The Long Lens blog: Photography with added snaps, art and culture

The photography site for sore eyes. Featuring: Art, photography, performance and theatre. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015 highlights by me

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, or Edinburgh Fringe as it is better known. Or #edfringe as it is better known on Twitter. Or #edfringe2015 as it is even better known on Twitter, is here again.

The Fringe, the world’s biggest arts festival, runs from for three weeks from Aug 7. It includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music and spoken word.

It is so big, it’s almost overwhelming trying to choose what to go and see, especially if you want to avoid the big hitters and see something amazing in one of the hundreds of smaller venues around the city.

There is no easy way to select what to go and see. Your best chance to avoid the rubbish is to read and read and read guides and suggestions from those who should know.

I’m not one of those people, but these are my suggestions anyway.

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It’s Only Words
Louise Reay
@LouiseReayBeam #itsonlywords

Of all the performance strands, being funny is undoubtedly the hardest. Being funny for an hour, consistently, without the audience being bored, sitting there thinking their lives are wasting away, is even harder.

When you discover someone who has that extra kapow factor heading in to the Fringe, you just don’t let them go. Life’s too short to repeat yourself but Reay (above), with her trench coat and hi-energy performance, is the only show I will happily see twice.

Oh, and the piece is about non-verbal communication, performed entirely in Chinese.

4.15pm daily (except Aug 18)
Venue 27 – Just the Tonic at The Community Project
Tickets here.

hunt and darton, sick festival, manchester

Hunt & Darton Cafe
Jenny Hunt & Holly Darton*

@HuntDarton

Easily one of the best live-art installations I’ve seen, ever, I wrote about them here. They ran a cafe in Manchester as part of the Sick! Festival (above).

What you get with Hunt & Darton is basically a fully-functioning cafe serving up irony and self-deprecation alongside tea, coffee and bacon sandwiches. This is an immersive experience like no other. It’s the place I intend to have my lunch during the festival – and I actually don’t want people to know about them in case I can’t get through the doors. They’ve been to Edinburgh before, expect them to be popular. (*Pictured is Jenny Hunt and Rachel Darton)

10am-5pm, 3-25 August 2013 (except 5, 12, 19)
21 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SU
More information here.

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lowri evans, glad to meet you, derelict live, preston, garry cook

Late Night Love
Eggs Collective

@EggsCollective #LateNightLove

I’ve seen two-thirds of Eggs Collective perform (above). I watched Sara Cocker play pancake tennis at Hunt & Darton’s cafe in Manchester. Lowri Evans I saw at an ultra-unusual performance event called I’m Glad You’re Here held across a week at Preston Station Station. Evans, dressed head-to-toe in white, greeted train passenger arrivals with a variety of pre-booked welcomes (Brief Encounter, paparazzi etc).

While I’ve not been fortunate enough to see the Eggs Collective trio perform together, I can tell you that anyone I have spoken to who has, describes the experience with a sparkle in their eyes. Without exception.

Late Night Love
Aug 17-19 at Forest Fringe
Tickets here.

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How To Be A Superhero
James Bennison

@JamesBennison88

Too many comedians stand there and tell you how weird their thoughts are before telling you thoughts which aren’t that weird and not very funny.

This guy (above) takes you through some real life experiences with the help of a slide show but, backed up with obvious performance experience, makes the journey as captivating as it is funny.

Visually – through his costume and projector – James is memorable enough. But his genuine joy in being on stage coupled with a willingness and mental agility to engage with the audience makes How To Be A Superhero a guaranteed enjoyment rather than the usual cringing mess performed by mere mortals.

6.25pm Aug 19 – 30
Voodoo Rooms Ballroom
More information here.

I also saw these recommendations by other people/organisations:

Forest Fringe interview artists for suggestions of what to go to see.
Word of Warning Manchester suggestions (with downloadable spreadsheet!)
The Edinburgh Fringe website

And all the artists seem to regards(@lyngardner) Lyn Gardner (The Guardian) as a sort of demigod when it comes to live-art performance, so her words might be important.

Lyn Gardner has also written an extensive list of shows to see here.

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