Fringe Defies the Norm with mammoth programme

Promotional image from the launch of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016. Two women and a man, all in heavy makeup, stand on a beach, each holding a copy of the new Fringe brochure

After four tantalising months of sneak peeks and advance sales, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has launched its full programme for August 2016 with yet another breathtakingly huge and diverse lineup. 

The biggest arts festival on Earth returns (5-29 August) with a total of 50,266 performances, of 3,269 shows from 48 countries in 294 venues across Edinburgh. Along the way there's theatre, dance, circus, physical theatre, comedy, music, musicals, opera, cabaret and variety, children’s shows, exhibitions, spoken word events and more.

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:

The breadth and diversity of talent that comes to the Fringe is unparalleled, and this year is no exception. At its core the Fringe is an open access festival, which welcomes anyone with a story to tell, and for that reason, amateur and professional artists from around the world continue year after year to come here to share their stories, hone their skills, create new opportunities for themselves and their work, and celebrate the joy of live performance. 

As any Edinburgh Festivals veteran will tell you, the Fringe takes over vast areas of the city each August, and with almost 300 venues, this year is no exception. Some new venue for 2016 include: 

  • the National Museum of Scotland in partnership with Gilded Balloon
  • St Stephen's Church in Stockbridge, which will become C Scala, run by C Venues
  • Merchant's Hall in the city centre on Hanover Street.

There'll also be site-specific work at St Mary’s South Lawn, beside the towering cathedral, the back of a double decker bus winding its way through the city, Ruby Rouge Hairdressers on Clerk Street and a crashed car at George Square Gardens. 

The Fringe is famously diverse in its content, but some key themes to emerge from artists bringing their work to the city this year include: 

  • celebrations and reinterpretations of the work of William Shakespeare, in the 400th anniversary of his death
  • work exploring love and relationships, including a comedic improvised blind date, a theatre piece based on real conversations on dating apps, and a love story with a soundtrack of songs from New Zealand.
  • the impact of modern technology on our lives and the future, including a look at a world where humanity has died out, an eco-apocalyptic circus show, and four breakfast time plays considering human-machine relations
  • war, going back to the Battle of the Somme in its centenary year, through a one man play on what it was like to be Hitler's deputy and to modern times with a submarine crew considering disobeying orders, and an exploration of the ethical and personal consequences of drone warfare.
  • considerations of both masculinity and female experience including heartbreak, brotherhood, sexism, intimacy and yodelling.
  • a range of political issues including Europe, nuclear weapons, Scotland's political landscape, the environment, and LGBT rights activism.
  • depictions and examinations of lying and deceit, including the science of lying, struggles with gender identity, the way a simple untruth can result in unintended and dramatic consequences and how lies can evolve into legends. 

Promotional image from the launch of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016. The same three people, two women and a man, stand on a beach, this time with cardboard props including an owl in a black leather outfit, a avocado with a guitar in it and a giant teapot

Another major strand of the Fringe is Made in Scotland, a curated showcase of music, theatre and dance, made and produced in Scotland. Supported by the Scottish Government's Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, Made in Scotland is a partnership between the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the Federation of Scottish Theatre, the Scottish Music Centre and Creative Scotland. 

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs said:

The Scottish Government is proud to support the Fringe ‘Made in Scotland’ showcase, via the Expo Fund, which provides a valuable platform for the best of Scotland’s performers and companies, raising Scotland’s cultural profile to an international audience.

Incoming international work is well represented too, with performers from 43 countries bringing their shows and events to the festival. Countries represented include Australia, Finland, South Korea, Lebanon, France, Taiwan, Canada and Italy. 

Richard Lewis, the City of Edinburgh Council’s Festivals and Events Champion said:

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe continues to go from strength to strength and the 2016 programme is a testament to the continued popularity of the festival as a place that performers from all over the world flock to showcase new work and meet new audiences.

 Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society added:

The diversity of the Fringe’s participants is echoed in its audiences and there really is something for everyone at the Fringe, whether you enjoy puppet shows or comedians, astonishing street artists or dazzling cabaret acts, ground-breaking international theatre or underground musical sensations, the Fringe will surpass your expectations over and over again.
With less than two months to go, I am looking forward to welcoming participants and audiences to Edinburgh in August for another fantastic Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs from 5-29 August 2016 and all tickets are now on sale. Find out more about the Festival, including links to programme and ticketing details.

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