The Festival may be absent from Edinburgh’s streets, but the show goes on, writes ANDY MOSELEY
The curtain has come down on the last remaining hope of a live Fringe show in Edinburgh this summer. Comedian Arthur Smith, who has performed at the Fringe almost every year since 1977, had been expected to keep a light shining for the otherwise abandoned event, but he said in a tweet that his planned walking tour “could not be certain to comply with Scottish health guidelines”.
However, not all festival activity has ceased. It just means you need to stay at home to find it.
The Fringe, Edinburgh International Festival and the International Book Festival have all moved online this year, and while the size of their programmes are a lot smaller, there are still plenty of performances worth checking out.
The 2020 events listings pages of the Reimagined 2020 Fringe have links to live streams and digital performances, available throughout the month, including 80 shows all written and produced during lockdown that make up The Space UKs 2020 programme.
As the big name artists are absent from the listings – apart from a rerun of a 2019 show from Marcel Lucont and the best bits of the Gilded Balloon’s long running So You Think You’re Funny and Late’n’Live, which may also have some well-known names – it’s an opportunity to dip your toes into the water and discover new shows, many of which will be at the fringe next year. One of these is Make-Up, a 15 minute short film adapted from a play of the same name that will now be on at Underbelly in 2021. As the writer of the play I can highly recommend it!
The other strands of the Reimagined Fringe are The AJ Bell Fringe on Friday and the Fringe Pick N Mix which is also sponsored by AJ Bell, the investment platform. Fringe on Friday is a 60-minute digital variety show that takes place each Friday. 9 is the key number to remember with shows starting at 9pm, 9 different acts on each week and tickets costing £9 each.
Pick’n’Mix, as the name suggests, will be a grab bag of sixty second clips submitted by anyone. In keeping with the spirit of the fringe, anything and everything goes, which means that quality is likely to be variable, but for every minute that seems to last forever, there may be moments of pure genius, making it very much like the Fringe in miniature.
If you’re looking for a more curated programme, the International Festival is the place to go. My Light Shines On forms the main part of its festival programme. Billed as an act of optimism and solidarity, it consists of nine specially commissioned performances covering opera, ballet, classical, dance, traditional and contemporary music as well as theatre.
Opening on 8 August with a specially commissioned one-hour film presented by Kirsty Wark, it continues until 28 August with shows available to watch on YouTube throughout the month. The film airs on our YouTube channel and Facebook Live. If you are in Edinburgh, look out of your window after dark to see the festival venue lights dance over the city.
Also worth a watch in the International programme is Declan which sees Keiran Hurley’s fantastic Mouthpiece play about class, culture and appropriation reimagined for the digital stage, and runs from 24 August. Using film footage, animation and audio, to allow the audience to see Edinburgh through the protagonist’s eyes, it promises to be compelling viewing whether or not you’ve seen the original production.
Finally, as with any August in Edinburgh, sometimes you may just want to escape from the theatre and find company in a book, in which case the Book Festival Online, which runs from 15 to 31 August should have what you’re looking for with over 900 events from more than 30 countries.
It may not be the city as we know it, but there’s still a lot of art and entertainment coming out of Edinburgh this month.
Full details at