Shaftesbury Fringe 2016

PUBLISHED: 16:49 27 June 2016 | UPDATED: 16:49 27 June 2016

Dean Carter from Sherborne with his Tibetan singing bowls

Dean Carter from Sherborne with his Tibetan singing bowls


Richard Thomas reveals the exciting and diverse line-up of acts for this year’s Shaftesbury Fringe

What do Tibetan monks and singing bowls have in common with Dorset’s highest town? The answer is the Shaftesbury Fringe, Dorset’s newest performing arts and music festival launching this summer as a complement to the town’s famous Gold Hill Fair.

The home of ‘Hovis hill’ could not be further away from the Scottish capital that attracts thousands to its Fringe every year. “Shaftesbury Fringe is just like the Edinburgh Fringe – except it’s in Dorset,” explains Andy Tebbutt-Russell, who took over organising the event late last year. “Anyone can take part, amateur or professional, experienced or just starting out. We don’t choose or select. Performers simply have to perform something they think will entertain or amuse people.”

A demonstration of the unique art of singing bowls and overtone chanting from the Himalayas, performed by Dean Carter from Sherborne, is just one of a wide variety of unusual acts you can expect to see at Shaftesbury Fringe, which is on 1-3 July. Alongside standup comics, musicians, poets and puppeteers, a writers’ group putting on a story ‘slam’; an art exhibition with hurdy-gurdy accompaniment; a comedy ukulele duo; pop music on the bassoon; a beer festival band and a public reading of a new sci-fi novel.

“So far we have more than 40 different acts performing at 60 different venues across town, from churches to pubs, but the final total is expected to be more than 70,” says Andy, who is a veteran of the Edinburgh Fringe where his professional singing partner Samantha won rave reviews at last year’s festival.

“Samantha and I had just moved from Verwood to Margaret Marsh when we heard about a meeting in Shaftesbury to discuss organising a fringe event. We went along and soon after we were asked to become the main organisers and we jumped at the chance.”

Andy hopes Shaftesbury Fringe will become, not only an annual event in the town, but also one of the biggest open-access performing arts events in Dorset, if not the southwest.

“There is such a wealth of local creative talent I see no reason why it couldn’t become a major regional event,” he adds. “The real surprise is it hasn’t happened already. But maybe now it will.”

Comedy at The Fringe

A 15-year-old from Tisbury is one of the youngest as well as newest comics to perform standup at a festival heavily loaded with comedy. Jacob Hull, a GCSE-year pupil at Shaftesbury School, is performing his show - It’s Been a Long Week – at the Grosvenor Arms and also The Mitre pub on all three days of the festival.

The award-winning Bristol-based comedy duo, Louise Leigh and Jo Duncan, aka Bubble Comedy are at Shaftesbury Arts Centre with Bristols on Show. Other acts includes Bournemouth improvised comedy group In The Moment, and Phil Reid and Stu Turner who perform “ukulele adult comedy, magic and variety”.

For more on the Shaftesbury Fringe 2016 see

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