Interviews

5 minutes with… Ben Rouse

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Bringing Ventnor Fringe to fruition has become a huge task each year, and even with a team of fantastic volunteers and supporters, we have to raise a lot of money every year to deliver the event. We’re incredibly grateful to a range of sponsors and partners who have chosen to support the event including Mackenzies Accountants, The Royal Hotel Ventnor, Red Funnel, Wightlink, Visit Isle of Wight and AJ Wells.

A new supporter of the event this year was Rouse Ltd. A local firm with a long track record of supporting local events and non profits. We had a char with CEO Ben about their involvement.

 

Rouse Ltd sponsored the Comedy & Cabaret Tent at this year’s festival. What made you want to get involved and help support an event like the Ventnor Fringe?

Home-grown events have the potential to become major attractions and if we get the opportunity to support a sound idea then we welcome that. The Island has long been known for its creativity and Rouse Ltd is keen to help nurture and develop that.

We take a nurturing, holistic approach to financial planning as well – many of our clients have come to see us about a specific problem but have remained with us – some have been with us for more than two decades. Over the last few years we’ve been building Rouse Ltd’s presence in the community and one of our initiatives has been financial education. Last year we successfully brought our financial literacy presentation into most of the Island’s 6th forms – it’s aim being to give that age group an insight into controlling their money before they launch themselves at life, whether into a job or while they’re at university – and we’re intending to do that again in the next academic year.

 

Who are Rouse Ltd and what do you do?

We’re a team of independent financial planners, based in Newport. Our team comprises Chartered Financial Planners and Certified Financial Planner™ professionals. We are specialists in pensions, investments, tax planning and mortgages. And anyone reading this who thinks they’re too young to be thinking about a pension – you’re not! Now is never too early!

 

What makes you choose the Isle of Wight as the home for your business?

I was born and brought up in Ventnor so it has always been special to me. I have spent time away but I think, as many people find, the magic draws you back! Having the business based on the Island means we can offer a good work/life balance. Obviously, there are some great leisure opportunities!

 

What are the challenges and benefits to being based on the Island? 

In terms of challenges, the Island can sometimes be perceived as a place of limited opportunity and some view the Solent as a barrier to progress. That might have been the case at one time but now there are some very forward-thinking, creative businesses in a variety of sectors based here. And with the development of Gigabit Island it will make it a more attractive prospect for businesses who want to be connected but still enjoy a more relaxed place to live.

 

Where can people find out more about Rouse Ltd?

On our website, rouseltd.co.uk. Or contact us at balance@rouseltd.co.uk. We also have regular podcasts uploaded covering specific topics in financial planning.

Thanks Ben for taking the time to have a chat.  

There was a fantastic range of acts to choose from this year – congratulations again on the growth of the Fringe.

 

If you’d like to support the Ventnor Fringe please get in touch at hello@vfringe.co.uk an we can explore how to work together.

 

5 Minutes with… Chris Jones

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This year is Ventnor Fringe’s 10th Birthday and you may have started to spot some people with some special 10th edition badges which you can get hold of in the Ventnor Exchange. We had a chat with the designer behind them, Chris Jones.

 
Hi Chris, Tell us a little bit who about who you are and what you create?
 
Hi. I am an artist, photographer and designer living in the sunny town of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. I would consider myself multi-disciplinary; I like my art to be weird, my photography to be dark, and my design to be bright, friendly and accessible. I work mostly in design these days as it pays the bills, but have had a good stint as a photo artist exhibiting on the Island and in London, as well as being published internationally. I consider Art to be in my blood and have been creating for as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil. Additionally (and no less importantly), I am a father to two boys and a husband to Island wedding photographer, Lucy Boynton.
 

You’ve designed some Ventnor Fringe 10th anniversary badges (Which are fantastic by the way) What do you think about the Ventnor Fringe? Do you think it’s been positive for the Island?

 
Thank you. They were fun to design! Ventnor Fringe was just beginning when I first moved to Ventnor, and I had just started to get involved with an art group called The Undecided Art Collective (The UAC). Aside from being incredibly accommodating to The UAC (providing exhibition spaces during Fringe week in the past), I think Ventnor Fringe is one of the most culturally vibrant events on the Island right now. I think it’s impact on Ventnor has completely transformed the town, and I look forward to seeing what the Fringe team has planned each year.
 

 
Your work spans both graphic design and photography, do you find any similarities in your process?
 
Yes and No. I think there are crossovers in processes – for example, working in photography helps improve composition. Working in design greatly enhances my understanding of colour, form and function. But I think the similarities end there. Photography has always been a conduit for the way I see myself and the world and the world through a lens is indeed a strange, delightful place. With design, I am more focussed on my client’s needs and approach it more as a form ofl problem solving. There is heart and soul in both, but coming from very different angles.
 
What are you working on at the moment? Is there anything we should keep an eye out for?
 
Professionally, I am currently very busy managing two website designs, as well as a re-branding for a well-known Islander. These are both secret projects for the time being, but all will be revealed! Personally, I continue to practice and refine my skills. Lucy and I have also been working on a photographic book entitled, ‘Clap Your Hands’. It’s a slightly psychedelic take on Bestival photographed over the span of three years. We took thousands of photos, and editing this down into a digestive format was a task in itself! I think many Islanders remember Bestival with a great deal of affection and fondness, and this series of photographs aims to capture exactly what it was that made it such a special event. What I really love about this project is the deliberately unexpected take on the subject where we focussed purely on environment and revelry rather than the main stage big acts. As such, It is very much a love letter to that time and place.
 
Where can we find your work?
 
I am currently working on a new website. For now, I am using Instagram to share my work; https://www.instagram.com/chemical_gdns/ for my photography and https://www.instagram.com/gdns_art_and_design/ for my design work. Give me a follow!
 
Photo by Lucy Boynton Photography.
 
You can buy Ventnor Fringe badges (Designed by Chris) from the Ventnor Exchange, and in doing so help in our big fundraising efforts for this year’s event.

5 minutes with Heady Conduct

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Heady Conduct, hello! What a great name for a theatre company, it means Exhilarating Behaviour right? Hopefully you’ll be exhilarated by everything at the fringe this week! What three words would you use to describe your work and the show, Tiresius?

Epic, evocative and (from Simon’s point of view playing 8 characters) sweaty.

The show is inspired by the Greek Myth of Tiresius who was granted the gift of foresight by Zeus. Where did the interest in Greek mythology and this story come from? 

Great question. It started with a module of Greek plays and storytelling at drama school; Tiresius appears in a number of Greek myths and stories, though never as a major player. We were intrigued by the amount of times he appears, and started to piece together his life; a blind prophet who walked with royalty and rejects, living both as a man and as a woman in his 600 years of life. He is called upon by some of the heavyweights in the ancient world; Hera, Zeus and Oedipus are a few. We were curious to explore what it is to be both blind and seeing, woman and man, prophet and beggar.

Multidisciplinary shows are amazingly popular at the moment, can you tell us a bit more about your use of live music and storytelling in the show?

For the larger part of Tiresius’ life, he is blind, and we wanted to create a world that was textually and audibly vivid, to create an experience which the audience can be enveloped by. Music has always been integral to Heady Conduct shows, and we have the privilege of working with the wonderfully imaginative and incredibly talented Rebekah Harvey on Tiresius. Rebekah has written a score which has become the backdrop to the ancient world Tiresius lives in and a second character in the piece. We like to make potent theatre that our audiences feel a part of, characters lives they can relate to or recognise and we embrace the ancient Greek tradition of storytelling. Simon plays a number of characters from Tiresius 600 year old life, and epic storytelling allows us to look at glimpses of his extraordinary story.

Tiresius can see into the future, and someone has said you are “on the path to a glorious future”. What does the future hold for you as a company? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

We’d like to see our show Tiresius tour, and long-term, we’d love Heady Conduct to travel and develop more relationships with wonderful festivals like Ventnor, as well as theatres in the UK and internationally. In the next 5 years we’d like to expand Heady Conduct and create career opportunities for others. Tiresius says in our production, “I could see my future laid out before me, all the adventures I would take…” and hopefully those will be the adventures we will embark on as a company!

Looking not so far into the future, but just ahead into Fringe week, is there anything you hoping to see during the festival?

People watching our show! And aside from that, some of the brilliant artists, companies and acts at the Ventnor Fringe this week. It’s Heady Conduct’s debut at Ventnor Fringe and we are excited to get involved and soak up the atmosphere. Some, but by no means all, of the pieces we have our eye on in the festival are Phlegm’s street art, StoneCrabs’ “Some Kind Of Love Story”, Flugelman’s “Boxman” and “Holy Matrimony”.

SEE ALSO: Tiresius show times

 

A Quick Chat With 5 Tales of Love and Madness

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A QUICK CHAT WITH 5 TALES OF LOVE AND MADNESS

 
Here at Ventnor Fringe we are all about making all types of art and performance accessible to lots of different audiences, and we think you are doing just that with 5 Tales of Love and Madness. You’ve described the show as a “reimagining of the recital for a modern audience” Can you tell us a little more about the show and how it came to be?
 

In 5 Tales of Love and Madness we weave together real news stories, poetry, text and classical music to tell five, very human stories all in a one-hour show.
 

We wanted to breathe new life into the traditional recital, welcome new audiences and show people that classical music is for everyone and that it is still relevant and fresh.
 


Alice, you’re a classically trained singer, is there something in particular that inspires you about Handel? What other inspirations are there within the show?

 
Handel and Purcell wrote some of the most beautiful and engaging music there is. I can’t wait to share some of it in 5 Tales. The music we’ve chosen is very dramatic and theatrical and it feels natural to use it to tell stories that everyone can relate to. It’s all in English, too, which makes it immediately accessible.
 
Handel and Purcell both wrote amazing ‘mad songs’ which we’ve included. I was interested in exploring how these relate to modern ideas about madness.
 
We strongly believe in telling great stories in a straightforward and meaningful way and are inspired by theatre that does this.

 
What would you say to audiences who’ve never engaged with classical music before and are considering dipping their toes into the genre?
 
Come, come, come! We want to make you laugh and make you cry, we want to make you feel, we want to entertain you. Come along and bring your friends; you won’t regret it!
 
Can you describe the show in three words?
 
Moving. Fun. Original.
 
It’s your first time here at Ventnor Fringe, what are you looking forward to?
 
We can’t wait to see as many shows as we can and expect to stumble across a few rare gems! It’s great to be part of the creativity, fun and excitement of the whole week.

Ventnor Fringe Tote Bags!

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LIMITED EDITION HANDPRINTED TOTE BAGS

Made right here in Ventnor!
 
We’ve commissioned three of our favourite local artists Chris Jones, Katy Rose-Thorogood and Julie Hutchinson to create re-usable bags with special designs inspired by the Fringe. These are all handmade in Ventnor and are available now from the Ventnor Exchange priced at £6 each.
 

 
 
We had a quick chat with one of the artists Julie
 
 
Hi Julie, we love the new Ventnor Fringe tote bags! What was the inspiration for yours?
 
Well, I have 2 sons who are nuts on cartoons and I love sewing my own characters. I really enjoy watching the Amazing World of Gumball with them, I like their crazy world and Fringe week always feels very similar, so I paired the two together and Parachuting Squashyface was born. He’s excited about Fringe Week and wanted to get into Ventnor Exchange first.
 
Your going to be running workshops during the Fringe for people to make their own too, can you tell us more about that?
 
I’ll be set up to screen print at Parkside every day between 2 and 4 . I’ve created a series of Gumball inspired images especially for Fringe week , a different one for each day and anyone can come and screen print their own tote bag with that design. If you can’t make it to Parkside then the tote bags will be available to buy from my website but they’re only available during Fringe week! Once they’re gone they’ll never be re-printed.
 
Can you tell us a little bit about Atelier Ventnor?
 
Atelier Ventnor is my new Screen printing studio that will be open in the next few months. I hold a teaching qualification and will be running workshops there to show people how to screen print. The studio will run workshops and also be an open access studio. That way , people can come and learn how to use the equipment and then use the facilities to print whatever they want! The studio isn’t open just yet but there’s loads of info on my website and once I’m able to run workshops I’ll be sending out a newsletter inviting people to book.
 
Any top tips for anyone coming to the Fringe?
Book up early is a good tip! Bring some cash and some suncream , a book and a good pair of shoes. That way you can see some shows, do some activities , eat out, stay all day, relax and soak up the great vibes that Fringe week has to offer. It’s like a mini holiday even if you live here. Choose something you wouldn’t normally go to see and you’ll be surprised!
 
Thanks Julie, see you at the Fringe!
 
You can book tickets for Fringe events here

Ventnor Fringe Tote Bags!

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LIMITED EDITION HANDPRINTED TOTE BAGS

Made right here in Ventnor!
 
We’ve commissioned three of our favourite local artists Chris Jones, Katy Rose-Thorogood and Julie Hutchinson to create re-usable bags with special designs inspired by the Fringe. These are all handmade in Ventnor and are available now from the Ventnor Exchange priced at £6 each.
 

 
 
We had a quick chat with one of the artists Julie
 
 
Hi Julie, we love the new Ventnor Fringe tote bags! What was the inspiration for yours?
 
Well, I have 2 sons who are nuts on cartoons and I love sewing my own characters. I really enjoy watching the Amazing World of Gumball with them, I like their crazy world and Fringe week always feels very similar, so I paired the two together and Parachuting Squashyface was born. He’s excited about Fringe Week and wanted to get into Ventnor Exchange first.
 
Your going to be running workshops during the Fringe for people to make their own too, can you tell us more about that?
 
I’ll be set up to screen print at Parkside every day between 2 and 4 . I’ve created a series of Gumball inspired images especially for Fringe week , a different one for each day and anyone can come and screen print their own tote bag with that design. If you can’t make it to Parkside then the tote bags will be available to buy from my website but they’re only available during Fringe week! Once they’re gone they’ll never be re-printed.
 
Can you tell us a little bit about Atelier Ventnor?
 
Atelier Ventnor is my new Screen printing studio that will be open in the next few months. I hold a teaching qualification and will be running workshops there to show people how to screen print. The studio will run workshops and also be an open access studio. That way , people can come and learn how to use the equipment and then use the facilities to print whatever they want! The studio isn’t open just yet but there’s loads of info on my website and once I’m able to run workshops I’ll be sending out a newsletter inviting people to book.
 
Any top tips for anyone coming to the Fringe?
Book up early is a good tip! Bring some cash and some suncream , a book and a good pair of shoes. That way you can see some shows, do some activities , eat out, stay all day, relax and soak up the great vibes that Fringe week has to offer. It’s like a mini holiday even if you live here. Choose something you wouldn’t normally go to see and you’ll be surprised!
 
Thanks Julie, see you at the Fringe!
 
You can book tickets for Fringe events here

5 Minutes With… Franko Figueiredo from StoneCrabs Theatre

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With so many shows on offer at this year’s Ventnor Fringe, we thought we’d find out more by talking to some of the artists making the trip about what we can expect. First up Franko Figueiredo, Artistic Director of StoneCrabs Theatre

 
 
Hello Franko! Your bringing not one but two shows to the Ventnor Fringe, that’s ambitious! Tell us about the two plays you’ll be presenting.
 
Ambitous and highly risky, but very exciting to bring international work and artists to the Island. Our shows are Tieta, The Trial and Some Kind of Love Story.
 
Tieta, The Trial examines the concepts of revenge, justice, greed and equality in a witty and subversive way, using storytelling, live music and dance.
 
It is performed by the multi-talented and versatile Inês Sampaio, who sings, dances, narrates, and performs each one of the characters. From being hounded from her hometown in Brazil for being different, Tieta overcomes many obstacles and becomes a millionaire. She regularly sends money back to support her family and the local community. There is uproar when the money abruptly stops and, assuming the worst, the townsfolk and her family scheme to inherit Tieta’s fortune. But Tieta is on her way home with a million to spend on justice, but what is justice?
 

Photo Graham Reading Photography

 
Some Kind of Love Story on the other hand is Arthur Miller’s play with the 50s film noir genre to examine the themes of justice and the search for truth through the former lovers Angela and Tom.
 
Tom is a private detective, ex-NYPD member trying to crack the Epstein case. He is convinced Angela hold the key to the innocent Felix’s release from prison. But Angela will not tell. Is Tom ready for the truth? Miller’s characters confusing and crumbling relationship mirrors that of his own country.

 
Tieta, The Trial poses an interesting question. When someone has been the victim of prejudice or an injustice should we seek revenge? What made you choose to tackle this subject?
 
Yes, and that question alones provokes many others in turn – so Tieta, The Trial takes on a lot of big questions in a dark comic manner, and we felt really drawn to tell this story on the stage because of its big themes and how they are present in our daily lives.
 
Tieta, The Trial is, ultimately, about how the power of money subjugates our contemporary society. Tieta, The Trail is an adaptation of the novel by Brazilian writer Jorge Amado, published in 1977. Our stage version has been in development since 2015; the more we worked on it, the more we felt that the script poses very important questions, particularly at our current times where cynicism seems to be leading to much selfishness and separatism.
 
This is the story of an immigrant in search for kindness in humanity, but what they find is that people, not money, is the real source of evil.

 
Some Kind of Love Story on the other hand is a lesser known play of Arthur Miller (The Crucible/ Death of a Salesman) what drew you to this particular play?
 
StoneCrabs is all about introducing unknown world stories to UK audiences, and this little gem by Miller was on the pipeline a few years back, but the project has only just materialised.
 
Like the Crucible, Miller takes America back in time to criticise its current state of affairs, he uses a similar device with this short play: goes back to 1950s America through a complex love relationship to criticise the current state of politics, corruption and abuse of power.
 
It is a challenging piece for all the artists involved and we wanted to explore if we could delve into the characters relationship without any frills. Miller’s language very powerful, and the characters relationship complex and intense.
 

Photo Graham Reading Photography

 
This is StoneCrabs Theatre Companies first trip to the Ventnor Fringe. For those who have never heard of you, how would you describe your work?
 
We are heavily influenced by European and Japanese theatre, so our work tends to have charged physicality and strong imagery. When creating Tieta, The Trial we were inspired by Japanese minimalistic performance art of ‘rakugo’ and for Some Kind of Love Story we used movement work inspired by Austro-Hungarian Laban and French practitioner Lonis.

 
Your traditionally based in London, but now looking to work more on the Isle of Wight. What do you think makes the Island an attractive place to make creative work?
 
Three things makes the Island an attractive place for me to make creative work:
 
Undisturbed space and time with wellbeing needs met
 
beautiful and inspiring locations
 
and the promise of never being far from the sea.
 
It’s also very rewarding to be able to bring a different type of theatre to an Isle of Wight audience, who would normally have to travel to mainland cities to see it.

 
Is there anything else at the Ventnor Fringe your looking forward to watching?
 
I’ll try to catch as much as I can. I’ll be definitely watching past StoneCrabs Young Directors graduate shows: Misfire, Boxman and Tropicalia Island, and also hope to fit in Tiresias, The Asylum Monologues, Jegere’s Eri and Died Blondes.

 
Can you sum up in five words why we need to see these plays?
 
International artists, ingenious twists and hope.

 
 
Catch Tieta, The Trial at The Other Place on Thursday 9th & Friday 10th Aug at 8pm (TICKETS HERE) and Some Kind Of Love Story, also at The Other Place on Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th Aug at 8pm (TICKETS HERE)

Meet Our New Apprentice… Jack Barnes

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Last month we had a new Creative Apprentice start work at the Ventnor Exchange, working with ourselves and Quay Arts. He’s currently busy working on the Ventnor Fringe but we took some time out to have a quick chat and introduce you to Jack Barnes.

 

 

It’s your first week as an apprentice at Ventnor Exchange, how’s it been so far?

It’s been super exciting, I’ve never worked in such a relaxing environment before its absolutely wonderful.

What should we know about you?

I’m 100% the most punk person ever employed by the isle of wight council, there’s nothing I enjoy more than having a beer and making some sweet music with my mates.

What are you most looking forward to from the experience?

I’m really looking forward to meeting and networking with all the interesting people who take part in the Fringe Festival. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Any surprises so far?

when you start a new job everyone wants to make you a cup of tea

Your also working with Quay Arts in this role, how important do you think it is for the Island’s creative organisations to work together?

Personally, I think the team work of arts organisations is super important, especially for people who are growing up on the island. Young people need all the opportunities they can get to be creative and the islands arts organisations are doing a great job!

Any tips on what new music we should be listening to?

Idles are one of the best British punk bands around at the moment, they’re deffo worth checking out. Slowthai is really sick too, he’s a rapper from Northampton and is such a friendly and cool guy.

 

 

The Creative Apprentice position has been made possible as part of the Lift The Lid project and with the support of the IW AONB.

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