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Brighton’s only fringe arts festival made by and for women, NB + trans people.

FemFest is a three-day, self funded event that takes place at The Actors between 7th-10th of March and is Brighton’s only Fringe Arts Festival made by and for marginalised genders. Our editor chatted to organisers Maddie and Annie to find out more…

Tell us about FemFest? Femfest is an arts festival based in Brighton going into our fifth year. We only programme women, non binary and trans performers. We are all about putting the ladder down, and giving people the tools to go into a wider industry. We give our early career artists the tools to go out into the wider industry and forge their careers. Due to the scale of Fringe festivals in the current artistic landscape this kind of one-on-one support is not always present in these spaces.

Do you get a combination of seasoned and new performers? Half the programme is curated and the other half is done through open application. We attend cabarets, fringe festivals and other events to find both emerging artists and established performers who we know our audiences will love.

Tell us about your backgrounds and how you connected? Annie: I have been a theatre maker and director in Brighton for six years. I Started with Clapback Club who are a feminist theatre collective and we amassed a cult following on the Brighton Fringe scene, I was with them until 2022, we won quite a few awards, I connected with Maddie a few years ago. To begin with we co-wrote shows and showcased them at FemFest and then she took me on as a producer. I’m now the director for comedian Selena Mersey among other projects. Maddie: Since finishing uni in 2016 I worked at Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe in venues. In 2019 I decided I wanted to produce my own work. I wrote a verbatim play called ‘Coming Home With Me’ which was interviewing bouncers, club owners and women who go on nights out and discussing the violence perpetuated within those spaces. We won a bunch of awards and five-star reviews and then took the show to Brighton, Edinburgh and toured it in London. It went really well and this is when I realised, ‘Oh, maybe I am a producer!’ Having worked in a wide range of venues, I was sick of how male dominated that industry is and how under-prepared I felt venues were when dealing with a show like mine that contained themes of sexual violence. Fast forward to 2020, I decided to produce my own festival to see what would happen. We quickly realised through sell out shows that people really wanted FemFest.

Words: Samantha Harman.


Steven Graham
Author: Steven Graham

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