2002 Edinburgh Fringe Launches This WeekendDate: 2 August 2002
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world's largest arts festival, officially opens this weekend in Scotland. Running from this Sunday 4 August to bank holiday Monday 26 August, the 2002 Fringe - the 56th annual event - features 619 companies presenting 20,342 performances of 1,491 shows in 183 venues over the four-week period.
This year's festival has already caused headlines because of the high number of shows dealing with the last year's World Trade Center disaster, which have angered survivors and the families of victims of the 11 September terrorist attacks. The Twin Towers Orphans Fund has issued a statement condemning such productions, saying it finds "any profiteering from the events of 9/11 extremely disturbing".
The most high-profile of the disaster productions is undoubtedly The Guys, journalist Anne Nelson's personal account of how she helped a fire chief compose eulogies for his dead colleagues. It will receive a staged reading at the Royal Lyceum Theatre care of Hollywood stars Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. An extra date, on 16 August, has now been added to meet overwhelming demand.
Elsewhere in Edinburgh, Project 9/11 relates seven personal accounts of living in New York City on the day of the disaster; Jumpers follows four New Yorkers coping with its aftermath; dance, poetry and music are used to examine the ramifications of the terrorism in Bodies in Crisis; as are physical theatre techniques in The Art of War; drag-star Tina C performs a biting satire on the media reaction in her Twin Towers Tribute; and media fairness and accuracy in the wake of the attacks also figure in Correspondent, The Critics and Safety.
One 9/11-related show that won't be going ahead is American political provocateur Michael Moore's first live one-man show, giving his own take on the events. Moore has pulled out his festival dates at the Assembly Rooms after his mother's sudden death.
Also dropped from the programme is the European premiere of New York comedy Fuddy Meers, starring Ally McBeal's Jane Krakowski. The show's Edinburgh season was cancelled when one of its US-based backers pulled out, but an autumn premiere at the West End's Arts Theatre has since been confirmed.
An eclectic mix of theatre as well as stand-up comedy, dance, music, opera, children's shows, visual arts and seminars, the Fringe has a strong reputation for discovering and nurturing new stage talent. Theatre, including musical and dance theatre, comprises 46% of the entire programme, making it the most popular art form of all.
More than half a million people plan their August holidays each year around a trip to Edinburgh. Though commonly seen as one single festival, the event is in reality several different festivals - the main ones being the original Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, the Military Tattoo, the Jazz Festival, the Film Festival and the Book Festival - of which the Fringe is, by far, the largest. The Edinburgh International Festival, parent to the Fringe, runs this year from 11 to 31 August.
- by Terri Paddock