Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Photo: edfringe.com
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, often referred to as simply The Fringe, is the largest arts festival in the world as well as the world’s oldest unjuried performing arts festival. It is held in the capital of Scotland every August, running concurrently with a number of other cultural festivals. These events are collectively known as the Edinburgh Festival.

The history of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe began in 1947, when eight theatrical companies ended up not being invited to the first Edinburgh International Festival. So they decided to “gatecrash” the official Festival by organizing an alternative event. These groups took advantage of large assembled theater crowds to showcase their own alternative theater in small, often unconventional venues. The title “Fringe” was coined the next year by Scottish playwright Robert Kemp. The festival didn’t have any official organization until the early 1950s.

What started as an act of artistic protest has grown to become the world’s largest performing arts festivals. Moreover, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe gave birth to the phenomenon known as fringe theater and the fringe theater festival movement. The Fringe is an open access festival, meaning that anyone may participate regardless of their type of performance. The festival prides itself on showcasing cutting-edge, experimental shows that would have never been selected for more conservative theater festivals.

The official program of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is divided into several categories, including Cabaret and Variety, Children’s Shows, Comedy, Dance, Physical Theater and Circus, Events, Exhibitions, Music, Musicals and Opera, Spoken Word, Theater, and Street Events. The performances are held in an impressive array of venues across Edinburgh, from regular theaters and conference centers to bars and pubs. Some of the most unusual venues have included a double-decker bus, the back of a taxi and a public toilet. There are paid, free and “pay what you want” venues.

The scale of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is impressive. For example, the 2016 Fringe featured over 50,000 performances of more than 3,000 shows in 294 venues. One of the festival’s main goals is to discover and support new talent. It has helped establish the careers of many performers and writers, including Tadeusz Kantor, Tim Minchin, Eddie Izzard, Ben Elton, Billy Connolly, Jo Brand, Steven Berkoff, Rowan Atkinson, Derek Jacobi, and many others. It was The Fringe that hosted the first production of the full version of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Photo: James Glossop




Related Articles