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Published On: Thu, May 30th, 2013 at 12:50pm

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013 – bigger better and brighter

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The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is back for 2013. Bigger, better and brighter than ever before with an emotional rollercoaster of a programme. Get carried away, be inspired, have a blast, cry your eyes out; all of these experiences and more are awaiting audiences this year at the world’s largest arts festival. With so much to see and do, time is precious, so enjoy every second.

2013 will see 2,871 shows performed by 24,107 artists in 273 venues across Scotland’s capital city. The number of shows is a 6.5% increase on last year’s programme.

Every conceivable nook and cranny in Edinburgh will play host to an exhilarating line-up of children’s shows; comedy; dance & physical theatre; events; exhibitions; music; musicals & opera; and theatre. This year also sees the two newest artforms in the programme go from strength to strength with performances in the Cabaret section from award winning Ali McGregor (Assembly Checkpoint) and EastEnd Cabaret (Underbelly Cowgate), while the Spoken Word section of the programme features a diverse range of personalities ranging from Ben Fogle (Assembly Rooms) to George Galloway MP (Assembly Rooms).

This year, the Fringe programme welcomes a host of new venues taking part in their first ever festival including Topside, a new 200-capacity theatre studio built on to the back of the Festival Theatre that expands Underbelly’s programme. Shows from some of Scotland’s leading artists and performing arts companies including Scottish Opera; National Theatre of Scotland; Tron Theatre Company; Theatre Uncut; Company Chordelia; Sound Festival; and Oxygen, a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, will come together at Paterson’s Land, a University of Edinburgh building normally used for training teachers at Moray House School of Education. The site of the former Fountain Brewery will play home to NoFit State Circus’ show Bianco in a custom built, spaceship-shaped tent. The Arthur Conan Doyle Centre, a prestigious Victorian townhouse on the corner of Chester Street and Palmerston Place, will present shows in the elegant drawing room (Duncan Room) or in their beautiful Sanctuary and the Scottish Portrait Gallery will present two events to coincide with their Scottish comedy greats exhibition. Established Fringe venue managers Paradise Green expand their operations into one of Edinburgh’s most long-standing cultural venues, Greyfriars’ Kirkhouse, under the banner of Paradise in the Kirkhouse. Assembly Checkpoint is also a new venue this year based in the building formerly occupied by Forest Fringe.

One of the biggest venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, The McEwan Hall, is back after a two year hiatus in which repair work was carried out on its organ. Also this year, the Traverse Theatre will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is delighted to announce the return of the Glasgow Box Office at ScotRail’s Queen Street Station. For the second year running, thanks to support from ScotRail, Glasgow Fringe-goers will have the opportunity to buy and collect their tickets before catching a train to the festival.

Following last year’s launch of the Glasgow Box Office, total ticket sales coming from Greater Glasgow postcodes increased by 19% from the 2011 figure.

The newest addition to the Fringe Society Box Office is the Fringe Facebook ticketing app which allows audiences to browse the programme, buy tickets and share their Fringe plans all through Facebook. Visit www.facebook.com/edfringe to take part.

Back for 2013 is the official Fringe app, enabling iPhone and Android users to discover the world of the Fringe at their fingertips. The app can be downloaded at www.edfringe.com/app or by searching app stores for ‘Edinburgh Festival Fringe’.

The app is not only an easy way to browse shows and buy tickets on the go, but includes lots of features to help navigate and enjoy all the Fringe has to offer, from exclusive Virgin Money Half Price Hut listings and Twitter feeds to a Nearby Now search function and an interactive calendar to help audiences plan their time at the Fringe.

The Fringe Society continues to break new ground in social media by inviting members of the public and Fringe participants to help capture the unique experience and emotions of the Fringe through Tumblr. Individuals can share their experiences in the form of images, animations, audio and video clips, quotes and text by uploading their content to Tumblr and tagging it #thisisedfringe. A dedicated Tumblr for the project will reblog a selection of these posts daily over the course of the festival.

Launching the 2013 programme Kath M Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:

“The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is not just important for being the largest arts festival in the world, or for being completely open access – although those things are profoundly important, but more important for being the most wonderful event, created by the spontaneous freedom of expression of tens of thousands of creative souls, from all over the world, from all walks of life, at all stages of their careers, and representing all artforms.

“By last week over 1,800 were onsale on edfringe.com, as compared to just over 1,000 by the same time last year. But that still leaves over 1,000 being released today, a figure which in itself would be the largest arts festival in the world, so there’s still plenty for our audience to discover and the media to write about.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop MSP said:

“The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest, most vibrant festival of its kind in the world – bringing visitors from far and wide to Scotland’s capital to see the incredibly diverse array of creative activity it has to offer, and promoting Scotland’s rich culture and distinct heritage on the world stage.

“It makes strong economic sense to ensure Scotland’s own exceptionally creative talent is placed at the heart of the Fringe and is able to benefit from the global exposure the Festival can bring. That is why, through the Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, the Scottish Government has awarded £450,000 to support our home-grown talent to showcase their dance, drama and music at this year’s Fringe through the Made in Scotland programme.”

Cllr. Steve Cardownie, the City of Edinburgh Council’s Festivals and Events Champion said:

“Yet again the Edinburgh Festival Fringe promises to dazzle, entertain and educate audiences young and old across the city. With our unrivalled architecture and history, Edinburgh this August will once again be the perfect backdrop for the world’s largest and most exciting arts festival. I am sure the whole city is ready to warmly welcome artists, journalists and visitors from all over the world to join us for what promises to be a very special time.”

This year sees the return of the British Council’s biennial Edinburgh showcase including theatre; new writing; live art and installation; interactive and immersive theatre; as well as an unprecedented number of dance pieces. Recently awarded the Ted Hughes poetry prize, Kate Tempest performs Brand New Ancients (Traverse), a spoken story told over a live orchestral score, concerning two families intertwining and colliding against the epic back drop of mythology and the city. While James Cousins, winner of the inaugural New Adventures Choreographer Award, takes inspiration from the troubled relationships portrayed in Haruki Murakami’s best-selling novel, Norwegian Wood, for his production of There We Have Been (Zoo Southside).

The 2013 Fringe will mark the fifth year of the Made in Scotland showcase supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund. The showcase celebrates the wealth and diversity of work that is currently being made and produced in Scotland and uses the opportunities available at the Fringe as a catalyst to help these companies take their work forward. Shows include: HeLa by Adura Onashile in association with Iron-Oxide, taking inspiration from the story of Henrietta Lacks and the extraordinary life of the HeLa cell line (Summerhall); Fire Exit’s Long Live the Little Knife by David Leddy (Traverse), about forgery, castration and drunken blindness; Whatever Gets You Through the Night (Queen’s Hall), an ambitious multimedia performance from some of Scotland’s most distinctive novelists, poets, musicians and playwrights.

It will also be the first year that music is part of the Made in Scotland showcase with twenty shows and concerts spanning all genres including: Karine Polwart (Queen’s Hall); Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: In the Spirit of Duke (Queen’s Hall); Five by Five from The Astrid String Quartet (Greyfriars Kirk); Saint Seven by The One Ensemble (Summerhall); Amy Duncan: Cycles of Life (Acoustic Music Centre @ St Brides); Digi-Bhang Live by Tigerstyle (The Assembly Rooms); and Blueflint (Acoustic Music Centre @ St Brides), who recently supported The Proclaimers.

The Escalator East to Edinburgh showcase has 26 shows in Edinburgh this year, supporting artists and companies from the East of England. The world premiere of Anna (Summerhall), the story of the life, work and assassination of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, is set to be as intense as Badac’s last show The Factory which provoked some extreme reactions when it was staged in a series of cellars. Little Bulb return to complete their Edinburgh trinity with Squally Showers (Zoo Southside), a fantastical balletic farce of politics, power, loneliness and love. Major Tom (Summerhall) tells the story of how an unlikely pair of underdogs became a beauty queen and championship show dog. Also returning to the Fringe as part of Escalator East to Edinburgh is the award-winning Hunt and Darton Cafe on St Mary Street where food and drink meet live art.

Following their celebrated residency at St Stephens in 2012, Northern Stage return to the festival with a new showcase of work, created by theatre makers from the North of England. Northern Stages’ new Artistic Director Lorne Campbell presents The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project in which guests are invited to perform a short piece that forms an epic ballad across 19 nights. The Paper Birds present their 10th anniversary show On the One Hand, an exploration of aging that

depicts six different women at different stages of their life. A minibus plays home to Third Angel’s Cape Wrath, in which Alex Kelly retraces his grandfather’s footsteps to the furthest most north- westerly point of the British mainland.

The current financial climate is explored by a number of shows this year, from the banking crisis to the recession and benefit cuts. In Economy of Thought (Assembly George Square), the actions of four bankers during a public protest provoke an incident in a darkly comic tale of money, morality, loyalty and responsibility. A satire on contemporary financial dealings, Canary Gold by Theatre Sans Frontieres (C Venues) is played out against a backdrop of 500 years of international wine trade, bankers and fraudsters. Set in an interactive game show and blending physical theatre with contemporary and South Asian dance, Altered Skin’s Power Games (Zoo) is a modern morality tale about a wealthy banker’s fall from grace. Solpadeine is My Boyfriend (Underbelly Bristo Square) focuses on a generation who were promised everything but who now find themselves queuing either at the airport to emigrate or the social welfare office to sign on. A thirty hour durational piece, Bedding Out (Pleasance Hunt and Darton Cafe) has emerged as a response to the current welfare benefits overhaul.

Disability is a recurring theme with shows including If These Spasms Could Speak (Pleasance Courtyard), a solo performance based on a collection of funny, sad and surprising stories about disabled people and their bodies. Mucus Factory (Pleasance Hunt and Darton Cafe) performed by Martin O’Brian who suffers from cystic fibrosis, is one man’s investigation of the relationship between pain and medicine. Ménage à Trois (Paterson’s Land) sees Claire Cunningham explore her twenty-year relationship with her crutches. A show for children, Magical Playroom (Pleasance Courtyard) tells the story of a girl who dreams of becoming a ballerina but rebels against having to wear a false arm at dancing lessons. Ball at Hawking’s (New Town Theatre) is a ball without an orchestra, exploring how the sexuality of people with disabilities is still a taboo subject. Jen McArthur uses clowning, physical theatre and dance to portray the subject of Asperger’s Syndrome in Echolalia (C Venues) and single dad John Williams shares a true story of Lego, magic trains, the number 75 bus and life in a chaotic world neither he nor his eleven year old, autistic son will ever truly understand in John Williams: My Son’s Not Rainman (Just the Tonic).

There’s always plenty of politics at the Fringe and this year is no exception with Three Lions (Pleasance Courtyard) in which David Beckham, Prince William and David Cameron find themselves together in a hotel room in Zurich the night before England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup and The Confessions of Gordon Brown (Pleasance Courtyard) a searing satire of the hidden arts of modern political leadership from what some see as Britain’s greatest Prime Ministerial failure.

Moving from politics to current affairs and contemporary issues, a number of shows are inspired by recent events including Nirbhaya (Assembly Hall) using the gang rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi as basis for Yael Farber, the creator of last year’s Fringe hit Mies Julie, and an all- Indian cast to explore violence against women; also on an Indian theme is Nehru: His Inner Story (Paradise in The Vault) which tells the story of India’s first Prime Minister. Chalk Farm (Underbelly Cowgate) is an explosive new play from ThickSkin about love and blame during the 2011 London Riots; The Events by David Greig (Traverse) explores the impact of a horrific politically motivated crime in a small community; and The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning from the National Theatre of Wales (Pleasance @ St. Thomas of Aquins High School) focuses on the 24-year old US soldier accused of releasing secret embassy cables and military logs from the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Shows talking about sex this year include the winner of the 2013 Dave channel/ Leicester Comedy Festival award for Best New Show, Brett Goldstein Contains Scenes of an Adult Nature (Pleasance Courtyard), in which the comic takes on pornography, crying and how to survive a New York blackout, dignity intact; Bonk! (theSpace @ Jury’s Inn) takes audiences on a fun-filled romp through the science of sex while in Alistair Green is Jack Spencer: Sex Addict (Just the Tonic @ The Tron) a narcissistic, celebrity obsessed, sometime stand-up comedian courageously recovers from a devastating sex addiction. Peep (Assembly George Square) was a hit at last year’s Fringe in which audience members sit alone in private booths watching short plays about sex through a two way mirror. This year the show has been revamped and comes back with an ambitiously expanded production. Meanwhile the end of innocence and impending adulthood are explored in Two is the Beginning of the End (Sweet Grassmarket).

This year is the fifth in which the Fringe Society’s Participants’ Centre will be based at Fringe Central within the University of Edinburgh’s Appleton Tower. As well as providing a range of services for Fringe participants, the media and approximately 1,000 arts industry delegates who come to the Fringe each year, the centre is also home to the Society’s Participants Events Programme. This year artists and companies taking part in the Fringe have access to around 100 different events designed to help their professional and career development all of which are free to those taking part in a registered Fringe show.

Every year the Fringe attracts well known names to its stages. This year Ian Lavender, better known for playing ‘Pike’ in Dad’s Army, makes his Edinburgh Fringe debut alongside Omid Djalili and former Eastender Paul Nicholls in The Shawshank Redemption (The Assembly Rooms) and the Motown legend Martha Reeves and the Vandellas are also at The Assembly Rooms. Steven Berkoff lifts the curtain on the bizarre and often hilarious world of theatre in An Actor’s Lament (Assembly Hall), a comedy about the bizarre lives of actors and the many fights, frustrations and madness’s they are prone to. While Dame Janet Suzman stars in Solomon and Marion (Assembly Hall), a story of two injured souls searching for redemption in a fragile, post-apartheid South Africa.

The Fringe remains the home of comedy and amongst the household names appearing this year are Russell Kane: Smallness (Pleasance Courtyard); Reginald D Hunter: In the Midst of Crackers (Pleasance Courtyard); Jimeoin: Yes,Yes, Whatever…?! (EICC); Jason Manford – First World Problems (EICC); Jenny Eclair: Eclairious (Gilded Balloon Teviot); Ardal O’Hanlon (The Assembly Rooms); Al Murray – The Pub Landlord: The Only Way is Epic (Underbelly Bristo Square); and Lucy Porter (The Stand). While the godfather of alternative comedy Alexei Sayle (The Stand) performs his first full-length stand-up show in 17 years. Host of Channel 4’s The Last Leg, Adam Hills presents his brand new show Happyism (Assembly Hall) with BSL sign interpreter Catherine King on Sundays. A huge star in the States, acclaimed US comic Tig Notaro makes her UK debut with Tig Notaro – Boyish Girl Interrupted (Gilded Balloon Teviot).

Puppetry is often associated with shows for children but this year sees puppets featuring in shows that are focused towards more adult audiences. Dustpan Odyssey (New Town Theatre) is a creative adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey from the great puppet master Philippe Genty. The Wrong Crowd follow the success of The Girl with the Iron Claws with HAG (Underbelly Cowgate), drawing audiences into the dark and twisted world of Baba Yaga, the infamous child-eating, hag-witch of Slavic folklore. One show with puppets that is most definitely for adults is The Royal Conservatoire’s Avenue Q (Assembly Hall), an x-rated puppet musical.

The team that brought the critically acclaimed Tender Napalm to the stage present the premiere of Philip Ridley’s new play Dark Vanilla Jungle (Pleasance Courtyard) starring Game of Thrones actress Gemma Whelan. Elsewhere John Godber, one of Britain’s most performed playwrights, is back in Edinburgh after ten years with a brand new comedy Losing the Plot (New Town Theatre) starring Steve Huison (The Full Monty) and Sue Cookson (Casualty).

The Fringe is famous for bringing shows to Edinburgh from all over the world and there are 41 countries represented this year including a number of shows from former Soviet Union republics. From Georgia, the Akhmeteli State Dramatic Theatre presents Wonders of Magic (Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall) a philosophy on the boundary between kindness and evil. Internationally acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre return with an arresting new production, Trash Cuisine (Pleasance Courtyard) that challenges the use of capital punishment in modern society.

Institut Français d’Ecosse presents a programme from French artists including How to be a Modern Marvel by Mariette Navarro (translation: Katherine Mendelsohn), an ironic and witty look at consumerism and sexism with an all female cast and Je ne sais quoi, in which Nathalie Joly becomes the undisputed queen of Parisian café society, Yvette Guilbert. In two parts performed on alternating days, it explores two distinct episodes of Guilbert’s remarkable life.

Finnish company Kuopio City Theatre presents Mammoth (Pleasance Dome), exploring our relationship with nature and technology finding that development and progression are not always synonymous.

From Italy, CollettivO CineticO’s challenging dance piece XD (Dance Base) is filled with powerful images which are bound to stay with the viewer and in Last Land and Il gioco del gregge di capre (Dance Base) Maria Nilsson Waller and Fabrizio Favale will take nature as their theme.

Adam Smith’s Le Grande Tour (Institut Français d’Ecosse), written by an economist about two people following in the footsteps of the father of the Scottish Enlightenment, is one of a handful of shows written by playwrights with academic credentials at this year’s Fringe. The Principle of Uncertainty (Summerhall), by physicist Andrea Brunello, tells the story of a scientist who, whilst trying to illustrate the most intriguing and fascinating concepts of quantum mechanics, begins to unravel his deepest personal secrets. Also, Dr Maisah Sobaihi, potentially the first performer to grace the Festival from Saudi Arabia, presents her one woman show Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia (Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall) about what it means to be a modern and educated woman in Saudi Arabia today.

The BBC returns to its dedicated BBC@Potterrow venue for the third year, bringing the best of the Festivals to audiences at home and in Edinburgh. MacAulay & Co (BBC @ Potterrow) will come live from the site for three full weeks. For the second year all the BBC radio networks will be represented in Edinburgh with shows including The Phil and Alice Show (Radio 1); Simon Mayo Drivetime (Radio 2); In Tune (Radio 3); Front Row (Radio 4); Richard Bacon (5 Live); and Shaun Keavney (6 Music). Each weekend CBBC and CBeebies favourites like Nina and the Neurons and Rastamouse will take over the venue to educate, entertain and inform younger Festival goers, and throughout the run there will be plenty of free activity for everyone to get involved in.

Scottish Opera at Paterson’s Land will perform five shows at this year’s Fringe including new show, Dance Derby, based on the dance marathons of depression-era America, and its innovative

shows for babies and toddlers BabyO and SensoryO; and Johnny McKnight and Gareth Williams’ new short opera Last One Out.

The Fringe isn’t just for grown-ups and there’s plenty at this year’s festival to keep the little one’s entertained. Father Christmas Needs a Wee! The Musical (The Space @ Venue 45) will have children aged 2+ bursting… with laughter. Yurtakids will see children’s theatre from Italy presented in a Yurt in the courtyard of Summerhall including UnLeashed/Scaténàti by ScarlattineTeatro and A Story of a Man and His Shadow by Principio Attivo Teatro. For the first time this year there will be an award specifically for children’s shows. The Primary Times Children’s Choice Award will be judged by parents and children from a shortlist of exceptional shows.

For those on a budget, PBH’s Free Fringe and the Laughing Horse Free Festival may be just the ticket. Angelina Jolie jokes can be performed upon request in late-night stand up show Angelina Jolie Touched My Neighbour’s Goat (Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters) with rising stars Dan Moss, Calen Harlley and MC Joe McCarthy. While Phill Jupitus unleashes a new collection of poetry pondering the cultural conundrum: “how low can you go?” in Phill Jupitus is Porky the Poet in Zeitgeist Limbo (The Jam House). Acclaimed New York comic Lewis Schaffer, may be the best comic in the United States, if they noticed him in his show Lewis Schaffer Is Free Until Famous (Laughing Horse @ Meadow Bar) and former Harry Potter actress Jessie Cave teams up with Jenny Bede to see what they can do in thirty minutes in Jessie Cave and Jenny Bede: Ain’t too Proud to Beg (Henry’s Cellar Bar).

The world’s greatest street entertainers will once again fill the streets of Edinburgh. During August, the Fringe Society, with the support of Virgin Money, manages two vibrant street performance spaces in the heart of the city – on the Royal Mile and the Mound Precinct. These spaces become the focus of the carnival atmosphere that takes over Edinburgh in August, with thousands of locals and tourists mingling to see the spectacular acts that travel from all over the world to entertain the crowds. As well as this, there are stages where the public get the opportunity to see extracts of Fringe shows from venues across the programme, a sort of “try before you buy” opportunity. Last year saw over 4,175 hours of live outdoor entertainment taking place over the month of August – all of it in a safe, fun and family friendly environment.

Your Fringe programme comes in at 392 pages, weighs 605 grams and has a choice of four different covers to reflect just some of the emotions which the programme for this year’s Fringe is likely to stir up in audience members. There is plenty to see at this year’s Fringe and we hope you enjoy every second.

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About the Author

- Founding Editor of The Edinburgh Reporter. Edinburgh-born multimedia journalist, and always available for freelance work. A keen iPhoneographer!

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