Analysis: Quality might be varied, but no doubt about rise in quantity
COME BOOM OR BUST, it seems that the Edinburgh Fringe sails on, growing ever larger, more inventive and more riotous with every passing year.
In 2011, despite some of the most dismal August weather ever seen in Edinburgh, the Fringe sold a record 1.88 million tickets, to retain its title as the biggest arts festival in the world. In 2012, it is set to grow even larger again.
There will be some striking changes in the Festival landscape. The refurbished Assembly Rooms will reopen under the management of Tommy Sheppard, of the Stand Comedy Club, in a partnership with the Spiegeltent company to create a new festival garden in the central section of George Street, closed to traffic for the first time in the festival. The Newcastle-based Northern Stage theatre company, reopens the much-loved St Stephen’s venue in the New Town.
On the Southside, William Burdett-Coutts’s reborn Assembly Productions returns to George Square and the Assembly Hall, and also takes over the much-loved Roxy in Roxburgh Place. Last year’s ultra-cool Fringe newcomer Summerhall – at the old Dick Vet College – is back again, with an even larger and more exciting programme. Summerhall is one of the last remaining venues to make space for theatre from beyond the English-speaking world, and presents several shows in association with Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
The traditional Fringe hub at the Traverse has a brilliantly-curated programme of visiting work this year, despite the absence – in Orla O’Loughlin’s first year as artistic director – of a big major in-house production. Bill Paterson stars in Traverse One in Hampstead Theatre’s acclaimed drama And No More Shall We Part; and elsewhere, the Traverse programme explodes with exciting new work from both north and south of the Border, with no fewer than three outstanding shows.
Although the Edinburgh Fringe remains an incorrigible free market of a festival, in which a fat chequebook can buy three weeks in Edinburgh for hundreds of the talentless and merely loud, the sheer scale and variety of the event also makes room for the brilliant, the beautiful, and the genuinely radical; for shows that give a voice to voiceless, and have the power to change worlds.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West