THEATRE lover Heather Dunmore has switched the Oxfringe Festival to a different time of year to attract more students.

Oxford University’s summer term does not finish until June 25, so the event, now in its fifth year, will run for 16 days from June 10.

There will be 70 acts – ranging from poetry to comedy and drama –performing at 30 venues across the city.

Ms Dunmore, 59, who works for Oxfordshire Theatre Company but runs the festival as a volunteer, said: “In the past, we have run the festival in March or April at a time when lots of students are on holiday.

“This year we wanted to get them more involved and they are appearing in a number of drama productions.

“Oxfringe started out as an offshoot of the Oxford Literary Festival but we think this is a better time of year to stage it.

“Holding Oxfringe in the summer should make this festival more like the Edinburgh Fringe, which I go to every year.”

Ms Dunmore said the festival, sponsored by brewers Brakspear for the third year running, would feature comedy, music, literature, dance and poetry.

Oxford City Council has also given the festival a grant of £5,000.

Ms Dunmore added: “This year we have some very high-profile comedy acts including Russell Kane, who will be performing at the Regal on Cowley Road on the opening night, Friday, June 10.

“There were about 100 acts last year, but I think this year’s programme is even better.”

Another highlight will be Small Space, a drama performed in the kitchen of an Oxford house, on June 10, 11, 18 and 19.

The location of the performance will only be disclosed to ticket holders on the night after they meet outside the Oxford Playhouse.

London-based actors Dan Milne and Jane Nash will play a couple talking in their kitchen.

Stand-up comedian Iszi Lawrence, 25, from Witney, compered the festival’s launch night on Wednesday at the Duke’s Cut pub in Park End Street.

She will be performing at the Copa bar in George Street on June 18, and said: “Oxfringe is cheaper than the Edinburgh Fringe. This is the second year I have done a show and it’s a brilliant atmosphere.”

Oxford-based illusionist Rob Bailey, who also appeared at the launch, added: “Oxfringe is one of my favourite festivals because I am on home turf.”

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