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There are festivals and there are festivals; then there's Tranås at the Fringe.

For a town that is set deep in Sweden’s interior surrounded by forest, lakes and exposed glaciated granite it might seem far from the cultural oases of Stockholm, Gothenburg or Malmo. Tranås could be said to be so far from cultural centres, so deep set in Sweden’s hinterland that it has created the very edge of culture that once those other now maybe corporatized centres once were. The town’s apparent ordinariness is what creates the oxygen that fires imaginations, stokes creativity and brings people back. Tranås has become a byword for invigorating and stimulating cultural connections and these burst out during Tranås at The Fringe, the town’s cultural festival that celebrates art and literature across a wide range of genres.

This year Tranås at the Fringe will be held in early July and once again benefit from the input of the Coracle Europe International Literary residency hosted by Kultivera in Kraftverket. The venues for spoken word performances, art exhibitions, installations and dance productions are scattered across town and nowhere is more than 10 or 15 minutes walk away. They are all small, intimate friendly places where you can sup beer, wine, tea and coffee; share fika and absorb imagination and energy

The size of the venues means that there is a strong sense of community among the artists who will help to make up audiences at performances and support their artistic compatriots. Artists are friendly, they are happy to share ideas and discuss their work anyone. There is nowhere to hide in a small festival which is characterised by equality and generosity. Once the formal show is over there is time to discuss an artist’s work and ideas, and the conversations carry on in to the night. No one is whisked away to a private dressing room, everyone mucks in together.

I’ve been to two of the festivals and am looking forward to my third this year. My most memorable moments have been with Welsh writer Dominic Williams who engaged local children to write simple acrostic pieces on labels that were tied to balloons for release in town as guerrilla poetry; Portuguese writer, Inês Lampreia’s “Heads on Fire” multi-media, multi-sensory installation set up in Plan B which invited us to consider social and political issues as voiced by characters pictured on match boxes from across the world, Louise Halvardsson from Gothenburg with her entrancing combination of physical and poetic performance. Whether it’s spoken or sung word, art or dance, folk, romantic, punk or Dada, embrace what this festival has to offer. Come with an open mind, spend time with the artists and let the many languages and ideas you hear mingle and flow, as the river Svartån flows into Lake Sommen and making one creative and churning body.

Mel Perry, March 2017


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