Politics and conflict at Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is a source of comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Picture: Getty
Toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is a source of comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Picture: Getty
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WHISTLEBLOWER Edward Snowden, former US president Bill Clinton, toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and murdered soldier Lee Rigby all inspire shows set to feature at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The arts festival – which is expected to confirm its biggest-ever line-up – will depict the defeat of the British Army by the Zulus in South Africa, feature the accounts of First World War soldiers, and see a play set in a Nazi concentration camp.

The line-up, which has launched its biggest ever programme, featuring 3193 shows, will see shows exploring a botched hijacking in South Africa, the true story of six black American teenagers charged with the attempted murder of a white schoolmate, and the sex trafficking of migrant women between Burma and Thailand.

Elsewhere in the programme will be shows inspired by the Suffragette movement and the growth of feminism.

The Scotsman has already revealed how more than a dozen shows will be inspired by September’s independence 

However, stories of war and conflict appear to dominate the line-up of the festival, which will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

One of the most high-profile shows inspired by the anniversary will be a stage adaptation of Max Arthur’s book Forgotten Voices of the Great War, based on testimonies from the front line, which will be performed at the Pleasance.

An underground cellar in Summerhall will be hosting The Flood, which is billed as an “uncompromising, intense, physical piece” set within the First World War’s battlefields, while a new musical play inspired by Terezin, the Nazi prison camp where many of Prague’s leading artists were held during the Second World War, will be staged as part of the Gilded Balloon programme. The Collector, which is part of the same line-up, sees Allied guards who take over Saddam Hussein’s most brutal prison camp become possessed by evil.

The Light, at the Pleasance, will depict a dystopian future directly inspired by Snowden’s explosive intelligence revelations on America’s National Security Agency surveillance methods.

Comedian Mark Thomas’s Cuckooed, at the Traverse, will lift the lid on how he discovered a close friend was spying on him on behalf of Britain’s biggest arms dealer, while the same venue will be staging Men in the Cities, a play inspired by the slaying of soldier Lee Rigby in London, last year.

Bill Clinton Hercules, which will be staged in Assembly Theatre’s George Square venue, is billed as a “study of his heart and his future betrayal of Hillary”. The Assembly Hall on The Mound will play host to South African musician Mbongeni Ngema, whose show The Zulu will recount events leading up to the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879.

Scottish artist Peter Howson will be staging an exhibition at Summerhall of work he created as an official war artist charting the Bosnian conflict in 1993.

The Fringe will also see undocumented testimonials and witness accounts of the Bradford football stadium fire disaster brought to the stage for the first time at the Underbelly, 25 years on from the “forgotten tragedy”.

Rupert Thomson, Summerhall’s artistic director, said: “We are humbled and grateful to the many artists who are so keen to be a part of Summerhall’s festival and make 2014 a fantastic year for our audiences.”

Orla O’Loughlin, artistic director at the Traverse, added: “We are proud to present and produce a festival 
programme which celebrates some of the most compelling theatrical voices from the UK and beyond.”