town with a great atomosphere

– Plugs on social media to help build your audience

There’s no need to register on our website or pay a registration fee, simply email Natalie if you would like to book one of our allocated pitches around town.

Alternatively, you can just turn up over the weekend and take a chance but if you do let us know in advance you can take FULL advantage of the benefits listed above.

So, what are you waiting for? Email now for more information.

60 Seconds with…Sam Fraser!

We ask journalist and presenter, Fortysomething Fan Girl, a few probing questions…

Q: How did you first discover your talent? 

It remains for the audience to decide if I have one! I have been presenting for BBC Radio Solent and BBC South TV for more than ten years and I began blogging as ‘Fortysomething Fan Girl’ last year. My blog has been well received and taking FFG out on the road is the next step in her evolution!

Q: Which three words best describe your act? 

Interesting. Fun. Funny. (See Question 5)

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite? 

‘Good Things Will Happen’ is Fortysomething Fan Girl’s debut show and she is very much looking forward to it. I have had my own show on BBC local radio but talking to an audience from the safety of a dark studio is a very different experience from seeing the whites of the eyes!

Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

The Moomins would be great parents. I could totally buy into their lack of body consciousness.

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow performer? 

The comedian Reginald D Hunter tells me comedy is very straightforward. I just have to be interesting, fun and funny. (Easy for him to say.)

Q: Will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017? What’s the plan?

I will be performing at Turnbull’s on Saturday at 6pm.

You can follow Sam’s blog here and also on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks Sam!

60 Seconds with…ScuttleShake!

We ask the award winning, acoustic four-piece to put down their instruments and answer some serious questions…

Q: How did you first discover your talent?

We were a bunch of friends who had all enjoyed playing music individually and we thought we’d give it a go playing as a band, just for fun. And we discovered we really do have fun!

We got a lot of encouragement from the guys at Coda Music Trust – a music charity on the Dorset/Hampshire border – to start playing live, and we did our first public performance in one of their regular acoustic evenings.

Over time we got a bit braver, performing more frequently to a real mix of crowds – who have generally been incredibly positive and supportive – and we eventually made our first EP/CD ‘Kindling’ a year ago (shameless plug: the CD is available by emailing us via our Facebook page!).

Q: Which three words best describe your act?

Relaxed, folksy, country-ish

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?

We haven’t played loads of shows but we played regularly throughout 2015 & 2016, and performing in the 1st Shaftesbury Fringe Festival was certainly one of the highlights – not just because we won an award! We played in the Mitre which was a lovely venue with a really nice acoustic and a very intimate feel, and the audience was great.

We also loved playing at the Purbeck Folk Festival and more recently had a fabulous time at the Bristol Bluegrass & Americana Festival which had such a knowledgeable, listening, generous audience and a great sound system.

Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

Moominmamma and Rose from the Golden Girls. Just because.

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow performer?

‘Don’t let anxiety limit you’ and ‘playing music is like baking – we all make mistakes doing it, but the art is in how quickly you recover’.

Q: Will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017? What’s the plan?

You bet! We’re playing at the Mitre again, on Saturday 1 July at 2pm. The plan’s pretty simple – play some old favourites and some new songs and hope to have as much fun as last time!

You can follow ScuttleShake on Facebook. Thanks ladies!


Black Pig Safari Tent Retreats – Glamping at the Fringe!

If you’re planning to stay in Shaftesbury for the fringe festival and fancy something a little bit different, look no further.

Black Pig Retreats is the vision of Clive and Carolyn Bourchier who bought the farm and it’s surrounding 37 acres back in 2010. Clive and Carolyn’s aspirations have steered this unique project and taken glamping to a whole new level. Three luxury themed safari tents, plus an eco-friendly straw building conference hall, now sit comfortably in the south-facing wildflower meadow, each with en suite facilities complete with a flushing toilet and hot shower.

“When I first walked down to the woods and discovered the brook I knew it was a special place and I knew it had to be shared,” said Carolyn, as we strode across the pretty meadow to explore the tents. The star attraction of this small holding is Beauty the Large Black pig (although she thinks she’s a dog) who inspired the name of the site. The beautifully styled tents, Murciano, Mukota and Gascon, are named after breeds of black pigs that reside in the countries the tents are named after.

Wheelbarrows are provided to transport your luggage over the little bridge to your safari tent so cars are kept hidden from view in the tree lined car park below.

Mukota is a spacious safari tent sleeping four with an earthy African theme. The south-facing deck looks out across the large meadow to a woodland trail that takes you around the farm and into the village. This tent sleeps four very comfortably in a king-size double bed and twin beds. The cosy wood-fired range keeps the tent toasty warm out-of-season and the kitchen is well-equipped with a two-ring gas hob, sink with plenty of hot water and a fridge.

Mukota’s en suite facilities are in a sturdy horse-box at the back of the tent accessed via an enclosed walkway. This fully insulated horse-box contains a double shower, wash-basin, flushing WC and heated towel rail. Two further safari tents, Murciano and Gascon, can be found in the meadow above and each sleeps 6.

“The eco-barn, which is in the same meadow as Mukota, would provide an ideal rehearsal space for Fringe performers staying on the site”.

Carolyn’s attention to every detail is exceptional but at the heart of it all is her incredible repose. Carolyn works with troubled horses and believes they deserve to be treated and supported in the same way as the humans that care for them.
“To create a natural bond, we must approach the horse as equals. Neither horse nor human should be submissive, and neither should be dominant. A horse needs us to be honest and trustworthy so he feels safe. We earn his trust by being consistent, open and respectful.”

Horse or human, Bittles Farm is somewhere you can kick off your shoes and truly be yourself. Heaven!

Bittles Farm in Motcombe: 1.4 miles from Shaftesbury.

For more information and to check availability over the fringe festival weekend you can contact Classic cottages here.

To read more about Carolyn’s work with horses: 

60 Seconds with…Frank Pickering!

As well as writing novels and short stories Frank is also a musician and prize-winning poet. Here’s 60 seconds with Frank…

Q: How did you first discover your talent?

I have always loved words and stories. My poem, below, explains some of their appeal to me.


Everything reeks.
Plasticine and ink, boiled dinners, Dettol and sick.
The Beacon Readers too (waxy, oily)
Scattering stuttering light
On the labyrinth of language.
“Baby likes Rover.”
I read “licks”. My parents laugh.
I see that words are weasily. Books can bite.

“Crocodile Tears” (lost on me),
A book to reassure the nervous child
Before a visit to the dentist
Leaves me afraid of both dentists
And crocodiles.
For weeks I will not put my feet
Down the end of the bed
Where all those teeth await.

Ignorant, impressionable and ill-equipped,
I blunder into unknown words and worlds.
Those adventurous children
Who have cream on their porridge
(We never have cream on anything)
And go home for the hols.
(Home from where?)
What is a pirrot? (Spelled ‘pirate’, heard ‘pirrot’)
And why does Christmas Future
Wear an extinguisher as a hat?
(Hefty red cylinder, hose attached –
I know no other.)

In truth I do not expect or desire answers.
The alien, exotic and (frankly) bonkers
World in books is what I crave,
Not gritty realism.
Cold bedrooms, bullying, poverty, boredom,
I can live that.
But under the covers,
Lit by a failing bicycle lamp
I watch Bill the lizard
Crash into cucumber frames
(What are those?),
Smell tropical spices in “Dream Gold”
(Why are the boys sleeping at school?)
And wonder why William’s family
Wear such weird clothes.

Our roadside ‘School’ sign
Is emblazoned with a torch.
I have no idea why.

Q: Which three words best describe your act?

Informative. Entertaining. Digressive.

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?

As a poet – hundreds. As a fiddle-player – hundreds. As a newly-published author of a modern gothic novel – none, although I expect to have performed twice before the Fringe date. My favourite musical performance was playing on the back of a steam traction engine through the streets of Tavistock.
Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

John Jarndyce from ‘Bleak House’ and Mary Poppins.

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow performer?
It’s your choice to be there. Enjoy it and so will the audience.
Q: What will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017? 

It will be a one-hour presentation and signing of my newly-published novel, ‘Ice’, in the Gold Hill Museum at 2.30pm on Saturday July 1st.

And you can follow Frank here on Twitter. Thanks franks!

60 Seconds with…..Paul Lawless!


Q: How did you first discover your talent?

Well, I remember really wanting to sing at a young age which resulted in me joining a church choir. Following this, I joined a Musical Theatre society (WOW Youth Musical Theatre, Weymouth) and this introduced me to Acting, which I fell in love with. I still incorporate song and music into my theatre-making work, these days.

Q: Which three words best describe your act?

Fun. Honest. Insightful.

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?

I have no idea. We’re talking over 150, professional performances I reckon. 28 consecutive performances at the Pleasance Dome for the EdFringe (2015) was pretty awesome.

Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

I’m going to go with celebrities on this one – Caitlin Moran and Charlie Brooker.

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow


As a theatre maker – don’t shy away from being honest. As an Actor – strive to be as authentic as possible, with a performance.

Q: Will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017? What’s the plan?

I will be performing Appily Ever After – a one-man, performance piece centred around my experiences app-dating which utilises projection to illustrate my experiences. The show blends original song, spoken word and explores themes including app-addiction, disillusionment and assault. I have developed this piece as part of my Practitioner in residence role at Bay Studios (Weymouth College).

You can follow Paul on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks Paul!

60 Seconds with…Stu Turner

Comic, magician and lover of cabaret, here’s 60 seconds with Stu…

Q: How did you first discover your talent?

I was given a magic set when I was 8 years old.
When I actually started to fool people, I got a taste for it!

Q: Which three words best describe your act?
Comedy, Magic, Nonsense.

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?
Gosh. It would be well over 1,000 now. I used to be in a comedy double act some years ago and we did quite a bit back then.
Favourite would be a toss-up between appearing in a variety show at the legendary London Palladium, and supporting the late, great Bob Monkhouse when he appeared at the famous Lakeside Country Club.

Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?
Tom & Jerry.

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow performer?
When you’re on stage – just enjoy it and have fun. If you’re enjoying it, your audience will enjoy it.

Q: What will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017?
I shall be hosting a cabaret & variety show in the main theatre at the Arts Centre on Saturday night.
And also a fun & silly game show in the afternoon, upstairs in the Rutter Room.

You can follow Stu’s antics on Twitter @StueyTurner and Facebook. Thanks Stu!

Team fringe announce their open call for performers

Team Fringe celebrated at the top of the town’s iconic Gold Hill last week after announcing that the popular summer event is now open to performers to register.

The Fringe festival will again coincide with the North Dorset Gold Hill Fair so the team are working hard to build on last years success and fill the program with an even wider variety of artists.

Shaftesbury Fringe is ‘open access’ like the Edinburgh Fringe so anyone from anywhere can do anything they think will entertain people. Performers can contact the venue they fancy from a list of more than 50 in the town centre listed here.

If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved in this years festival you can follow us on Facebook for all the latest news.

Meet the team: From left to right, back row – James Thrift (Website), Georgie Kirby (Social Media), Teresa Hatcher (Treasurer), Lee Hennessy (Team co-ordinator), Natalie Evans, Andy Tebbutt-Russel and Samantha (Joint Presidents), David Cohen (Sponsorship). Front row Rob Neely (Venues) and Richard Thomas (Press).


‘The Shaftesbury Globe’ Shakespeare in the cattle market

One of the unlikeliest hit venues of the 2016 fringe was Shaftesbury cattle market. But this only came about after one of the fringe organisers Andy Tebbutt-Russell thought the market’s circular show-ring reminded him of The Globe theatre in London and what a great Fringe venue it would make. He approached the operators Southern Counties Auctioneers who agreed to include it as a venue and the idea of The Shaftesbury Globe was born. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the festival with Dorset Equity – professional performers based in Dorset – putting on “The Bard’s Best Bits”, an hour-long show celebrating William Shakespeare through his plays and sonnets as part of the nationwide 400th anniversary events. The show featured some six actors and singers led by Fraser Wilson and included extracts from opera and musicals based on the great bard’s works, ending with the hit song ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ from the musical ‘Kiss Me Kate’.

“We expected about 20 people but in the event the place was packed with well over 100,” said Andy. “Many said they came because they were fascinated to see how we would put on an event like that in such an unusual venue and almost everyone said they would come again. So we’re delighted we’re able to offer the venue again in 2017.”

Samantha sings the shows…from the Grosvenor balcony.

If Shakespeare at Shaftesbury cattle market was one of the unlikeliest events of 2016, the performance of International singer Samantha from the balcony of the Georgian ballroom at the Grosvenor Arms Hotel in the town centre was one of the most moving. The audience in the main street, some 30ft below her to listen to her hour-long medley of songs from stage and screen, were blissfully unaware that Samantha suffers from a serious fear of heights – so throughout her hour-long performance she was in a state of near-panic!

“Fortunately there’s a sturdy handrail there I could hold onto very tightly – and I did!” said Samantha. “The crowd was blissfully unaware I was in a state of terror throughout the performance. But they obviously enjoyed it because some of them were even dancing impromptu in the road.”

The Grosvenor Arms Hotel has various rooms that will be available as venues for Shaftesbury fringe 2017 so if you are an artist and interested in performing here you can find all the information you need on the venues page.

Register your show NOW!

Would you like to showcase your work to new audiences, network with other artists and lift your media profile? Is your next stop Edinburgh? Or are you simply looking to test out new ideas and have some ‘fringe’ fun?

We are excited to announce that the second Shaftesbury Fringe will take place this year from Friday 30th June to Sunday 2nd July in our beautiful medieval hilltop town, home of the famous Gold Hill.

As one of the fastest-growing performing arts festivals in the South-West we have over 50 wonderful venues on offer, from churches and cafes to pubs and public parks, with audience capacities from 1 to over 100.

-Registration Fees: It costs just £15 per performance which entitles you to a full colour entry in our Fringe Programme and supplement, with a distribution of over 60,000.

-Deadline: The deadline for performance registrations is 31st March 2017.

You can find most of the answers to your questions here on our FAQ’s page.

If you are ready to register then please fill in our online form here.

We look forward to welcoming you!

60 Seconds with……YOU!

We would like to invite all our acts past and present to complete a mini Q&A for us to use as part of a feature we

will be running on social media.

Simply answer the questions below in an email and submit along with any photos and web links you would like to

include to:

Q: How did you first discover your talent?

Q: Which three words best describe your act?

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?

Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow performer?

Q: What will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017?

Remember to include your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram details so we can follow and tag you in posts and remember to use #shaftesburyfringe to join the conversation online.