There will be a third more overseas countries represented at this year’s Fringe, the strongest ever international flavour for the summer event.
They will come together under a marketing campaign slogan “Alliance of Defiance” which will position the Fringe as free of any censorship.
It has been inspired by the Fringe’s origin in 1947 when eight groups arrived that year hoping to perform at the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival but were refused entry. Rather than being discouraged from performing, they went ahead and performed on the fringe of the Festival anyway and so the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was born.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of these eight groups’ defiance and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is now the largest arts festival in the world.
There will a recognition of this in this year’s programme which features real-life stories such as Britain’s withdrawal from the EU and the Syrian conflict.
There are a record number of shows and performances are in this year’s programme, following a dip in 2016, and the event will be staged across 300 venues for only the second time in its history.
New figures revealed that the Fringe had grown in scale by almost two thirds in the space of just ten years, with 3,398 productions in the new programme, compared with 2,050 a decade ago.
Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the event’s governing body, said the Fringe would give a voice to those artists who wish to send a message that they will not succumb to attacks like the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena.
Among the 62 countries represented this year are Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Syria which have all suffered from conflict in recent times.
Codebase, the tech incubator, is to become a Fringe venue. A futuristic show will use virtual reality headsets to transport audiences to the depths of the Great Barrier Reef. The Traverse Theatre is joining forces with the facility near the castle to help stage one of its world premieres.
Theatre company Curious Directive is creating the multi-sensory show Frogman, which has been three years in the making, but will be performed to an audience of just 30 at a time.
It combines live theatre with 360 degree film and has involved underwater shoots in Australia and Indonesia. It will feature more than 30 actors, although just one will appear on stage at at Codebase.
Marine biologists and scientists have acted as advisors on the show, which looks at the ongoing damage being done to coral reefs.
Orla O’Loughlin, artistic director at the Traverse, said: “Frogman is a ground-breaking, world-first theatre experience experienced through VR headsets.”
There has been an increase in the number of venues outside the city centre. Nine are in the Leith area. Among the out-of-town venues are Inveresk Lodge and Musselburgh Racecourse in East Lothian, Dalkeith Country Park in Midlothian and Traquair House in the Borders.
The former Charlotte Baptist Chapel on Rose Street is currently being converted to become Gilded Balloon’s first Fringe venue in the New Town.
It has a 110-capacity basement and 300-capacity main auditorium.
Gilded Balloon staged comedy, music and poetry shows throughout the year at its home in the Cowgate before it was destroyed by fire in 2002.
An ongoing £1.8 million revamp of the “Rose Theatre” is being led by dancer, director and choreographer Peter Schaufuss, a previous artistic director of both English National Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet. He also recently bought the former St Stephen’s Church in Stockbridge from the games developer Leslie Benzies.