Fringe Festivals

The term ‘Fringe’ I’ve heard thrown around in the past but I’ve never really known what it is. It wasn’t until discussions with Cameryn during ‘Phone Whore’ that I started to actively engage with what they are. Fringe Theatre relates to experimental style and subject matter, ‘Phone Whore’ fitted into this category perfectly and will be making appearances at various Fringe Festivals across the country.

PHOTOGRAPH FREE TO USE FOR FIRST USE. Edinburgh street artists perform in Edinburgh on the last weekend of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2009.  This year saw a record number of acts perform representing the best dance, theatre and comedy.

The term ‘Fringe’ in the UK is often associated with small scale theatres and ones located above pubs such as the Alma. As Bristol is a greater promoter of unique talent the city itself is almost a giant host from fringe theatre. Ranging from small scale venues such as the Alma to larger ones that continue to support experimental pieces such as the Tobacco Factory.

As with any art you can find festivals across the country throughout the year with the sole purpose of highlighting and promoting the industry. I’ve had experience with film festivals (Afrika Eye, RATMA, etc) so I would be under the impression the way they operate are similar. One notable festival I’ve heard mentioned a lot in these conversations is ‘The Edinburgh Festival Fringe’.


It’s the largest arts festival in the world, last year the event spanned 25 days, featuring over 3,193 shows from 51 countries in 299 venues. The website promotes various ways to get involved, primarily looking for performance companies or venues to show their support. The Edinburgh Fringe supports three key objectives:

  • Provide support, advice and encourage to all the amazing artists, producers and venues who create the Fringe each year.
  • Assist the audience who come to Edinburgh by helping you navigate what’s on offer with comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Promote this wonderful and unique festival to the rest of the world.

Thinking about fringe theatre in relation to my role as a lighting designer it doesn’t change my approach hugely. If anything it encourages me to be more aware of the smaller venues across the city. Technically I get the impression they are focused on performance. The fact they are something a little bit different is something the sparks my interest, I will just need to keep my eyes peeled for these smaller performance spaces.

Further Reading:


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