Bedfringe 2021 Interview: ‘Twas a Dark and Stormy Night

“I learned how much I love what I do. And I learned not to waste the down time.”

WHO: Mark Steinhardt

ROLE IN PRODUCTION: Everything

WHAT: “Bedfringe regular, and twice a ‘Bedfringe Sellout’, Mark Steinhardt is back for the eighth time in the last eleven years.

Once again he has a new story to share. But this time he’s not telling you anything about it – he doesn’t want to give the game away. The title, he admits, has nothing whatever to do with it; it’s just there to set the tone.

He reckons that after all these years, you can trust him to deliver something worth an hour of your time.”

WHERE: Quarry Theatre

WHEN: 30 & 31 July 2021 @ TIMES VARY (60mins)

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Is this your first time to Bedfringe?

No, no! This is my eleventh year. I love it. Every year I’m a performer, a punter and a volunteer. It’s a lovely little festival. All in the same venue; big names, unknowns, large and small performance spaces, gardens – everything. It’s local to me, so it’s my festival, my town.

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

Fortunately, for me, performing is not how I make a living. So all those cancellations that poured in at the beginning of the pandemic were dismal but not frightening. I learned how much I love what I do. And I learned not to waste the down time. Next year’s is half ready!

Tell us about your show.

It’s something different from my usual telling of traditional stories. This one is about storytelling itself. It’s a convoluted yarn and….. oh no! I’m not going to get sucked into giving the game away! I think it’s more light-hearted than my past performances, but I hope it’s not entirely frivolous. And there some humour – several smiles, three chuckles and one laugh. Maybe.

What should your audience see at Bedfringe after they’ve seen your show?

I’m going to suggest the people I’ve seen in past years and really enjoyed. There’s Alfie Moore for starters, the Falsetto Sock Puppets have never let me down and Pip Upton is always reliable. Yer Blues Bones is bound to be at the fine-honed cutting edge of the avant garde. Of course they are. Beyond that, I’m not going to do the shameless plugging of my pals. I haven’t got any. I’ve trodden on them all on my way to the top.


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Bedfringe 2021 Interview: Sparky TKO – Bridging the Gap

“I mix passion, politics, romance, humour and a wardrobe symbolising ambitions that vastly outweigh the realities of my ‘best life’.”

WHO: Sparky TKO: Poet, musician, noisemaker

WHAT: “Sparky TKO creates stories and documents experience through the medium of poetry and song. Their personal and universal themes range from empowered, impassioned and political, to absurd, off-kilter and daft. Their unashamed love for casual-glam aesthetic and grand formality of cabaret often contrasts with the jagged-edged sonic punk melody, and unpolished nosedives into improvisation.

‘Bridging the Gap’ will see Sparky showcase new material, as well as selecting (and often re-interpreting) pieces from their last 3 fringe shows – ‘A Year in Sixty Minutes’ (2015), ‘Mansplaining’ (2017) and ‘Welsh America’ (2019), with the events of the last 18 months having added additional pertinence to themes such as connection, perpetual motion and hope.

Their 25th July show will be performed acoustically, and 28th July electronically.”

WHERE: Quarry Theatre

WHEN: 25 July 2021 @ 11:00 & 28 July 2021 @ 19:30 (30-60mins)

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Is this your first time to Bedfringe?

This is my sixth time at Bedfringe, my five-year unbroken run inevitably being interrupted by the pandemic last year.

Aside from it being practically on my doorstep (give or take a few hedge/fence manoeuvres), I feel Bedfringe is special because it takes risks and packs a diverse range of productions and performers into such a short space of time. I always enjoy coming down to the Quarry during Bedfringe, whether performing, watching a show, or just hanging out at the bar, because of the positive energy and welcoming vibe. The July sunshine invariably helps too!

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

On a personal note, it’s been to value my gifts, but also my boundaries – I feel I’ve often taken on more than I could reasonable manage because of perceived expectations.

On a more collective note, I think boundaries apply to us all, whether it’s demanding our four square meters of space, ensuring people get a permit before hugging/touching us, and generally being more considerate of each other’s wellbeing.

Tell us about your show.

My previous fringe shows – ‘A Year in Sixty Minutes‘, ‘Mansplaining and ‘Welsh America‘ – have merged a thematically linked selection of my poems and songs with a corresponding narrative arc. With ‘Bridging the Gap‘, I’m reviewing these under new lenses, particularly given the perspectives we’ve all gained in the last year and a half or so. If you’ve never seen me before, it can basically act as a beginner’s guide to my creative musings, and if you have, there will be new poems as well as revisions of the older ones.

I mix passion, politics, romance, humour and a wardrobe symbolising ambitions that vastly outweigh the realities of my “best life”.

What should your audience see at Bedfringe after they’ve seen your show?

Oh, without a doubt go and see Thomas Benjamin Wild esq. The man is hilarious!
But there’s so much – I’d recommend Juliette Burton and Simon Munnery for comedy, ‘Twas a Dark and Stormy Night for poetry, and the Blender Takeover for music – they curate a stage without a variety of fantastic local musicians.


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Bedfringe 2021 Interview: BOUDICA : An Interactive, Action-Packed Play for Kids

“Two out of Three of the Wild Geese were raised around Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, so it makes us very proud to be putting our biggest EVER show on here.”

WHO: Andrew Baker: Artistic Director

WHAT: “BOUDICA is a fast-paced, action-packed show steered by charming characters, with an innovative approach to engaging with the audience. We use experienced facilitators to bring the children into the world of the play through rhythmic participation, atmospheric activities & playing key characters. The story is dramatically told from both sides of the legendary Boudica myth, challenging the children to ask: Who am I going to fight for?”

WHERE: Quarry Theatre Garden

WHEN: 27 & 28 July 2021 @ 15:00 (75mins)

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Is this your first time to Bedfringe?

Yes! This is our first time at Bedfringe, and we couldn’t be more excited to take part. Two out of Three of the Wild Geese were raised around Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, so it makes us very proud to be putting our biggest EVER show on here.

For us, a great festival is all about families. It’s about people of all ages getting together to celebrate creativity together. Our mission has been to do just that – celebrate creativity.

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

These past few years have taught us so much. But, not all of those lessons were happy one. We’ve learnt that sometimes people forget about how important being creative actually is and how important it is for people to get together and create stuff. But, we have all soldiered through and now we have our chance to make magic happen again.

We’ve also learnt that, no matter what, The Wild Geese team have always got each other’s backs, and we always have time for our community of kids and their families.

Tell us about your show.

We really do have something super special in store for you this year. We are incredibly proud of this show and the amazing cast and creatives who have made it happen.

Step back in time with us to ancient Britannia. The Romans are making their way across the land, destroying anybody who refuses to be ruled by them. A young queen, Boudica of the Iceni tribe, refuses to back down and begins her own war against the Romans. She fights for the freedom of her people, but Rome is unbelievable strong…

The story is full of action and drama but, just like all our shows, it is also full of comedy and fun. We ask our audience to take part as well! So, for those who would like to, there will be chances to actually be in the play itself! And, even if you don’t want to play a part, there are loads of opportunities to make noise and run wild during the performance. There is even a chance to be involved in a full blown battle! It’s not to missed!

What should your audience see at Bedfringe after they’ve seen your show?

Well, we love classic storytelling a lot. There are some brilliant storytellers at Bedfringe this year.

The amazing Mark Steinhardt’s show, ‘Twas A Dark And Stormy Night, will no doubt be a must-watch.

Also, Richard Pulsford’s show, It Just So Happened, looks incredible too!


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Bedfringe 2021 Interview: Andrew White: The Gay Agenda Live!

“This is my second time performing at Bedfringe after I had such a great time in 2019. That first year was a bit of an unknown but the support from the festival was brilliant and I got two lovely audiences in for both showings.”

WHO: Andrew White: Writer / Performer

WHAT: “Sex, Spreadsheets and Revolution. Andrew White promises it all in this hilarious new show spilling all the secrets of the widely whispered about “gay agenda” – is it as evil as the conspiracists claim? What is the anthem for this LGBT takeover? And will there be biscuits? (All sexualities welcome; there MIGHT be biscuits)”

WHERE: Quarry Theatre

WHEN: 30 July 2021 @ 21:00 (60mins)

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Is this your first time to Bedfringe?

This is my second time performing at Bedfringe after I had such a great time in 2019. That first year was a bit of an unknown but the support from the festival was brilliant and I got two lovely audiences in for both showings. I don’t exactly have a massive profile, so to know there’s a willing and open-minded audience who will go see things from people they’ve not heard of is a delight!

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

My last show had a projector, screen and a few heavy props that were not fun to carry around! I had resolved to strip it all back this year, but I’m slowly building up a list of things I’d actually quite like to include… In a normal comedy club you don’t get as much freedom to play about with things, so although my backpack may be heavy again, I think I’m happy to ignore that 2019 lesson in favour of some creative messing about.

Tell us about your show.

The Gay Agenda LIVE! is a tongue-in-cheek look at sexuality, spreadsheets and revolution. It mainly revolves around my desire to be more active in activism contrasted against a desire to not rock the boat and fill in forms effeciently. Can the two be married? Is a protest song the best medium to contribute to “the revolution”? And am I gay enough to be a gay icon?

The topics sound heavy, but it’s all dealt with in a very silly and light-hearted matter that I hope people can relate to, no matter their backgrounds. Plus, there is a loop-pedal based observational comedy routine, some musical flair, and a lot of biscuit chat… Something for everyone!

What should your audience see at Bedfringe after they’ve seen your show?

I’ve worked a lot with Patrick Monahan over lockdown doing Zoom comedy shows and he is just so good. Such great company and brilliantly funny – go watch him on the 1st August.

My very good friend Max Fulham is doing ‘An Extraordinary Evening’ of comedy ventriloquism & mind-reading with Matt Daniel-Baker. If you have younger family members the show is perfect to take them to, or just superb for all ages anyway if you’re attending without the kids.

Plus, just take a punt on things that look interesting! That’s the best part of a fringe festival


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Bedfringe 2021 Interview: Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq. Live At Bedfringe

“The Quarry Theatre and garden are an absolute pleasure to perform in and watch shows at (and they are only a 10 minute walk from my house) so I’m looking forward to seeing some great shows this year.”

WHO: Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq: Performer

WHAT: “Bedford’s own viral star returns to Bedfringe. With over 140,000 subscribers and over 8 million views of his notorious, sweary classic ‘I’ve No More …. To Give’ on YouTube alone, Thomas will be bringing his banjolele for a mix of (radio friendly versions of) his original satirical songs and sing-a-long classics.”

WHERE: Quarry Theatre Garden

WHEN: 30 July 2021 @ 18:00 (50mins)

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Is this your first time to Bedfringe?

I first performed at Bedfringe 2019, but, as a Bedford resident, I’ve been a punter for years. It’s a great event showcasing some fantastic local, national and international acts. I must admit, as a performer, I’m fairly new to the whole festival circuit, however, as a punter, a great location is key. The Quarry Theatre and garden are an absolute pleasure to perform in and watch shows at (and they are only a 10 minute walk from my house) so I’m looking forward to seeing some great shows this year.

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

Well, 2019 seems like a lifetime ago and I’ve only had a handful of gigs in front of ‘real’ audiences since then! Like many other artists, over 2020/21 I have been doing a lot of online shows and have become very good at performing to a camera, keeping my gaze to a fixed point and not leaving any awkward silence between songs (as a performer you get used to leaving space for applause, however, social media doesn’t have a function for that yet!) I’ve definitely got better at dealing with my own tech, however, I’m very much looking forward to someone else handling that side of things again!

Tell us about your show.

This will be my first show in front of an audience since December 2019, so expect me to be rather excitable! I’ll be performing a family friendly, Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq. set (don’t worry, I’ll be doing a version of ‘that’ song) which will include some singalong classics as well as songs from my 2nd album which I have not yet had the opportunity to play to people face to face yet! I may even be playing some brand new songs for the first time as well.

What should your audience see at Bedfringe after they’ve seen your show?

I definitely think people should try and catch the excellent Dave Alnwick’s Nightmare Magic show. I performed with Dave at the 2019 opening show and he was fabulous! Also, my good friend Sparky TKO is always great, and I’ll also be trying to catch some of the Blender Takeover shows, including the wonderful Danni Nicholls and Richie Prynne.


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Bedfringe 2021 Interview: Stolen: President Obonjo

“A great festival happens because of the way it is curated.”

WHO: President Obonjo: Writer and Producer

WHAT: “Lafta Republic becomes the first fictional country to experience a coup by the west. It is a story about an African dictator who fights back seeking justice and equality supported by the justice for Obonjo army.”

WHERE: Quarry Theatre

WHEN: 28 July 2021 @ 19:30 (60mins)

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Is this your first time to Bedfringe?

Yes, but I am experienced producer I have produced shows at Edinburgh Fringe, Brighton Fringe , Leicester Comedy Festival and Hastings Fringe well over 10 years experience. Bedfringe is a local fringe which means it caters for the needs of comedy lovers who live outside London saving costs of travel in London. No need to travel into London to enjoy comedy. I believe audiences would also be able to see non TV comedy acts and local acts showcasing their talent.

A great festival happens because of the way it is curated, the level of comedians attracted to do the festival, the line up of comedians, the promotion, organisation and the publicity for the festival. The energy, the ambiance, and the buzz all make a good festival.

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

Looking for other avenues for creative outlets and focusing on content to promote what I do.

Tell us about your show.

An Exiled dictator fights back after an attempted coup by the West, with his army of comedians he garners support to reinstate himself as the Original African dictator. An undemocratic world leader , classified as an evil and brutal dictator fighting for social justice and fair play. The Original African dictator fights back to save his Presidency.

What should your audience see at Bedfringe after they’ve seen your show?

They should see civilian comedians performing at the Fringe they are all good to have been accepted at the Fringe. I think Fringe audience members will be spoilt for choice, its difficult to recommend one particular comedian and after a year of not performing all shows will provide audiences.


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Bedfringe 2021 Interview: Nightmare Magic

“I love ghost stories. Old tales of haunted houses with long dead creatures lurking behind the dark. I remember being fifteen and performing a monologue I’d written for drama class about a frightened boy whose parents and doctors didn’t believe in his imaginary friend.”

WHO: David Alnwick: Writer & Performer

WHAT: Magician and horror writer David Alnwick uses magic to tell ghost stories. Part play, part magic show, entirely scary.

WHERE: Quarry Theatre

WHEN: 31 July 2021 @ 19:30 (60mins)

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Is this your first time to Bedfringe?

I first performed at Bedfringe in 2019 at their opening night show, sharing the stage with some super cool acts. It must have gone well because when I came back two weeks later with my full show ‘Actual Magic’ I was grateful to find they had moved me into the main performance space because of high ticket demand.

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

I’ve discovered how much I love writing. Live performance has always been my life, but when everything closed down, I hid behind my laptop and wrote story after story. It kept me going.

Tell us about your show.

I love ghost stories. Old tales of haunted houses with long dead creatures lurking behind the dark. I remember being fifteen and performing a monologue I’d written for drama class about a frightened boy whose parents and doctors didn’t believe in his imaginary friend. As I spoke, I played with a dinner fork, and at the end I put it down, and it moved across the floor. It was just a magic trick, but I’ll never forget the reaction it got. ‘Nightmare Magic’ is the grown-up version. A collection of scary stories brought to life with magic.

What should your audience see at Bedfringe after they’ve seen your show?

Go see Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq, it’s funny as hell and he’s such a nice guy. Patrick Monahan too, great comedian.


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