The annual extravaganza that is the The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is over for another year. The 2012 event took place between 3 and 27 August, featuring theatre, comedy, music, cabaret, spoken word, opera and dance, with street events supported by Virgin Money for the second year. We were there to capture it all so read on to get a flavour of the event. If you didn’t make it during 2012, hopefully we can entice you along next year.
One of the 814 free shows at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe was Austentatious, an improvised comedy play based on the novels of the quintessentially English Jane Austen – complete with a live cellist.
Presented by London’s The Milk Monitors, many of whom met in the well known improvised comedy troupe the Oxford Imps, this group of six 20-and-30-somethings are determined to help establish long-form improvisation, already popular in the USA and Canada, in the UK. And the Fringe allows them the perfect showcase.
Almost as soon as the cast disrobed from their period dress, some found themselves dashing off to appear in other shows. But some managed to spare a moment to chat to My Virgin Money magazine about what the Edinburgh Fringe means to them.
The group’s award-winning Mr Darcy during the day’s hour-long production, Cariad Lloyd said: “Long-form improv is a growing art in the UK and the Fringe gives us a real opportunity to show what we do on a much bigger scale, get more people to see it and just get our ideas out there.
“We get such a positive reaction when people hear about us and they get so excited, because it’s Jane Austen in full costume with a cello playing. We’ve seen audiences queuing out the door every day, which has been lovely.
“And the beauty of improv is we’ve had a lot of people come again. They’re really surprised because they’re seeing something slightly different each time because it really is all improvised.”
Being part of the free Fringe also meant the cast could help raise money by asking audience member’s for donations to, Waverley Care, which supports those living with HIV and Hepatitis C.
Amy Cooke-Hodgson said: “We’ve been so blessed with how well we’ve done this year at the Fringe and doing a fundraising show has been our way of trying to give back to the local community.”
The Fringe is also an accessible way of helping you get started in theatre and comedy as there are so many shows to choose from. Amy added: “The Edinburgh Fringe was a really big deal for me. Not only should you join societies which give you the opportunity to gain experience but you should go and see as much as you can at events like the Fringe. I was really anxious and nervous when I first joined the Oxford Imps but being part of improv is really exhilarating and liberating.
Graham Dickson, who played Lydia Bennett in the performance, said: “And it’s such a good skill to have whether you want to work in acting or comedy.”
Cariad added: “It’s also the most accepting and supportive community you can imagine.”
Virgin Money was also proud to support The Fringe Comedy Academy Class of 2012, which in the great tradition of the Fringe was all about unearthing new talent.
Open to aspiring comedians aged 18 to 25 with an Edinburgh postcode, Comedy Academy classes were led by experienced working comics and supported graduate comedians who performed at the Stand Comedy Club during the festival season.
Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Kath M Mainland said: “One of the aims of the Festival Fringe Society is to try and provide all of our participants with opportunities for professional development.
“By providing advice from agents, bookers and other comedy industry types alongside the tutelage from comedians, the Fringe Academy could make a huge difference to a young comic’s career. Thanks to generous support from our partners, the course is absolutely free.”
Andrew Nicholson of Virgin Money added: “The Comedy Academy is in its second year and Virgin Money has been proud to sponsor this grass-roots initiative. The Academy gives young people who want to make a career out of comedy the chance to hone their talent and work with professionals.
“The Edinburgh Fringe has been the launch pad of many famous stars and who knows, among the recent graduates we may have the next John Bishop or Sarah Millican.”
With breathtaking pyrotechnics and a magnificent historical backdrop, the conclusion to this year’s Edinburgh’s summer festival season was a feast of patriotism and pageantry.
Edinburgh’s iconic castle provided an ideal setting as the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, together with international fireworks artists Pyrovision, captured the capital’s passion.
To mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year and with a nod to the festival’s Shakespearean elements, Walton’s noble Orb and Sceptre march was followed by Vaughan Williams’s glowing pastoral evocation of Greensleeves.
Romance came in the form of Prokofiev’s ballet score for Romeo and Juliet – a highlight for fans of the BBC’s The Apprentice. And the concert’s triumphant conclusion was Walton’s music from 1944’s great Laurence Olivier classic, Henry V.
The Virgin Money Half Price Hut at the Mound Precinct, where thousands of bargain tickets were available every day during the Festival.
The Virgin Money Fireworks Concert was a spectacular finale to the Festival, set against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Photographer – Rob McDougall
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