World Fringe Day is being celebrated on 11 July; a day that pays tribute to everything that's great about fringe festivals. This is the first year that World Fringe Day has been celebrated, and it also coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Edinburgh is the spiritual home of fringe festivals, as it is the place that started it all back in 1947. The Fringe was born when eight groups came to the capital hoping to perform at the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival. After failing to get a spot on the programme, they went ahead and performed anyway, on the 'fringes of the festival', and so the fringe movement was born!
In the 70 years since those founding groups came to Edinburgh, the growth of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been incredible. Many thousands of people have been inspired by the story of the original eight groups, and the number of performers in Edinburgh has grown year on year. Incredibly, this year's festival will see a massive 3,300 shows taking place during the month of August. It's thanks to numbers like this that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe continues to be celebrated as the largest arts festival in the world!
The continued success of the Edinburgh Fringe has also meant that a large number of sister festivals have started up around the world. From those humble Scottish origins in 1947, the fringe family has grown and now boasts more than 200 different festivals. Today you can find fringe festivals on six of the seven continents around the world (Antarctica doesn't know what it's missing). The creation of World Fringe Day gives this creative family an opportunity to come together and celebrate not only their origins, but also their shared future.
Made in Scotland
Home-grown, Scottish productions continue to play a vitally important part in the identity of the Edinburgh Fringe. This year will see the return of Made in Scotland, a curated showcase of Scottish performances. The programme features 24 different shows across theatre, dance and music and emphasises the wealth of outstanding productions created in Scotland. This year will be represented not only by a mix of established companies, but will also feature vibrant new and emerging artists.
In the nine years since Made in Scotland was formed, it has supported 125 companies, ensembles and performers to create more than 180 shows. As well as helping them launch in Scotland, the programme has also allowed many of these shows to tour the world, with over 35 countries getting access to the best Scottish talent. Made in Scotland is an integral part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, emphasising that, 70 years later, Scotland is continuing to innovate and produce world-class productions to delight audiences at home and abroad.
An International Flavour
Welcoming the very best international artists and productions is just as important to the Edinburgh Fringe. International productions make up a large part of the Fringe's massive programme. Even way back in 1947, two of the original eight groups came to Edinburgh from outside Scotland. This year is no exception with 60 different countries being represented. Here we've highlighted a few showcases that you should keep your eye on:
For the first time, the historic King's Hall will be taken over by a specially curated set of Canadian productions. The Canada Hub @ Kings Hall will display the best from across Canada throughout the entire length of the festival, with five theatrical productions, as well as an immersive installation on display.
As part of the UK/India Year of Culture in 2017, a special India@Edinburgh programme will take place at this year's fringe. This will showcase some of the best music, dance and theatre that India has to offer, including a special performance at the Royal Military Tattoo.
From Australia, the Made in Adelaide showcase returns with 13 shows including award-winning, femme fatale Anya Anastasia in Anya Anastasia: Rogue Romantic. Ukulele Death Squad also brings their high-energy Ukulele show to Leith Depot.
Korea will also be in attendance, with a series of productions including a musical piece that crosses international boundaries with its blend of traditional Korean and western instruments. The Korean Arts Management Service will also support a programme of Korean shows at the Fringe.
As part of the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Fringe, representatives from other fringes around the world will also make the journey to Edinburgh. This is a great opportunity for the fringe family to come together and learn from each other in the place that started it all. From as far east as New Zealand, as far west as Hawaii, and everywhere in between, the spirit of creativity and togetherness that is at the heart of all fringes will be evident in the Scottish capital this summer.
World Fringe Day gives everyone involved in the festival, whether it is venues, performers, or the millions of fringe lovers, a chance to take part in a truly international celebration. Millions of lives have been touched by the fringe movement over the last 70 years; it is an event that transcends national and cultural boundaries. So, on 11 July, take some time to think about your favourite fringe moment, most incredible show, best celebrity spot, or just plan what shows are making your list this year. In Edinburgh, or around the world!