City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Fringe Programme 2012 Grows By 6%

By edg - Posted on 01 June 2012

Fringe launch 2012

This year's Edinburgh Fringe promises “more artists performing more work, in more venues, than ever before”.

Following a 6% increase on last year’s programme, visitors to the biggest performing arts festival in the world will have a staggering 2,695 Fringe shows to choose from in August (see Fringe stats).

“We have a programme that will capture the attention of people all over the world and demonstrate why over the last sixty six years the Fringe has grown into the greatest show on earth,“ promised Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, as she launched the 2012 Fringe brochure yesterday at the Scottish National Gallery.

Among this year's 279 Fringe venues the refurbished Assembly Rooms re-opens under new management for Fringe business with the Famous Spiegeltent providing a pedestrianised terrace on George Street. The former Assembly Rooms tenants, Assembly Theatre, will take over the Roxy Art House (the new name is Assembly Roxy), and the popular Summerhall venue in the South of the city returns for a second year. This year, C venues have moved operations to C NOVA in the India Buildings on Victoria Street.

Another venue The Shack, at 119 Rose Street, will make its Edinburgh debut this year with ten comedians doing solo shows. Sweet Venues return with their biggest capacity yet at the Apex Hotel in the Grassmarket.

There's no lack of off-beat venues and site specific shows with dancers and acrobats taking to water tanks and huge structures in St Andrew Square in Leaving Limbo Landing, and a cabaret on the top of a double-decker bus for children in Huggers – Free Festival Family Fun.

Fringe shows also include a stroll through the hidden gardens of the Royal Mile, plays performed in a peep show hut in a car park (Pleasance), birdwatching in West Princes Street Gardens, and a solo standup comedy act by Barry Ferns/Lionel Richie on the summit of Arthur's Seat.

Spoken word

Punters poring over the programme will find a new Spoken Word category this year. Among the 41 shows listed for Fringe 2012 are Scotland’s Makar (National Poet) in Liz Lochhead: Making Nothing Happen at Assembly Rooms, Luke Wright - Your New Favourite Poet, and rapping teacher Mark Grist.

For Fringe-goers in the West, a new box office opens at Glasgow Queen Street Station on 27 July, selling tickets from 8.00am to 8.00pm every day until 27 August.

Recognise the Name?

Among familiar names on the Fringe striking out in new directions there's comedian and former Family Fortunes frontman Les Dennis, who stars in Jigsy at the Assembly Rooms; Matthew Kelly and Claire Sweeney in Willy Russell’s Educating Rita; and George Wendt, better known as Norm from Cheers makes his second trip to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with black comedy Re-Animator The Musical.

Topical shows

A number of Fringe 2012 shows mark the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen’s reign among them La Clique Royale – The Queen's Selection in the Famous Spiegeltent, while the Olympics are marked with 2,000 people gathering at Club Noir Burlesque - The Games (HMV Picturehouse).

Current affairs rear up in a new piece from Rab C Nesbitt creator Ian Pattison, where Des Maclean plays the fallen, former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan in I, Tommy (Gilded Balloon) while in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry, former tabloid journalist Rich Peppiat spills the beans on  his former employers in One Rogue Reporter.

Meanwhile, NOLA (Underbelly) is a piece of documentary theatre about the BP Oil Spill told by Look Left Look Right who won awards for You Once Said Yes.

Fringe Comedy

Comedy forms a huge slab of this year's programme, as always. Around 36% of all shows are comedy according to the Fringe Society.

Alan Davies is back for the first time in a decade with Alan Davies - Life Is Pain and Paul Merton's Impro Chums brings together comics Mike McShane, Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch and Suki Webster for an hour of improvised comedy.

Phill Jupitus - You're Probably Wondering Why I've Asked You Here... (The Stand Comedy Club) is one of two shows the Never Mind The Buzzcocks team captain will be involved with at this year’s Fringe, the other being his free poetry show Phill Jupitus is Porky the Poet in 27 Years On. 

Fringe veterans Rhod Gilbert, Sandi Toksvig, and Greg Proops are also back this year.

Kids Stuff

There’s plenty for younger audiences including Elmo, Cookie Monster and Big Bird in Sesame Street Live – Elmo Makes Music (Meadows Theatre Big Top).

Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger (Assembly George Square) will see the surrealist take his debut children’s show to Edinburgh.

Kids shows come to the Fringe from all over the world: The American High School Theatre present Dr Seuss I Love You (Church Hill Theatre), whilst Flamenco for Kids (C venues) promises to teach kids how to “Ole” with the best of them.

Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure... For Kids! (Underbelly) sees the multi-award winning beatboxer find himself a new sidekick and Fringe favourite The Enormous Turnip (Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall) is back for a tenth year.

Old Will

Shakespeare abounds on the Fringe in 2012, from the 21st anniversary of Shakespeare For Breakfast (C venues) to versions of Shakespeare's Scottish tragedy in Macbeth in Scots at St Ninian's Hall and a Polish version in Macbeth: Who Is That Bloodied Man (Old College Quad) by 1995 Fringe First winners Teatr Biuro Podrozy.

The latter will also perform their award winning Carmern Funebre as a one-off for the first time in 16 years.

Music choices

Music at the Fringe is typically eclectic ranging from The Big Fat Electric Ceilidh (Assembly Rooms) to Mercury Prize nominated King Creosote (Queen’s Hall) who will be joined by Fence Collective Friends.

Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells For Two (Assembly George Square) is a two man interpretation of the 1973 classic.

Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble (Acoustic Music Centre @ St Bride's) will be playing from his solo album.

#Unravel Live: The Only Gig You Can Control With Your Phone (Queen’s Hall) is a collection of  interactive sound installations and is the world premier from Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap and Edinburgh based FOUND.

The National Youth Orchestra of Iraq (Greyfriars Kirk) make their Edinburgh debut with an original concerto for oud written by Iraqi composer Khyam Allami and Scottish composer, Gordon McPherson.

The orchestra formed in 2009 by 17 year old Zuhal Sultan brings together a mixture of self-taught Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen and Assyrian 16-29 year old musicians.  For the concert, the orchestra will be joined by Julian Lloyd Webber and the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra.

Free shows

Finally, there are 814 free festival shows at this year's Fringe (compared to 607 last year), most of them falling under the banner of Peter Buckley Hill’s Free Fringe and the Laughing Horse Free Festival.

The BBC also returns with many free shows throughout the Fringe at Potter Row. Due to the shows' popularity, the free tickets are distributed by random draw at (standbys are sometimes available on the night if you are lucky).

Edinburgh Fringe statistics (Source: Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society)

  • The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012 features 42,096 performances of 2,695 shows in 279 venues.
  • Comedy makes up 36%
  • Theatre makes up 28%
  • Music makes up 13%
  • Musicals and Opera makes up 4%
  • Children’s Shows make up 4%
  • Dance & Physical Theatre makes up 4%
  • Events make up 4%
  • Cabaret makes up 4%
  • Spoken Word makes up 1%
  • Exhibitions make up 2%
  • An estimated 22,457 performers will take to the stage in Fringe 2012.  There are 814 free shows, 1,418 world premieres and 47 different countries represented.
  • The recent Edinburgh Festivals Impact Study showed that the Fringe annually generates around £142 million for the Edinburgh and Scottish economy. The study also showed that 89% of Edinburgh respondents said that the Fringe and other Festivals increase local pride in their home city.

More on the Edinburgh Fringe