In a foretaste of summer, the Edinburgh Festivals (Fringe and International) have now both confirmed their program of events for 2002. The Festivals are inextricably associated with August in the (theatregoing) public's mind and will be offering an even greater range of great plays and musicals this year.
The events of September 11, hard-hitting political satire and World Cup-inspired theatre are just some of the events in this year's festival line-up as art imitates life for Fringe 2002.
The 56th Edinburgh Festival Fringe (which runs from August 4-26, 2002) boasts 20,342 performances of 1,491 shows in 183 venues. From the powerful and poignant to the funny and frivolous, this year's line-up projects and dissects a year gone by, affirming the Fringe's position as a completely open platform for artistic debate and expression.
The attack on the World Trade Center resonates throughout the program. Project 9/11 relates seven personal accounts of living in N.Y.C. on the day of the tragedy, while Jumpers follows four New Yorkers coping with its aftermath. Dance, poetry and music are used to examine the attack's ramifications in Bodies in Crisis, as are physical theatre techniques in The Art of War. Most of the headlines will be reserved for political provocateur Michael Moore, however, who delivers his own take on the events in his first-ever, live one-man show; and drag-star Tina C, who performs a biting satire on the media reaction to the event in her Twin Towers Tribute. Appearances from Rory Bremner and Tony Benn, the return of America's premier political comic Will Durst, the secretly taped girl-talk between Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp in Snatches and Perrier-winning Rich Hall and Mike Wilmot's Pretzel Logic ensure that politics at home and abroad is also high up on the agenda.
Football and the World Cup are the inspiration for five Fringe shows this year: An Evening with Gary Lineker, The World Cup is Not Enough, My England, Owen O'Neill's My Son the Footballer and Theatrum Botanicum's outdoor spectacle The Boy with the Magic Feet
The Fringe is famous for promoting exciting young talent, and one of the plays on offer this year is Who's Harry?, a play with dance and music, written by Henry Fleet, directed by Pip Pickering and starring actor/singer/heart-throb Adam Rickett, last seen in the West End in Rent.
Commenting on the launch of the Program, Fringe Director Paul Gudgin said: "It's headlines that sell shows at the Fringe, but this year the headlines are the inspiration for many of the shows themselves. Supporting this strong news theme, however, is an exceptional program of homegrown and international performances, of which a quarter are world premieres."
Edinburgh International Festival
The International Festival's theatre program opens with a new play by Douglas Maxwell, performed by the Grid Iron Theatre Company. Variety chronicles the death throes of variety theatre in Scotland and is directed by Ben Harrison.
To complement this production, there is also the opportunity to see one of the great exponents of variety theatre, Johnny Beattie, as he recounts his lifetime of experience on the Scottish stage. Another Scottish playwright, David Harrower, has collaborated with leading Norwegian writer Jon Fosse on an English version of Fosse's new play The Girl on the Sofa. This receives its world premiere at the Festival, directed by the young German director Thomas Ostermeier with a cast of British actors.
One of the world's great theatre companies, the Vienna Burgtheater, returns with a production of Schiller's Maria Stuart directed by Andrea Breth. Ro Theater, the cutting-edge company from Rotterdam also returns to the Festival with Shakespeare's Macbeth directed by Alize Zandwijk. French Canadian theatre company Théâtre UBU presents a video-art installation of Maurice Maeterlinck's play The Blind, performed in English. Directed by Denis Marleau and subtitled "a technological phantasmagoria," the production uses groundbreaking theatrical and filmic techniques and is staged in a specially constructed space, backstage at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. Toulouse-based theatre company Théâtre Tattoo presents La Cuisine (The Kitchen) by Mladen Materic and Peter Handke, portraying beautifully observed snap shots of life, through highly choreographed movement and gesture.
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow