Whitley Pump had three Reading Fringe events in our calendar on Friday 27 July: morning ‘One the Couch’, afternoon ‘Climate Symposium’ and evening ‘The Government Inspector’.

This was the last 8am start at the very welcoming White Building on King’s Road for ‘On the Couch‘. The early morning start for three days became a pleasant routine and opportunity to see Reading as I rarely see it these days. Friday’s guests all had a Düsseldorf connection and were participating or performing in other fringe events.

Fiona Leonard of Blue Goat Theatre introduced her play ‘J’N’R‘, set in an airport and loosely based on the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. The play will be performed at the Penta Hotel on Sunday at 1pm.

Photographer Nyani Quarmyne entertained with tales of days in the life of a photographer on location in Georgia, high up in the Caucasus mountains; the peace of a remote abbey and the perils of chacha toasting rounds.

We learnt from Andrew Taylor that the Reading Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra was named ‘Aldworth’ because Richard Aldworth established the Blue Coat School where the founder and conductor of the orchestra had been a pupil. The school was originally established in 1646 at the corner of Silver Street and London Road in Katesgrove so there is an unexpected Katesgrove konnection with this orchestra.

This is not Arturo Castro Nigueras first visit to the Reading Fringe, as he was here last year. On Saturday evening at 7.30pm he will be performing with the Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra at St Laurence Church. ‘Latin Flavours‘ is described in the programme as “… music by Latin American composers, complemented by European pieces that also have a Latin kick!”

Arturo played us out at the end of ‘On the Couch’.

L to R: Fiona Talkington, Fiona Leonard, Nyani Quarmyne, Andrew Taylor and Arturo Castro Nigueras

Nyani Quarmyne was also one of the members of the panel for the ‘Climate Symposium: “A world without … “‘ at MERL on Redlands Road. One of his recent photographic projects was the impact of coastal erosion due to climate change on Totope, a fishing village in Ghana. Images from “We were one three miles from the sea” showed the affect on the village.

As chair Fiona Talkington reminded the audience, the tag line of the symposium ‘a world without… ‘ ends with ‘ice’ in the title Henry Pollack’s book about global warming.

One of the extarordinarily unusual events of the fringe would be an ice music performance by Terje Isungset later that evening. Terje had arrived only an hour before at Heathrow and had still not checked whether his ice instruments had arrived undamaged by road ahead of him. Emile Holba, a photographer who had accompanied him on one of his musical expeditions showed photos from Iqaluit in Canada where a performance had taken place.

Matthieu Arnoult from Reading University’s School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (the venue was the Museum of English Rural Life) and Chris Beales of Reading Climate Change Partnership were also on the panel.

A broad ranging discussion with questions from the audience probably centred on how best to approach climate change education within schools including how to overcome barriers of curriculum and different ways of presenting science.

And finally an evening at the theatre in the Penta Hotel. There was no stage, just a platform. There was no scenery and few props. But there were lights, music, action and costume.

The Government Inspector is a classic Russian play by Nikolai Gogol. The plot focusses on the anticipated arrival of an undercover inspector in a small provincial town and the chaos which ensues. The JMA take on this comedy maximised on the chaos to hilarious, unforgettable, pantomime effect.

Definitely a one-off and ‘you had to be there’!

John Madejski Academy (Performing Arts) were winners of the ‘young talent of the year’ award at this year’s Cultural Awards ceremony.

The fringe ends on Sunday 30 July after an amazingly busy weekend of ‘connect-collaborate-create’. Tickets can be booked via the festival website and some events are FREE.

  1. Reading Fringe festival 2018
  2. Reading Fringe on our doorstep