World's Largest Arts Festival Opens SundayDate: 6 August 1999
The world's largest arts festival, now in its 52nd year, opens this weekend in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe officially kicks off on Sunday - though many shows will be beginning their runs on Saturday 7 August - with a programme featuring 14,562 performers from 607 companies producing 1,346 shows from around the globe.
Famous as a showcase for controversy, this year looks set to carry on the Fringe tradition. One show which has already made headlines in the United States is Corpus Christi, also known as the 'gay Jesus play', by Pulitzer prize-winning American playwright Terence McNally, in which both Jesus and Judas are overtly gay and the action is split between biblical times and today's small Texas town of the title. When Corpus Christi opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York last year, outraged Christian groups picketed and held prayer vigils outside the theatre.
Other productions likely to create a stir include Macbeth - The Director's Cut in which the Scottish general and his wife are modelled on mass murderers Fred and Rosemary West and the set is designed to look like their home at 25 Cromwell Street in Gloucester; How to Make a Human Being, which explores the issue of human cloning and the future of 'designer babies'; and the first Fringe performance of Fanny Hill, the banned 18th century classic examining the decadence of Hogarth's London.
Millennial fever won't be ignored as subject matter either. The numerous productions tackling it include Dream.2000, a game show taking place in the last 60 minutes of 1999, and It's Not the End of the World, a new play about Nostradamus.
For the second year, the Edinburgh Fringe, which continues until 30 August, begins a week earlier than its more austere parent, the Edinburgh International Festival. The EIF opens 15 August and continues until 4 September. For further information on the Edinburgh Fringe, visit Whatsonstage.com's special Edinburgh section.