FRINGE performers, producers and publicists queued for up to four hours to pitch their shows to The Scotsman, as more than 500 descended on the Fringe Central hub at George Square aiming to grab the attention of journalists covering the world’s largest arts festival.
Among them was Mary Lou Quinlan, a New York businesswoman who starred in American Inventor, the US version of Dragon’s Den. Quinlan then became a best-selling author with a book inspired by her relationship with her mother.
She came armed with one of her mother’s “God Boxes”, in which she would leave hundreds of private notes to God and are at the heart of her one-woman show at Assembly Roxy.
Ms Quinlan, who has Scottish roots in Govan, said: “I felt like my life didn’t have any meaning anymore after my mom passed away. She had always been my cheerleader.
“It seemed like there was such an unusual story with her God Boxes, which she used to store away notes about her wishes or worries, so I wrote an article for a national women’s magazine.
“So many women wrote to me afterwards that I decided to write a book which became a New York Times best-seller, which the show is based on.”
‘TV made of iPad and cardboard box’
Italian dancer Sabrina Rigoni had one of the most eye-catching outfits of the day, wearing a makeshift television set constructed out of an iPad, a cardboard box and a bundle of flyers to promote her contemporary dance show Motion & Motion, part of the Zoo programme.
She said: “The show is about communication, emotions and relationships that are changing all the time in this digital age. We are all connected to each other all the time via technology, the internet and social networks, but what about emotions and real contact?”
Jan van der Black, 56, has returned to the Fringe 20 years after appearing at the festival as a magician, appearing this time in a chilling show about a cursed black box, which he is performing at the Three Sisters.
He said: “I was living in the Highlands for many years, although the show really comes from the other side of the world.
“My wife died a few years ago and I took a trip to Australian and New Zealand to get my head together. The show was actually born in a campervan I was travelling around in on my own. So many things were going wrong I began to think I was cursed.”
Greek comedy, Iraq drama
Iraq War drama A Game of Soldiers, at Lauriston Halls, is the first Fringe show by Glasgow-based writer Joe McArdle, who has already made two independent films.
McArdle said: “The story is about two young guys who go over to Iraq with the Army and meet a British Iraqi who has travelled over there to bury his parents.
“It is personal drama about how the two soldiers begin to doubt the beliefs and values they have been brought up with.
“I wanted to launch the play at the Fringe to reach a much wider audience, rather than being parochial and just concentrating on Scotland. There are worldwide issues at play in it.”
Ramin Sabi is the producer of Lysistrata, at Adam House, the classic Greek comedy, which has been updated for modern times and set against the backdrop of the drastic austerity measures in the country.
He said: “In the original, women in Athens go on a sex strike to try to stop a war, we’ve updated it to Greece in 2012, where the women are going on a sex strike against austerity.
“There are a lot of parallels with the original, but we are playing a lot with gender. It starts very sexy and funny, but there is also quite a tragic twist to it, which flips on its head what people know of the original work.
“We’ve also tried to ground it in a lot of real politics. It is more about the desperation of unemployment, what austerity does to real people, and how it affects women more than men.”
Will Guppy is one of three performers in Snakes! The Musical, at the Caves, about a young theatre director trying to convince an audience of West End producers to take on a musical loosely inspired by the action film Snakes on a Plane.
He said: “We never really mention the film, I’m the only cast member who has seen it, and we’ve not really taken any of the plot, other than the fact there are snakes on the plane, but we’ve got 15 really catchy original songs.
“There are no sets and no props, other than a bag or a chair and there are no costume changes, but the three actors have to play a cast of 38 different people.”
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