Top Fringe Venues
Updated by Thelma Good, 27 July 2002.
With 619 companies performing 1,491 shows during the month of August there's
going to be plenty of variety where performance spaces are concerned.
The Fringe brochure lists a total of 183 Fringe venues, from the oldest
Concert Hall in Scotland dating from 1763, St Cecila's Hall
(Venue 31) , to the one of the newest (one of three Rocket Venues)
from Festival Impresario Ricky Demarco and his Rocket buddies at the Apex
Hotel, Grassmarket (venue 16).
Some of these venues can also be quickly found on the streaming
map of Edinburgh festival venues (see
Maps). The streaming map allows you to see the whole of Edinburgh
both in map and in aerial photograph form, or both side-by-side and you
can quickly go to the Assembly Rooms, Pleasance or other venue using the
Here's my starting ten based on the venue and the acts that will be appearing
at the venue.
I've noted access / hearing systems availability, I saw too many wheelchairs
users having tricky times last year, see Fringe programme in venue section
for more info, if they say phone they will try to get you in there if
Assembly Rooms (venue
3), George Street
The flagship venue of the Fringe. Quality of the shows is high with a
good mix of international and UK companies - comedy and theatre mainly,
with well-knowns and ones getting on their way. Has a good buzz about
it, quite often where you'll see the unforgettable productions. Most of
spaces accessible, check programme or phone. Photo>>
(venue 152) George IV Bridge
This venue is well worth checking out for theatre/musicals/dance and
children's theatre. Good shows from UK and elsewhere, also check out nearby
Greyfriars Kirk House which is under the same management. Simple snacks
at cafe, also veggie meals at Greyfriars. Disabled? Phone venues first.
C Venues (venue 34),
The big C has 4 venues "C", "C too" (venue 4), "CO2"
( venue 202) and "C3" (venue 50). Between these four venues
is a comprehensive programme of theatre, children's shows, dance, comedy,
musicals and music. This is a place you find newcomers before they become
big. All have licensed bar/cafes. At C too, CO2 and C3 because of difficult
access/wcs wheelchair users need to phone first.
Dance Base (Venue
Scotland's National Centre for Dance has a concentrated programme each
day containing five dance pieces 2 – 11 August and will be the place
for the Fringe Society arranged workshops later in Fringe. It's a wonderful
new space, active for dance all year round, fully accessible. No cafe
but there's plenty in the area.
Gilded Balloon (venue 38),
Situated down in the Cowgate, the underbelly of the city, this is particularly
popular with Fringe nocturnes. Comedy is the watchword, comedy of the
riotous, lager-fuelled kind. The gladiatorial spirit - even the most hardened
stand-ups have trembled at the prospect of doing its late night stints
- gives it a real edge. There's also a good mix of alternative, live bands.
Great for partying into the wee, wee hours. Disabled? Phone venue first.
Street Theatre (venue 41), Hill Street
This really is a great example of a small Fringe venue that does well.
Long-established, it manages to maintain a high standard. Situated in
the West End, in one of the back streets, its small and intimate theatre
spaces are well suited to Fringe fare. The venue has a bar with Polish
charm and great decor. Disabled? phone venue first. The same company also
runs the Gateway Theatre during the fringe (venue 7).
Pleasance (venue 33),
One of the "Big Three" venues (Gilded Balloon and Assembly Rooms
being the other two) set up in the Edinburgh university student union
and building near by. High comedy, cabaret and revue content is intermingled
with more serious theatrical fare. Like the other two biggies comprises
of multiple performances spaces, most of a high standard and efficiently
run. Disabled? phone venue first. When the weather is good, it has the
best beer garden in town in its cobbled courtyard, great place to hang
out and catch the Fringe ambiance.
Also, Pleasance Dome
(venue 23) Bristo Square
Even larger than last year, this venue rocks with music, comedy and theatre
till late, With a waitress service 5am closing bar in the permanently
glazed courtyard it may be you, not just the courtyard by the end of the
night! Good variety with quality shows. Good access. Photo>>
Aurora Nova St Stephens (venue 8) St Stephens St and
Aurora Nova Theatre Workshop (venue 20), Hamilton Place, Stockbridge
Last year St Stephens was the Dance and Physical Theatre find of the Fringe
- this year Kommedia are running it and Theatre Workshop just a hop skip
and a jump away. And they each have an ethical sponsor Cafe Direct and
fairtrade cafes, so all the omens are good. 40 steps to theatre at St
Stephens, Theatre Workshop fully accessible, induction loop and infra
red hearing system. Highly recommended, large number of international
companies. Try to catch at least one of their shows.
Traverse Theatre (venue
15), Cambridge Street, off Lothian Rd
The centre for new playwriting all the year round is housed underground
in an impressive purpose-built theatre with 2 auditoriums. Its Fringe
drama programme includes two of its own company productions, both world
premieres from David Greig and Rona Munro, a musical from Indian Paines
Plough and several from Canada. Also comedy in late evening. Always popular
with Fringe theatre critics but look out for the ticket prices - full
price is £14, higher than many but unemployed can get a good deal.
Its busy bar is the obvious place to mingle with the thespian crowd. Fully
accessible and infra red hearing system.
The Underbelly (venue
61) Entrances on Cowgate and Victoria St.
Five spaces over four floors with three bars, only draw back it's
difficult for wheelchairs (ring first, help can be arranged) but it has
a great fringe feel. This venue is definitely where you can find
exciting new performers and creators. Strong theatre programme.
There are many other venues which specialise, such as The Church Hill
Theatre (Venue 137) which will home the American High School Theatre
Festival and St Andrew's and St. Georges Church (venue111), on
Street which have one of the most eagerly anticipated music programmes
the Fringe. Diverse Attractions (venue 11) is where you'll find
Edinburgh's community theatre and some professionals too. Gilded
Balloon's Teviot (Venue 14) and Cowgate Caves (venue 88) and Peppermint
Lounge (venue 139) continue original venue's mix of comedy and theatre.
The Rocket Venues (venues 16, 123 and 126) have mix of Demarco
others. And there are even more - have fun!
Do you agree with our assessment of the best venues? Is there
another venue that you think should be included? Post
details on our bulletin boards. We will read and respond.