Edinburgh Fringe 2017 / Over The Hill & Far Away

We’ve just got back from our annual trip to the hugely inspiring and exciting Edinburgh Festival
Fringe and International Festival, and as always have seen a host of incredible performances, many
hilarious and refreshing in their escapism, many more of them angry, political and very important.
It is always an amazing experience to see a performer for the first time, who fills an hour with words
that keep you thinking for weeks. This year, that performance came from Hannah Gadsby who I’m
ashamed to say I hadn’t seen before, but who I’m thankful and grateful – and still a bit emotional –
to have seen this year, before she no longer performs stand up comedy – these Edinburgh shows are
her last. A stand up performer who has a lot to say on sexuality, homophobia, violence and
startlingly closed minded individuals from her up bringing in Tasmania and beyond. It’s an
unbelievably honest and surprising hour – I have never experienced hysterical laughter before being
brought to uncontrollable sobbing, consecutively, in equal measures, in any performance before. If
you are as frustratingly late to this woman as I am, keep your eyes out for the future of Hannah
Gadsby, because whatever she does post comedy (writing, I hope) I’m sure will be absolutely vital.

hannah gadsby nanette edinburgh
From one highlight to another, worlds apart in genre and substance, but equally as captivating a
performance. Meow Meow cemented herself as the greatest cabaret showgirl in the world a long
time ago in my mind, and what is so incredible about her is that every time I’ve seen her on stage it’s
been doing something very different. Her look and style might remain the same, and her cover of
Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees seems to make it into every single one of her personas, but from
Shakespeare to her ‘Meowtopia’ cabaret show, and this time to a new take on ‘The Little Mermaid’
story, she manages to embody so many different characters. It’s extraordinary. This is an evening
full of glitter and innuendo, blow up fish, crowdsurfing in a corset and breathtaking vocals in her
songs and I just loved it. Until next time, Meow, whatever it is you’ll be doing, I can’t wait.

So from thought provoking and heart breaking, to hilarious and glamorous, there was everything inmeow meow little mermaid edinburgh
between. We joined in a game show in a tiny room above a pub one lunch time, saw drag Margret
Thatcher row with puppet Nicola Sturgeon, was left speechless by Selina Thompson‘s hugely
powerful one woman performance about race and slavery in ‘salt.’ at Summerhall, witnessed a film
being created live with shadow puppets and overhead projectors in ‘Luna Del Ray’ at Udderbelly and
– I still can’t quite believe it – sat in the beautiful Edinburgh Playhouse while PJ Harvey and her
wonderful, powerful, 9 piece band played a storming set of her incredible and politically charged
back catalogue of songs.

salt selina thompson edinburgh
Here’s to next year. And in the mean time – on the horizon, I’m very aware – I get to programme
our theatre space for the Brighton Fringe next May. Feeling inspired and energised by what we’ve
just experienced, I’m less daunted about our second Fringe as I had been, and am looking forward to
getting stuck in to the whole process again.junkyard dogs royal mile edinburgh
Not, may I add, before October the 1 st .

Julie French: Animal Sew Exhibition 11/1/17-18/2/17

Julie French uses the sewing machine as a tool for continuous line drawing, her work explores movement and texture with often unpredictable outcomes, which have been likened to ink illustration. Her current work focuses on the wild and domestic side of nature. Each piece is unique and one off. The speed and capricious nature of the sewing machine, when used in this unconventional way reflects characteristics of the subjects. Using reclaimed fabric, paper and handmade felt opens new opportunities to discover how the stitched marks respond to different surfaces, pulling or embossing a piece of work in sympathy with the surface. Threads are purposely left loose over or around the image to allow the illusion of more depth and movement.

You can check out her work here: https://www.facebook.com/JulieFrenchTextiles/?fref=ts



New Year, New writing, News……. and some old’s

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Last week was a weird week wasn’t it.  It sort of felt like an endless Sunday, only we were half at work feeling really lethargic and wondering if its ok to still have a midday glass of wine.

In light of not being able to put my mind to much over those few days, other than finishing the Christmas chocolate, I’d been musing a bit and thought it was about time for a new blog.  Feel free to contribute with your experiences in the comments!

It’s been really exciting getting stuck into programming for the 2017 Brighton Fringe.  So far we’re up to 37 events over the month of May and I think it will be around 50 by the time I’ve finished putting the programme together.  I don’t want to give too much away just now, as it’s still being finalised, but it will be a great mix of plenty of stand up comedy – some performers we know and some are new to us – spoken word, clowning, music and half term workshops.  The studio space here is very intimate (35 audience members maximum), so naturally it lends itself to stand-up comedy and small scale shows, but we’re still looking at getting some theatre productions in there – there’s a lot that can be done between a few people with great imaginations in a small space!  Actually, without wanting to jump the gun too much, the long-term plan is to have an in-house theatre company, but there’s a way to go with that yet!

In the meantime, and looking forward to getting out to some great theatre ourselves next year (not to mention Edinburgh 2017) it’s been really nice to reflect on those theatre productions from over the years that have continued to make it my top choice for a treat night out.

I remember seeing a production of Wind in the Willows at the National when I was about 7 and, as well as being one of my earliest memories, it was definitely the point when I fell in love with the theatre.  With everything about it, that I still love – the feeling waiting in the foyer, the buzz in the auditorium before the start, the surprises, the analysing at the interval.   I still remember aspects of the Wind in the Willows set, and how magical the whole thing was.

New Year


I also just watched about 4 seconds of the production on YouTube and had to turn it off – There’s a very good reason why these things should stay in our memories and, actually, in quite a lot of cases, not be shown on screen at all (particularly if it was filmed in 1990).  But that night started something!

A lot of enjoyable productions have been above pubs or in halls or studios, of course, but it’s difficult not to look back on some of the ‘big ones’ as the most memorable experiences, and feel so lucky to have been there.  Some starred big names, and although I’m a massive champion of new writing and small scale productions, these just remain some of the greatest experiences in a theatre – Noises Off at the Old Vic, Gillian Anderson in ‘Streetcar Named Desire’ at the Young Vic, Kevin Spacey in ‘Clarence Darrow’, ‘Gypsy’ at the Savoy last year – I haven’t stopped thinking about that one since.  Imelda Staunton is back on stage in 2 productions in 2017 and we’re saving our pennies for those now thanks to her performance in Gypsy.

I had a stint at stage school, and loved studying drama at University, but never having possessed the determination or desire to commit to a life of professional performer – plus discovering how much fun it is to get really drunk – I don’t think I could ever have been dedicated enough to do an 8 show week!  Working in theatres for a good 5 years in London was great, hospitality, events and front of house jobs in that environment are special in that you have the sense of something exciting and important happening every day.

And now I’ve got my own tiny space to play with and although I sometimes miss working in those environments, we’ll still go and see as much stuff as we can, and this way I can choose exactly what happens here!

So happy new year to all our lovely friends and customers.  Come and see us soon – we’ve got comedy this month on the 13th and 27th, amazing live music on the 28th and new exhibition launch on the 14th.

A Partridge in a Psychedelic Pear Tree

Wapartblog4hat a weekend!  It all needs a blog post, so much happened, including another first for Junkyard Dogs. A stag do. (more to come.) So, the weekend began on Friday evening with our regular and always brilliant Comedy Open Mic night – Thank you as always to Kayo for putting the nights together and hosting so wonderfully.  It was, as usual, a real mix of styles in the performers, and we love how it will continue to keep us on our toes – The beauty of an Open Mic Night is that it is always such good fun.  The next one is December 16th and we’ve got dates booked well into the New Year now, so if you’re yet to come along, make sure you get those in your diaries!


To Saturday.  It had been a while since I’d managed to catch up with all the guys I went to university with, in fact, I can’t remember the last time I was in the same room with even 3 of the ‘old gang’, but thankfully, one of these amazing chaps is about to get wed (congratulations Martin and Helen!), and low and behold, the stag weekend was to be here in Brighton.  Hotdogs all round, many, many pints, a lot of laughs and more Alan Partridge references / costumes / masks than I could keep up with made for a seriously entertaining time!  Thanks for coming you lot.  Absolutely brilliant.


Off they all went into the night, 20 guys hoping not to get ‘we don’t allow stag do’s’ at any of their later intended venues, and we were done for the night.  

Not really.  It was 7pm.

Onwards.  Musicians were beginning to arrive to sound check for the evening ahead, the walls were adorned with the artwork of our amazing new featured artist Martin Ross Butler and it was time to celebrate!Martin Ross Butler  Thanks to Claire and Kieran from Drawstring for putting together another brilliant night of music – Jordan Gray, Joe Woodham and Rokurokubi rocked our socks!  And thank you to Martin for filling our walls with amazing work!  It is here to be enjoyed until the middle of January – Please don’t miss out.  Raffle prizes were won, drink was taken, singing and chatting into the night. The whole thing was outstanding, so thanks to everyone who was involved and everyone who came along to enjoy themselves.   


Then it was time to unwind.  And I make no apologies for enjoying Sunday off after all that with new episodes of the Gilmore Girls.  

Next up is ‘Jam Sandwich’, from 7pm this Friday, the 2nd December.  A night of spoken word, comedy and live music from some AWESOME women – Comic and poet  Annabel Pribelszki hosts, with music from Debz Sebborn, Alice Bradley, Laura and the Bass and Los Feliz.  Don’t miss it.

Finally from me, I had written a blog about our fairly recent trip to Manchester and Berlin, but something horrendous happened on the day of our return (think, toupee, surname like a fart.) and I wasn’t able to write or publish anything at all in the aftermath of shock.  

Still, it was a lovely break.  In a nutshell – trains, Northerners, PJ Harvey (her words and music seeming more urgent and important as ever before), planes, amazing late night dinners, a rare treat hotel stay, beer, red wine, beer, many many steps, a lot of laughing, parks, beer, sightseeing, beer, Placebo.  It was good.

See you soon!

Global Rice Crisis!! Shakespears leading lady left out in the dark


I have been a bit rubbish at keeping up with the blog writing – I am going to get into a routine some time, but this week I feel like it was meant to be late, as something has happened today that has got me STRAIGHT on this keyboard.  In an angry manner.  (How surprising…)

To introduce with something taken straight off Twitter (apologies) ‘Great! Now the white men can go back to shouting into the dark.’ Emma Rice will no longer be the Artistic Director at Shakespeare’s Globe as of the end of her 2017/2018 season, after having been in the post since just this year.  I am getting more and more angry about this as the day goes on and I read pieces by more people being angry about it.  It is all well and good to want to see traditionally or ‘historically accurate’ staging’s of Shakespeare’s work, to a certain extent there is plenty of room for them and, goodness only knows I’ve been subjected to many of those in the past when I’ve been studying his work.  But ‘subjected’ is the key word here.  It’s about time his work was presented in a new, exciting, ACCESSIBLE way, and, what did we know, suddenly this year there was a beacon, someone doing exactly that.  Her (completely sold out) ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ which we were lucky enough to get tickets to in May was hands down the greatest Shakespeare I have ever seen.  It was thrilling, colourful, loud, hilariously funny, beautiful and daring.  Actually, it was one of the best things I have ever seen on stage, ever.  She cast cabaret artist and all round out-there performer Meow Meow as Titania and it was one hell of a brilliant decision.  The thing about it was that people were flocking to The Globe who had, perhaps never seen any Shakespeare before, or had much interest in his work at all, imagining it stuffy and incomprehensible (which, it can be) and they were LOVING it.  They were understanding it and being excited by it.  Which is exactly what her work is all about.  Yes, it was lit.  ‘Modern’ (ha.) lighting and sound equipment was being used to enhance this experience.  And THIS is why the board at the Globe cannot possibly let Emma continue?  Because she has dared to light the stage?  Because those puritans stuffy traditionalists have a problem with this?


Emma Rice Globe

This is one of the walls at the globe

I’m reading all sorts of opinions on line now, all of the outraged people seeming to have perfectly valid points regarding whether this really can be about ‘shared light’ .. ‘Her predecessor *rebuilt the stage* and no-one batted an eyelid’ and ‘In keeping with historical authenticity, the part of Emma Rice will now be played by a man.’

All sorts about the players having syphilis and holding scripts.

And quotes from an interview she did not long ago discussing the terrible criticism aimed at her because she is a woman, which make her ‘blood boil’.   (READ THIS) – https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2016/emma-rice-speaks-sexist-criticism/

And these terrible, short sighted, pathetic quotes about her recent ‘Cymbeline’ by Dominic Cavendish at The Telegraph, and the Financial Times’s Ian Shuttleworth –

“I cant see what this version is doing at (the) Globe, or, if this form of hacking about with the canon is to be the new norm under artistic director Emma Rice, what the point of the Globe is now.”

“One wonders – in what has already become a mantra during Emma Rice’s first season at its helm – what the hell it’s doing at the Globe.”

This is overlooking ALL of the brilliant, positive amazing things she is doing there, and, presumably, the reasons she was brought in in the first place?  In Lyn Gardner’s words ‘not ignoring tradition, but boldly investigating how the theatre can remain relevant for modern audiences’. (Thanks Lyn)

I bet they’ve never sold as many tickets as they have done and will do for the remainder of her time.  And I feel genuine pity for all the people in the years to come who won’t get to experience seeing the work she has directed on that great stage.

And with all that, I can’t help but think there’s WAY more to this.  And I’m really, really disappointed.

I’m off for a drink now.

Emma Rice

On and Off the Walls: Art Exhibitions then, now and next.

I’ve had my head right into the beginnings of the planning and programming process for Brighton Fringe (4th May – 5th June 2017) over the last couple of weeks, and there will be plenty coming up about that as I go through the process, so for now, and particularly after the night we had on the 24th September, I’d really like to talk a bit about the art exhibitions we’ve had since we opened, and how much of a privilege its been to have so many amazingly talented artists display their work here.
Saturday 24th September saw the launch of the exhibition by the amazingly talented Liorah Tchiprout. Her puppets, drawings, poetry and photographs make for a truly diverse and interesting art collection. And what a launch it was – such a fun night and we thoroughly enjoyed the live music throughout the evening, from Laura and the Bass, Alice Bradley and Beggars Belief.

Liorah Tchiprout Art

We always knew we wanted to have an ever changing art  exhibition on the walls in the café, and being surrounded by the work of such incredible artists, all of whom are so completely different, is something really special that we hope to do for ever more!
From Stu Freeland’s incredibly intricate dot work portraits, to Claire Holyoake’s Bear Naked Ladies. Andrew Victor Stock’s charcoal life drawing pieces, and Helen Heitt’s amazing, dream like pen and ink drawings. A big thank you to everyone who has been involved so far, and long may great art at the Junkyard continue!

Come and see Liorah’s art work until 28th October, after which the truly wonderful Layla Holzer will be exhibiting her ‘Fur, Flesh, Fir’ collection, with the launch evening being on Saturday 29th October. I can’t wait.

Next week – An update and excitement from Brighton Fringe planning! (We’re going to see The Kills at the Roundhouse on Friday, but ill try to resist revisiting ‘Crowd Etiquette’ so soon, or talking purely about Alison Mosshart…)

Deap Vally Gig No Cameras Please

Big News. I have discovered my new favourite band.  ‘Ive always loved how the majority of people who live in Brighton will never, ever be deterred from going out drinking and watching bands by something as silly as it being a Wednesday. We are no exception, and last night took a trip to Concorde 2 to see Deap Vally. My word. This is 2 women, who met at a crochet class
in L.A., making more noise than I have ever heard in that room, a searing, soaring guitarst with a voice both raw and beautiful, and a wild haired, gorgeous, power-house of a drummer, with the sort of talent and strength I haven’t witnessed since Janet Weiss and Sleater-Kinney. I know there are very many of you who feel exactly the same about the points I’m about to make, so I know you’ll understand.
The gig was amazing because the band were amazing. But it was also a truly mind blowing night because EVERYONE in that room was there to watch them. To jump up and down and dance and scream and get sweaty and take in every minute of what was happening. Through their actual EYES. It was like 1998. I have said quite vehemently that I will never attend a gig at Brixton Academy again. And what a shame that is, when some of the very best shows – The White Stripes in 2004, No Doubt, Placebo,Hole–took place there, albeit years ago. The last 2 occasions I’ve been have been such a test of patience and tolerance that I just can’t do it again.
No-one standing still for more than 5 minutes without having to go for a walk, people in their groups having a lovely chat 3 inches from my ear, like they’re in the pub.. DURING THE HEADLINE ACT. And the photo taking. The video taking. Guys, they are going to look and sound shit. And I DON’T WANT TO WATCH THIS SHOW THROUGH 5320 SCREENS.
It’s happening right now! In front of us! Of course, this is by no means limited to that venue. It seems to happen at everything we try to go to, all the time these days, even the theatre–
is nothing sacred, I began to wonder. Until last night, where there was a universal enjoyment, and respect, for the band and for the rest of the crowd. And we bought their vinyl and got the band to sign it, all sweaty and starey and YOU WERE SO AMAZING. Everything about the night was everything about how a gig should be, and always used to be and I just wish it was always guaranteed these days. I may have to wear ear plugs now in order not to aggravate the tinnitus that’s come from 17 years of standing next to a speaker, and am in quite a lot of pain today, but thank you Deap Vally and all the people who shared it with us. My joy and faith in live music in larger venues was restored after that. For now.
We’re going to see Placebo in November, my ultimate teen band, and if one person talks their way through Teenage Angst, I will not be held responsible for my actions..
And on another, really lovely live music note! We’ve got Beggars Belief, Alice Bradley and Laura and the Bass playing on Saturday night at the launch of our amazing new exhibition:
A Dream in the Diaspora by the hugely talented and all round wonder, Liorah Tchiprout. It’ll be one amazing night. And acceptable to take photographs.

Music, Comedy & Birthdays, Oh my.

Wowee! What a weekend we had. Thank you so much to everyone who came and enjoyed and organised and visited, its wonderful when we have 3 consecutive nights of brilliant things and a room full of incredible people.

Thursday saw the return of our nights working in collaboration with Drawstring, bringing some amazingly talented musicians to play. Kieran kicked off the night with his spellbinding guitar sounds and beautiful lyrics, and went on to introduce the 3 featured performers of the evening.
Spec, aka, James Treadell made a very welcome return. His songwriting and incredible voice never fails to
astound us.
Matthew One Man blew the crowd away– The soundscapes created by a plethora of peddles and buttons controlled with his FEET was just mindblowing.
And bringing the night to a close, the one and only Morgan T. Davis, one of the most distinctive, individual voices I have ever heard and songs that tell such great stories. An absolute joy.
Look out for more great events that Claire and Kieran from Drawstring are organising , with us amongst other venues.
Friday night was another return of a splendid on-going night. Kayo and Henry,Superhappyland and URFunny, host the most brilliant comedy open mic night, and we’re going to be holding these twice a month in future. Anyone can sign up to perform on the evening and that ensures such a mixture of performers over the course of the evening – I think the most we ve ever had is 24.. Fridays was event hirenot far off! Its such fun to hear a few minutes snippet from each of these wonderful performers, and fill the place so full of fun, and support from comedian to comedian as well as spectators. Long may these nights continue! Next one is Friday 23rd September.
With Saturday came much excitement as we were hosting the 40th birthday party for the fabulous Donna. The buffet went down a treat and many drinks were enjoyed, as the party-goers got dressed up Stars in your Eyes style and blasted out some perfect pop hits on the karaoke. (Equipment,dry ice and glitter curtains courtesy of Karaoke Kieran.) Never has the Junkyard seen such a Freddie Mercury …
Thanks for celebrating here Donna and crew!
So heres to many more! And if you or anyone you know is thinking of putting on an event or having
a party, do keep us in mind. Check out the hires section of the web site for lots of info and get in
touch with us.

Edinburgh fringe highlights and late nights.

One of the best things about August, as well as the slim chance of some sunshine of course, is the
opportunity to spend some time in Edinburgh at the greatest arts festival in the world.
There is so much about the Edinburgh Fringe that is exciting and inspiring. Not least walking into a black draped
room, through a cave, a corridor and down 4 flights of winding stairs, and wondering what on earth this next performance is going to throw at you. Sitting in one venue and hearing a cheer come from another is in no way distracting. It is thrilling. Reminding you that at any one time during this barmy month in this beautiful city, there are many hundreds of performances of all genres and styles happening all around you.
This year came at the perfect time for us to visit the festival, as we were just about ready to open up our little studio theatre space, and have been feeling extra inspired since, thanks to some of the extraordinary performances we saw. Not least,
Joan, from the Milk Presents company, a spellbinding and hugely emotional take on the story of Joan of Arc.The one-woman performance from Lucy Jane Parkinson was unforgettable. Cabaret from New York songstress and all round
hilarious story-teller, Lady Rizo was a wonderful lightening of the mood, with a surprise guest in the form of her 9 month old son. Who she breastfed on stage. Zoe Lyons was on absolutely cracking form in the her new stand up show,Little Misfit, a solid hour of laughing uncontrollably thanks to our favourite Brighton based funny woman was very welcome indeed. And in amongst all these highlights, we also enjoyed a live sound scape through headphones of a journey into space, a
brilliant spoken word 2 hander from Dublin Old School, which included a drug fuelled rave at 1pm, incredible shadow puppetry in Ada/Ava by Manual Cinema, a Bowie triple tribute from Camille O’Sullivan, late night cabaret, and the one and only Alan Cumming in his Sappy Songs evening, full of interpretations of his favourites as well as revealing and intimate stories. Its nothing if not eclectic!
There are many plans afoot now we are getting the word out there about our studio space and all being well we will able to create a bit of magic come next Brighton Fringe Festival that comes somewhere close to the atmosphere of those great Edinburgh nights.

Superhappy Open Mic

Kayo & Henry bought us the first of a 4 week run of Friday night open mic comedy sessions.

Kayo kicked the whole sh’bang off  with a song about burning the roast dinner which had me in stitches! Big love to all the comedians who were all brilliant Joe Foster, Valerio Miconi, Dave Fensome, Stuart Ritchie, Rebecca Shortall, Lonny Coyne, Dave Bailey, Josh Dillon, Sam Boarder & Wayne Lawrence.

Some of these guys are doing Fringe shows.. check them out:

Joe Foster: Best Summer ever. More info…

Dave Bailey: Beige against the machine. More info…

Josh Dillon: Beaton & Dillon. More info…