So what is TW Fringe all about?
It is an exciting new two-week community event in Tunbridge Wells to get people on stage and safely back into many of our incredible local businesses.
It’s also helping to fundraise for charity, isn’t it?
Yes it’ll help to raise money and awareness for two local organisations: Fegans and Taylor-Made Dreams. We are also supporting the Pickering Cancer Drop-In Centre and West Kent Mind. Our main aim is to bring people together, and so far it’s certainly doing that!
What gave you the idea to do this particular event?
Tunbridge Wells has such a variety of businesses, venues and people that make it the perfect location for a ‘fringe’-style event. Lots of our team have been involved with the Edinburgh Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, and have experienced the incredible atmosphere and benefits of this event, which almost doubles the population of Edinburgh for the whole month of August.
So the Edinburgh Festival inspired you then?
Yes, and we wanted to help Tunbridge Wells reap similar benefits. The arts played such a huge important part in keeping everyone entertained (and sane!) during the various lockdowns but it has suffered hugely, too, so we wanted to revitalise and engage the community as restrictions start to ease.
Can you tell us what the TW Fringe 2021 programme includes?
The festival has a little bit of everything, including performance, comedy, workshops, art, storytelling, drama, dance, theatre, spoken word, live music and physical theatre – all suitable for every age. We have venues all over town, including coffee shops, churches, pubs, restaurants, parks, a tattoo parlour, and even a cave!
Are people coming from all over the country, or is it a hyper-local Tunbridge Wells event?
The TW Fringe is for everyone and anyone! We hope it will bring our local community safely back together whilst bringing people into our town to engage with our incredible local businesses.
Was anything cancelled after the Government postponed the lifting of all restrictions last month?
Yes, sadly we had to adapt and postpone some of our events, including our BBC Radio Kent and The Forum’s ‘Access All Areas’ night. Denny’s Fest, which is in aid of the late barber of Castle Street, has been pushed back to July 25 and 26, but our main priority is everyone’s safety. So we will be following the Government guidance as it is released.
Can you sum up the essence of TW Fringe and what people will enjoy most about it?
The TW Fringe is all about our community. As we come out of a period that has been incredibly hard we think it is important that we support each other and rebuild it.
Why did you feel it was important to it put on for the town?
Tunbridge Wells is a vibrant place full of creatives, and the TW Fringe is an incredible opportunity to bring all the different avenues together. We are so excited to be working with the organisers of other TW festivals to engage all parts of our creative local community. Covid has been really hard and a lot of people have been quite isolated so this festival is a safe way of enabling lots of different people with different skill sets to work together in order to create a real communal buzz.
For a full programme of TW Fringe events, and to book, head to twfringe.com
And for all the latest news, give the TW Fringe social media accounts a follow:
JUST FOR LAUGHS
Local comedian Aimee Cooper is staging a number of stand-up gigs as part of TW Fringe. Here the popular funny girl tells us how she got into comedy and why she loves peforming so much:
“I started doing stand-up comedy about two years ago. BK (before kids) I was an actor, so the performance element has always been there but the leap to standing on stage in front of an audience, and my only job is to make them laugh, was a very tough learning curve.
“The ‘why’ I got into comedy is a baffling one – even to myself. I had been filming short sketches and posting them online, and whilst I got that dopamine hit of a virtual positive reaction, I really yearned to be back in a live atmosphere with an audience.
“I love creating characters; their mannerisms, their world and working out what their story is. People-watching is my favourite thing to do and I’ve actually really missed that over lockdown.
“I met TW Fringe organiser Debbie King a few years ago at one of her singing workshops, so when I saw that she’d launched the TW Fringe I just shamelessly stalked and harassed her and pleaded to get involved!
“I’m doing various different shows – they are going to be such fun, with loads of variety and something for everyone. I’ll be presenting acts from across the comedy and cabaret circuit and curating a really incredible bill of entertainment. I cannot wait!”
You can see Aimee Cooper perform on Saturday [July 17] at the Zero Waste café on The Pantiles
WHAT IS TW FRINGE?
Organised solely by volunteers, it is a creative event bringing together over 100 local artists at 40 venues across Tunbridge Wells. Included on the bill are performances from the worlds of music, opera, cabaret, comedy, dance, theatre, film and visual art at venues as diverse as pubs, restaurants, theatres, shops and outdoor spaces.
The event’s sponsors are: Royal Tunbridge Wells Together, The Original Tree Surgeons, Choice Renovations, Studio 44, Host My Office, The Talentz, BNI Kent, Tunbridge Wells Operatic and Dramatic Society TWODS and the TN Card, while its media partners are The Times of Tunbridge Wells and SO Magazine