OXFORD is preparing to stage its own version of Edinburgh’s famous Fringe Festival, with the third year of Oxfringe.

The festival, which features everything from music, theatre, comedy, literature, starts on Wednesday, April 1.

Co-director Heather Dunmore said: “Oxfringe is the dream for people who go to Edinburgh and love it who wanted something like that in Oxford.

“We have a lot of Oxfordshire people taking part and performing and there are lots of opportunities for them to show their work.”

Throughout the 13 days of the festival, there will be more than 140 live performances at 27 venues across Oxford. Last year, the festival included just over 40 events.

Ms Dunmore said: “We wanted it to grow, but I don’t think we were expecting to grow quite so fast. We invited performers to approach us and we just had a huge response.”

For the first time, there will be several outdoor events, including Oxfringe Outside, which will see stiltwalkers, fire-eaters, world music and Oxfringe previews taking over Oxford Castle on Saturday, April 4.

There will also be workshops on everything from character acting and circus skills, to gospel singing and writing short stories.

Some of the biggest names taking part in this year’s festival include poet John Hegley, supported by George Chopping, comedian Arthur Smith and local favourites including alt-country band The Epstein and Stornoway.

Theatre performances will include Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and Kafka’s Dick by Alan Bennett.

The festival’s turnover is about £15,000, with funding coming from sponsors including Borders, Brakspear, Oxford City Council, the Oxford Editors, Oxfordshire Community Foundation and the Midcounties Co-operative.

Free events will be held every day, with the first being singer songwriter Lizzie Hibbert performing live at Copa Bar on Wednesday, April 1, at 9pm.

Actor Steve Hay, who lives on a canal boat in East Oxford, is among the hundreds of performers who will be taking part, performing in Last Belch for the Great Auk, by David Halliwell, on Wednesday, April 1, and Thursday, April 2, at the Old Fire Station and in spoken word performance evening Jam on That, at the Jam Factory on Monday, April 6.

He said: “Oxfringe 2009 has grown a lot from its start and I think it’s going to be much bigger and much better this year.

“I’m doing two things and I am really looking forward to both of them. I think they will be good and I think Oxfringe will give them a bigger platform than they might have had otherwise.”

l Full details of festival events are available at oxfringe.com


Oxfringe Stands Up, Brewery Gate pub, St Thomas Street, April 1, 8pm

Oxford’s fantasy fiction, Corner Club, Turl Street, April 2, 7pm

The DFC Comic workshop, Borders, April 5, 2pm

Full Metal Waistcoat, Far from the Madding Crowd, Friar’s Entry, Tuesday, April 7, 9pm

Oxford Contemporary Music Open Session, The North Wall, South Parade, April 8, 6.30pm

Meet the Agents, Said Business School, Thursday, April 9, 6.30pm

The Hobgoblin Comedy Awards Gong Show, Brewery Gate pub, April 10, 8pm

Dance Unlocked, Oxford Castle Unlocked, New Street, April 13, noon and 3pm fbardsley@oxfordmail.co.uk