A preview of the forthcoming Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017, including a selection of Disability Arts International's picks from the programme, a brief discussion of the access features on offer at this year's festival and information about the British Council's Edinburgh Showcase.
It’s a huge year for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as it celebrates its 70th anniversary. Since its inception, Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been about embracing work made from the margins. Work that challenges or gives an unusual perspective doesn’t just have a place, its positively encouraged. Increasingly, it has been the staging ground for some of the most successful productions made by disabled artists or inclusive companies. As ever, there’s a vast and varied selection of work to choose from. To make things easier we’ve produced this short film with some of our top picks for this year:
PLEASE NOTE: Since this article and film were published Liz Carr's Assisted Suicide the Musical run at the Fringe has been cancelled.
There were so many shows for which we couldn’t find room in the film. Others to watch out for include:
Paul Wady, Guerrilla Aspies and Stealth Aspies - Aspies refers to Aspergers Syndrome, which Wady was diagnosed with in his early 40s. Guerilla Aspies is a manual for how to infiltrate neurotypical society as a neurodiverse person, in quirky powerpoint presentation format. His new show, Stealth Aspies is likely to be just as riotous.
China Plate, Rachel Bagshaw and Chris Thorpe, The Shape of the Pain - This piece explores the experience of living with chronic pain. Words and an original sound score combine to create an explosive dialogue about love and perception. Performances are captioned and audio-described.
Viv Gordon, PreScribed (A Life Written for Me) – Using dance and verbatim text, Gordon’s emotive show is informed by research undertaken at the University of Bristol on GPs with mental health issues.
Yolanda Mercy and Gemma Lloyd, Quarter Life Crisis – Young theatre-maker Yolanda Mercy is full of promise, this show explores adulthood and the aimlessness many people experience in their mid-20s through comedy, spoken word and audience participation.
Georgie Morrell, The Morrell High Ground – Visually impaired stand up Georgie Morrell had audiences in stitches for her debut A Poke in the Eye. Expect a hilarious confessional with measured jibes at sighted society.
Disability History Scotland, Bella Freak: Unwritten – Tells the poignant but often comical true life stories of three disabled people weaving them together with significant events in Scotland’s history.
Clumsy Bodies, Iphigenia Crash Land Falls on the Neon Shell That Was Once Her Heart - An adaptation of Iphigenia in Aulis. This multimedia tragedy uses projected videos, such as a modern-day news anchor to co-narrate the piece. Originally written by Caridad Svich, this production by Clumsy Bodies features two queer performers, one D/deaf, the other disabled.
Accessibility at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017
Set in the historic city of Edinburgh, accessibility has never been easy to get right at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has been working with accessibility experts Attitude is Everything to improve what is on offer.
Lyndsey McLean, Community Engagement and Access Manager, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society explains:
“The city of Edinburgh is one of the Fringe’s biggest assets but also presents one of its biggest challenges, its medieval and Georgian architecture create an immediate physical barrier, which in many cases cannot be altered. The open access nature of the Fringe means that participants and venues have complete control over their performances and venue spaces. We want to make sure the Fringe is as accessible and inclusive as it can be and we encourage participants to include accessible performances where possible to ensure that their shows reach as wide an audience as possible.
This year, we are piloting a Venue Access Award, which was developed in partnership with the charity Attitude is Everything. This provides venue managers with a minimum standard of accessibility to aim for and offers different levels of achievement. Audiences should start to see venues displaying Venue Access Award certificates this year.
We will also be offering a mobile changing place for Fringe audiences, from disability charity PAMIS. This is a Mobiloo, the world's first attended, mobile toilet and changing facility for disabled people who can't use a standard accessible loo. Details on exactly where it will be parked will be announced before the Fringe starts.”
Details of individual accessible performances are available below:
Signed performances (PDF download)
Relaxed performances (PDF download)
Audio-described performances (PDF download)
Captioned performances (PDF download)
Additionally, ‘Breaking Down Barriers’ is collection of events addressing access. It is part of The Fringe Central Events Programme, a series of professional development events for Fringe participants. The programme aims to develop skills, expand perceptions, build networks, advance careers and aid in the health and well-being of all those taking part in the Fringe. Breaking Down Barriers includes the following events:
The British Council’s Edinburgh Showcase turns 20
The British Council’s biennial Edinburgh Showcase offers a platform for a selection of some of the best British contemporary theatre at the Fringe. It aims to highlight the true diversity of British performing arts to international promoters. In its 20-year history, the Edinburgh Showcase has supported 350 theatre and dance companies to tour overseas. Disability-related work is a regular feature, and this year there are three such productions: Liz Carr’s Assisted Suicide the Musical, Touretteshero’s Not I and Frozen Light’s Home. Below are videos commissioned by the British Council on each of those shows.
We hope to see you at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe!