Oliver Lansley: My first Edinburgh Fringe

Founder of Les Enfants Terribles Theatre Company, Oliver Lansley, recalls his first experience of the Fringe

Oliver Lansley
Oliver Lansley

This year will be my 12th consecutive Edinburgh with Les Enfants Terribles as we return with last years 5-star show The Trench at the Pleasance as the culmination of its mammoth UK tour.

However it’s made me think of my very first Edinburgh as we are also up here with the birth of our brand new children’s theatre company ‘Les Petits Theatre’ premiering our first ever show Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs in the McEwan Hall.

Twelve years… that equates one whole year of my life at the festival!

I have many memories about that first daunting trip into the hurricane we know as the Ed fringe- many of which would be unsuitable to print here…

I was a naive 19 year old who had no idea how to produce a show and agreed to bring our re-imagining of Berkoff’s West up to the festival (complete with a cast of 12, a dance troupe, a jazz band and a giant glitterball)- we performed at the old George St. Assembly rooms and the man himself, the inimitable Mr Berkoff was performing his Requiem for Ground Zero in the theatre next door.

It was no coincidence our inaugural production was a Berkoff piece, he has always been a huge influence on me theatrically (the name Les Enfants Terribles was in fact inspired by his status as the enfant terrible of British theatre) and performing his work in the same theatre as him was a thrilling experience for my 19 year-old self. (I still have the photo of him with me and the cast from and impromptu photocall.)

Now here we are 12 years on and I am introducing another brand new theatre company to the world, and serendipitously Mr Berkoff is also returning to the fringe with An Actor’s Lament – and so once more I shall get to sit wide eyed watching the master perform, and hope that somewhere in our audience there will be other 19 year old, wet around theatre makers watching our work and thinking – ‘ that’s what I want to do!’

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs is at Underbelly Bristo Square, McEwan Hall until 26 August (except 22 August). Tickets 0844 545 8252 or