Shaftesbury Fringe Announces This Year’s ‘Best In Show’

A musical performance celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, fifty years since his assassination, has been declared the Best Event at Shaftesbury Fringe, by its panel of judges.

‘Soul Of A Nation’ by The NMSW Trio also took the Best Music award. New Music In The South-West, to give the organisation its full name, is a not-for-profit body based in Bristol. It supports the development of young musicians across the West and promotes classical music.

Founder Julian Leeks is delighted that his show gained top marks. His group has been awarded a magnum of champagne and treats to the value of £100, thanks to David and Alice Perry of Shaftesbury Wines.

“It was a lovely evening. We received a lot of really pleasant comments and a few people had tears in their eyes at the end of the performance,” said Julian.

The musical score made Luther King’s moving story even more poignant. “A lady who was perhaps in her 70s, came up and said she had been going to concerts all of her life and she had never experienced anything as wonderful and profound,” Julian said. “When you experience that, you already know that it’s good.”

The performance had a strong Shaftesbury connection. “The piece that closed the concert was composed by Sadie Harrison who is a resident of Shaftesbury. It also featured a section for singer Michelle Ezigbo, a former student at Shaftesbury School,” Julian explained.

The Shaftesbury-based, close-harmony a cappella choir Palida, led by Karen Wimhurst, joined the NMSW musicians to create a memorable performance. “Palida were great. They put a lot of effort into new arrangements of the spirituals. They made a great contribution,” said Julian.

“The instrumentalists that we have in the NMSW Trio are established professionals. They’ve played with the London Sinfonietta, they’ve been on tour all over the world and to bring them into a venue like St Peter’s Church and to have a local amateur choir was a really great combination. It was nice to combine that professional element with the local element. It contributed a lot,” Julian said.

After their Shaftesbury Fringe success, the performers will continue with the show in a slightly amended format. “We are doing elements of it in other places. Obviously we can’t go touring around with Palida. It would be expensive transport-wise,” said Julian. “We are doing three of the pieces that were commissioned in relation to Martin Luther King at a concert at St George’s in Bristol on 23rd September.”

Julian says they’d like to return to Fringe next year. “Shaftesbury is such a lovely place, anyway. It’s really nice doing something as part of the festival because it does have a joyful atmosphere. We were lucky that there was such beautiful weather and everybody was in a good mood. It made a real difference,” he said.

So will NMSW come back in 2019? They have a title to defend, now. “It would depend on being able to come up with a concept that works. We don’t want to just shoehorn these things in. If we can come up with something, then I would be delighted to come back next year,” said Julian.

The Fringe judges felt that the Shaftesbury School Choir was deserving of the Best in Fringe Youth award.

The Best Spoken Word and Poetry title was given to The Bard of Windmill Hill.

Comedy mind reader Doug Segal won the Best Comedy category and local singer Samantha’s montage of amusing songs from the musicals won her the Best Cabaret award.


Anne Louise Richards – The Voice of an Angel

Anne Louise Richards has been told that she has ‘the voice of an angel’. And you will understand why when you listen to her perform again at Shaftesbury Fringe.

Anne Louise will sing a selection of folk songs, including her own compositions. And she’ll be dressed in a memorable way, as you’ll hear!

Anne Louise chats with Keri Jones about her three Fringe shows at Shaftesbury Wines on Friday 29th June at 6pm, Gilyard Scarth at 5.30pm on Saturday 30th June and Coffee #1 at 5pm on Sunday 1st July.

Andrew White Explores The World Of ‘Grown Ups’

Having just turned 18, Andrew White explores what it means to be an adult and takes a look at the world he is now ‘grown-up’ in.

Through stand-up, poetry, rap, and even experimental mime, it will be an entirely unique and hilarious hour. ‘Not to be missed…’ – Daily Record.

Andrew performs at Shaftesbury Arts Centre at 4.30pm on Saturday 30th June.


Solo Blues and Americana with Mike Ross

Mike Ross takes listeners on a journey through the history of the music he loves.

His original song influences begin in the Mississippi Delta, ending up right back in the present moment and his powerful, intoxicating voice and emotive guitar playing will carry you every inch of the way.

Mike performs at Swans Yard 1.00-3.00pm on Saturday 1st June and later that evening in Angola ’76 from 6.30-7.15pm.


Doug Segal – ‘The Derren Brown Of Comedy’

‘Imagine if Derren Brown was funny’ wrote the Evening Standard. How To Read Minds & Influence People with Doug Segal is a comedy mind reading show unlike any other!

Learn to predict the lottery, read minds and detect lies. Doug performs at Shaftesbury Fringe on Friday 29th June at The Shaston Club at 7.30pm. Admission £5. Book tickets here.

Join Thomas Cameron For An Evening Of Song

Thomas Cameron is a nineteen year old English tenor, whose voice has been described as having velvet-like qualities.

Singing the songs from the musicals including ‘Bring Him Home’, ‘Music of the Night’ and more, it is sure to be a very special event that you will not forget.

Enjoy Thomas’ show at The Grosvenor Arms Hotel Courtyard 5.00-6.00pm on Sunday 1st July.

Sajeela Kershi At Shaftesbury Fringe 2018

The Times says that Sajeela Kersti is, “smart funny with a mischievous glint,” and the award-winning comedian is returning to Shaftesbury Fringe for 2018 with a new show, based on ‘the big, bad and ugly lies’ that most of us tell.

In the podcast interview, Sajeela explains that Shaftesbury Fringe attendees will be the first to hear her latest hilarious observations. Sajeela’s hour-long show begins at 6.30pm on Saturday 30th June in the Grosvenor Arms Hotel.

Weather Presenter And Comedian Sam Fraser!

Comedian Sam Fraser lives near Shaftesbury. She’s a TV weather presenter and she’s had some peculiar items sent in the post!

Sam will share her funny off-screen stories and  observations, as a feminist forecaster, during her Shaftesbury Fringe 2018 shows.

Sam presents Stand Up, Weather Girl! in The Grosvenor Arms at 6pm on Friday 29th June and again at 9pm on Saturday, 30th June.

John Morgan Of Angola ’76 Talks About Shaftesbury Fringe 2018

John Morgan is the owner of Angola ’76 in Shaftesbury. John has a goal – he wants the bar to become, “the must play venue in the southwest of England.”

John is a passionate and committed supporter of live music and Shaftesbury Fringe. In the interview, John talks about his extensive programme of music and theatre performance he has booked for Fringe 2018 at Angola ’76.

John also explains how his venue will be enhanced for the Fringe weekend. He’s introducing an outdoor stage.

Go Accappella With The Spoonfeds

Shaftesbury’s own barbershop choir, The Spoonfeds, will perform two shows at Shaftesbury Fringe.

On the podcast we hear them perform four- and five-part harmony acappella versions of songs from their selection, which spans three centuries.

The Spoonfeds first Fringe performance is in Shaftesbury Arts Centre at 7.45pm on Friday 29th June. The group will be collecting cash for the Arts Centre’s ‘Raise The Roof’ appeal. Their second show is on Saturday 30th June in The Mitre at 4.50pm.

Samantha’s Dubious History Of Musical Comedy

Come to Shaftesbury Fringe and laugh along with some of the best comedy songs ever written.

Shaftesbury-based performer Samantha is offering her Dubious History Of Musical Comedy as part of this year’s Fringe programme. You’ll hear Gilbert and Sullivan, Monty Python and even Benny Hill’s number one song from 1971!

The show is on at The Grosvenor Arms at 8.30pm on Friday 29th June. Admission is £5 and you can pay on the door.

Jamarca To Play At Angola ’76

Jamarca are playing at Angola ’76 on Saturday 30th June at 7.30pm, as part of Shaftesbury Fringe 2018. The band members perform their own, original music.

Every track has been written to get you dancing! Keri Jones spoke with Marcus Tettmar and Dave Gordon about Jamarca’s influences, evolution and successes.


The Songsmiths At Shaftesbury Fringe 2018

The Songsmiths describe themselves as, “somewhat acoustic, slightly electric”. The North Dorset band is made up of four experienced musicians – Derek Halliday (pictured left), Pete Edwards (pictured right), Richard Dorran and Alan Mash.

The men are known from their membership of the area’s best-loved bands. And Derek has an additional musical skill – he builds guitars.

The Songsmiths will perform their own original material during their 90-minute Fringe set at The Mitre from 8.30pm on Sunday 1st July.

Author Keith Walton On France’s Green Meridian

Shaftesbury-based writer Keith Walton will read excerpts from his book In Search of France’s Green Meridian at Shaftesbury Fringe 2018.

Keith cycled from Dunkirk and along France’s millennial green spine to the Pyrenees. Keith will talk about the places he visited and the audience will be able to choose the topics he discusses. Join Keith in Shaftesbury Arts Centre at 3.15pm on Saturday 30th June. You’ll be able to buy the book afterwards.

Author Richard Foreman At Fringe 2018

Shaftesbury-based writer Richard Foreman will present stories from his book Wilful Misunderstandings at Shaftesbury Fringe 2018.

Richard is returning to the event to present a, “cornucopia of tales and poems to tickle, amaze, ruffle and amuse the grey matter between listeners’ ears.”

Richard’s reading will be in the Assembly Room at the Grosvenor Arms at 4pm on Friday 29th June.


Craig White Of Rural Redemption Theatre Company

Craig White of Sturminster Newton’s Rural Redemption Theatre Company talks about the two original short  plays that his company is bringing to Shaftesbury Fringe 2018.

A Daughter’s Love and Blood Sport will be performed at Ye Olde Two Brewers on Saturday 30th June at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 6pm and on Sunday 1st July at 11.30am and 1pm.

Below is a brief description of each play:

A Daughter’s Love
Hugo is a successful property developer with a beautiful new young wife – life is perfect apart from his daughter’s disapproval. Will they become a happy family?

Blood Sport
A huntsman spots some saboteurs on his land – no one messes with him and his warhorse!

Andy Stedman Performs Elvis At Shaftesbury Fringe 2018

Fans of Elvis have two chances to enjoy his music during Shaftesbury Fringe, 2018 as Andy Stedman returns to the performance festival for a second year.

Andy will switch from his 2017 stand-up routine and will sing. He is performing songs made famous by ‘The King’, his favourite artist. Andy tells Keri Jones about his two shows, on Friday 29th June at The Grosvenor Arms at 7pm and again at The Shaston Club at 12pm midday on Sunday 1st July.

Soul Of A Nation Celebrates Martin Luther King

‘Soul Of A Nation’ is a show celebrating the life and work of Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta, 50 years since the assassination of the American civil rights leader. There’s a Shaftesbury connection with the show. Local choir Palida are singing and Shaftesbury composer Sadie Harrison has written a special piece of music for the performance. New Music in the South West’s Julian Leeks talks to Keri Jones about this Shaftesbury Fringe show.

Tickets for the 75-minute ‘Soul Of A Nation’ show are £10, with £7 concessions. The show is being performed at 7pm on Saturday 30th June at St. Peter’s Church, Shaftesbury.

Shaftesbury Will Host England’s Third-Biggest Fringe Following Record Registrations

Shaftesbury Fringe organisers say that the three-day event is now England’s third-largest open access arts festival, based on performance numbers. When artist registration closed on Thursday night, 139 separate performances had been booked, a massive increase from the 83 events offered as part of the 2017 schedule.

Only Brighton and Manchester offer larger fringe festivals in England with more performances.

Shaftesbury Fringe founder Andy Tebbutt-Russell says that once a fringe festival reaches a certain size, then word gets out and more acts come forward.

This year a significant number of comedians have registered, including Australian stand-up Heidi Regan. Heidi won the BBC’s ‘New Comedy’ award in 2017.

Andy says the timing of the event is critical. “It’s one month before Edinburgh and that allows comedians to test their new material in Shaftesbury. Stand-ups can’t rehearse alone, at home. They need an audience to gauge which material is funny. That’s why the timing of Shaftesbury Fringe is perfect,” he says.

New additions for the 2018 Shaftesbury Fringe include a free childrens’ hub in the Abbey Gardens on Saturday 30th June. Critically acclaimed children’s theatre company Paddleboat will headline a programme of shows, activities and events designed especially for kids aged between 4 and 12 years of age.

Shaftesbury Fringe takes place across 25 venues, ranging from an estate agents office to a coaching inn, and a hidden walled-garden to an Abbey founded in the 9th century.

Each of the venues is within walking distance of all other performance spaces.

The event is being held from Friday 29th June to Sunday 1st July 2018.

Photo: A picture of award-winning comedian Heidi Regan.

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

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 Coffee #1 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

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!

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.

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!