The Fringe Festival has been in existence for just as long as the Edinburgh Festival suitable. Each inceptions are inextricably knitted together and began life bound up way back in 1947. Our story begins when what can only sufficiently be described as a mob of eight theatre companies turned up uninvited to the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival. Taking advantage of the massive crowds pulled in by the official festivities, these rogue gatecrashers bolstered their way in with one grisly intent: to showcase their option and edgier drama to the unassuming masses.
The following year Scottish playwright and journalist Robert Kemp covered the festival. In his report he described how “Round the fringe of the official Festival drama, there appears to be far more private enterprise than just before… I am afraid some of us are not going to be at property throughout the evenings!” Coverage like that was clearly something too enticing to be passed up and Kemp’s description was taken on by the businesses. From this point on the ramshackle bunch of illegitimate performers were banded together, drawn in by one particular report and provided a name. They have been no longer the shabby, uninvited problems makers at the celebration they were ‘The Fringe’.
In the course of the 1950s and 60s the reputation of the Fringe element of the Festival underwent somewhat of, properly if not a boom, than a definite and distinctive blossoming. In the twenty years from 1959-1989 performance businesses at the Fringe expanded from just 19 to 494. Given that the 90s the reputation of the Fringe has merely exploded. Last year it is estimated that 1,697,293 tickets have been sold to Fringe sector productions alone.
And there, it would look, is the rub. How can you evaluate the handful of studenty productions that kicked about the first years of the Edinburgh Fringe to the million promoting shows of right now? Frankly, in very a literal sense, the Edinburgh Fringe has sold out. It has sold out because it has had small selection to do otherwise.
The reputation of the festival is not just the only threat to the Fringe’s identity though. For the past twenty years detractors have commented on the slow invasion of stand-up comedy. In truth, The Stage reported on the 5th June that this year will see the initial time that comedy shows will out quantity any other genres. It stated that there will be 668 comedy shows in 2008, a whopping 32% of the total. What is a lot more, where as the Fringe has extended been related with rising talent, many have criticised the current move of established names putting on massive shows at the festival. Ricky Gervais charging more than 30 GBP for a ticket to his stand-up show amassed a lot of damaging interest just before it was announced that all proceeds had been being donated to Cancer Study.
So, as many have asked, how has this been permitted to come about? How has this pretty bohemian rebellion been turned into a playground for the stargazers and the super wealthy? Properly, the answer, as is so often the case, is embedded in the very seed of the issue itself. If we peer back via the history of the Fringe, through the good results, the smoke and the mirrors to the grimy digs of its origin, we come to its hazy vague manifesto… or lack thereof. In 1959 a constitution was drawn up in which the policy of neither vetting nor censoring shows was established. From that point forward the principles have reached, nicely their logical conclusion.
When questioned about the influx of comic acts existing director of the Fringe Jon Morgan exclaimed fairly plainly “The fringe is an open access festival”. In impact, it is open to every person who desires to perform and it usually has been. The encounter of the Fringe may possibly be quite diverse now to the one in the 40s and 50s, but the underlying principles that produced what ever ‘golden’ era of the festival you care to remember are the same that now pull huge brash names and bigger and brasher crowds. To claim that it really is lost its integrity, artistic or otherwise, is pointless simply because, by style, it never had any.
The only way to revert to the bygone bohemian age, if that is genuinely attainable or certainly what anyone wants, is to move on to pastures, areas and performers new. Experimental drama need not be tied to any time or place, by its nature it must be free, unfettered and malleable.
Nonetheless, if you simply want to sample the distinct magic of the Edinburgh Fringe then you will just have to appear a tiny tougher. Ignore the hype, and the crowds, and the press, and the celebrity, and the hangers-on, and seek that which actually interests you.
With such diversity and range bursting from each and every venue, the contemporary Fringe must have some thing to suit your taste. Seek, it appears, and so you shall locate.