The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is back for 2014 with a programme that is bursting at the seams with exhilarating, inspiring and unforgettable festival shows and offering a truly unboring experience.
2014 will see 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues across Scotland’s capital city. The number of shows reflects an 11% increase on last year’s programme, making it the biggest ever in the history of the Fringe.
Audiences at the 2014 Fringe will have a new online ticketing experience that will improve the process for customers looking to search for shows and buy tickets. Ticketing on edfringe.com is now fully responsive and customers can now access it on any PC, tablet or mobile device, and will benefit from improved filtering options, the ability to export their search results, create their own calendar of events, and share booked and favourite shows. Additionally, audience members can now post reviews of any show they’ve seen directly onto edfringe.com, which will in turn benefit participants who can build up a picture of genuine audience responses. Participants will also be able to enrich their online show listings by sharing reviews, social media links, sneak previews and other media files. This is alongside the official Fringe App for Android and iOS which is already available. Once again the Fringe Society has increased the number of ticket collections points around the city, to make things easier for our audience. New collection points this year include the Institut français d'Ecosse in the west end of the city and, as announced last month, the Domestic Arrivals Hall at Edinburgh Airport. A full list of ticket collection points can be found online.
As the Edinburgh Festival Fringe constantly evolves, a number of new venues will be showcasing work this year. Riddle’s Court, an A-listed 16th Century courtyard house set behind the Royal Mile is once again in operation following extensive conservation work, and joins the C Group as venue C Cubed, while, rising like a phoenix, La Belle Angèle on Cowgate is reopening as a venue, following the devastating fire in 2002. Northern Stage is moving to a new venue at King’s Hall on Clerk Street, and the south side of the city also sees new venues Greenside @ Nicolson Square and C venues - C south, extending the presence of the Fringe in that neighbourhood. The Famous Spiegeltent will be located in St Andrew’s Square, alongside Stand in the Square, and a brand new open air stage. theSpaceUK, which is celebrating 20 years at the Fringe this year, manages performance spaces across eight locations, plus a caravan on Niddry Street with a maximum audience capacity of just eight. 2014 also marks the 25th year as a Fringe venue for Universal Art’s Hill Street Theatre which will this year once again play host to the Festival of Solo Theatre.
This year sees the former Dance and Physical Theatre category expanded to become Dance, Circus and Physical Theatre in recognition of the growth and popularity of circus shows over the last couple of years. Spoken Word, which was introduced in 2012 sees an 88% increase in the number of shows since last year to a total of 124 – making up just under 4% of the total programme. Children’s shows have also seen a big increase in popularity this year, with 22% more shows in this category than in 2013. All other categories continue to remain very popular.
Kath M Mainland, Chief Executive of The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:
“This programme is the culmination of the creativity and hard work of thousands of people. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is many things to many people and part of the success of the Fringe is that whatever you are looking for, and in whatever capacity you are looking, you can almost certainly be satisfied by what you find.
“This year the Fringe includes 3,193 shows which is a record number of shows, but more importantly the programme offers the widest selection of international high quality arts and entertainment that you will find in any one place at any one time. A truly unique experience.
“This year is an incredibly important year for Scotland with major international cultural, sporting and political events taking place. With our eclectic range of shows and uniquely diverse range of voices the Fringe will, as always, be at the centre of things and promises to keep residents and visitors unbored.”
Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said:
“As we welcome the world in 2014 to see the best that Scotland has to offer, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will play a crucial role helping to attract visitors from all over the world to see and experience the diverse and extensive range of cultural and creative activity on offer.
“The Fringe is world renowned, boosting our international profile and providing a platform for Scottish artists and companies from around the world.
“Through the Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund the Scottish Government has awarded more than £15m to the Edinburgh festivals since 2007, including more than £3.2m for Made in Scotland at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This demonstrates the Scottish Government’s firm commitment to supporting the festivals to give Scotland’s performers and companies the opportunity to promote our country’s rich culture, heritage and distinct identity on a world stage.”
Cllr. Steve Cardownie, the City of Edinburgh Council’s Festivals and Events Champion said:
“The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a hugely celebrated event in the Edinburgh calendar and this year promises once again to thrill, educate and entertain audiences across the capital. We are looking forward to welcoming artists, journalists and guests from around the globe to enjoy the world’s largest arts festival in the beautiful and historical setting of Edinburgh.”
Janet Archer, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland said:
“The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an unrivalled opportunity for Scottish performers to access a whole host of influential contacts and to present their work on an International platform. It’s also a fantastic way for acts to compare and contrast their output to their creative counterparts from around the world.”
This year the Fringe Society has built a series of strong collaborative relationships with key transport infrastructure providers in order to help our dedicated audience to make the most of their time at the Fringe.
On 25 July the Fringe Society’s popular Glasgow Box Office will open for 2014 at Queen Street Station, Steve Montgomery, Managing Director of First ScotRail said:
“We are absolutely delighted to once again host the Fringe’s Glasgow Fringe Box Office at Queen Street Station.
“We know that a lot of our customers travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh during August will want to take in some shows at what is the biggest and most exciting festival in the world and First ScotRail is committed to helping make the experience as smooth as possible.”
As mentioned earlier, this year also sees a Fringe Ticket Collection Point inside Edinburgh Airport for the first time. Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, said:
“Every summer we welcome thousands of passengers from all over the world into our airport. Many will be coming to experience the magic of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and this year we’ll have a Fringe ticket collection point in our terminal for the very first time. Passengers will soon be able to collect their tickets as soon as they arrive.
“We want all of our passengers to have the very best experience possible. We’re delighted to be working with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and have this fantastic facility available at Edinburgh Airport.”
Residents and visitors will also be able to keep an eye out for a Fringe branded bus which will be part of the Lothian Buses fleet travelling around the city. The Chief Executive of Transport for Edinburgh, Ian Craig said:
“The Fringe is an extremely exciting time for everyone in Edinburgh and we’re doing all we can to make sure that residents and visitors alike can move around the city with ease. Extra services will be laid on and we’d encourage all audience members to plan their journeys ahead of time using www. lothianbuses.com, so everyone can enjoy their festival experience without having to worry about how they’re getting home afterwards.”
In a year that will see Scotland vote on whether to become an independent country it may be no surprise that many shows this summer discuss the topic of national identity. All Back to Bowie’s (Stand in the Square) is a mix of politics, poetry, polemic and pop from a variety of acts, in the wake of rock star David Bowie’s momentous declaration at this year’s Brit Awards, and National Collective Presents… (Scottish Storytelling Centre) is a series of entertaining and informative performances, speakers and discussions to inspire debate about Scotland’s future. Spoiling (Traverse) looks at a future Scottish Foreign Minister torn between her own views and towing the party line, while MacBraveheart: The Other Scottish Play (Assembly Rooms) is a dystopian view on Scottish identity and independence, contrasting the views of three of Scotland’s greatest heroes, Wallace, Bruce and Burns. Now’s the Hour (Stand Comedy Club) by Scottish Youth Theatre uses sketches, monologues and music to explore young people’s hopes, fears, ambitions and attitudes to the Referendum, while American satirist Erich McElroy gives an outsider’s perspective on the vote, and it’s wider implications in Erich McElroy: The British Referendum (Just the Tonic at the Community Project). New Zealand-born Sully O'Sullivan shares one man’s national identity crisis in Sully O'Sullivan: Nationhood (Laughing Horse @ The White Horse) and Bridge (Just Festival)tells the story of a young writer in pre-independence India, reflecting on identity, belonging, the struggle for meaning and the power of the pen.
Individual identity is also a recurring theme: Case Number (Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall) follows the story of a woman trying to regain her identity in a patriarchal system, having suffered from sexual abuse, and merry christmas, Ms Meadows (Pleasance Dome) challenges the roles of identity, gender and sexuality in countries where to be different is often comparable to a criminal act. Bare: A Pop Opera (theSpace @ Surgeons Hall) examines a group of teens wrestling with issues of identity at a co-ed Catholic school, while Mental (Pleasance Pop-Up: The Bedroom) is an autobiographical performance that discusses the labels we are given if we are deemed to be different -told through psychiatric records, police intelligence files and injunctions collected through the Data Protection Act. Confessions of a Liverpudlian (theSpace @ Jury's Inn) examines identity on a localised level over the last fifty years, Lady Gogo Goch (Summerhall) offers a playful and mesmeric exploration of voice and cultural identity, and Eve and Mary Are Having Coffee (Sweet Grassmarket) explores womanism in South-East Asia.
Feminism remains a popular talking point at the Fringe and a number of shows are inspired by the movement. Sirens (Summerhall) sees six performers discuss how to be a woman – dealing with role models, patterns of expectation, persisting inequalities, acquired rights, inner censorship and everyday abuse, while Sister (Summerhall) contrasts two feminist viewpoints from sisters who couldn’t be more different. I’m Not Like Other Girls (theSpace @ Jury’s Inn) uses serious and silly stories to trace the journey of how a misguided misogynist woman becomes a proud feminist and The Hemline Index (Pleasance Courtyard) explores the lives of two twentysomething women struggling to come to terms with fourth-wave feminism, underemployment, and just how long their skirts should be. Male audience members needn’t feel left out and can join comedian Andrew Watts in Feminism For Chaps (Laughing Horse @ The Counting House).
2014 marks 100 years since the start of the First World War, an anniversary which has inspired a significant segment of this year’s programme. SmallWar (Traverse), from the creators of 2012 Fringe sell-out BigMouth, tells its story in the words of those who were there and led the way and crucially, those who followed, while Brotherhood (theSpace on the Mile) contrasts these stories with the experiences of families who were left behind. And the Horse You Rode in On (Paradise in St Augustines) follows 10 soldiers in the trenches just before a call to charge and Forgotten Voices (Pleasance Courtyard) presents some genuine testimonies of First World War Soldiers, as supplied by the Imperial War Museum. Dalloway (Assembly Roxy) an adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s celebrated work, looks at the effects of shell-shock on middle and upper class London, and Forever Young (theSpace @Symposium Hall) is a celebration, protest and tribute to those who lived, loved, died and wrote through 1914-1918.
Politics is a recurring theme at the Fringe, and topical shows this year include Blood Orange (Summerhall), which examines the turbulent rise of the new far right in modern Scotland, and Motortown (Sweet Grassmarket), which is an impassioned and controversial response to the Iraq war and anti-war movement. Notoriously Yours (C Venues – C South) focuses on the love affair between a political criminal and the daughter of an alleged war criminal whose encounters are monitored by the surveillance state, while continuing the theme of undercover deceit Cuckooed (Traverse) sees Mark Thomas tells his true story of how Britain's biggest arms manufacturer (BAE Systems) came to spy on a comedian. For those interested in local politics Bloody Trams (Traverse) explores the local response to one of Edinburgh’s most contested and emotive debates, created from verbatim interviews with the people of Edinburgh.
The ever-increasing popularity of the internet and social media forms the basis of many shows in the 2014 programme. In Error 404 (Just the Tonic at the Caves) young adults reveal truths and share stories, questioning our fashionable yet potentially harmful online lives, while Character Limit (C Venues – C Too) follows the changing fortunes of four “citizens of the internet” and the barrage of bloggers, vloggers, trolls and attention-seekers who also populate the virtual realm. Silk Road (Assembly George Square) looks at the darker side of the internet, and how web-based trading in narcotics is easier, and more dangerous than you might think, while the musical Connected (Pleasance Upstairs) explores the dangers that lurk in the interface between real life and the online world. Ctrl-Alt-Sketch (Citrus Club) takes a light-hearted view on the history of the internet using musical sketch comedy, while comedians Neel Kolhatkar (Assembly Hall) and Tom Rosenthal (Pleasance Dome) share their witticism about all things online. In spoken word Is Your Marmite Watching You? (Stand in the Square) envisions a world where the internet empowers inanimate objects to talk and even ask for divorce, and audiences are encouraged to join in the debate with The Internet: A Human Right? (Stand in the Square), which discusses the power that comes with the information we share, and who should have access to it. Motion&Motion (Zoo) intertwines dance and projection in a visually arresting exploration of emotion in the digital age. The internet is even a venue for one show: David Leddy’s epic political thriller City of the Blind (www.davidleddy.com) is a downloadable book containing six, thirty-minute chapters with access to a U.N investigator and whistleblower’s voicemail, emails and cctv footage. This show is double-billed with live show Horizontal Collaboration (Traverse).
Also new this year will be Hibrow Hour (Summerhall). Hibrow is a digital arts broadcast production enterprise that commissions, produces and distributes high quality films about the arts. Hibrow Hour will be a daily, series of hour long performances, featuring a variety of work ranging from new drama presented by the next generation of writers, directors and actors to work from more established artists including Steven Berkoff, Peter Howson OBE and Alison Jackson. In addition to the daily online broadcast via the www.hibrow.tv website, certain Hibrow Hour performances and events will be transmitted via BBC Arts (broadcasting on television and online) and to selected Odeon Cinema outlets across the country.
Much like in the very first festival in 1947, many shows this year occur outside of traditional theatre spaces. Alice (theSpace on North Bridge) is an innovative, site-responsive piece of promenade theatre set over four floors of a Victorian building. Commencing at midnight, it is based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Gorgie City Farm hosts a number of shows this year, giving a unique and interactive performance space, while also outside Out of Water (Summerhall @ Portobello Beach) is a poetic spectacle where performers enter the sea at dawn and dusk each day.
As Scotland welcomes the sporting world to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games this summer, the Fringe also sees a variety of sport-themed shows in interesting spaces. No Guts, No Heart, No Glory which isset in a boxing gym takes place in one of Edinburgh’s longest established boxing gyms (Sandy’s Boxing Gym) and is based on interviews with young Muslim female boxers, exploring assumptions and expectations held of them in both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities, and This is Contemporary Ice Skating (Murrayfield Ice Rink) is a showcase from Canadian competitive figure skaters sharing work in their own contemporary, urban and acrobatic style.
Once again the Fringe attracts a number of big names to its stages, from a variety of backgrounds. Dame Diana Rigg: No Turn Unstoned (Assembly Checkpoint) is an incredible insight into the star of stage and screen’s worst theatrical reviews in history and a celebration of the actors who survive. Former star of Dad’s Army Ian Lavender returns to the Fringe with Don't Tell Him Pike (Assembly Rooms), providing memories and anecdotes on his career, and star of Hi-de-Hi! Jeffrey Holland performs a one man show about the life of Stan Laurel in ...and This is My Friend Mr Laurel (Pleasance Courtyard). The Trial of Jane Fonda (Assembly Rooms) stars Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winner Anne Archer as one of the most controversial anti-war activists in American history, while TV personality Nancy Dell’Olio stars in Nancy Dell’Olio: Rainbows From Diamonds (Gilded Balloon), sharing her secrets to surviving with glamour and her beliefs on living a self-empowered life. LABrynth Theatre Company make their UK premiere with the compelling story of strangers stranded in a hunting cabin inThe Dirty Talk (C Venues – C), first produced for the New York Fringe in 2007 by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Torsten the Bareback Saint (Assembly George Square) sees Erasure’s Andy Bell take on the most challenging role of his career as an age defying, polysexual saint, and former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock shares his journey and experiences with the band in Glen Matlock: I Was a Teenage Sex Pistol (Assembly George Square).
The Fringe is also renowned for featuring some of the biggest names and rising stars in comedy. This year is no exception and one of the most anticipated shows is What Does The Title Matter Anyway? (previously advertised as Whose Live Show Is It Anyway?) (Underbelly Bristo Square, McEwan Hall). Based on the hit TV show it will feature many of the stars who made their names on the original show such as Colin Mochrie, Greg Proops, Josie Lawrence and Steve Frost, with the familiar face of Clive Anderson on hosting duties. Jeremy Paxman makes his Fringe debut with the frank and undoubtedly controversial Paxo (Pleasance Courtyard), and Celebrity Juice regular and star of BBC2's Hebburn Chris Ramsey shares his insights of being ‘sent off’ the Soccer AM sofa last year for misbehaving in Chris Ramsey: The Most Dangerous Man On Saturday Morning Television (Pleasance Courtyard). Fringe favourite Jimmy Carr is also back to share his new work Jimmy Carr – Funny Business ([email protected]), while Adam Riches, who made his name when he won the Fosters’ Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2011, returns with new work Adam of the Riches (Pleasance Dome). But it’s not all about the men: legendary Pam Ayres (Assembly Rooms) returns to Edinburgh after nearly 10 years with new work, and Ruby Wax is also back with Ruby Wax: Sane New World (Assembly Rooms) where she attempts to teach the audience how to find calm in a frenetic world. Star of Ricky Gervais’ sitcom Derek and Live at the Apollo, Kerry Godliman also returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a brand new show, Kerry Godliman: Face Time (The Stand Comedy Club).
Amongst dozens of sketch shows, chat shows and magic shows on the Fringe, Abi Roberts' Musical CID (Gilded Balloon)is a new comedy confessional show that delves into what the biggest names in comedy have in their record collections and on their iPods whilst James Lovelock and his herd of improvisers bring you the biggest, most chaotic and silliest musicals in Baron Sternlook’s Big Naughty Improv Musical (Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall).
In the year of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the Fringe also takes a very international flavour, and we are delighted to welcome shows from 47 other countries this year (up from 40 last year), including major showcases from New Zealand and South Africa. Many of our Commonwealth partners are represented, including some returning after many years’ absence, and those whose first fringe this is. Arturo Tappin: The Horn of Plenty (Outhouse) joins us from Barbados, Tender Napalm (C venues - C nova) comes from Malta, Kava Girls (Spotlites @ the Merchants Hall) joins us from Samoa and Nzinga - Warrior Queen (just Festival) from Kenya. Kraken (Underbelly, Cowgate) has travelled all the way from New Zealand whilst Soweto Afro-Pop Opera (Underbelly, Bristo Square) join us from South Africa. United States and Australia are those with the largest representation with 197 and 90 shows respectively.
Green Snake (C Venues – C) is an edgy contemporary version of the romantic Chinese myth, brought to us from National Theatre of China, while other Chinese representation comes from Theater Santuoqi, one of Asia's leading independent theatre companies who will be sharing physical theatre piece Hymn to Disappearance (Summerhall). From Taiwan, Impression of Taiwan ([email protected]) is a musical masterclass from Grammy-nominated Ten Drum Art Percussion Group in conjunction with Performance Infinity, while Taiwanese Kurakuraw Dance Glass Bead (Dance Base) is an epic love story told through contemporary dance.
This is Brasil - The Show (Pleasance Courtyard) brings the World Cup party atmosphere from Rio all the way to Edinburgh combining freestyle football, dance and percussion, and The Day Sam Died (New Town Theatre) is the new production from the acclaimed Armazém Theatre Company, also from Brazil. binôme – Souris Chaos (Institut français d'Ecosse) is a French comedy looking at western Society’s addiction to consumerism and Italian work Made in ILVA - The Contemporary Hermit (Summerhall) is a stunning physical story following the plight of a group of Italian steel workers. From Ireland, acclaimed theatre artist Olwen Fouéré performs her adaptation of the voice of the river in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake in RIVERRUN (Traverse). Back Out from the Outback (Laughing Horse @ The Cellar Monkey) is a moving showcase of traditional Australian bush poetry and musical monologues from Australia and Danish Diaspora - Scotland Seen Through Danish Eyes (The Danish Institute Gallery) is an intriguing exhibition of arts and crafts from Scotland-based Danes.
2014 celebrates 450 years since the great William Shakespeare was born and there are over 50 shows celebrating his work, Hamlet has the largest representation at the Fringe with no less than seven different interpretations being performed. Macbeatha (Summerhall) is a new adaptation of the Bard’s tragic work which has been translated into Gaelic and A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Rock Musical (C Venues – C) is a modern retelling of the Shakespearean comedy with a rock'n'roll twist.
Shakespeare isn’t the only classic playwright with works still being performed at the Fringe this year. Oscar Wilde also features highly with four versions of one of his best known works. The Importance of Being Earnest (theSpace on the Mile) offers a traditional interpretation of the classic show, while Ernest, Or Much Ado About Muffins (C Venues – C Cubed) is a sparkling musical interpretation. Slightly more outside the box, Bunbury is Dead (Café Camino) is a new piece composed almost entirely of material from Wilde's major works as a fast-paced satirical postmodern tribute.
Dylan Thomas was born 100 years ago this year, and his life and works are also celebrated at the Fringe. Dylan Thomas: Clown in the Moon (Assembly Hall) is a portrait of the poet's chaotic, frequently hilarious and all too brief life, Dylan Thomas Return Journey - Bob Kingdom, Original Direction by Anthony Hopkins (Pleasance Courtyard) follows the infamous poet on his journey to the White Horse Tavern, while Under Milk Wood (Assembly Hall) is a one man tour-de-force performance by Guy Masterson of the timeless masterpiece.
In recognition of 200 years since the second volume of Grimms’ Fairy Tales was published, various shows also revisit some of these classic stories. Grimm (C Venues – C Too) provides a physical, devised piece exploring childhood, memory and the danger of forgetting. Snow White: The Whole Grimm Affair (theSpace on Niddry Street) is a new black comedy musical satirising celebrity culture in a modern take on Grimm, while A Collection of Grimms' Fairy Tales (Greenside @ Nicolson Square) is a family-friendly show which re-evaluates the classical tales using shadow puppetry and innovative story-telling.
2014 marks the sixth anniversary of the Made in Scotland showcase, which celebrates the wealth and diversity of talent produced in Scotland. Supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, it aims to support artists in presenting their work to a global audience. 29 such shows are taking part in this year’s Fringe Festival, including Unfaithful (Traverse), the latest work from Owen McCafferty, writer of last year’s Fringe First Award-winning Quietly, which examines the unspoken desires, the piercing regrets, and the postponed conversations within relationships. The showcase also includes Feral (Underbelly Bristo Square), which builds an entire world in front of the audience's eyes, telling the story of a childhood home and its journey from idyllic seaside town to community gripped by anarchy, and Tiger (Venue [email protected]), which is a dance exploration of a family whose lives are interrupted by the invasion of a tiger.
In the second year that music has also been supported by Made in Scotland, a variety of acts will be gracing Fringe stages including eight-piece band The Black Diamond Express, who, fresh from their Canadian tour, perform a combination of classics and new work in The Black Diamond Express presents Midnight Train (Mash House). Acclaimed Scottish saxophonist Brian Molley brings his jazz quartet to share music from new album Clock (The Jazz Bar), and Celtic inspired, genre-crossing Fiona Rutherford presents new work Sleep Sound (Summerhall), inspired by the structure of a night’s sleep.
Escalator East to Edinburgh, which supports artists and companies from the East of England celebrates its 12th year at the Fringe, bringing 21 shows from 19 companies. These include Swimming (Pleasance Dome), a bittersweet comedy following three teenagers trapped on the Isle of Wight, and The Snow Dog (Pleasance Courtyard), which is an exploration of love and loss aimed at children and families. Klanghaus (Summerhall), is their first ever show in the Music category and is a multi-sensory encounter of shifting sound.
Northern Stage, in their new home at Kings Hall, will be showcasing work from theatre makers in the North of England, including Britannia Waves the Rules, whichlooks at one man’s escapism in the army, and the battles he faces both within and without it, while larger than life Selina Thompson shares her new work Chewing The Fat, whichcombines an exploration of her life-long issues with weightwith laughter, popping balloons and ahealthy dose of rice pudding.Good Timin’ is one man’s quest to find his father, and questions how much we really pass on to our children, while the more hard-hitting I Promise You Sex and Violence is abrutal and hilarioussatire of love and hate where boy meets girl meets boy meets crippling sexual neurosis.
This year Northern Stage is also working with Paines Plough to present the Roundabout project. The roundabout tent will host eight performances including the world première of Alexandra Wood's The Initiate and Dennis Kelly's children's show Our Teacher's a Troll. The programme also features the Lyric Hammersmith's Show 6, a new play from award-winning writer Mark Ravenhill which has been written especially for the Lyric's innovative Secret Theatre Company, alongside A Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts.
Following well-received works over the last two years, The Welsh Arts Council is funding a number of Welsh artists to present their works at the Fringe. Among these are the true story of Dim Diolch (theSpace on the Mile), a welsh language tale of scientist George Price, who helped develop radiation treatment for cancer and the selflessness equation, and The Future for Beginners (Summerhall), which follows a couple who intricately plan their lives together, but who go astray when they lose the plan. Michaelangelo Drawing Blood (Paradise in St Augustines) is a live art, multimedia performance examining the artist’s creative process, and Last Chance Romance (Zoo Southside) stars three retro dating agency receptionists, fusing swing dance, toe-tapping tunes and dating booths.
The Edinburgh Fringe is often a launch pad for the stars of tomorrow, and several previous Fringe award winners return to the festival this year. Darkle (theSpace @ Surgeons Hall), by esteemed writerBill Gallagher (Larkrise to Candleford, The Paradise), returns to the Fringe 25 years after winning the Sunday Times Playwriting award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1989. Alumni in the original cast include star of stage and screen James Frain (The Tudors, True Blood) and actor Sophie Vaughan, who now directs this revival. Outings (Gilded Balloon), produced by five-time Fringe First award winners Seabright Productions, examines true-life stories of people being able to utter the words “I’m gay”.
Theatre Ad Infinitum,Stage Award winners in 2009 and 2013 and The Guardian’s Best of the Edinburgh Fringe 2013 winners, bring new show Light (Pleasance Dome), an exploration in state secrecy and surveillance, while Missing by David Bolger (Dance Base) is a dance poem about the fragility and beauty of moments shred, from double Fringe First award winners CoisCéim Dance Theatre. One group making a very long-awaited return to the Fringe is Mulberry School for Girls, who are to date the only ever school group to have won a Fringe First award, back in 2009. The Hackney-based comprehensive school makes its first trip to Edinburgh since then with The Domino Effect (theSpace @ Surgeons Hall). Men in the Cities(Traverse) offers a snapshot of seemingly disconnected lives, framed by the fallout of two violent deaths, from three-time Fringe First winner Chris Goode.In the spoken word category Canadian rapper Baba Brinkman, Fringe First and Jack Tinker Spirit of the Fringe award winner returns with The Rap Guide to Religion (Gilded Balloon). Rebranding Beelzebub (Banshee Labyrinth) – is the new work from Tim Ralph who went from Young Storyteller of the Year in 2007 to a British Award for Storytelling Excellence in 2012.
As well as new writing and modern interpretations, the Fringe also features many shows which share traditions from a variety of cultures, including Backstage (Spotlites at the Merchants Hall) where the audience is encouraged to learn more about traditional Chinese Arts with post-show discussions after every performance. Traditional music is also very popular: Mountain Songs and Grassland Tunes (C Venues – C South) gives audiences the chance to experience the unique sounds of traditional Mongolian throat singing and Mongolian guitar, and Japan Marvelous Drummers (Assembly George Square) is a powerful introduction to traditional Japanese music. Closer to home, a range of traditional Scottish musicians share their talents – Rura (The Famous Spiegeltent) is an exciting mix of highland pipes, whistle, flute, fiddle, bodhran and guitar, A Big Night in with the Silver Darlings (Acoustic Music Centre) provides a capella folk music at its very best, and Song of the Goat return with a passionate and celebratory exploration of Gaelic musical forms and traditionsinReturn to the Voice (Summerhall @ St Giles Cathedral).
As always there’s music in abundance this Fringe covering a wide spectrum of genres from opera with Alison Jackson: A Story in the Public Domain (Summerhall) to beat combo with Asian Dub Foundation including alive DJ set featuring Pandit G and Aktavata(Summerhall).
Disability and mental health are popular topics covered this year. Backstage in Biscuit Land (Pleasance Courtyard) is a comic look at the realities of living with tourettes, while the poignant An Evening with Dementia (theSpace on the Mile) from RSC actor and playwright Trevor T. Smith allows the audience to empathise with the state of being called dementia. Comedian Tim Renkow, who has cerebral palsy, opens up about living with the condition in his show Tim Renkow: At Least Hell Has Ramps (Heroes @ The Hive). Autism is the basis a number of shows: Echolalia (Gilded Balloon) is a clown theatre performance looking at social acceptance, The Trip (Greenside @ Nicolson Square) is a new comedy performed by an entire cast of adults on the autism spectrum, while Spectrum (theSpace on North Bridge) is based on the life of Temple Grandin, who was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of three, but who went on to achieve her a doctorate in animal science, and is now a leading spokesperson for autism.
Performing at the Fringe provides many young performers an invaluable lesson in growing up, and this coming-of-age process is common theme in many shows this year. #YOLO (Quaker Meeting House) is a modern view on a group of teenagers who reassess their own lives following the death of a friend, And They Played Shang-a-Lang (Assembly Rooms) is a coming-of age-tale set in 70s Edinburgh set against the music and politics of the day, and Sleeping Beauty(Institut français d'Ecosse), tells the story of a modern day princess growing up in a world devastated by drugs, famine and unemployment.
In contrast, death and immortality are the basis of many other shows. How to Disappear Completely (Underbelly, Cowgate) reflects on the events that followed a dying mother's request for her son to take her life, and inspired by Nina Simone, Black is the Color of My Voice (Gilded Balloon) follows a successful jazz musician and civil rights activist struggling to come to terms with the untimely death of her father. Chris is Dead (the Space on the Mile) examines how to mourn someone when you’re really annoyed with them and Drowning Scott (Greenside @ Nicolson Square) follows the last-blow out from a group of friends, one of whom has just weeks to live.
For those on a budget there are 825 free shows taking part in this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Laughing Horse Free Festival features Multi-award winning comedian Ahir Shah presenting musings on moving house, romance, drinking and perception in Ahir Shah: Texture, (Laughing Horse @ The Counting House) and Outrageous Courageous Highly Contagious: Israeli Style Improv (Laughing Horse @ The Phoenix) is an energetic, fast paced, improvised play straight from the middle east. PBH’s Free Fringe line-up includes Ward and Watts in…Journey to the Centre of the Office (Serenity Café): one guy, one girl, one Southern (posh), one Northern (not), giving a guide to the lighter side of endless corporate slavery, and Stories about Love, Death and a Rabbit (Dragonfly) which sees Charles Adrian Gillott as beloved character Samantha Mann presenting stories from a well-meaning spinster librarian whose best friend has left her holding the rabbit. New in 2014 La Favorita Freestival also hosts a number of acts, including Bren and Jenny: Hello! (Freestival St. Mary’s): a dynamic new comedy in the guise of a daytime TV chat show from award-winning Jenny Bede and Brendan Murphy, and Caroline Mabey: Chaos is a Friend of Mine (Cowgatehead), which comically contrasts motherhood and solipsism.
Many Fringe shows are aimed at children and families, and this year sees an increase in this category by 22%. Albee Vector the Sound Collector (Hispaniola) asks audience members to help create and store sounds in jars, and Big Red Bath (Pleasance Courtyard) is a bath-time adventure and vibrant adaptation of the popular book. Brave Macbeth (The Famous Spiegeltent) is an adaptation of “The Scottish Play”, complete with witches sword-fights and kilts, aimed at children and their parents, Lashings of Ginger Beer (Quaker Meeting House) is a thrilling Blyton-esque spoof musical for all the family and Dean's Silly Song Sing-Along (Sweet Grassmarket) offers young ones an afternoon of silliness and song.
The BBC returns to Edinburgh to give audiences around the UK a front row seat at the world’s biggest festival of performance. Across radio, TV and online the BBC will broadcast highlights and live performances daily, capturing the Festival’s hidden gems, biggest names and most exciting new talent.
10 of the BBC’s radio networks will broadcast from Edinburgh with programmes including: MacAulay & Co (BBC Radio Scotland), Simon Mayo Drivetime (BBC Radio 2), In Tune (BBC Radio 3), Just a Minute (BBC Radio 4), New Comedy Award (BBC Radio 4 Extra) Richard Bacon (BBC Radio 5 Live), Shaun Keavney (BBC Radio 6 Music), Nihal (Asian Network), Feasgar (Radio nan Gàidheal) and World Have Your Say (World Service). On television there will be coverage on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Four, including a Newsnight special (BBC Two), and digital audiences will be able use BBC Arts online to discover a broad mix of performance from across the Festivals.
Visitors to the city can join the BBC in the heart of Edinburgh at the dedicated [email protected] site – open for 24 days from 1-24th August with live broadcasts, Festivals highlights, behind-the-scenes masterclasses and hands on activities. Each weekend CBBC and CBeebies will take over the venue to entertain and educate younger Festival goers.
The Fringe Society’s Participants’ Centre will be based at Fringe Central within the University of Edinburgh’s Appleton Tower for the sixth year. Fringe Central offers an unrivalled, unique and free programme of professional and career development opportunities for everyone participating in a Fringe show.
Street entertainers will once again be able to perform extracts of their work in two vibrant outdoor performance spaces in the heart of the city thanks to the support of Virgin Money. With performances running from 11am -9pm every day of the festival, these spaces become the focus of the carnival atmosphere that takes over Edinburgh in August. Last year saw over 4,000 hours of live outdoor entertainment taking place over the month of August.
Your Fringe programme comes in at 414 pages and weighs 616 grams. There is plenty to experience this year and audiences are invited to get #unbored.
Fringe Facts 2014
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 features 49,497 performances (up from 45,204 last year) of 3,193 shows (up from 2,871 shows last year) in 299 venues (up from 273 venues last year).
Comedy makes up 34% (compared to 33% last year)
Theatre makes up 28% (compared to 29% last year)
Music makes up 13% (compared to 14% last year)
Musicals and Opera makes up 3% (compared to 4% last year)
Children’s Shows make up 5% (compared to 5% last year)
Dance, Circus & Physical Theatre makes up 4%(compared to 4% last year)
Events make up 4% (compared to 4.5% last year)
Cabaret makes up 3% (compared to 3% last year)
Spoken Word makes up 4% (compared to 2% last year)
Exhibitions make up 2% (compared to 1.5% last year)
There are 825 free shows, 1,789 premieres and 47 different countries represented.