The 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme has been launched, featuring a diverse selection of work from the worlds of theatre, dance, circus, physical theatre, comedy, music, musicals and opera, cabaret and variety, children’s shows, spoken word, free shows, exhibitions and events.
This year’s Fringe features work from a record 63 countries, including 206 shows from mainland Europe. With themes ranging from climate change to true crime, space to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic identity, this year’s festival intends to tackle the most topical issues in the world today and bring together the best upcoming talent, well-known names, new venues and international work.
Launching the 2019 Fringe Programme, Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “The Fringe is a remarkable feat of engineering and human endeavour, and this year we are celebrating all the artists, writers, crew, staff, venue operators, audience members and more who come together to Make Your Fringe.
“This year’s festival will feature 744 shows from Edinburgh, 963 from Scotland and work from a record 63 countries, which collectively help make the Fringe the greatest celebration of arts and culture on the planet.”
This year’s Fringe Programme features a wealth of famous names from film, TV, comedy and beyond. TV and stage star Frances Barber performs in one woman show Musik, featuring original songs by the Pet Shop Boys; comedian and writer Kathy Burke directs #HonestAmy; and Game of Thrones’ Podrick, aka Scottish actor Daniel Portman, joins the cast of Square Go which returns to the Fringe this year.
BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist and writer Akala presents the spoken word show Akala – In Conversation – Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire.
Stars from the US appearing this year include author, actress and #MeToo activist Rose McGowan, who will combine memoir and music in her Fringe debut Planet 9. This year also marks first times at the Fringe for Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman; actor and writer Eric Andre; and Phoebe Robinson, the creator and star of podcast-turned-TV show 2 Dope Queens.
Criminal Minds star Kirsten Vangsness brings her play Fempire: Cleo, Theo & Wu and Scottish actress Gayle Rankin, who currently appears in hit US Netflix show Glow, is performing in dark comedy Four Woke Baes.
Making his first ever Fringe appearance is children’s TV icon Basil Brush. The famous fox puppet is starring in two shows: Basil Brush’s Family Fun Show and nightly adult chat show Basil Brush: Unleashed. Also hosting a chat show this year is actor and TV presenter Christopher Biggins in Late Lunch with Biggins. LBC broadcaster and CNN commentator Iain Dale brings his incisive insight on current affairs to the Fringe for the first time in Iain Dale: All Talk with special guests including Nicola Sturgeon, Sadiq Khan and Baroness Warsi.
Theatre PR turned playwright Anoushka Warden performs in her debut play My Mum’s a Twat about losing her mother to a cult. Splintered, the first play written and devised by rising theatre director Emily Aboud, celebrates being queer and Caribbean. Award-winning writer Jemima Foxtrot brings Cactus, a solo show featuring poems and songs exploring confessional art and modern life.
A variety of new venues will be opening their doors at this year’s Fringe. Zoo launches a new venue, Zoo Playground, at the High School Yards on Infirmary Street, whose historic former pupils include Sir Walter Scott. There’s Traverse at Edinburgh Sports Club in the West End and Pleasance has a new pop-up venue, The Greenhouse, located in the grounds of Dynamic Earth.
Gilded Balloon has two new venues – Patter Hoose, which showcases comedy, theatre, musicals and cabaret, and Old Tolbooth Market, which hosts a ‘Pay What You Want’ comedy and spoken word programme. C venues explores an entirely different sort of fringe at C at SESH Hairdressing in a site-specific theatre show. The performers behind theatre show Arthur are even creating their own venue, Your Home, asking audience members to open their doors and host the show.
The Made in Scotland programme – a collaboration between the Fringe Society, the Federation of Scottish Theatre, Scottish Music Centre and Creative Scotland – continues to showcase the best in homegrown dance, theatre and music, with 22 shows throughout August.
A fantastic starting point for any Fringe-goer, the Virgin Money Street Events on the High Street and Mound Precinct will bring together 250 free shows a day from the world’s greatest street performers for all the family to enjoy. Every Saturday shows on the West Parliament Square Stage will be fully BSL interpreted and, with dedicated wheelchair viewing spaces and sensory backpacks for visitors on the autism spectrum, the street will be more accessible than ever before this year.
FRINGE FACTS 2019
- Total shows: 3,841
- Total venues: 323
- Performances: 59,600
- Countries represented: 63
- International countries: 59
- There are 706 free shows, 404 Pay What You Want shows, 2,093 premieres
- There are 963 Scottish shows, with 744 of these shows coming from Edinburgh