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Fringe documentary to explore future of British theatre

Andrew Keates. Photo: Scott Rylander Andrew Keates. Photo: Scott Rylander
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Actor Simon Callow and critic Mark Shenton are to feature in a documentary exploring the fringe in London and what future it has in the theatre landscape.

Currently being developed under the working title Fringe Benefits, the film is the brainchild of director Andrew Keates and is being produced through his company Arion Productions.

He said his own company had been born on the fringe, and that he owed all of his career to his experiences working in the sector.

“I want to go back and look at who started the fringe and why it started, and to go through those who work on it and find out if there is exploitation in it,” he explained.

He added that he wanted to look at the fringe’s future, and whether there will eventually be legislation that “means these amazing rooms above pubs can’t continue”, or whether it is time for reform.

Others taking part in the documentary include producer Danielle Tarento and London’s King’s Head Theatre artistic director Adam Spreadbury-Maher.

Keates said he wanted to hear “people’s frustrations” with the fringe and added: “I don’t see where anyone is being exploited yet and that is what I would like to know about. I’d also like to hear from people who owe a lot to the fringe. A few have already come forward to say that, without the fringe, we would be left with nothing but commercial theatre. I think it would be a terrible thing if it all just comes down to money.”

There are plans to make the documentary available online, and to enter it into film festivals for screenings. It is expected to be completed within six months.

Anyone interested in taking part in the documentary can contact fringebenefits@andrewkeates.co.uk

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