Thursday, October 03, 2019

Fringe benefits

In Cardiff, much as in London, it's easy to live in a bubble and get complacent about all of the cultural events going on all the time. Every once in a while it's worth taking a step back and reminding yourself how privileged you are to call a capital city home. Not that those who don't live in Cardiff are completely starved of cultural sustenance, of course - far from it.

Take the Machynlleth Comedy Festival, for example. Established for a number of years now, it routinely attracts some of the biggest names in stand-up to a small market town on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park every May. Such has been its success that it now has a sister event in Aberystwyth, which runs for a second time over this coming weekend and will feature shows by James Acaster, Mark Watson, Tony Law, Rhod Gilbert and Elis James as well as a whole host of up-and-coming talent.

As the man behind both festivals, Henry Widdicome, told Wales Arts Review, "Our aim is to create a counterpoint to the Machynlleth Comedy Festival, which is largely about the creation and development of new work in the spring. Aberystwyth Comedy Festival will be at the other end of the summer season, post-Edinburgh Fringe, where completed works will be staged. The idea is that Wales will then have two of the best comedy festivals in the UK, showcasing what are the most interesting contemporary comic voices at different stages of the creative process."

And then there's the Northern Eye Photography Festival, which is taking place in Colwyn Bay this month and consists of a weekend of talks and a fortnight of fringe exhibitions. It first came to my attention because images from festival founder Glenn Edwards' project Route A47zero, which I've been writing about recently, will be on display. In truth, though, the other exhibitions - which focus on everything from an abandoned hotel in Llandudno (Antonia Dewhurst's The Talisman) to Welsh mods (Haydn Denman's Welsh Mod), lone island wardens (Alex Ingram's The Gatekeepers) and people who like to dress up as animal characters (Tom Broadbent's At Home With The Furries) - and indeed the whole programme also look fantastic.

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