From the vodaphones and filofaxes ofthe Assembly Rooms (‘Iub Bar to the skip-raided installations of The Edge. the talk this year is all of money. ‘I'm not in it for the money" says Bill Burdett (‘outts. who runs the Assembly Rooms. (T-shirts are planned); ‘I am'. says Addison Cresswell. the Queen Mother of stand-up comedy; and this causes a stampede of journalists towards the moral high ground in order to slag them both off. Brigitte Webster. one ofthe collective that runs The Edge. thinks that people like this are responsible for the death of the Fringe‘s essential spirit. ‘The Fringe is just too expensive.‘ she says. ‘There are groups up here losing. ooh. hundreds of pounds.‘

This needs to be put in perspective. The total income from all tickets sold for all festival events Fringe. [{IF. Tattoo. Jazz and Film is closer to £5m than £10m. You could comfortably put on one tnajor West End musical for this amount. bttt you couldn't make a standard feature film. So no-one is getting seriously rich at the Fringe except perhaps the city of Edinburgh itself. which takes in some £5 billion in visitor revenue during the course of the Festival.

At the satne time. anyone who makes their living from entertainment and who keeps coming back must be profitable in the long run or they would simply go bankrupt. Big promoters risk. and sometimes lose. big sums: the Hole smothered in a forest ofglossy leaflets sponsored by drinks makers. Thus the public is tricked by glib publicity. the festival is won over to oanditry and banality. and art dies.

As always. the truth is more complex. Back in 1976. the one page days. my first shows still played to five friends and a stray tourist. The Fringe has only been able to grow to its present size because the audience has grown with it. and it is the professionalism of managements like Assembly and the (‘omedy Boom that have convinced the public

Freelance producer Simon Evans (Cafe Graffiti. Zap Club. Hong Kong Fringe) argues that the mega-venues are an essential part of the Fringe and offers an appreciation of life on The Edge. Illustration by Simon Gooch.

that it is still worth risking £3 to £5 on tickets. with little tnore to go on than twenty words of Fringe programme blurb and a review written by an unemployed student. Rather than destroying the Fringe. the mega-venues are essentially Fringe phenomena: Assembly could not exist at any other festival in the world. And I doubt that The Iidge would exist without the exatnple of Assembly.

Despite the endlessly cited Pinter-Atkinson list of past finds. the Fringe is not solely about writers and actors. [I is an opportunity for try-outs and high jinks by directors. designers. producers. promoters. bands. publishers. journalists. buskers. builders. bouncers. advertisers. evangelists. sponsors. I).ls. cooks and coach operators. It is

Sarah Hemming, Editor of The List and Perrier Judge doesn't care a sausage

futile to assert (as someone surely does every year) that the Fringe is too big. or too expensive. ()I' too political. or that there is not enough serious theatre. or that there is too

much experimental pretentiousness.

for this is to miss Fringe‘s essential glory: that there is no central selection policy and that the shape and success of the Fringe reflects the thousands of individual decisions made by thousands of independent participants.

lfthe Fringe reflects anything. it is the culture of the times. The current confusions about art and money are only to be expected against the background ofthe enterprise culture. Is it selling out tosubsidise loss-making art with profitable tat‘.’ Should a man get richer on the proceeds of alternative Comedy?

What right have journalists got to pontificate about these things'.’ If you don‘t enjoy the jostlc of poets. artists.seers. pundits. know-alls. liggers. scammers attd sharks all on the make together. you're missing halfthe fun of the fair.

Tired of running into stand-up comedians everywhere you go'.’ I lacked off with overheating conversations about percentage splits and bookings for Australian festivals'.’ Then spend an evening at The Iidge. where you‘re unlikely to bump into anyone famous and where. if you’re here for business. you're wasting your time.

Instead you will find art struggling with anarchy. enthusiasm being polite to authority. passion trying to understand casltflows and me r itt a cortter. ambition chatting up show-business. And you can enjoy unpretentious entertainment in the friendliest atmosphere on the Fringe.

As well as its programme of theatre and music (including Fatalgt. one of the very few World Music groups up this year). The Iidge is also presenting the only season of video at this year’s Festival. The programme includes work by the extraordinary l’olish experimentalists 'l‘adeus/ Kantor. Theatre ofthe Iiighth Day and Akadetnia Ruchtt.

There is a changing cabaret in two bars every night. often followed by impromptu late night parties. l ltave had the pleasure of seeing the very wonderful (ilaswegian cabaret battd Wray (inn and the Rockets. whose lead singer is a cross between Buddy Holly and Lulu. and that old Iissex anarchist Atilla the Stockbroker being brought back for three encores. And my most treasured moment of the Festival so far has been at The [Edgez the smoky room suddenly going huslt as a girl breaks spontaneously into qtticl song at the bar.


Billctt. Sally Is'ittttcs. Nightlife Sluatt Raikct.

Andy (‘t'abb.(‘oltn

While some groups are already going home happy. having secured a precious Fringe First. others have yet to collect their laurels. The Scotsman's second batch of Fringe Firsts are announced atthe end at this week. while on Saturdaythe coveted Perrier Award. tor the most outstanding cabaret or revue act is revealed. leading to potential instant lame and fortune and a ready-made burble tor next year's Fringe programme. For those not quite up to Perrier standards this year. the linals ol the Gilded Balloon's So You Think You‘re Funny competition

for winners really. . .

take place on Monday 29th

at midnight. You‘ll haveto wait a little longerlorThe

: lndependentTheatreAward winner— who will be

announced on Saturday 3rd.

Meanwhile The List would like to make its own award. We‘ll bypass tempting awards lorthe noisiest venue. worst show-title. most insistent street theatre. longest queue. smallest audience. most embarassing stage nudity. most inefficient box office. sweatiest audience member. loudest snorer. hardest plastic seats. slowest bar-service. llabbiestsandwiches. sourestwine. mosttepid

coffee. most unsavoury toilets. biggest ego (competition severe). worst hangover. most self-indulgent. worthy and insistently jolly shows. most tedious classic. most circuitous taxi-driver. loudest media-person. most self-contradictory review and longest sentence. Instead we will make a special award for the most repellentpublicity material.

Competition is (again) lierce. In previous years. choice methods of bringing shows to the attention olthe jaded theatre editor have included sending a canned desert (yes. desert. not

dessert). a washing line. and a packet at designer condoms through the post. This years winners. however. are in a class of theirown. Cock and Bull Theatre. promoting The Sausage Play/The Car Play. sent. repeatedly. little boiled tranklurters wrapped in clingtilm through the post. Ajoy to openlirst thing in the morning. Shame the theatre editor is vegetarian. We await. with anticipation. the arrival of the car. In the meantime we award them The List PLUMMY Award (Particularly Loud and Unsavoury Media Material. Yuk).

Publisher Robin I Iodgc. Editors Nigel Billctt. Sarah l Icmming. Associate EditorAllan l lttttter. Design Simon Iisterson. Advertising .Icss Barrow. Sheila Maclean. Accounts

; (ieorgettc Renwick. ! Typesetting Jo Kennedy.

Nikki lloare. Hewcr Text Production Editor Paul Keir. Production Co-ordinator Mark Fisher. Production Assistants NicholasUillard. Iaitt (irantfirt Alice Bain. Books Alan Taylor. Classical Music ( 'arol Main. Dance Alice Bain. Film Allan Hunter. Trevor Johnston. Folk/Jazz Norman Chalmers. Food Julie Morrice. Sally Stewart. Kids Sally Kinncs. Media Nigel

SILWL‘IT. Open \Icllolth (iillard. Rock(Edinburgh) Mab. Rock (Glasgow) .Ioltn \thliatttsott. Sport Stuart Balhgatc. Theatre Sarah Ilcmmtng. Travel ls'ttstitta \Voolnough Camera Iidinbut'gh Make-up

Sct‘y iccs Cover by I )ay td Williams ustngthc I’olatoid Ill .\ 24 Instant camera. Cover Design Nigel Billen. l’aul Kctt'.


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