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Beyond the Fringe: Everything you need to know about this weekend’s new Liverpool festival

2 years ago

By The Guide Liverpool

Beyond the Fringe is taking place at Williamson Square this weekend with a host of live entertainment for you to enjoy for free, starting Friday 22 October and running until Sunday.

We spoke with Lucy Carew and John Stone, the creators of the Beyond the Fringe brand and who also have an unusual night time job as operators of Shiverpool;  the famous folkloric tours which explore Liverpool’s Haunted Heritage and Hidden Histories…

Where did the idea of Beyond the Fringe come from?

I think the foundations for Beyond the Fringe festival were laid 18 years ago says Litherland born, John Stone when I was enjoying the sights and sounds of the Edinburgh festival for the first time…

‘The whole first Edinburgh experience was fantastical…’I chatted with comedian Alan Carr, had a coffee with Nicolas Parsons from Just a Minute and attended a VIP with Joe Mangle from Neighbours (Mark Little) all on the same day! … it was whilst at the Fringe, that the seed that would later become Beyond the Fringe was planted –  It was also when I first saw the Magical Mat Boden perform his now famous Edinburgh’s shows…little did we know at the time we would be working together on Beyond the Fringe Liverpool in 2021!

Beyond the Fringe will take place in Williamson Square

Directly inspired by his Edinburgh Experience in 2005 John first created brand Shiverpool. He smiles thinking back … it was alongside my sister Alexandra that we delivered the first ever theatrical tour in the city, we were 24 and 25 years old. I think it was our old friend Pete Price who first covered the tour back in the day, when Jay Hynd was his producer in the Radio City Tower…we’re all still mates today. I remember when I was first asked where we wanted Shiverpool to go, saying… the Best Guided tour in the country and in 2017, by then Lucy and I had been at the helm for together for seven years, we were awarded Gold in the national awards by Visit England; Shiverpool had achieved what it set out to do 12 years earlier…many people have said, it’s sort of an institution now in the city…and this year it’s our sweet 16th!’

SHIVERPOOL and Paul Askew receiving awards from Visit England

…But for both myself and Lucy, there was always an ambition to develop a stronger, better supported street theatre vibe in the city and to collaborate more widely with our Universities, schools, local businesses and Artists across creative disciplines, hoping to crystalize the knowledge and skills of our ten years of working together and to see where the journey might take us…

Over lockdown back in Jan 2021 we had time to do just that… and it was during this sort of chrysalis that we reached out to Mat Boden, though it was initially to do workshops for Shiverpool that we pitched the idea that would later become Beyond the Fringe! Life’s a funny old thing!    

Things from there quickly began to take shape and following a three- hour phone call with Mat who loved the idea of the festival, then suggested we chat with the lovely Melvyn Altwarg.  During several other three hour zoom between us all and lots of sketch pads later, we hashed out the potential plans for a street theatre festival. 

The Beyond the Fringe team

We invited both Mel and Mat to Liverpool in June 2021 for a week to get a feel for the city’s energy and space. We really showed the city off and they loved it (big thanks to everyone who helped…treats coming your way). Mat got the opportunity to perform loads of shows; the Liverpool audiences loved him…and the stage was set.

As a result of the collaboration, we’ve been able to connect, concoct and collaborate with a whole host of artists whom we may never have met; festival headliners, the incredible Men in Coats for example, then there’s the sensational Didi Hopkins and Christine Ellerbeck who we are working with on the development of a new play building on their much loved earlier work, Beryl and Perils. We’re also made up to be welcoming Mime Artist Mr Les Bubb, who is originally from Bootle and is coming back to his home- town to work with 70 students from LJMU, all keen to learn secrets from the Master! The whole line-up is just fab, we’re very grateful to Melvyn, Mat and to all the diverse artists from Heavy Metal Pete to Kwabana Lindsay, and everyone involved in helping make this happen. 

What do you hope people will get from Beyond the Fringe?

Everyone needs a little bit of Star Dust in their lives – and that’s what we hope Beyond the Fringe will deliver in fountains of unforgettable fun and frolicks when the festival springs into life in the city this weekend.

“If people want to see something unexpected, if they want to see something extraordinary, or something that’s going to take place for the first time ever in Liverpool, this is it,” says one of the festival organiser’s Lucy Carew.

“If you have never experienced the quality of Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this is your chance to see it in your home-town.

“We are so lucky to have amazing performers coming here and we can guarantee they will put smiles on people’s face again.

“… everyone needs this; we need to feel some joy.”

With just one day to go before Beyond the Fringe launches, we’ve got hold of the running order for the three-day festival which boasts, Royal Variety favourites Men In Coats who take centre stage at 2.15pm and 5.05pm every day in Williamson Square, together with a host of fabulous street acts from across the UK.

“People can come early one day and see a couple of acts, drift in and out, maybe get a coffee at the beautiful Bluecoat and then come back to catch shows they may have missed anytime over  the weekend, says Lucy.

Joining the Street theatre acts around Church Street are local musicians, Ali Horne, Felix Ngindu and Mike Blu!

“It’s wonderful to have music out on Church Street, and support artists, bringing something extra into the mix and raising the bar.

“The people who are coming are the best in their field and they’re weird and whacky, and wonderful, and visually stunning.”

The support from other companies from around the city, like PA Hire and Nikki O’Boyle of Auriel events services, who are providing the staging, sound and health and safety planning support, has been incredible.

“You have the River of Light on too, so you have the combination of that wonderful nocturnal event, and the daytime experience of Beyond the Fringe.

“It’s a chance for people to be in the moment, to forget about all the other things that might be going on in their lives, and just enjoy.”

“None of this would’ve been possible without the incredible support from the City, in particular the lovely Nick Philip’s of LJMU Drama department (thanks for all the zooms), Bluecoat, with funding from Culture Liverpool and Liverpool BID Company – with a special mention to Bill Addy who got behind us and believed in the project right from the beginning.”

Here’s everything you need to know about Beyond the Fringe this weekend

What is Beyond the Fringe?

Beyond the Fringe is a three-day Street Theatre Festival taking place in Liverpool

When is it on?

Friday, October 22 – Sunday, October 24, from 12 noon to 6pm

Where is it on?

Williamson Square mainly, and moving into Clayton Square and the surrounding streets too

Who is it aimed at?

Beyond the Fringe is aimed at everyone. Regarding age suitability we think 8-and-over, but would say you know your child best

What can I see/do?

All sorts of acts from comedy to master jugglers, illusionists to slack rope walkers, music and more

How long do individual acts last?

Around 45 minutes

Who can I see when? (Williamson Square)

12-12:40 –  Mat Valentine.

12:45-1:25 – Kwabana Lyndsey

1:30-2:10 – Pete Anderson

2:15-2:45 – Men in Coats

2:50-3:30 – Jim and Alex

3:35-4:15 – Heavy Metal Pete

4:20-5:00 – The Mighty Gareth

5:05-5:35 – Men in Coats

Do I need to book/pay to get in?

No, it’s a free to the public event, so just turn up and check what’s happening on the day

What about if it rains?

Some acts may be postponed but, unless there are weather warnings, Beyond the Fringe goes on

Do I need to show a Covid pass or proof of immunity?

No.  Beyond the Fringe will follow all Covid guidance, but the performances will be in wide open spaces and marshalls will wander around and be on hand to help

Where can I find out more about the event?

Go to the website here.


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