For a small market town in an unspoilt corner of Shropshire, Ludlow is incredibly lucky to boast a thriving local arts, music and theatre scene. Arguably the brightest jewel in this cultural crown is Ludlow Fringe festival, which welcomes world-renowned stars and local artists alike. The festival is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year with a two-week extravaganza from 17th June – 2nd July, including performances right here in Ludlow Castle. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed in the Inner Bailey of the castle – like you’ve never seen it before. We chatted to Ludlow Fringe’s Managing Director Anita Bigsby about what’s in store at this year’s Ludlow Fringe…
For anyone who hasn’t yet experienced Ludlow Fringe Festival – how would you sum it up?
Ludlow Fringe is a fortnight of fabulous fun, Arts and Cultural entertainment where our community are at the heart of our endeavours. We programme around 100 free and low-priced events at venues across the town from all genres of the Arts: Comedy, Poetry, Dance, Music, Visual, Shakespeare, Theatre, Writers, Walks, Talks, Workshops, Street Theatre, Choirs, etc, and to launch it all we have the Ludlow Carnival which gives everybody the chance to get involved in a massive celebration of our town’s creativity. This year the theme is Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales to tie in with the production of Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by Flabbergast Theatre, in Ludlow Castle.
Congratulations on your 10-year Anniversary – how does an event such as yours continue to go from strength to strength?
Sheer determination to keep it going and the commitment to deliver a festival which reflects our creative community and their wider interests. We have always been focused on uncovering the vast array of talent within the area and to support artists by giving opportunities to show off, share and celebrate their skills. By allying ourselves with the World Fringe organisation we have been able to attract other touring artists from all over the world to come and perform in our beautiful town. This has of course involved a lot of leg work and we have represented Ludlow in person at World Fringe Conferences in Canada, Ireland, Edinburgh and Brighton, as well as Orlando and Adelaide via audio visual links.
We have had a great deal of support as well from Ludlow Town Council, Shropshire Council, local businesses, organisations and, most importantly, the people of Ludlow. We have also had great support from our Patrons; the late John Challis was always a champion of our festival and our aims, and now Alistair McGowan (our present Patron) is incredibly supportive and is actively working toward helping us raise our national profile through bringing in bigger and more recognisable names. This year we are bringing Dame Judi Dench, Jasper Carrott, Susie Dent, John Inverdale, Nick Owen, David Davies and many, many more exciting, new writers, performers and artists from all areas of the Arts.
Ludlow Fringe Festival’s Patron – Alistair McGowan
What can people expect from this year’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at
The award winning Flabbergast Theatre is one of the country’s most exciting, young, touring theatre groups. Their Director, Henry Maynard, has become a much sought after actor, producer and director. He has toured internationally with War Horse and is presently in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End. Anyone who saw the Flabbergast production of Macbeth in 2021 at Stokesay Court, or 2022 in the Inner Bailey of Ludlow Castle, will know the amazing energy, physicality and perceptive adaptation that Henry has brought to this most timeless and classic of Shakespeare’s plays. Flabbergast have enjoyed runs of Macbeth in Edinburgh and London with continued 5-star reviews and this year’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is being produced specifically to be performed within the Inner Bailey of Ludlow Castle and for the Ludlow Fringe Festival will no doubt bring the same excitement, energy and engagement to this much loved comedy. Their unique approach to storytelling, combining physical comedy, folk song, dance and a keen use of European theatre arts will bring the magic of midsummer alive and audiences will go away amazed and satisfied that they have had a unique theatre experience.
Flabbergast Theatre have created their own unique brand of physical theatre