Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023 printed programme launched
08 June 2023
We are delighted to announce the launch the official 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme. The programme celebrates the diverse selection of work at the Fringe, spanning the genres of theatre, dance, circus, physical theatre, comedy, music, musicals, opera, cabaret, variety, children’s shows, spoken word, exhibitions and events.
The theme for this year’s programme cover and the wider Fringe marketing campaign is Fill Yer Boots, which is defined by the Collins English Dictionary as a phrase meaning, ‘to get as much of something valuable or desirable as you can’ – a message that encapsulates the unrivalled range and diversity of the incredible shows on offer at the Fringe.
This year’s programme features work across 3,013 shows, with themes tackling some of the most topical issues in the world today, from the NHS to mental health, gender and gender identity, neurodiversity, race and racial identity, politics, class and climate action. This year's festival brings together performers from across the globe; from homegrown talent to international artists – brand new and established acts alike.
There has never been a more important time to support those at the very heart of the festival – the artists themselves. The Fringe is recognised as one of the most important cultural events on the planet, with performers from 68 countries appearing in venues across Edinburgh this August. This is a key moment to support them by going to see work across the variety of genres.
Launching the 2023 Fringe programme, Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: ‘Getting the programme out into the world is such an important moment for everyone involved in the Fringe, and most of all for the thousands of artists coming to Edinburgh this August. The ideas, originality and passion that performers bring to Fringe stages every year is testament to the role that Edinburgh plays in celebrating and promoting their work to the world. The Fringe ‘23 programme is bursting with every kind of live performance, so whether theatre premieres are your thing, or the best of live comedy, street arts or circus, jump straight in and Fill Yer Boots with as much as you can.
‘To all the artists, venues, workers, technicians, promoters and support staff, thank you for making it happen, we wish you a wonderful Fringe. To Edinburgh’s local business community, we thank you for your continued support, and to Edinburgh and Scotland’s residents who come out in their thousands, and all our Fringe-goers who keep this phenomenal event relevant and sustained by coming to see the work, we can’t wait to explore the Fringe programme with you this August.’
The platform for career development that the Fringe offers to artists can be transformational, and many participate in the festival with the desire to be seen, to be recognised for their work, and to benefit from areas such as onward touring or broadcast opportunities. This August marks the 10th anniversary of that moment for Fringe Society President Phoebe Waller-Bridge, whose Fringe show Fleabag debuted in August 2013.
With first-hand experience of the importance of the Fringe, Phoebe said: ‘I am so proud to continue to be a part of this phenomenal event, 10 years after Fleabag premiered there. This programme will hit the Fringe with the creative wildness, political provocation and huge cultural impact that the festival delivers year after year, at a time when we need it most. We need help processing what the hell is going on in the world as well as being treated with the imaginative escape that only the immersive experience of the Fringe can provide. Whether your appetite is for theatre, dance, music, circus or street performing, August in Edinburgh will have it all. The only thing it needs now, is YOU!’
On this page
- Prominent themes in 2023
- Thanks to our supporters
- Street events
- Community engagement
- Screen Fringe
- Made in Scotland
- International work
- Voices from the South
- Fringe facts
As a charity, the work of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society would not be possible without the valuable support of our partners, sponsors and funders, including sponsors Johnnie Walker Princes Street, Playbill, TikTok, Edinburgh Gin and Cirrus Logic, and supporters Scottish Enterprise.
We are grateful for funding through the PLACE Programme, a partnership between the Scottish Government – through Creative Scotland – the City of Edinburgh Council and Festivals Edinburgh; to Scottish Government for Made in Scotland through the Festivals Expo Fund – managed through Creative Scotland; to the UK Government, and the continued support from the City of Edinburgh Council.
We are grateful to Baillie Gifford for supporting our Fringe Days Out programme, EventScotland for their support of the Fringe street events and to Crowdfunder for supporting artist and venue crowdfunding. We are grateful also to City of Edinburgh Council for their support of street events, British Council for their support of Voices from the South, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for their funding for Marketplace, and Screen Scotland for their support of Screen Fringe. We would also like to thank our accommodation partners who provide much needed affordable accommodation to artists – Theatre Digs Booker, Heriot-Watt University, Napier University, Queen Margaret University, SRUC Oatridge, Student Castle Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh. In a new partnership for 2023 we are also delighted to be working with Health in Mind who are supporting the delivery of mental health and wellbeing services from our Artist Hub at Fringe Central.
Our thanks also to our Fringe Angels, Patrons, Friends and supporters who help make the Fringe happen each year, and to those who provide support in many other ways, including Virgin Hotel Edinburgh, the Kimpton Hotel Edinburgh and the team at Irn Bru.
The world-famous Fringe street events will take place in their usual home of the High Street and the Mound, and feature international street performers and buskers, mingling with Fringe artists and other festival favourites to provide a fun and varied family-friendly experience.
This year the Fringe Society are delighted to welcome Belhaven Brewery as a new sponsor. The Belhaven team will be running a bar, serving their award-winning beers, on the Mound Precinct for the duration of August; further information will be announced shortly.
The street events will run daily from 05–26 August – you can find out more, including daily listings for street performers and how you can take part, at edfringe.com/take-part/fringe-street-events.
The Fringe Days Out programme continues for its sixth year with 32 long-term community partners, including two new partnerships for 2023. The scheme provides Fringe vouchers, bus tickets and additional support to people in Edinburgh who may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the festival, or arts in general. Since 2017, an estimated 12,500 people have used Fringe Days Out to visit the festival, many for the first time.
Local communities will have the opportunity to enjoy Fringe at... events, running from July to August. Three events will take place with participating organisations: Sikh Sanjog, Stepping Stones North Edinburgh and one more to be announced later in the summer.
Previously known as the Children and Young People Ticketing Scheme, the Community Ticketing Initiative (CTI) scheme expands in 2023 to allow eligible children and adults to take part. Through CTI, participating Fringe artists and companies generously donate free tickets for people in and around Edinburgh who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend the festival. So far more than 1,200 shows have donated tickets.
Fringe Up Your Street events will run from July to September, where Fringe and street performers join up with Fringe Society community partners around Edinburgh, bringing the Fringe to them. The Fringe Society is also participating in the CONNECT project, an EVOC and Festivals Edinburgh-led pilot project with a focus on exploring participatory cultural planning with an Edinburgh community group. The selected group this year is Valley Park Community Centre based at Southhouse / Burdiehouse.
The Fringe Society remains committed to improving access to the Fringe. Through a number of projects the ambition is to ensure the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is as accessible to as many people as possible.
- Sensory backpacks will be available to those who may find the Fringe overwhelming at times. They include a wide range of sensory tools, including a visual timetable, created in collaboration with Tzipporah Johnstone, a neurodivergent artist from the Neuk Collective. Backpacks are free and available for collection from the Fringe Shop on the High Street on a first-come, first-served basis, or can be pre-booked with specific items required.
- A dedicated access tickets service aims to make it easier for anyone with access requirements to navigate and enjoy the Fringe. It can be reached by phone on +44 (0)131 226 0002, by email at [email protected] or by WhatsApp message on +44 (0)7923 525 799. BSL users can contact the Fringe box office via an online BSL / English interpreter, and can download Contact Scotland BSL’s app via smartphone or tablet at contactscotland-bsl.org/download.
- This year the Fringe Changing Places Toilet will return to the corner of Windmill Street and Chapel Street, EH8 9LE, from 04 – 28 of August, from 10:00 to 01:00. As in past years, this has been made possible through working with the University of Edinburgh Festivals Office and the team at Assembly.
- Developed in partnership with Attitude is Everything, the Venue Access Awards provide venues with a framework to make their spaces as accessible as possible during the festival. Revamped and updated for 2023, the Venue Access Toolkit advises venues on best practice changes they can make to improve accessibility.
- The Fringe Society will again lend venues captioning and audio description equipment to make more performances accessible to visually impaired, D/deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
- For a comprehensive list of BSL interpreted, captioned, audio described and relaxed performances on offer at the Fringe, please visit tickets.edfringe.com/accessibility/accessible-shows.
- The Scottish Association of Mental Health are providing their Wellbeing on Wheels services on 12 and 13 August. Wellbeing on Wheels is a bus staffed by mental health peer supporters who are there to help anyone, but particularly street performers, who may find the Fringe occasionally overwhelming.
- Birds of Paradise will once again be providing Disability Equality Training for all customer-facing Fringe Society staff. The Fringe Society is also providing free online equalities training for everyone working in a Fringe venue.
- The Fringe Society are hosting schools, community groups and disabled musicians (alongside Drake Music Scotland, who are providing support for disabled musicians) on the Fringe Taster Stage on the weekend 24 – 26 August. This is a great opportunity for local performers to take part in the Fringe.
Around 60% of Fringe shows in the 2023 programme are accessible to wheelchair users.
For more information please visit https://www.edfringe.com/experience/how-to-plan/access-at-the-fringe
The Fringe Society is once again proud to support local schools and teachers to experience the Fringe. This includes our Fringe Days Out – Schools work, which supports three Edinburgh secondary schools: Gracemount High School, Tynecastle High School and St Augustine’s RC High School.
Eight pupils from these schools, aged 12–15 years, also take part in the Young Fringe Ambassadors initiative. This initiative helps young people explore career pathways in the arts, meeting with arts professionals to gain insights into various aspects of the industry such as technical theatre, performance, hair and makeup, costume design, artist services, customer services, marketing and programming.
In partnership with Imaginate, the Teacher’s Theatre Club is also back for 2023. The programme gives teachers from schools in Edinburgh and the Lothians the opportunity to see work at the Fringe and Children’s Festival. These events are modelled around a book club format, with the opportunity to see work before unpacking it with festival staff, venue programmers, artists and each other. Teachers across Scotland will also have the opportunity to experience the Fringe online through the national teacher’s offer as part of the Voices from the South project (see below).
The Schools and teachers webpage on edfringe.com has a plethora of new resources available for schools looking to make the most of the Fringe. This includes offers from Fringe artists to work with schools during the festival.
Following its success in 2022, Fringe Marketplace returns to help ensure that artists’ work has a life that extends long after the Fringe. Thousands of industry professionals from across the arts and screen sectors visit the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to discover talent, book work, and network with peers from across the globe at the world’s largest arts marketplace. The Fringe Arts Industry team provides year-round support and guidance for industry members who are looking to find talent, programme work and connect with other industry professionals. Joined by a group of Industry Associates in 2023, the Arts Industry Office facilitates the offer of more specialised programme recommendations and advice throughout the festival for incoming bookers.
Central to the Arts Industry Office, Fringe Marketplace relaunches today for the 2023 season as an industry-facing online platform created to connect accredited programmers, presenters and commissioners with professional artists and work that’s ready to be shared beyond the festival. Offering clips, images and detailed technical information to programmers, Fringe Marketplace profiles the ready-to-tour work presenting at the festival, helping to support visiting bookers to discover talent, and fuelling the onward life of festival shows.
Screen Fringe, set up by Screen Scotland with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, is a dedicated support service for TV and film professionals attending the Edinburgh festivals, designed to assist delegates to discover the best theatre and comedy talent from Scotland, the UK and beyond.
The programme returns following successful runs in 2019 and 2022 to offer accredited screen delegates bespoke assistance from the Screen Fringe team in order to help navigate and make the most of all available Fringe opportunities. Support includes expert festival programme navigation, show curation tailored to delegates’ specific priorities and access to ticketing throughout August. Alongside this essential service, Screen Fringe offers its own unmissable programme of case studies, industry panels and networking events.
With recent high-profile Fringe-to-screen leaps such as Adura Onashile (Expensive Shit), Kieran Hurley (Beats), Richard Gadd (Baby Reindeer) and Jack Rooke (Big Boys), as well as a decades-long list of globe-conquering success stories (Beyond The Fringe, The League of Gentlemen, Taskmaster, Fleabag), the Edinburgh festivals offer an incomparable opportunity to discover original voices and IP rich with potential for screen development and adaptation. Screen Fringe aims to bring together artists and industry professionals who can capitalise on these opportunities.
All Screen Fringe enquiries should be directed to [email protected].
MADE IN SCOTLAND
Launched in 2009, the Made in Scotland programme is a collaboration between the Fringe Society, the Federation of Scottish Theatre, Scottish Music Centre and Creative Scotland, showcasing the best in homegrown dance, theatre and music with 18 artists, companies and ensembles presenting their work this year across nine venues. To date over 100 shows have gone on through the onward touring opportunities it offers, visiting over 44 countries around the world. This is only made possible thanks to ongoing support from the Scottish Government’s Festivals EXPO Fund.
For the full programme go to madeinscotlandshowcase.com.
Alongside those appearing from Scotland and the UK, 14 showcases will be taking work to the Fringe with performers from around the world coming to the Fringe this year. Countries represented in 2023 include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Japan, South Africa and Switzerland.
VOICES FROM THE SOUTH
Voices from the South is a new international showcase premiering 15 new performance works from Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa – all online. Presenting for the first time at the Fringe, the work of the artists featured in the showcase span performance art, theatre, music, digital and multi-disciplinary performance.
The showcase project was envisioned as a slow-working exchange and conversation between the artists while exploring the possibility of breaking down significant barriers of connectivity, geographical distances and language differences faced by artists from these regions when it comes to participating in the Edinburgh Fringe. The artists took part in a one-year period of exchange and conversation while preparing to present their work online at the Fringe in 2023.
The co-curating organisations are MITsp – São Paulo International Theatre Festival (Brazil), Pickle Factory (India), La Teatreria and Teatrix (Mexico) and Baxter Theatre Center (South Africa). Co-delivery in partnership by Edinburgh-based Magnetic North and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.
The showcase is in receipt of generous support of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (with Arts Council England) and the British Council.
Fringe facts 2023
- 3,013 total shows
- 248 total venues
- 463 Pay What You Can/Want
- 45,182 performances
- Work from Scotland: 798
- Rest of UK: 1,417
- Countries represented: 67 (including UK countries)
- International countries: 63 (excluding UK countries)
- There are 308 free shows and 463 Pay What You Can/Want shows
- There are 798 Scottish shows, with 535 shows coming from Edinburgh.
- Shows within each section:
- Cabaret and variety – 147 shows (4.9%)
- Children’s shows – 116 shows (3.8%)
- Comedy – 1,109 shows (36.8%)
- Dance, physical theatre and circus – 114 shows (3.8%)
- Events – 55 shows (1.8%)
- Exhibitions – 42 shows (1.4%)
- Music – 395 shows (13.1%)
- Musicals and opera – 152 shows (5.0%)
- Spoken word – 80 shows (2.7%)
- Theatre – 803 shows (26.7%)