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Fringe Festival set to shine

June 12 -18, 2019
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Gulf Weekly Kristian Harrison
By Kristian Harrison




Gulf Weekly Fringe Festival set to shine

In many parts of the world, summer means the onset of the festival season and thanks to the creative mind of one Bahrain resident, this week will see the first-ever Bahrain Fringe Festival entertain scores of fans.

Scott Hughes is the mastermind behind the medley of music, comedy, improvisation and theatre which is being held tomorrow and Friday at the British Club.

The 31-year-old, who teaches music at the British School of Bahrain, decided to put on the festival after his wife, Stacey, a biology teacher at the same institution, bet him that he wouldn’t follow through with it.

He explained: “My parents, who used to live here too and taught at St Christopher’s School, have run folk festivals in Jersey, Hong Kong and Cyprus so I was going to lean on some family contacts to book artists, but it turned out to be too big a job for one.

“I had been doing some volunteering as a sound engineer for the Manama Theatre Club when Hannah Turner, the current MTC chairman, heard about my idea and suggested I do it in combination with the MTC.

“In order to collaborate better with what the MTC do we changed the idea to a Fringe Festival and opened it up to a mixture of performing arts. It has really paid off, as their support has been invaluable, especially as in January this year my wife gave birth to our first child, our son, Shay.”

The festival opened last night at the Dilmun Club in Saar. There are two more Fringe events at the British Club, with a Variety Show tomorrow evening featuring an hour of comedy sketches, directed by James Wassom, produced by Sarah Blakemore and starring the MTC players, followed by a 40-minute set from UK headline comedian/musician Keith Donnelly.

Then on the following day, the British Club hosts the Friday Festival, which will offer a stage to local improvisation shows, comedians and a range of musicians, with an afternoon headline slot from Bahraini favourite Mo Zowayed.

In the evening there will be another performance by Keith Donnelly, followed by a set from multi-platinum award-winning headliner Sandi Thom, now a resident of Saar.

There will also be a marketplace upstairs on the Friday and an ‘open mic’ room where the Bahrain Acoustic Music Group will play songs on rotation and anyone who knows a song can join in.

Scott, who used to be a working musician and has played many festivals himself in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia, explained: “We’ve tried very hard to choose wholesome acts as best we can.

“As the idea stemmed from a folk festival, a lot of the music has an acoustic feel to it, which pairs well with stand-up comedy and improvisation. Sandi and Mo have helped bring the star factor to the music while Keith has helped tie in the comedy element, as he is a seasoned folk-festival entertainer in the UK who specialises in music, storytelling and observational humour.

“I believe the variety of acts on show will mould together well and provide a feast of entertainment for all the family.”

Scott was also delighted at securing the services of Sandi, who topped the UK Singles Chart in June 2006 with I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair).

He said: “Sandi is a great booking and was one of the first people I contacted when we started planning the festival, which she graciously agreed to be part of. She has shown a real support for performing arts in Bahrain.

“As the first-ever Fringe Festival in Bahrain, someone of her calibre has really helped to legitimise the event and hopefully mean we can continue to support performing arts in Bahrain with more events like this in the future.

“These are the first big events after Eid so we look forward to people joining us for all the fun. We really wanted to offer people something different to the Bahrain events calendar and the support of the local community here has been great.

“Special thanks to Hannah and the Manama Theatre Club for helping to organise, African and Eastern for sponsoring the events and the three expat community clubs on the island for hosting them.”

All shows are open to the public (not just club members) and are ticketed. Tickets can be purchased at The British Club reception.

For the Variety Show (open to those aged 16 and above), doors open at 7pm and the curtain goes up at 7.30pm. Tickets are BD7.

The Friday Festival takes place from 2pm to 10pm inside the Windsor Room. Tickets are BD10 for adults and BD5 for children. A combo ticket for both events is BD13.

For more information and tickets, visit www.bahrainfringefestival.com or call 33191554. 







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