The city’s six major theatres and concert halls, as well as a few smaller venues and often some unconventional ones too, come alive with the best music, theatre, opera and dance from around the globe.
Founded in 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival is an unparalleled celebration of the performing arts and an annual meeting point for peoples of all nations. Committed to virtuosity and originality, this festival presents some of the finest performers and ensembles from the worlds of dance, opera, music and theatre.
Over the course of the year, the team of the Edinburgh International Festival travels the world in search of today’s most exciting and creative artists. Together, it brings unique collaborations, world premieres, new takes on classic works, critically acclaimed productions and more, to captivate, thrill and entertain audiences from around the world, all in one place, in Scotland.
The Festival presents events that cannot easily be recreated by any other UK arts organisation, through innovative programming and a commitment to new work.
The Fringe began in 1947, when eight groups arrived in Edinburgh hoping to perform at the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival but found themselves refused entry. So they decided to perform on the fringe of the Festival anyway. The Fringe has remained true to the defiance expressed by the eight companies who performed in 1947, upholding its open access principle that permits the participation of anyone with a story to tell and a venue willing to host them. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe was born.
People travel from all over the word to take part in the Fringe, creating an international melting pot of culture and art in Scotland’s capital city every year. This year’s programme is as varied as ever, offering theatre, dance, circus acts, physical theatre, comedy, music, musicals, opera, cabaret and variety, children’s shows, free shows, exhibitions, events and spoken word performances.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the defiance of those eight groups, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is now the largest arts festival in the world. It is a truly open access festival where, in the spirit of the original eight, no one is denied entry, making it the planet’s largest platform for creative freedom.
The official 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme was launched with shows catering for all ages and appetites, inviting performers and spectators from around the world to join the Alliance of Defiance and celebrate 70 years of defying the norm at the Fringe.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has gone from strength to strength over the last 70 years, inspiring a global network of more than 200 fringes and establishing itself as the largest platform for creative freedom in the world. On 11th July, fringes from around the world came together for the inaugural World Fringe Day, an international celebration to mark the 70th anniversary of the birth of the fringe movement.
In 2017 new venues are spread across the city and beyond. In Leith, Hibernian Football Club becomes a venue for the first time for Strange Town’s production of A Field of Our Own, while The Leith Volcano, formerly St James’ Church on Constitution Street, will be flooded for the Volcano Theatre’s visceral production of Chekhov’s The Seagull. Army @ the Fringe in Association with Summerhall sees the Army Reserve Centre on East Claremont Street transformed into a venue, while Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre will feature four performance spaces in the old Charlotte Chapel on Rose Street.
On George Street, Salt ‘n’ Sauce Promotions present a programme of comedy, spoken word acts, theatre, music and interactive game play at New Town Theatre. Traverse move off site to Traverse at the Wee Red Bar in the Edinburgh College of Art campus for Bluemouth Inc.’s immersive performance show Party Game, while multimedia show Frogman will take place at Traverse at CodeBase. Sweet Holyrood features three performance spaces in the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, with a host of shows including Adventurers Wanted: A 250-Hour Epic Tabletop Roleplaying Game.
The Fringe began in 1947, when eight groups arrived in Edinburgh hoping to perform at the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival but found themselves refused entry. So they decided to perform on the fringe of the Festival anyway
The Acoustic Music Centre changes its residence for 2017, Acoustic Music Centre @ UCC can be found at the Ukrainian Community Centre on Royal Terrace. C royale is a new C venues hub on George Street, occupying the Royal Society of Edinburgh and presenting a mix of new writing, cabaret, circus and comedy. SpaceUK also returns to theSpace on North Bridge after a two year hiatus, while Venue150 at EICC expands to the tunnel below the main venue, where Trainspotting Live will take place.
Outside of the city, two performances of Oceanallover’s dance piece, Sea Hames, will take place at Dalkeith Country Park, The Brunton presents a programme of music and theatre, including The Mikado at Musselburgh Race Course and Alice Through The Looking Glass in the idyllic surroundings of Inveresk Lodge Garden, while Beyond Borders Festival Scotland brings a programme of debate, discussion, art and music to Traquair House in Innerleithen.
New free venues for 2017 include Black Market on Market Street, which features six performance spaces in the former offices of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, while in the Grassmarket, tiki bar 52 canoes will host shows in its basement lounge. New Edinburgh comedy club Monkey Barrel becomes Heroes @ Monkey Barrel for the duration of the Fringe, while Laughing Horse brings a programme of free music to Newington’s Southpour bar with Laughing Horse @ Southpour, as well as presenting shows at Laughing Horse @ The Cuckoo’s Nest on Home Street.
More unusual locations for Fringe shows this year include the Lochrin Belle boat, which will host Scotch Egg Club Presents: Whisky on Water, a food and drink cruise along Edinburgh’s Union Canal. Novotel Swimming Pool becomes a venue for 274 Theatre’s water-based production Brodsky Station, while Chamber Pot Opera brings toilet-based opera to The Bathroom at Assembly Hall.
DANCE, PHYSICAL THEATRE AND CIRCUS
Dance companies of all shapes and sizes are also bringing their work to the Fringe this year. At Dance Base, contemporary dance master and choreographer Bill Coleman portrays a figure whose whole world is literally falling in around him in Dollhouse and Chordelia Company collaborate with inclusive theatre company Solar Bear for Lady Macbeth: Unsex Me Here, a piece which explores the ambition, power and remorse of one of Shakespeare’s most complex female characters. The National Dance Company of Wales bring their production of Caroline Finn’s award winning Folk to Zoo Southside, and from the Northern Territories of Australia, Aboriginal dance and YouTube sensation Djuki Mala make their UK debut in a heart-warming show that combines traditional Yolngu and contemporary pop culture, dance and storytelling.
A host of international circus companies will be wowing audiences at this year’s Fringe. Underbelly and Bibi and Bachu present Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams, an unashamedly joyful mix of astonishing stunts, astounding circus skills and enchanting adventure, featuring the inimitable Konjowoch Troupe. Acéléré by Circolombia combines mindboggling skill and a willingness to take terrifying risks to deliver world-class, gravity-defying performances direct form Bogota, Columbia. Quebec’s Cirque Éloize transform the classic film Metropolis into a virtuosic spectacle for the whole family in Cirkopolis, while in Paris De Nuit the Recirquel Company from Budapest brings the decadent and lovable Paris of the 1930s to life, inspired by the voluptuous images of Hungarian photographer Brassaï.
This year’s programme is as varied as ever, offering theatre, dance, circus acts, physical theatre, comedy, music, musicals, opera, cabaret and variety, children’s shows, free shows, exhibitions, events and spoken word performances
A feast of famous names returns to Edinburgh this year. Ruby Wax appears for three nights only, with a show inspired by her best-selling book, A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled. Sue Perkins brings her sparkling wit and favourite stories to Pleasance, while Sean Hughes makes a welcome return to the Fringe with Blank Book, where a team of highly talented comedians will make up a story live on stage. Dead Ringers star Jan Ravens makes her Fringe debut with a show that takes on some of the key female figures in international politics, while comedian, writer and actor Robin Ince has two shows: Robin Ince’s Rorschach Test and Pragmatic Insanity.
From the world of film and TV, Clive Anderson hosts the live incarnation of the legendary improvisational comedy TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? – Live at the Fringe, featuring a rotating cast of familiar faces. Dave Johns, star of I Daniel Blake, returns to his comedy roots with a show about his unexpected turn as a film star at Pleasance, while BAFTA TV award-winning actress Monica Dolan has written and will perform in The B*easts, a solo show that explores how far one mum will go to give her child what she wants. Dr Who legend Sylvester McCoy performs in A Joke, a new comedy by Dan Freeman, while Sam Underwood brings Losing Days, a story about losing his mind – and finding it again, to New Town Theatre. Annie Sertich presents How to Not Kill Yourself for 30 Days… and the Next 330 at Pleasance, and legendary American satirist Barry Crimmins performs at The Stand.
Famous Scots participating in the Fringe this year include Craig Ferguson, who last performed at the Fringe 24 years ago, before leaving Scotland to find fame in the U.S.; he brings The Craig Ferguson Show to the Gilded Balloon at Rose Street Theatre. Irvine Welsh presents two new shows – Creatives, a darkly comic pop-opera that examines the contemporary music industry, and Performers, a black comedy that revolves around two gangsters auditioning for roles in a 1960s film, making its world premiere at the Fringe. From the world of sport, Judy Murray and broadcaster Hazel Irvine take part in the New Town Theatre’s In Conversation With… series, while superstar Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss brings NOW to Venue150 at EICC.
Al together, work from 58 countries will appear at the Fringe this summer.