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Edinburgh Fringe is heading online

A digital Edinburgh Fringe Festival has been announced for 2020

As part of the scheme, the Fringe Festival Society has revealed plans for a FringeMakers Crowdfunder, whereby venues and artists will be able to register as part of a central Fringe campaign, pay no fees and keeping 100 per cent of funds donated for their own cause. This will launch on 13 July.

A new “Fringe on a Friday” variety show will be streamed online, and see some of the best productions present snippets from shows online. More details are to be announced. There are also plans for a Fringe Pick n Mix – where artists can upload 60-second clips for online audiences to enjoy.

There will also be 30 digital events including panel discussions, workshops and networking sessions for those wanting to hone their skills, as well as a Fringe Marketplace to help promote tour-ready work. This will help companies project themselves onto a global stage and pick up vital commissions and programming slots for next year.

Penguin Random House will release a new audiobook while Comedy Central will release mini episodes featuring up-and-coming comedians.

Shona McCarthy, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society chief executive, said: “It’s hard to imagine a summer without the Fringe. The explosion of creativity and community that the festival brings every year is unparalleled, and whilst we may not be able to provide a stage in Edinburgh in quite the same way this year, it feels hugely important that the spirit of this brilliant festival is kept alive.

“Little did we know way back in autumn, when we first started talking about this year’s programme artwork, how prescient the superhero theme would be today. We’re happy to be able to shine a spotlight on some of our Fringe heroes now, as we rally round to support the people that make your Fringe. On the other side of this, we’ll need them more than ever.

“The impact of Covid-19 has been devastating for the countless artists, audiences, venues, workers and small businesses that make this festival happen every year. The FringeMakers crowdfunding campaign is designed to support them, while the Fringe on a Friday live show and the Fringe Pick n Mix website aim to bring some much-needed joy to our devoted audiences both here in Scotland and all over the world.”

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Five key shows opening in London in the next four months 

Here are five important shows opening in London between now and the middle of November. (Please note that I am open to doing regional shows and Fringe shows but thought it would be fun to start with the ‘big ones’ – just humour me for the time being)

Jesus Christ Superstar (11 August)

Tyrone Huntley and Declan Bennett both have a natural luminescence so intense that it would shine bright in a Vantablack theatre dungeon. This revival is perfectly at home at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock musical could raise the Titanic from the sea bed. Enjoy!

Five Guys Named Moe (29 August)

How do you think this will do?

It doesn’t exactly feel as if the world of theatre is ‘battening down the hatches’ in anticipation of an unstoppable Clarke Peters musical tsunami. At the same time: you can’t go wrong with a bit of Clarke Peters. (Unless you happen to be the person who designed the poster, who ‘went wrong’ on an epic scale.) Anyway, the cast are extremely talented and it’s on at this new pop-up theatre in Marble Arch. So, ‘Let the Good Times Roll’, etc.

Footloose (12 September)

At this point we are so far into ‘will this do’ territory that you might as well watch the 1987 film.  It’s always difficult to say that a movie musical is entirely pointless, especially when there are audiences enduring it on tour around the country. However, this show, literally a frame-by-frame recreation of the movie, does make you wonder

The Toxic Avenger – (28 September) 

This show is a JOY. Joe DiPietro and David Bryan’s cult rock musical lands at the Arts Theatre following a storming month-long run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Watch and learn, lesser theatre entities. This is how you do it.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – (6 November)

This show is a really exciting thing, isn’t it? The new musical by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae premiered at Sheffield Crucible last year and transfers to the Apollo Theatre. John McCrea is brilliant, and ‘Everybody’s Talking’ is a super-smart musical. If you enjoy it, buy the concept album.  

N.B. There are two plays (‘Ink’ and ‘Labour of Love’) by up-and-coming scribe James Graham opening this Autumn in St Martin’s Lane, apparently. 

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Edinburgh International Festival | Sally Hobson | Interview: “There are minds I admire, but I don’t want to be inside them.”

Sally Hobson

This year the Edinburgh international festival delivered world class work on and off stage. I had a chat with the Head of Creative Learning, Sally Hobson. Hobson has directed the Programme Development Department of the Edinburgh International Festival. In this position,  she curates and delivers the public talks during the August Festival and the extensive year round schools and outreach programme.
The Education manager talks about unpaid internships, the joys of programming inspirational learning opportunities for the festival and more.

Sally Hobson

Sally Hobson

Hello Sally, well done for surviving Edinburgh 2016. What were your personal highlights? 
Thank you. Das lied von de Erde – Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard 3 – Schaunbuhne Berlin.

Edinburgh has a world class reputation as a creative city. What makes it so exciting?
It has reputation as a Festival City, not a creative city. It brings people and the arts together on a platform that cannot be found anywhere else. It is unique geographically and in terms of its history. It is lucky to have the Festivals because although it is beautiful it can be a closed city and without colour or joy.

How do you ensure EIF Learning and Participation has a wide ranging reach as possible? 
By knowing the city and Scotland very well, and making good relationships with schools, people and other organisations who we work with throughout the year.

What are your views on unpaid internships?
The internships are good so long as it is a win:win situation. So the intern is actually getting some really interesting work experience and learning opportunity and that the fit works for both. I think we do that in Creative Learning because we only take one and look after them properly.

What is the best part of your job? 
The ideas and the people.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
You’re going to be here for a while – enjoy it!

If you could swap brains with someone for a day, whose would you choose and why?
I don’t want to swap. I really couldn’t imagine how I would get back into my own mind after using another. There are minds I admire, but I don’t want to be inside them.

Can you describe your state of mind when you are programming EIF creative learning projects?
I think carefully about what is going in the festival and the programme and how to make that available to people who won’t know anything about them. I ask myself what would be of interest to the client group. How do I want them to be affected and what are the practical aspects. I don’t live in Nirvana when I’m programming, I simply search for a feeling as close as possible to a straight plumb line. I never know if the idea is good enough or will work until it is all done and dusted.

Anything That Gives Off Light

Anything That Gives Off Light

The Anything That Gives Off Light Installation at the Scottish Parliament ponds and Song Lines looked like a huge undertaking. What were the biggest challenges with those projects? 
Songlines was created too late due to programming problems and left me and the team on the back foot a lot of the time. But we got there – very stressed!  Same problem with Anything That Gives Off Light – but we got there too! They actually delivered what we wanted!
But I think we suffered throughout the year to make them happen. We are shifting our planning cycle now after many years of requesting a change, so it should be a better way of working. It’s good to see people really liking what we give them.

Many fringe productions have shorter runs, in a bid to save stress and cash. Is it really the best option?
I don’t know. Ask Fergus Linehan.

What do you for for the rest of he year, once the festival is over? 
Everything to make the projects work for August. All the hard work really takes place during the year making relationships, creating teams and deciding how to do things. August is just the shop window for us! We work hard throughout the year to line things up to make them look easy and accessible for everyone.

Anything that you’d like to add? 
Thank you for taking the time and asking me these questions.

The Encounter, Edinburgh International Conference Centre

The Encounter

The Encounter

A new Complicite show is always a special, unique thing. This one is a gift handed to us by the theatre gods. Simon McBurney’s latest one-man show for Complicite tells the tale of Loren McIntyre (a photojournalist) and is set in an Amazonian land that marries jungle life with the twenty first century to startling effect.

This is a must-see and must-hear two hour show that adds up to landmark theatre. McBurney takes us on a metaphysical roller coaster, one that we can never be certain we are going to get off.

The Encounter

The Encounter

The stage is mostly bare with the exception of water bottles, a table, a hammer and a packet of crisps. This bold production is executed with the world class showmanship that one would come to expect with Complicite. The technology is comprised of state of the art 3D headphones that sets a new benchmark for immersive theatre.

The most striking moment comes when the two disparate parallel tales collide and McBurney trashes the stage. His cap donned, hammer in hand, like a member of Russian punk band The Pussy Riot. It’s an infinitely majestic, inspired, deranged and delicious piece of theatre. It stirred me emotionally. The lessons we learn from one another, finding our place in the world etc.

The skill and confidence with which the team have extended the parameters of their art form are quite amazing. If he retired tomorrow this would be his victory lap.

What about the writing? Well, Mr McBurney recently told Dominic Cavendish (Telegraph) ’10 days to go and no script. It’s absolutely petrifying.’ The fear was evident and justified. He stumbled over lines and unbeknown to the audience was reliant on the autocue at the back of the EICC… This doesn’t take away from the fact that this is visual and audio poetry and a show that will find its feet to truly justified five star reviews.

I’m not going down the traditional star rating route. I’d give ‘The Encounter’ a 9/10. And I’ve had a while to reflect on it so it’s a proper 9/10 rather than the sort of 9/10 I’d give to Gecko’s ‘Institute‘, which is frankly, an 8/10 at best, and even then only on a good day.

It’s an exceptional work that lands at The Barbican in February 2016. If and when you do hear/see it make sure you tell me, because this is a two-way street, you know.

Edinburgh International Conference Centre, until 23 August.

Edinburgh (a prologue)

Three weeks ago Mark Fisher (The Guardian) told me I should go to Edinburgh. I imagine it to be like Winchester with shabbier and more intoxicated people. Thanking you in advance, Fisher!

Mr Fisher

In just 48 hours I will be taking a seat at The Underbelly to watch my first show ‘Bromance’ by BMT (Barely Methodical Troupe) *swoon* at Edinburgh Fringe Festival (The largest arts festival in the world). I will be writing two features, one for The Big Issue and Arts Professional. My schedule currently contains fifteen shows over three days. *air punch*

I’ve never been to Scotland before let alone an enormous festival(!) Here, I should probably offer some ceremonial apologies in advance. As project manager for Young Critics I have been afforded a unique insight into the minds of our countries leading critics and bloggers and hope to put some of the knowledge to good use.

Expect a flurry of blog posts because if there is one thing I’ve learnt it’s that blogs are really important. They put you in touch with your reader. And it helps if the reader is plural.

Do not despair…

I HAVE AN A-LEVEL IN MEDIA STUDIES (B)

A Level in Media Studies (PROOF)

It’s fair to say that one is quite excited about witnessing the transcendent and the downright mediocre. I will be keeping a daily blog about my experiences, appreciation and affections for what’s on display at this. I suppose a de facto account of my time will follow.

Sure, I’ve booked in for some safe bets (The Encounter, Fake it ‘Til You Make It and Institute etc) however, I’m open to unexpected treasures and have left space in my schedule to seek out those hidden gems.

There is more writing about theatre criticism than ever, which is excellent for theatre. Anyway, let the fun proliferate.

*thumbs up emoji*