Final thoughts on my first trip to the Edinburgh Fringe or lessons in diverse programming

In Edinburgh Festival, Features, Festivals, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Scotland by Rev StanLeave a Comment

Theatre is supposed to reflect society, challenge and change but how can it do that when its programming doesn’t fully embrace the full gamut of ethnicity, sexual orientation and balance of gender?

The Edinburgh Fringe: It was a blast, bonkers, a baptism, friendly, sometimes frantic and lots of fun. But all good things come to an end and since getting home I’ve had time to reflect on everything I’ve seen and experienced.

Fringe theatre has always felt like the true stomping ground for more varied and diverse programming and so it is with the Edinburgh Fringe – definitely less white and middle-class-centric. Audiences were more diverse in age-range too, no sitting in a predominantly middle-aged audience.

But where Edinburgh has a reasonably good offering of female-centric and LGBT theatre it has a dearth of BAME – something that was also reflected in those watching. One of my Edinburgh housemates and a Fringe regular, @ShakespeareanLK, commented on how white the Fringe still is and she’s right.

Two of my favourite plays were Queens of Sheba and The Fishermen (both won much-deserved Fringe awards). They were on my list to see because I crave diversity in narrative and story – I’m curious about the world at large, interested in different human experiences not just those of white people and white British people.

Theatre is supposed to reflect society, challenge and change but how can it do that when its programming doesn’t fully embrace the full gamut of ethnicity, sexual orientation and balance of gender?

I’m not talking about colour blind casting and gender swapping roles, I’m talking about the plays themselves, the stories, the themes, the context.

Does theatre truly reflect British society – gender, ethnicity, class etc. or is there hypocrisy at play?

On the big screen, there has been a swathe of blockbusters exploding the myth that female and black leads don’t sell cinema tickets. What is theatreland’s excuse?

One of the things I really loved about Edinburgh was its more varied programming but there is still plenty of room for improvement and London could learn some lessons too.

 

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Rev Stan
Revstan really is a reverend (it's amazing what you can buy on the internet) but not a man (the Stan bit is a long story). By day, she is a freelance editor and copywriter; at night, she escapes into the world of theatre and has been blogging about it at theatre.revstan.com since 2007. She says: “I'll watch pretty much anything, from something performed on a stage the size of a tea tray to the West End and beyond. The only exception is musicals. Tried 'em and they just don't do anything positive for me.”
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Rev Stan
Revstan really is a reverend (it's amazing what you can buy on the internet) but not a man (the Stan bit is a long story). By day, she is a freelance editor and copywriter; at night, she escapes into the world of theatre and has been blogging about it at theatre.revstan.com since 2007. She says: “I'll watch pretty much anything, from something performed on a stage the size of a tea tray to the West End and beyond. The only exception is musicals. Tried 'em and they just don't do anything positive for me.”