lull-III Sunday Sunday
liver a thousand Fringe performers have been booked for the most popular event on the Fringe; Fringe Sunday at llolyrood Park. The tree, tour-hour extravaganza is expected to attract even more perionners than that, however, as Fringe companies turn up to preview their shows in the hope or drumming up some business.
‘Leave your car at home,’ is the wise advice irom the Fringe Office to everyone intending to go. Although there is enough room in the Park for all the spectators, there simply aren’t enough parking spaces.
Every aspect oi the Fringe will be represented, with a children’s tent, music stage and music tent, a studio tent and cabaret area. Two ﬂat-back
Ionics will provide raised sages, together with a dance square and circus arena. Anyone who can’t be crammed onto a stage or into a tent will be wandering around the crowd in the busiting and street theatre area. Fringe Sunday, Holyrood Park, Sunday 2, 14pm, tree.
THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS
There were open calls for political reform in Yugoslavia. Benington Aquino was shot dead in Manilla airport. A Korean Airways Jumbo jet was shot down by the Russians. In Edinburgh, it was the centenary of the Lyceum.
I John Drummond couldn’t make up his mind whether to stay on as Director of the lntemational Festival. First he extended his contract for two years then, in a dramatic ﬂourish, he quit because of the perennial ‘funding difﬁculties’.
I Ilalelr creator Terrence Dicks was one of the 110 authors appearing at the ﬁrst ever Edinburgh Book Festival.
I Vidor Egg was asking £12 for his 25- minute one-man show. Rather exorbitant for something performed in a cave, in the semi-darkness and in Icelandic? Not really, as the audience was conﬁned to one punter per performance. Very intense, apparently. I The comm of Wagner’s death was marked by the Film Festival with a shortened (ﬁve-hour) version of Tony Palmer’s Wagner. Slated by the critics, it was notable for uniting Sirs Richardson, Olivier and Gielgud on screen for the ﬁrst time. The lntemational Festival were too strapped
for cash to put on a full Wagner Opera, so produced a ‘bleeding chunk of Gotterdamerung‘.
I Fringe Sunday moved from its cramped quarters on the High Street to the wide-open spaces of Holyrood Park for the ﬁrst time. This did nothing to relieve congestion on the Royal Mile, which was solid with trafﬁc trying to get to the big free event.
I Inspired by the knowledge that Fringe shows refresh parts other theatre does not normally reach. Anthony Gooch tried to take his show to Saughton Prison. Surprisingly, the authorities there were not too keen to put on a performance of Ways 0f Escape.
I Being Bob was a three-minute short at the Film Festival about a man who wants to be Bob Dylan. He is English, lives in Kensington and can’t play the guitar. Sounds like the perfect candidate, so long as he can whine.
I “Edinburgh, your time is up’ wrote Nicholas de Jongh in the Guardian. His long-winded carp at local people and councillors playing ‘grudging hosts’ did not attack the Festival and Fringe per se, but recommended a peripatetic event
I Abattoir was the incongruous name for a happening by ﬁve Japanese actors. Completely made up in white, they descended by rope ‘adopting various positions as they progressed‘ down the front of the Regional Chambers in Parliament Square. The 30-minute performances were timed to avoid Regional Council meetings.
I Emma Thompson, billed as ’one of Britain’s few successful comediennes’ and calling herself ‘the girl from
'Alfresco’, appeared in her ﬁrst solo
show at The Hole in The Ground. A Short Vehicle featured a dozen characters including an 80-year-old crook and a slightly younger saint. ’l’ll do anything that comes up,’ she told the press. Bet she told that to Ken too.
I Ground-burden 7:84 created a precedent when they put on A Woman ’3 Power in both Fringe and lntemational Festivals. The six lntemational Festival performances counted as ‘previews’, so the Fringe performance was eligible for a Fringe First.
IIIIIII All the fuss of the Fringe
Every year the Fringe gets bigger and every year people complain about its size. They were doing that in 1959 when the programme was as big as what you’ll now ﬁnd in the average Masonic lodge. But this year there's a feeling that the bastard love-child of the lntemational Festival is no longer quite the cute kid sister she once was and is increasingly shaping up to be an unwieldy adolescent who’s getting too big for her boots.
In truth, Edinburgh thrives on such speculation, but the question does need to be asked about how big the super venues have to get — or more to the point, how closely they have to collaborate — before their relationship with the Fringe Society is fundamentally undermined. And it’s not just the newspaper pundits who are asking these questions. On every occasion I have seen William Burdett- Coutts of the Assembly Rooms and Christopher Richardson of the Pleasance speak in public recently, they have been almost comically on the defensive. They go out of their way to point out how much straight theatre . they‘re putting on, how the big boys’ club of the Gilded Balloon/Assembly/ Pleasance isn’t all one-man stand-up
_shows, how they plan to commission new drama at some unspeciﬁed point in the future, how they really don’t want to charge such high prices and how they’re happy that the rest of the Fringe is still thriving. l have no reason to disbelieve them, but it’s clear that they’re aware of the unsettling potential of their alliance (the Gilded Balloon’s Karen Koren, incidentally, is a lot less jumpy because she is a year-round advocate of stand-up comedy; and why shouldn’t she be?)
But if the role of the Fringe Society were to redress any perceived imbalance it could only do so with considerably more resources than it has at the moment. Only a few years ago, the world’s biggest arts festival did not even have a press ofﬁcer. Rapid expansion in the past couple of years has now made way for a larger (though by no means huge) administrative staff and an enterprising schools programme. But it is unfair to expect the Fringe Society to do more - to act as a promoter of the arts, of innovation, of Edinburgh in general - unless it is also to be properly integrated into a coherent arts strategy on a local, regional and national level.
As it stands, the Fringe operates as a free market and to date it has been the better for it; if it is to move into the realm of mixed economy in order to protect the traditional spirit of enterprise, then we need to do a lot more than complain about the number of stand-up comics. (Mark Fisher)
EIIIIII Housing development
It has been a week of behind-the-scenes negotiation, literally, after the ﬁre at the Playhouse destroyed a large part of the backstage area and caused £750,000 worth of damage.
The Playhouse’s owners, Apollo Leisure took the view that the venue was unusable and immediately issued a statement cancelling all Festival and Fringe performances scheduled in the theatre. However after several rounds of discussions involving the the district council, Festival director Brian McMaster and theatre managers, part of the programme was reinstated.
The Mark Mom's Dance Group, which left America not knowing if its performances had been saved, was the ﬁrst to ﬁnd a new venue after the council made the main hall at the Meadowbank Sports Centre available. The capacity of the sports hall is 1500, half that of the Playhouse, but the Festival organisers have been able to honour all tickets bought before the day of the ﬁre, when sales were suspended. Liverpudlian drag queen Lily Savage, whose publicity posters ironically featured a joke suggestion that the shows were originally booked for the Carnegie Hall, was relocated to the Usher Hall with all tickets valid.
For several days it looked as if the Welsh National Opera and the Canadian Opera Company
performances would be cancelled; given the scale of their productions it was the Playhouse or nothing. McMaster repeatedly declined to comment on what were clearly delicate negotiations with Playhouse management, who appeared to want work to start immediately on repairing the ﬁre damage. The Playhouse, which had been closed for several months for a £4 million refurbishment, was due to open for a three-week Festival run before a major production of Les Miserables was installed in the theatre. However on Saturday, the Playhouse issued a statement saying management had agreed to postpone the resoration and tickets for the three opera productions went back on sale immediately. The restoration work has been postponed until July next year, and Les Mis is due to open as planned. Even Michael Ball’s fans will not be disappointed; his show will now take
place in October. (Eddie Gibb)
The List 20-26 August 1993 1