Monthly Archives :

August 2016

Lonely Hearts Club Tuesday

150 150 Ventnor Fringe

“I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes”. Yes darlings, Marti is right, love is all around us at VFringe 2016. And on this love, you can depend.

    Today’s eminently eligible bachelorette is Miss M and she’s a corker. Miss M describes herself as 5’10, a black slip on a rail of white dresses, she likes red wine when it’s raining and cider when it’s warm. She is looking for an artsy/musician man to sweep her off her feet with egotistical nonsense.

    If you feel you can impress Miss M and enjoy talking about serial killers, then send your best chat up lines to, or drop a nice postcard into the Ventnor Exchange Press Office aka The Fun Room.

    Darlings, to quote that handsome highlander Marti Pellow again, “you know I love you, I always will”.

Yours, Miss Reid xxx

The Equal Blood Project: An Interview with Ben Hansen-Hicks

150 150 Ventnor Fringe

Where did the Equal Blood project come from?

I used to give blood when I was a wee lad, every 3 months just because I thought it was a good thing to do. When I got to uni – massive cliché – and started batting for the other team, I realised I couldn’t give blood just on that basis and I got really disappointed that I couldn’t.

I’d always get letters through the post saying please donate we’re desperately low on the X and Y bloodstocks but I couldn’t. So I thought what better than send a reminder that I would still very much like to give blood to the people in the NHS, and it started from there really.

I just thought what sort of way can I bring them into my life and just show them that I’m actually a person too, more than willing to donate to save lives.

When did the blood restriction start?

It came about in the 80s around the time that people started realising that HIV was a fatal disease. They pretty much ran a mile and were like F-that so they stopped all gay and bi men people giving blood. But now, a lot research has been done which shows that this level of ban is completely unnecessary. The most recent research shows that HIV can be detected in sampled blood within 9 days. It used to be a 3 month window, but now that this new test – called RNA testing – has come in, it’s dramatically shorter.

When did you wake up and think ‘I’m going to send postcards’?

I’d come out to a few people and said I wanna do something about this. I’m perfectly capable of sending postcards and so is everybody else so why shouldn’t I start now, because it’s not going to change itself.

It was really horrible, just a couple of weeks after I started sending postcards, the Orlando massacre happened and the discussion suddenly bubbled up into the forefront of everybody’s minds. Lines of people were queueing up outside Orlando to give blood in hospitals and loads of gay friends, husbands or boyfriends of those gunned down couldn’t give blood and it was just really distressing to see.

So yeah, one day I woke up and thought why not do something about it.

What kinds of questions do people ask you about the project?

People are very keen on the idea. They hate that I can’t give blood, just as and when. So I get similar questions to what you’re asking, why are you doing it, what’s the point, how long have you been doing it for, what does this mean, what are you trying to achieve, all the usual ones.

Have you been contacted by James Neuberger?

Well I started out postcarding a chap called John Pallutto who is the head of the NHS Blood and Transplant board. I sent postcards to him for about 4 weeks so about 20 postcards – I send them Monday-Friday. He emailed me and it transpired that there was going to a governmental review on the ban so he basically just said we can’t really do anything about changing the rule. James Neuberger, however, is the head of SaBTO (Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs) who is leading the charge in reviewing the 12 month MSM (gay and bisexual men) ban on blood donations. Once they finish the report, whatever they tell the NHS to do will have to be put into motion. So he (Pallutto) basically said we’d love to help but we can’t, so please send postcards to this guy instead (Neuberger).

A couple of my friend thought it was just somebody I knew, really randomly, like why are you sending him postcards?!

Have you been contacted by him?

Yeah I’ve been contacted by a couple of people who work for the Department of Health in general. But they’re very generic stock responses like, thank you for alerting us to that and I’m sorry about that, take a ticket please. So nothing major as of yet.

What do you hope that he says?

That it will be changed because it’s not a discrimination viewpoint that I’ve got, there’s even a strong evidence-based scientific one now. It’s just ridiculous. I just hope that he’d say that we’ve managed to look through some of the latest research over the last couple of years and come to the conclusion that we don’t need this ban at all. Look at Argentina, Spain and Italy – they don’t have any sort of ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men and their blood stocks are much healthier because of it. It should just be an individual basis in the way that they organise risk, instead of banning an entire community.

So when friends ask me questions about it, I give them this scenario to show how silly the law is; if you were the most promiscuous straight guy you could walk into a blood drive and give blood right then and there. Whereas, even if you were married to another man for years and you’ve only had sex with him for the last 5 or 10 years, they wouldn’t be able to give blood straight away. It just seems illogical.

What will you be doing on Sunday then?

I’m going to be doing a short talk about what I’m doing and why people should get involved. Afterwards I’m going to be sitting at a table, hopefully not on my own, with lots of collage-y postcard making things that people can cut out and stick together to make their own postcards. Got a few on the go already (from members of the media team). This way people can just come up with their own reasons for why it’s bad and wrong, why we should change it and their viewpoints, and add their postcard to everyone else’s! I’ll be showing them off on the Instagram over the next few weeks so everyone can get an idea of what other people are saying.

Do you hope that it turns into a movement and lots of people send postcard daily?

Yeah definitely, because Britain isn’t the only place where it’s basically an indefinite ban. I’m half Danish and it’s the case there that gay and bisexual men  can’t give blood ever.

It’s an indefinite ban but on the other side there at 18 countries in the world, including places like Italy and Spain, where they don’t have freeze-out bans. So you can just turn up and it’s more of an individual assessment of your risk instead of just saying every gay/bi man will get HIV or Hep C in his life. So definitely, it would be great if it was a movement and I think that there’s way more people doing lots of different things as well.

But it’s not just me trying to get the law on blood donation changed. There’s a really great organization called Freedom to Donate that have been lobbying the issue for a few years and have gotten really far.

There are more people out there, it’s just connecting everybody up.

A Breakdown of Butoh

150 150 Ventnor Fringe

An introduction to butoh as a dance form with Ezio Tangini. Check out Eio’s show Somewhere Nowhere at The Scout Hut, 9.30pm & 10.30pm Thursday evening (18+).

Where are you from?

“Rome, Italy”

How did you hear about Ventnor Fringe?

“On the web”

What style of performance is yours?

“The butoh dance is born in Japan in 1959, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno have been the discoverers of this new kind of dance.

Now this form of dance is known everywhere. It is a form of dance in which it is important to feel the internal motivations. The Body expressing its existence. Living. Body. Inner-landscapes.”

Who/what inspires your choreography?

“The nature is often the most important inspiration. In Somewhere Nowhere the nature has inspired me strongly and also pictures, like the paintings of Andrea Mantegna and Hans Holbein the young.” 

How many years have you been perfecting this art? 

“I started studying butoh in 1998 with Masaki Iwana, in an intensive summer one month training in Normandy. Then I was there several times.

I started performing butoh in 2003. Flavia Ghisalberti, Yann van Steenbrugghe and I founded the group In Between Butoh. The group has been created around the dance project “Something in between”; reflections about the socialization of madness and the memories of places which accompanies it, conditions it or treats it.”

What other countries have you performed in? 

“With In Between Butoh; I performed in Russia, U.S., Canada, France, Switzerland, Germany, Gibraltar and Romania.

As as solo performer I’ve performed in Holland, Ireland, Romania and Switzerland.”

Where is the most interesting place you’ve ever performed? 

“In Sibiu (Romania) in 2009 with In Between Butoh. We performed as a three piece with a musician, Frank Heierli, in a small boat on an artificial lake, inside the Astra Museum and park with 400 people watching our performance.”

The Austerity Games

150 150 Ventnor Fringe

Ah the Olympic Games, that time every four years when the whole world comes together as one in the name of peace, unity and love. 

    That time of our lives when we treat everyone as equal, as human beings. That time of our lives when corruption, dangerous sanitary conditions and drug induced super humans do not exist. Oh wait… 

    Sorry about all that! This year Tell Tale Theatre bring us The Austerity Games, a theatrical triathlon of physical storytelling. It’s suitable for all ages and has a five performance run at this year’s Fringe, what are you waiting for?! The 75-minute long show is thoroughly immersive and touching, integrating the best of British wit and the cleverly timed Olympic spirit. 

    Set on the eve of the 1948 Olympic Games in London, the play follows the story of old Martha Britt. Triggered by a visitation from the ghost of her husband Victor who died in the Blitz in Coventry, she embarks on a Dickensian inspired journey through time to discover the true meaning of the Olympic Spirit. 

    The Austerity Games is here for another four performances at the Pier Street Playhouse. Tickets are available at the Box Office and online.


By Tom Paston-Cooper


150 150 Ventnor Fringe

From the belly of Texas comes this all American singer song-writer.

Beautifully harrowing and witty American tales sang along to the all too pleasing soft tones of an acoustic guitar.

The modern tales of American life as it is known today. Kiya Heartwood has found fame among her many followers and has led a very interesting life.

It was during her time at college when she was playing with a band called Radio Café that Kiya got her first break. Herself and drummer, Kopana Terry, were sought out and signed by Castle Records; this is where we find the inception of Stealin’ Horses.  

With the band, Stealin’ Horses, Kiya found rock music fame. Their time with Castle records was short until the band found themselves stuck in the no-man’s land of a bidding war between 17 different record labels. This battle was finally won by Arista.

To give you some idea of Kiya’s career, back in 1987 she and her band played at South by Southwest Festival, for those that aren’t aware SXSW Festival is kind of a big deal in America (and the rest of the world).

A year later Stealin’ Horses was featured on an album with names such as Russ Kunkel, Toto and Neil Young! The band then went on tour across the US and Canada with various different bands, some of which were Level 42, The Stray Cats and James Brown.   

Stealin’ Horses disbanded in 1993 which was the year that Kiya brought out her first solo album, True Frontier. And so we have it, since 1993 she has been blazing the various trails of the world with her solo career and this week has hung her hat in Ventnor.   

This will awaken the country singer within. I have often (more than I should admit) imagined myself on the back of an American Quarter Horse playing my cord acoustic. Though the reality of this feat would without a doubt have me skidding the floor on my backside with one foot in the stirrup and guitar nowhere to be seen. I just REALLY want to be an American country singer, alas my Angelo-Saxon blood will not have it.   

“An award-winning American singer-songwriter who writes smart, funny and poignant songs about the famous and not-so-famous legends of America” – Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Kiya Heartwood is playing this evening and tomorrow at 8.15pm in Ventnor Arts Club. 

Lonely Hearts Club Sunday

150 150 Ventnor Fringe

Sunday Special: I’m giving you a two hearts for the column space of one deal. Because I’m a kind, generous soul who only wants the best for you all. You’re welcome.

    “My first, my last, my everything and the answer to all my dreams”.

    Barry White may have written this song in 1974, but Miss Reid (yes, I’ve started referring to myself in the third person because Miss Reid is rather tired) feels that the Walrus of Love was singing about this eligible young man. Through time and space, yes. It is definitely possible.

    Mister H is a tall, cool and refreshing glass of gin and elderflower. With a slice of cucumber. Because this chap is a class act. He is witty, wonderful, wise and can help you reach the top shelf if needs be. He is looking for a smooth, deep voiced Love Walrus of his own. Someone who can make the ground shake beneath Mister H’s feet just by humming.

    Our second love seeking missile is Mister S. He is a little bundle of canine charm and charisma. Mister S is looking for a lady to his tramp. If you enjoy walks on the beach, doggy treats and tail wagging, get in touch. PS, this is a real dog. Not a guy wearing a PVC tail. Not one of those guys from that Channel 4 documentary. You know the one. 

    My sweet darlings, it’s been a pleasure. Be good. 

All my love, Miss Reid. x x x

Learn a Little about Ventnor

150 150 Ventnor Fringe

    1. Got a bad case of consumption? You’ve come to the right place! Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, Ventnor was THE place for the Victorian elite to catch some rays, take the waters and hopefully recover from that nasty TB. There were several sanitoriums and a huge Chest Hospital where the Botanic Gardens now is.

    2. In fact, The Isle of Wight Railway at one time ran a non-stop train from Ryde to Ventnor which was nicknamed ‘The Invalid Express’ specifically to rush consumptive patients to their treatment at Ventnor. 

    3. Karma karma karma chameleon…Okay, we don’t have chameleons, but we do have the largest British colony of common wall lizards! YES. WE WIN! Try and spot one during fringe!

    4.Ventnor gets around, there are also Ventnors in Australia and New Jersey! But we were the first. And the best, obviously…

    5. Up The Downs! At 787 ft (240m) above sea level, St Boniface Down is home to Old English feral goats, the Adonis Blue Butterfly, Buzzards, Ravens and fairies…Okay, I made that last bit up. Or did I?

    6. Karl Marx liked to holiday here. This pleases me.

    7. Above the town is a geological fault known as the Graben, which marks the top of the series of landslips on which Ventnor is built. This fault moves regularly. But don’t worry, we haven’t fallen into the sea yet!

    8. Three miles off the coast of Ventnor is a deep narrow channel known as St. Catherine’s Deep. Lovecraftian eh?

    9. On the Ventnor Town Crest is Hygeia, the mythical daughter of a doctor who was murdered by Zeus for basically being too good at his job and liked by everyone. Nice one Zeus. So she took over the family healing business, hence why the Victorians adopted her as Ventnor’s symbol.

    10. Ventnor is great. It’s the best. I love it. And THAT’s a fact.


By Laura Clare Reid

Hand in Hand

150 150 Ventnor Fringe

I’ve often wondered where this biosphere ends and the gates of purgatory begin. It turns out it’s quite simply by walking into the media room, I jest. No, those who walk the astral planes would unquestionably be quieter with vastly improved sanity.

Venturing out of this husk of magnolia paint, blue tac and spread sheets can seem quite terrifying. Yesterday I sauntered through the Fringe and was accosted by a large hill, the Kraken, tales of ethereal dreams and three girls from the 1920s resurrected from the dead.

However, the Kraken served me drinks, the ethereal dreams turned to serine mumblings of better days and the wartime gals sang with such beautiful harmonics that my mind felt at ease once more.

So in the end all was well in the world and I had myself a lovely time.

Moving onto the evening, ah yes the Carnival, the deafening sounds of samba and marching bands still ringing in my ears. An array of flamboyant figures danced their way around the traffic-free streets on Ventnor. This year this 126 year old Carnival was joined by the Shakespearian actors of Scena Mundi and our Heretic Historians. Characters that seemed out of place walking the avenues just an hour before became part of the rich tapestry Ventnor has worked so hard to create.

Well done Ventnor.


International Festival

150 150 Ventnor Fringe

There’s a polar bear on the loose! Don’t be alarmed though, he’s the most genial, lovable polar bear you could ever hope to meet.  He’s back in town starring in an original play created by the Ventnor Exchange, Good Night, Little Bear.

    This is a great show for the young, or the young at heart. It’s a beautiful story of a little girl and her polar bear. With a mixture of puppets, animation and childlike wonder, you’ll be left in a state of pure joy. Tickets are selling fast so get down to the Exchange and get yours. 

    Today sees the Arts Club hosting the first of two international showcases of short film. Expect narratives, animations, illustrative pieces, music based film, and motion graphics. Each day session will be different screenings between 14 – 18 short films. 

    Later in the day the Arts Club will be showing two feature films, Fire at Sea, a poignant and moving documentary, and Little Men, a critical yet empathetic look at the dangers of gentrification. 

    Or if you like your film al fresco, head over to Parkside for the Island premier of High Rise, Ben Wheatley’s clever adaptation of JG Ballard’s ‘unfilmable’ book offers a creepy, future-retro vision of a society riven by wealth.


Good Night Little Bear: Victoria Street Playhouse: Thurs/Fri @ 3pm and Sat/Sun @ 11am & 3pm

Short Film Showcase: Ventnor Arts Club: Thurs/Fri @ 2:30pm

Fire at Sea: Ventnor Arts Club: Thurs @ 4pm

Little Men: Ventnor Arts Club: Thurs @ 7pm

High Rise: Parkside: Thurs @ 9pm


By Matt Hitt