Beach and multi-storey car park to become venues for Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival

A beach on Edinburgh’s waterfront and the roof of a multi-storey car park are among the first Fringe venues to be confirmed for this year’s revival of the festival.

Silverknowes will be playing host to an all-female cast performing a show about “migration, loss and communal healing”, which will be part of the Scottish Government’s annual £560,000 Made in Scotland showcase at the Fringe.

Move will be one of the major in-person shows due to be staged this year as part of the Traverse Theatre’s festival programme.

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The Traverse will also be joining forces with the Gilded Balloon, DanceBase and Zoo to run a venue on the roof of the NCP car park on Castle Terrace, near Edinburgh’s culture quarter.

Performers Nerea Bello and Mairi Morrison joined theatremaker Julia Taudevin on Silverknowes Beach to help launch this year's Made in Scotland showcase at the Fringe. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Other Fringe venues which will be benefiting from a additional £1.3 million from the Scottish Government to ensure outdoor events can go ahead in the city in August include George Square, which Assembly and Underbelly will be taking over.

Underbelly will also be creating an outdoor stage in Bristo Square, where the Gilded Balloon is planning to stage indoor shows at its long-running Teviot Row House home.

However, Underbelly has pulled out of plans to bring its Circus Hub venue back to the Meadows, blaming funding problems amid uncertainty over when existing restrictions in place in Edinburgh will be lifted.

Summerhall and the Pleasance will also be receiving financial help to stage shows in their respective courtyards, while the Edinburgh International Festival has been allocated £300,000 to help pay for three outdoor venues it will be creating.

The roof of the NCP car park at Castle Terrace will become a Fringe venue this year. Picture: Jayne Emsley

Much of the Fringe is expected to be staged outdoors this year due to uncertainty over what the restrictions will be for indoor events in August.

Culture secretary Angus Robertson said: “Edinburgh’s festivals are a highlight on the international cultural calendar and were sorely missed last summer. I am determined to do everything within my power to support the return of these globally significant events and the benefits they bring to Scotland in terms of tourism and trade.

“Although this is an important step towards normality, the huge impact of the pandemic is still widely felt across our festival and events sector as well as our cultural sector more widely.

“Recovery will take time, but this additional funding for a number of established Fringe producers and the Edinburgh International Festival will help organisers respond to some of the ongoing challenges they face.”

Silverknowes Beach is one of the first Fringe venues to be confirmed for this year. Picture: Hamish Irvine

Donald Wilson, culture convener at the city council, said: “The resourcefulness and resilience displayed throughout the crisis to date by Edinburgh's culture and events sector has been amazing and through this additional funding we aim to further support their 2021 offering. The value to this city's economy and the wellbeing of our citizens cannot be underestimated.”

Underbelly director Charlie Wood said: “We are enormously grateful to the Scottish Government for their financial support of the programme in George Square Gardens.

"Understandably, the Scottish Government have decided to support only one site per producer, and, very sadly, with ongoing social distancing and the uncertainty about further relaxation of Covid restrictions, Circus Hub is not financially viable and we will not be proceeding with that part of our programme in 2021.

"The Fringe this year will be very different to previous years, but it’s important to keep the light flickering, and hopefully a fuller festival can re-emerge next year for Edinburgh and Scotland.”

Katy and Karen Koren, Gilded Balloon’s artistic directors, said: “We are delighted to be part of the exciting new outdoor venue at Castle Terrace Car Park, Multistory, as well as presenting a small programme of live indoor performances at Teviot in Bristo Square this Fringe.

"We have been working tirelessly along with venue partners to create a unique safe outdoor venue hub and we can't wait to reveal more about the programme and space in the coming weeks.”

Rowan Campbell, general manager at Summerhall, said: “We delighted to invite some noise and art back into our usually busy August corridors with a new outdoor venue in our back courtyard.

"The support from the Scottish Government and the council has made the impossible possible and – along with relaxation of some more social distancing – will be huge for us and our brilliant audiences.

"We have also been able to programme an extraordinary selection of the best theatre makers from across the UK and further afield with their 2020/21 digital creations, making Summerhall globally accessible for the first time ever.”

Meanwhile Move, which will run at Silverknowes, is being staged by Glasgow-based theatre Disaster Plan – a new company created by writers and performers Julia Taudevin and Kieran Hurley.

The pair’s previous work together include the stage shows Hitch, Beats, Chalk Farm, Rantin, Heads Up and Blow Off.

The show was originally premiered in community venues on the Isle of Lewis after being developed with by Disaster Plan, the island arts company Struth-Mara and the Stornoway-based arts centre An Lanntair, and went on to be staged Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival in 2020.

Other Made in Scotland shows include Shamanic Live, a collaboration between Russian artist Maria Rud, the Scottish rock musicians Fay Fife, from The Rezillos, and Martin Medcalfe, from Goodbye Mr Mackenzie at the Pleasance Courtyard, which will be filmed and will be available to stream on demand.

Greyfriars Kirk will play host to the DanceBase show Iconnotations, a new adaptation of the music theatre work Vesalii Icones by Peter Maxwell Davies, which he wrote in 1969. It will be broadcast live from the historic site and will also be available to watch on demand.

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