You’ve probably noticed something is happening around the city this month. There are more clowns than usual on the streets, multi-coloured tents are springing up everywhere and you’ll often hear laughter or gasps burst from the most unlikely buildings. Fear not, it’s all perfectly normal (apart from the clowns, their nefarious agenda has yet to present itself) because Brighton Fringe is here again.
The largest open-access arts festival in England, Brighton Fringe embraces almost every artistic discipline you can think of, for a sprawling month of performance, shows and exhibitions.
This internationally acclaimed event brings artists and audiences together. As a platform for new and developing creatives, last year brought over 1008 events to 164 venues in front of an audience of over 596,000. It’s an art presentation on a massive scale. So, how do you choose what to see? Will Platoon On Ice be a better show than The Wisdom Of Mark Francois? We have a few tips on how to navigate Brighton Fringe without being overwhelmed.
The best way to sample England’s largest arts festival is to take a few risks. For every one-man show disturbingly revolving around screaming into a mirror, you’ll find at least ten truly beautiful spectacles. Moving out of your comfort zone a little will unlock a new spectrum of work to challenge, amaze and entertain. Often the most memorable works are the oddest ones. Over the years I’ve personally seen two pairs of breasts and three penises in their unclothed glory at Fringe, all perfectly in context. It’s a place where performers can shed inhibitions and present the most honest work you’ll ever see. Prepare for the unexpected.
Don’t forget to refuel in-between performances. This is especially important if you’re visiting several shows in a row. It’ll boost your concentration and enthusiasm. Cafes
and restaurants can be a great place to make sense of what you’ve just seen. After all, great art makes you want to talk about it. City centre eateries are always a good place to gather tips about the festival’s hits and misses.
BE MINDFUL OF THE TIME
You might believe it possible to pile out of a stand- up show, race across town and get into a one-person disassembly of emotional abuse, in under 20 minutes. That’s not going to happen. Turning up late for a show is massively rude. And many audiences will help you realise this if you get let in at all. Leave plenty of time. It’s a pleasure, not a parade, as nobody has ever said. Show a little respect. Get a watch and some realistic expectations.
KEEP YOUR EARS TO THE GROUND
Not literally ‘to the ground’, or a stilt-walker might stamp on you. Many of the best Fringe experiences are prompted by recommendations, word of mouth and random flyers out on the streets. Hanging around at the festival’s many hubs, or any area with a high number of venues is a great way to discover what’s generating a buzz. Your favourite guide to Brighton & Hove will also be shining a spotlight on the best shows in print and online (that’s us BTW)
The kids have a saying – FOMO. Not sure what it means, but it’s something to do with being unrealistically envious of other people’s experiences. Everyone’s Fringe is different. Yes, that Danish cat-herding trapeze artist might have been spectacular, but was it a more profound than the synchronised swimming with shopping trolleys? All art is subjective and resonates in different ways. The trick is to celebrate a wide range of what Fringe has to offer.
Brighton Fringe comes to venues across the city, and beyond, on Fri 3 May – Sun 2 June