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EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE 2023 PROGRAMME

Updated: Jun 26, 2023


CW: Mention of: mental health


Are you going to Edinburgh Fringe this year? This year's program theme is 'Fill your (yer) boots' and this is exactly what this blog will make you do. Why not read and learn more about the fun filled Variety festival. Maybe, just Maybe you may decide to take a trip to sunny Scotland to watch a little (wee) bit of comedy, spoken word or even Physical theatre and more.... Go on 'Fill your (yer) boots'.


 

photographer credits: Peter Dibdin | Model credits: Claudia Cawthorne, Martha Haskins, Chris Peploe © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

 

The Fringe Society is delighted to launch the official 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme.


The programme celebrates the diverse selection of work at the Fringe, spanning the genres of theatre, dance, circus, physical theatre, comedy, music, musicals, opera, cabaret, variety, children’s shows, spoken word, exhibitions and events.


The theme for this year’s programme cover and the wider Fringe marketing campaign is Fill Yer Boots, which is defined by the Collins English Dictionary as a phrase meaning, ‘to get as much of something valuable or desirable as you can’ – a message that encapsulates the unrivalled range and diversity of the incredible shows on offer at the Fringe.


This year’s programme features work across 3,013 shows, with themes tackling some of the most topical issues in the world today, from the NHS to mental health, gender and gender identity, neurodiversity, race and racial identity, politics, class and climate action. (and more) This year's festival brings together performers from across the globe; from homegrown talent to international artists – brand new and established acts alike.


Launching the 2023 Fringe programme, Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: ‘Getting the programme out into the world is such an important moment for everyone involved in the Fringe, and most of all for the thousands of artists coming to Edinburgh this August. The ideas, originality and passion that performers bring to Fringe stages every year is testament to the role that Edinburgh plays in celebrating and promoting their work to the world. The Fringe ‘23 programme is bursting with every kind of live performance, so whether theatre premieres are your thing, or the best of live comedy, street arts or circus, jump straight in and Fill Yer Boots with as much as you can. 


‘To all the artists, venues, workers, technicians, promoters and support staff, thank you for making it happen, we wish you a wonderful Fringe. To Edinburgh’s local business community, we thank you for your continued support, and to Edinburgh and Scotland’s residents who come out in their thousands, and all our Fringe-goers who keep this phenomenal event relevant and sustained by coming to see the work, we can’t wait to explore the Fringe programme with you this August.’


With first-hand experience of the importance of the Fringe, Phoebe said: ‘I am so proud to continue to be a part of this phenomenal event, 10 years after Fleabag premiered there. This programme will hit the Fringe with the creative wildness, political provocation and huge cultural impact that the festival delivers year after year, at a time when we need it most. We need help processing what the hell is going on in the world as well as being treated with the imaginative escape that only the immersive experience of the Fringe can provide. Whether your appetite is for theatre, dance, music, circus or street performing, August in Edinburgh will have it all. The only thing it needs now, is YOU!’


For those of you who haven't been to the Fringe before and want an insight into some areas, this blog will talk about new shows, the facts of the fringe, access and also the new and interesting venues of the this year's festival.


 

NEW SHOW ADDITIONS


A handful of new shows have been added to the programme since the most recent batch was revealed on Thursday 11 May.


The Scottish Storytelling Centre have added more than 20 new shows across their theatre, music, spoken word and children’s strands, including a Fringe edition of the venue’s bimonthly Queer Folks' Tales session hosted by Turan Ali and sharing ‘stories of LGBTQ+ lives past, present and future’, and Grow a mix of dancing, clowning and storytelling for 0–5 year-olds from theatre-maker Niall Moorjani.


NASSIM from Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour (White Rabbit Red Rabbit) is one of nine additions at the Traverse Theatre, as is Sean and Daro Flake It 'Til They Make It ‘a warm journey across Scotland as two friends discover what it takes to survive in the chilly world of cold confectionary’.


ZOO have added around 30 new shows for programme launch; among them are Funeral by Ontroerend Goed, ‘a collective ritual about the finiteness of things’, and Climb a selection of stories and songs from Jamaican-Canadian singer/songwriter Duane Forrest. The ZOOTV online programme includes Aionos ‘an African-Futurist mixed-reality production where Ancient Egypt meets Star Wars’, and Sneakpeek: Shadow Game a ‘real-time digital documentary’ in which a young man fleeing the Taliban attempts to cross the Bosnian border.


At theSpaceUK, Lies All The Way Down: A New Chamber Musical is ‘a psychological thriller exploring intimacy and potential in a contemporary-folk setting’.


NEW AND INTERESTING VENUES


It wouldn’t be the Fringe without some shows popping up in unique and unusual spaces around Edinburgh (and beyond).


Two shows from Arts Council England’s Horizon Showcase include Horizon Showcase: FORGE at the Royal Lyceum Theatre's set and costume workshop in Roseburn, and Horizon Showcase: Bodies an immersive, interactive show taking place in the swimming pool of Dean's Community High School in Livingston. Angry Snatch: A Reclamation Job in 15 Rounds is a site-specific theatre show staged in the Port O'Leith Boxing Club, while The Recovery Through Comedy Show features stand-up sets by Armed Forces veterans in Lady Haig's Poppy Factory. Ben and Natalie Nardone present their historical children’s show, Plague, Poo n' Punishment , at The Lost Close, hidden just off the Royal Mile, while Eliminate the Impossible is a Sherlock Homes-style adventure taking place around the city using an app.


Musselburgh Grammar School and Loretto School Theatre have both been repurposed as Fringe venues, as have Craigmillar Park Church, Northesk Parish Church and St Peter's Church, the latter home to Mark Watson’s Churchfest, The Stables at Prestonfield are home to The Fringe at Prestonfield: Hosted by Christopher Biggins and featuring guests including Sir Cliff Richard in conversation with Gloria Hunniford, while the Williams and Johnson Coffee Co is the starting point for the Leith Food and Drink Walking Tour.


Several bars and restaurants have opened (or re-opened) their doors to Fringe shows, such as Ryrie’s Bar in the West End, which hosts Up Close with the Blues. Monkey Barrel has pitched up at The Tron; Laughing Horse has welcomed Eastside, The Cocktail Mafia and West Port Oracle to their stable; and the Little White Pig and Strathmore Bar are part of this year’s PBH's Free Fringe.

Elsewhere, Summerhall have programmed work at the Danish Consulate, Institut Français d’Ecosse and The LifeCare Centre, Stockbridge, while Army @ The Fringe host Oràn do Mo Shinn-Shinear at The Scottish National War Memorial.


ACCESS


The Fringe Society remains committed to improving access to the Fringe. Through a number of projects the ambition is to ensure the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is as accessible to as many people as possible.


  • Sensory backpacks will be available to those who may find the Fringe overwhelming at times. They include a wide range of sensory tools, including a visual timetable, created in collaboration with Tzipporah Johnstone, a neurodivergent artist from the Neuk Collective. Backpacks are free and available for collection from the Fringe Shop on the High Street on a first-come, first-served basis, or can be pre-booked with specific items required.

  • A dedicated access tickets service aims to make it easier for anyone with access requirements to navigate and enjoy the Fringe. It can be reached by phone on +44 (0)131 226 0002, by email at accessbookings@edfringe.com or by WhatsApp message on +44 (0)7923 525 799. BSL users can contact the Fringe box office via an online BSL / English interpreter, and can download Contact Scotland BSL’s app via smartphone or tablet at contactscotland-bsl.org/download.

  • This year the Fringe Changing Places Toilet will return to the corner of Windmill Street and Chapel Street, EH8 9LE, from 04 – 28 of August, from 10:00 to 01:00. As in past years, this has been made possible through working with the University of Edinburgh Festivals Office and the team at Assembly.

  • Developed in partnership with Attitude is Everything, the Venue Access Awards provide venues with a framework to make their spaces as accessible as possible during the festival. Revamped and updated for 2023, the Venue Access Toolkit advises venues on best practice changes they can make to improve accessibility.

  • The Fringe Society will again lend venues captioning and audio description equipment to make more performances accessible to visually impaired, D/deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

  • For a comprehensive list of BSL interpreted, captioned, audio described and relaxed performances on offer at the Fringe, please visit tickets.edfringe.com/accessibility/accessible-shows.

  • The Scottish Association of Mental Health are providing their Wellbeing on Wheels services on 12 and 13 August. Wellbeing on Wheels is a bus staffed by mental health peer supporters who are there to help anyone, but particularly street performers, who may find the Fringe occasionally overwhelming.

  • Birds of Paradise will once again be providing Disability Equality Training for all customer-facing Fringe Society staff. The Fringe Society is also providing free online equalities training for everyone working in a Fringe venue.

  • The Fringe Society are hosting schools, community groups and disabled musicians (alongside Drake Music Scotland, who are providing support for disabled musicians) on the Fringe Taster Stage on the weekend 24 – 26 August. This is a great opportunity for local performers to take part in the Fringe.


Around 60% of Fringe shows in the 2023 programme are accessible to wheelchair users. For more information please visit https://www.edfringe.com/experience/how-to-plan/access-at-the-fringe


This years Fringe stats show that this year will be amazing with;

  • 3,013 total shows

  • 248 total venues

  • 463 Pay What You Can/Want

  • 45,182 performances

  • Work from Scotland: 798

  • Rest of UK: 1,417

  • Countries represented: 68 (including UK countries)

  • International countries: 64 (excluding UK countries)

  • There are 308 free shows and 463 Pay What You Can/Want shows

  • There are 798 Scottish shows, with 535 shows coming from Edinburgh.


  • Shows within each section:

    • Cabaret and variety – 147 shows (4.9%)

    • Children’s shows – 116 shows (3.8%)

    • Comedy – 1,109 shows (36.8%)

    • Dance, physical theatre and circus – 114 shows (3.8%)

    • Events – 55 shows (1.8%)

    • Exhibitions – 42 shows (1.4%)

    • Music – 395 shows (13.1%)

    • Musicals and opera – 152 shows (5.0%)

    • Spoken word – 80 shows (2.7%)

    • Theatre – 803 shows (26.7%)

photographer credits: Peter Dibdin | Model credits: Claudia Cawthorne, Martha Haskins, Chris Peploe - © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

The 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe will run from 04 – 28 August, you can find all more info about this years festival here


Photo credit:

Photographer credits: Peter Dibdin | Model credits: Claudia Cawthorne, Martha Haskins, Chris Peploe - © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society


 

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