Some of the UK's most hard-hitting, controversial and funny shows are coming to Preston as part of Lancashire Fringe Festival.
Hugely respected names in contemporary performance will play alongside acclaimed poets and award-winning performers, giving the people of Lancashire a unique festival experience - and all the shows are free to attend.
Lancashire Fringe Festival, funded by the Arts Council, will see acclaimed performers like Kate Fox, Louise Orwin, Bob Karper, Joana Nastari, Louise Fazackerley, Lee Mark Jones, Ruth E Cockburn and Katie O'Brien perform across Preston between May 15 and 24.
The festival aims to engage a wide range of audiences, particularly people who do not usually come and see live shows, and includes everything from comedy and poetry to shows covering complex social issues like addiction, sex work and fracking.
Poet Louise Fazackerley opens the festival at Vinyl Tap on Wednesday, May 15. She will be supported by three poets who she has been working with as part of the festival's artists development programme.
Several newly-commissioned pieces of work by local artists have also been included in the line up, so regional talent gets a chance to perform to a wider audience. This includes Neil Procter's Lancashire People's Theatre who have paired 14 Lancashire-based writers with professional actors to deliver a series of monologues over two nights during the festival.
Preston Central Methodist Church hosts Katie O'Brien's brilliant Catch 22 Years, which examines addiction in a unique and unexpected performance by the award-winning actress. That is followed by new work from writer Karen Featherstone who is performing I Surrender! for the first time.
The Harris Museum hosts four stunning pieces of theatre on Saturday, May 18, kicking off with Dan de le Motte's comedy-lecture about the Royal Family and Daily Mail Online message boards, followed by the hotly anticipated Control Pant Symphony by Natalie Wardle and Goth Diary by Karina Azlanova. The night ends with the brilliant Oh! Suburbia! by Bob Karper.
Acclaimed writer and performer Louise Orwin brings her new show Oh Yes Oh No to The Continental on Sunday, May 19. This stunning piece of theatre - hailed as "bold, brave work" by The Guardian - looks at female sexuality, consent and power.
A fantastic double bill at The Ferret on Monday, May 20 sees new work by Lancashire's Ruth E Cockburn alongside outrageous show A Rock N Roll Suicide by Lee Mark Jones.
Kate Fox brings her hugely successful touring show about strong Northern women Where There's Much There's Bras to the Harris Museum on Wednesday, May 22. Also on the same bill that night is Blackpool-based Jo Catlow Morris' play Nanners With Banners, about the Preston New Road's anti-fracking nannas.
Poet Benjamin Guilfoyle stops off in the city on Thursday, May 23 at Vinyl Tap to perform. His performance is part of a 12-day walking tour between Lancaster and Brighouse.
Lancashire Fringe Festival, created by local producer Garry Cook, is using a Pay What You Decide model, where audiences making an optional donation at the end of each show. Some shows cost over £20 per ticket when performed at other venues across the country.
Preston-based Cook has already put on several one-off shows in the city this year, including pulling off a major coup for the city by persuading poet Hollie McNish to come to the Harris Museum for a sell-out gig in March.
Cook said: "The one-off shows I've been doing for the past year have gone down brilliantly with Preston audiences - everyone has loved them. And it's the audiences who have turned up to these shows - some people come to every performance - who have helped make this festival possible. I can't thank them enough.
"There are some absolutely stunning shows in the festival. It has taken a lot of work to get some of them here but I'm delighted with the line up, and hope the people if Preston and Lancashire will come and help make this festival a huge success so that we can carry on doing it for years to come.
"I want to encourage people who do not usually see this kind of performance to come to one or two shows and experience something remarkable. All these shows have been chosen not just because of their subject matter but because they deliver a message in a hugely engaging, entertaining and exciting way.
"Even if you think a show covers a topic that doesn't interest you, you will be blown away by the visual storytelling techniques these artists use. There are some exceptional talents coming to Preston over these 10 days - it's a wonderful opportunity for Lancashire people to see shows which usually only come to London or Edinburgh Fringe.
He added: "If you turn up, you will experience something that will stay with them for the rest of your life."
Lancashire Fringe Festival takes place between May 15 and May 24 in various venues across Preston. Find out more and to see the full line up go to enjoyshow.co.uk