Reading Fringe 2020 begins this week – and the eighth edition of the festival is not only the first to take place entirely online but is also the most accessible yet.
After the launch event on Friday (17 July) at 7pm featuring comedy songs from Jollyboat Pirates and all-female improv with Hell Yeah!, over 35 prerecorded shows – covering cabaret, children’s entertainment, dance, film, music, theatre and much more – will be available to stream from 8.30pm for the duration of Reading Fringe Digital (17-26 July). Then over the next nine days there will be around 30 live events to watch via the Fringe’s website, from garden gigs to solo stand-up.
Over half of the shows will be either live-captioned or have transcripts provided, as Reading Fringe producer Steph Weller explains: “We strive to make each festival more accessible than the last, in terms of programming, venue locations and adapting to our audience and artists’ needs. This time around the challenges of taking the Fringe digital were offset by the opportunities it gives us to reach a broad audience and to work with our artists for greater access. We’re pleased to confirm that this year 60% of our programme is in an accessible format or has accessible provision.”
To watch Reading Fringe Digital audiences simply register at readingfringefestival.co.uk. The vast majority of the line-up is free with the option to donate, alongside a few pay-to-view events – in both cases the money donated or ticket income goes direct to the artists involved. Highlights include a series of theatre pieces filmed in 360 degrees, Mischief & Mystery in Moominland, audio drama Natalie Barney’s Last Salon first seen at The Globe, dance piece We on the themes of disability and identity and a virtual club night with Reading’s own Twin Sun.