Today is the last day of Scotland’s biggest show: The Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
This is the Fringe that started them all… Back in 1947, eight rebel theatre companies gathered along the fringes of the establishment arts festival (The Edinburgh International Festival) and set up shop. Over 60 years later, and the “Fringe” has eclipsed the establishment. Not bad for a bunch of scrappy artists.
There is a great article in the Economist magazine on the Fringe this year. Of course our friends at the Economist are crusty, capitalist bastards…so the commentary is quite amusing. My favorite excerpt:
UNLIKE every other theatre festival in the world, the Edinburgh Fringe completely takes over its host city. In an age when theatre has been pushed to the periphery of the culture, itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s jarring to see actors rehearsing Brecht in line for morning coffee, flocks of school-age drama students singing Stephen Sondheim in a back alley and most strikingly, marketing departmentsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âusually comprised of actors in the shows being marketedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âabsolutely everywhere.
Now that’s exactly what we are talking about with Hollywood Fringe. Taking the ordinary and sticking it on its head. Our goal is to turn Hollywood into an unprecedented artistic freak show. Not just to interrupt the blandness of ordinary life, but to excite, offend, and inspire those on the periphery of the art world to join its core.
There is some interesting commentary in there on the question of a “juried” festival … one that we have been wrestling with. How to put up a festival that allows for some form of artistic integrity check without betraying the spirit of fringe. We, of course, are moving in a third direction: Rather than allowing a small group of high-minded critics to choose the festival’s content, we at Hollywood Fringe leave that decision to the community itself.
What’s exciting about Fringe is the wonderful discoveries that emerge from it. And not just the artists are being discovered! If history is any judge, Fringe audience members are easily converted to theatre-going patrons who continue to spend their cash on shows after the festival has closed its doors.
Discovering new artists, discovering new audience. That’s what fringe is about…filling-in the artistic cracks that the mainstream leaves behind.
Here’s the Edinburgh Fringe Festival website.