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Theatre Delicatessen makes its move, both literally and figuratively

Theatre Delicatessen Theatre Delicatessen
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After a brief hiatus, Honour Bayes is back with Fringe Focus. Every week she will try to navigate the wild world of the fringe, picking the best, most interesting or downright unusual things to look out for off theatre’s beaten track. And she’ll be keeping a running commentary on the news surrounding the national fringe theatre scene. Starting now…

Theatre Delicatessen moves house

Theatre Delicatessen
Theatre Delicatessen

I was given a tour of Theatre Delicatessen’s new home last week, which in keeping with their left wing convictions sees them move from the old BBC building to the old Guardian building in Farringdon. If you can believe it, it’s bigger than before, with rehearsal rooms and performance spaces taking shape with alarming speed. Furthermore a new organisational structure sees them offering technical support and facilities for a monthly subscription fee – starting at £50 – like an artistic gym for the up and coming.

The artistic vision is still embryonic but it’s being modelled on the company’s legendary Theatre Souk ethos. Most impressively the entire endeavour is operating under the living wage scheme with everyone, from the reception staff to the actors, being paid a London living wage. They say their way of working enables them to do this – as opposed to venues like the Finborough Theatre – but it’s going to make it harder to ask people to work for free on the fringe. Somehow, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this.

Fun Palaces take over

fun-palace-Brockwell-Lido
Fun Palaces

During the first weekend of October an astonishing 60,000 people took part in Fun Palaces – a community led weekend inspired by Joan Littlewood’s idea of ‘everyone an artist, everyone a scientist’.

Over 137 fun palaces were created across the country with audiences becoming artists and vice versa in this sprawling, energetic and good-natured grassroots experiment. It’s promising to make a return next year but in the meantime I wonder if any of the non-performance spaces – lidos, shopping centres – will have been so bitten by the bug that we’ll be seeing a new wash of site specific shows set in them? As long as they are actually site specific mind you – a quirky setting that bears no relation to the world of the play doesn’t count. You know who you are.

Empty Space… Peter Brook award nominations

Paul-Miller-new-AD-of-Orange-Tree
Paul Miller

The nominations are in for the 2014 Empty Space… Peter Brook award. After the (slight) controversy of the National Theatre Studio winning last year, 2014 sees the entire list of main award nominees fall comfortably within their criteria – that of minimal public subsidy. So who should win? My heart says the Unicorn, which Purni Morell has turned into a world-class, groundbreaking venue during her tenure. But my head thinks the Orange Tree will get it, and perhaps it deserves to having received a cut in all of its funding just as a new artistic director, Paul Miller, was coming in. That’s a bad lot.

If you only see five things on the fringe this week…

Confirmation
Chris Thorpe’s Fringe First award-winning Confirmation is at the Battersea Arts Centre until 25 October and is a thought provoking, uncompromising must see.

The Edge of Our Bodies
As part of the promising Who Does She Think She Is season, The Gate continues its fantastic run of international plays with the gripping The Edge of Our Bodies.

Best of BE Festival
The Best of BE Festival arrives at Slung Low’s fantastic performance and rehearsal space The Hub in Leeds on Sunday. Book tickets for nothing, then pay what you like after you’ve seen the show.

The Distance
Helen Baxendale stars in The Distance at The Orange Tree in this nimble production of Deborah Bruce’s second full length play.

Manchester Literary Festival
Manchester Contact Theatre has a strong spoken word tradition and this week they’ve got a fantastic selection of storytelling and spoken word events as part of the Manchester Literary Festival.

Read more Fringe Focus columns from Honour Bayes

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