How's Your Festival Going?

Submitted by edg on Mon, 15 Aug '11 8.25am

We're around about the half-way mark of the Edinburgh Fringe (if you include preview dates), and I thought it would be a good time to take stock of how this year's Festival is going.

Often you get to the end of August (perhaps collapsing into your bed to sleep for a week) and the details of the previous month seem to have been obliterated in a haze of sleepless nights and coffee-addled mornings.

Of course, things are really just getting up to full speed, now that all the festivals (Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh Book Festival) have kicked off. The city is in full swing.

So how's the show so far?

I don't think I'm alone in being surprised by the amount of rain that's fallen. At times, it's chucked down so heavily that we've had our typical monthly quota of rainfall (an average 62 millimetes for August) in a matter of a few days.

Still it doesn't appear to have deterred the crowds, with many veterans of the festival suggesting that this year the city looks more busy than ever. With the pound at longtime lows against many currencies, Edinburgh has probably benefited from the Staycationers, for whom a trip abroad is now a rare luxury, and overseas visitors taking advantage of the very favourable exchange rate.

This has also been the year that the Fringe drifted South. The move by Assembly to the tented venue in George Square (after being forced out of its George Street venue for a major reno), and with BBC setting up shop for its Fringe broadcasts at Potterrow, alongside Underbelly's upturned cow and Gilded Balloon at Teviot House, the University of Edinburgh campus has become the epicentre of Fringe entertainment (as much as a "fringe" can have an epicentre). Maybe this is why the Old Town seems so mobbed?

But what else is significantly different, or for that matter the same this year about the Fringe? Post below...

To date my Fringe has been good. Tickets have been gathered in successfully thanks to pleasant staff at the various Fringe venues. There are the usual hiccoughs on the first days when shows are in increasingly complex venues, but that’s fine and understandable. All good so far, so here is my gripe.
At two separate shows I witnessed audience members flagrantly ignoring the advice given out before every show about the use of mobiles and filming (or lack of!) The first was during a show when a spangly dressed girl started her act and a young trio immediately stood up, went to the central passage way where one of them filmed her entire act. No one from the venue or the company approached them. Their actions may seem harmless, but it can be disruptive and can certainly be a distraction to the rest of the audience. The second incident was yesterday and I mentioned this in my review.  An audience member had left her phone on. Okay, a phone can switch on in a pocket if moved, in which case, it would be turned off quickly.  The point is that this phone ‘rang’ during the performance. The audience member not only did not switch off immediately or even answer right away but just took the call. While it was ‘ringing’, there were heads in the audience looking round to see where the noise was and in this case the usher got up to find where this was happening, by which time the call was over. As I said in my review, the actors did not miss a beat but the behaviour was inconsiderate. Not sure what else can be done, but these are my gripes!


I suppose there's always going to be someone with their mobile phone going off, but amazes me that people don't then take the phone call outside.

Glad to hear that bookings are going well, after box office problems of previous years. I did have problems with Assembly right at the beginning so didn't bother booking anything in the end. All the other venues have been very accommodating.

What about the general atmosphere of the festival? Considering the chaos on the streets down South, gloom around over the economy, the rain, it seems to have actually been quite festive.

A wee observation on Friday.  I was at a show at Underbelly Pasture that allowed an incredible amount of latecomers to an already noisy (from outside) venue.  It is clearly disruptive to the actors and the audience alike and I couldn't help compare it to Venue 13 the other day whichs though  small venue  had reserved signs on seats for latecomers to avoid this annoying shoehorning.