The official 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme was launched today, inviting performers and audiences from across the globe to ‘leap into the unknown’ and embark on their very own Fringe adventure.
This year’s programme covers a wide range of themes and includes new venues, well-known names, upcoming talent, international work, and the 10th anniversary of the Made in Scotland showcase. With 3,548 shows covering theatre, dance, circus, physical theatre, comedy, music, musicals and opera, cabaret and variety, children’s shows, free shows, exhibitions, events and spoken word, there is something for all tastes and interests.
This year will also see the relaunch of the Virgin Money Street Events on the High Street and Mound Precinct, 20 years after the Fringe Society first took over responsibility for the area. Highlights include brand new, fully accessible stages, spectacular entrance archways, specially programmed showcases, and hundreds of brightly coloured pigeons, all designed to provide a more welcoming, high-quality introduction to the world of the Fringe.
Launching the 2018 Fringe Programme, Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said:
“This year we are encouraging everyone who comes to the Fringe to take a leap into the unknown. Whether this is your first or your 50th time visiting the Fringe as a performer or audience member, this is a place where new discoveries wait around every corner.
“Last year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Fringe, but we also used it as a time to reflect, question, recalibrate and look to the future. Alongside this year’s programme, the Fringe Society has produced a blueprint of ambitions that will guide our activities in the run-up to our 75th anniversary in 2022, to ensure the continued success of this amazing festival for everyone involved.
“The Fringe Blueprint identifies new approaches to ensure anyone can participate, regardless of their background. From driving down the cost of attendance to engaging young people in the arts and reaching out to underrepresented groups in Edinburgh and further afield, we want the Fringe to be the greatest festival on earth at which to perform, run a venue, develop a career, see shows and discover talent.
A plethora of well-known names from the world of film, TV and comedy appear in this year’s Fringe Programme. Fringe debuts come from Hi-de-Hi! star Su Pollard, who stars in solo show Harpy; the IT Crowd’s Katherine Parkinson brings her debut play Sitting by Katherine Parkinson to Edinburgh; and Jason Donovan addresses the triumphs and challenges of his career in a show featuring conversation and the occasional song.
Esther Rantzen takes to the stage with her daughter, journalist Rebecca Wilcox, to discuss highlights of her 50 years in showbusiness, while Maureen Lipman returns to the Fringe for the first time in 50 years to share stories from her film, theatre and TV career.
TV stars Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet, Downton Abbey) and Rebecca Johnson (The Trip) join forces for The Song of Lunch, a theatrical comedy about a couple’s disastrous attempt to rekindle lost love; actress Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street, Broadchurch) appears in The Greatest Play in the History of the World; author, actor and former MP Gyles Brandreth returns to the Fringe with a show celebrating all things theatrical; and Absolutely Fabulous’ Helen Lederer brings not one but two shows.
From the world of children’s entertainment, Once Seen on Blue Peter is a theatrical tribute to the world’s longest-running children’s TV show, starring former Blue Peter presenters Peter Purves, Janet Ellis, Peter Duncan, Mark Curry, Tim Vincent and surprise celebrity guests.
With a view to upcoming talent, Gigglemug Theatre presents its debut musical Timpson: The Musical, a theatrical look at the origins of the well-established cobblers; poet and performer Rosy Carrick makes her playwrighting debut with Passionate Machine, inspired by her favourite sci-fi movies; while three sisters try to overcome the issues that divide them in Hoard by Bim Adewunmi, the first play from Buzzfeed’s senior culture writer.
FRINGE FACTS 2018
- Total shows: 3,548
- Total venues: 317
- Performances: 56,796
- Countries represented: 55
- Genre breakdown: Cabaret and variety 6%, children’s shows 4%, comedy 35%, dance, circus and physical theatre 3%, events 2%, exhibitions 1%, music 14%, musicals and opera 4%, spoken word 4%, theatre 27%
- There are 697 free shows, 260 pay what you want shows, 1,937 premieres