News: Edinburgh Fringe Officially Launches 2018 Programme

The official 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme has been launched, inviting performers and audiences from across the globe to "leap into the unknown" and embark on their very own Fringe adventure.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018 runs from August 3 - 27. Details here.

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. Comedy is once again the largest section, boasting 1230 shows, 35% of the programme.

2018 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: “On behalf of the artists, producers and venues that make the Fringe happen, I am thrilled to reveal the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme. This year’s programme contains an eclectic mix of creative endeavour from across the globe that will move, challenge and, of course, entertain.

“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. There is no other festival in the world that offers such a broad or diverse range of cultural experiences. The Fringe is a festival that empowers its audiences to create their own adventure. We look forward to audiences and artists from around the world joining us to take a leap into the unknown at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: “The Fringe continues to innovate, inspire, challenge and delight audiences, providing Scottish artists the opportunity to showcase their work on a renowned platform to industry professionals from across the globe. It enables the international arts community to experience all that Edinburgh, our world-renowned festival city, has to offer."

EXPLORE THE 2018 FRINGE PROGRAMME 

VIRGIN MONEY STREET EVENTS

Street theatre has long been an important part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and 2018 marks the 20th year that the Fringe Society has managed the Virgin Money Street Events. To celebrate this milestone, the Society will be unveiling a new look street events arena on the Royal Mile, featuring new stages and performance areas, making space for an even wider range of Fringe shows and street theatre spectacles. 

With over 250 shows a day, there’s always something to see. Highlights include the West Parliament Square Spectacular, which takes place most days at 13:15 and 20:15, featuring some of the biggest and brightest shows at the Fringe, and Fringe Sunday Comedy on the Mercat Stage, every Sunday at 13:00. From 10 to 12 August, Let’s Circus will bring their aerial rig to the High Street to host some of the Fringe’s best aerial performers, and The Big Street Showcase will take place on West Parliament Square at 13:15 on 19 August.

The redevelopment will also make the Virgin Money Street Events more accessible than ever before, with dedicated viewing areas for those with access needs, BSL interpreted performances, fully accessible stages and sensory backpacks available for children and adults on the autism spectrum.  

VENUES

New and unusual venues and spaces across Edinburgh feature in this year’s programme. Fireside on East Market Street will host shows in their four grand arches for the first time, while close by Cranston Caravan Club offers a mix of performances and exhibitions in a repurposed 1960s caravan. Theatre Bath Bus will park up on the Meadows with a programme of shows from Zenith Youth Theatre in their intimate, wheel-based auditorium. Heroes @ The SpiegelYurt is a new cabaret venue located at Potterow Underpass, and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh - Pyrus Lawn is home to Pianodrome, a unique venue made entirely from 55 recycled pianos that will host a programme of community-based events.

Sweet Venues launch Sweet Novotel on Lauriston Place, while the French Institute presents its Vive le Fringe! programme in its new premises on West Parliament Square. Pleasance Pop-Up: Power Play HQ on Broughton Street hostsan immersive, site-specific showcase, featuring four plays written by and predominantly starring women, staged within the rooms of a house. User Not Found (p.398) takes place in Traverse at Jeelie Piece Café on Leven Street, while the Crags Community Sports Centre will be transformed into Assembly High for a one off 1950s-themed event, Max and Ivan’s Prom Night (p.142).

Historic and brand-new Edinburgh watering holes will host Fringe shows this year, including the iconic Waverley Bar on St Mary’s Street, famous for its association with Billy Connolly, and BrewDog Lothian Rd, that will run PBH’s Free Fringe shows everyday in the former Clydesdale Bank building. Leith Dockers Club is a Fringe venue for the first time, with historical drama Dancing With Mrs Murphy (p.323), and Laughing Horse @ The World's Smallest Fringe Venue occupies a city centre-based chicken coop for The World’s Smallest Comedy Show (p.194).

FAMOUS FACES

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 (Underbelly, p.343), the story of a hoarder’s quest to find something stolen from her a long time ago; the IT Crowd’s Katherine Parkinson brings her debut play Sitting by Katherine Parkinson (p.385) to Gilded Balloon; and Jason Donovan (Assembly, p.21) addresses the triumphs and challenges of his career in a show featuring conversation and the occasional song.

Broadcasting legend Esther Rantzen (Gilded Balloon, p.19) takes to the stage with her daughter, journalist Rebecca Wilcox, to discuss highlights of her 50 years in show business, while Maureen Lipman (Assembly, p.25) returns to the Fringe for the first time in 50 years to share stories from her illustrious 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 (Pleasance, p.386), 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... (Traverse, p.342); author, actor and former MP Gyles Brandreth (Pleasance, p.110) returns to the Fringe with a show celebrating all things theatrical; and Absolutely Fabulous’ Helen Lederer brings not one but two shows with Helen Lederer Asks Why The Fuss? (Laughing Horse @ The Pear Tree, p.112) and Helen Lederer: I Might as Well Say It (Underbelly, p.112).

Big names returning to the Fringe from the world of comedy include Rory Bremner and Jan Ravens (Underbelly, p.164), Jack Docherty (Gilded Balloon, p.119), making his first appearance for 25 years, and Lee Ridley, winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2018, who brings Lost Voice Guy: Inspiration Porn (p.136) to Gilded Balloon. Fringe anniversaries include Reginald D. Hunter (Pleasance, p.161) and Craig Hill (Pleasance, p.88), who both celebrate their 20th year at the Fringe, while Jimeoin (Pleasance, p.123) and Vladimir McTavish (The Stand, p.187) celebrate a remarkable 25 years at the festival.

Comedy stars crossing the pond this year include American comedian and actress Janeane Garofalo (Gilded Balloon, p.120), 30 Rock actor Judah Friedlander (Gilded Balloon, p.126), and comedian Myq Kaplan (Underbelly, p.145). And from India, renowned writer and comedian Anuvab Pal (p.67) makes his Fringe debut at Pleasance.

From the world of children’s entertainment, Once Seen on Blue Peter (Assembly, p.367) 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. Comedy double act Dick and Dom (Underbelly, p.39) make their Fringe debut with an interactive show featuring games, song and mess, and the UK’s bestselling children’s author Julia Donaldson (p.43) brings some of her favourite characters to life through songs and puppetry at Underbelly, George Square.

UPCOMING TALENT

Performers taking their first steps into the unknown at the Fringe this year include duo Bread and Geller: Prime Time (p.79), who bring their debut hour of character comedy, observational sketch and musical parody to Just the Tonic at The Caves. In Hal Branson: Mbolo (Just the Tonic, p.110), Hal shares his story of taking a trip to Uganda to overcome his marijuana habit. Sindhu Vee: Sandhog (Pleasance, p.173) is the highly anticipated debut show from the host of BBC Radio 4's Comedy of the Week podcast, while in Catherine Bohart: Immaculate (Pleasance, p.82), the rising comedy star discusses the pros and cons of being the bisexual, OCD daughter of an Irish-Catholic deacon. In The Homesick Submarine Broadcasting Company (The Stand, p.113), comedian John Whale and musician Kieran Rafferty ditch dry land in favour of a life under the sea, producing pirate radio.

Gigglemug Theatre present their debut musical Timpson: The Musical (C venues, p.288), a theatrical look at the origins of the well-established cobblers; poet and performer Rosy Carrick makes her playwrighting debut with Passionate Machine (Zoo, p.372), inspired by her favourite sci-fi movies; while three sisters try to overcome the issues that divide them in Hoard by Bim Adewunmi (Underbelly, p.344), the first play from Buzzfeed’s senior culture writer. 

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