While the Edinburgh Fringe may initially conjure up images of the most promising comedy writers, off-the-wall performers and the zaniest of zany acts playing to raucous university students, the festival itself lays claim to the origins of a much more classic art.
As the birthplace of true fringe theatre in the 1940s, the Scottish capital has not only been the driving force behind such comedy geniuses as Rowan Atkinson, Steven Berkoff, Jo Brand, Billy Connolly, Ben Elton and Eddie Izzard, it has also been the creative playground of such dramatic giants as Alan Ayckbourn, Tom Stoppard and Derek Jacobi.
While Dubai has yet to establish its own fringeâ€“ though it may not be long â€“ there is a chance to catch some of the best acts from the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe here on tour in March, April and June. And a more diverse, highly acclaimed and original bunch of fringe masters you would be hard pushed to find.
Under the banner of â€˜Fringe@Fourâ€™ and taking centre stage at the stylish Warehouse Four venue in Umm Sequim, will be productions from KPS Productions, The Bathtub Heroine, David William Bryan and Francesca Moody Productions. The line up presents a scintillating spectrum of theatre from dark comedy and historical storytelling to otherworldly romance and sexploitation.
Itâ€™s a heady mix, but with reviews among them that include â€œsetting a new standard for the genreâ€ (Broadway Baby), â€œforce of a compelling narrativeâ€ (The Guardian), â€œachingly beautiful piece of theatreâ€ (British Theatre Guide) and â€œa fiercely intelligent writer and compelling actressâ€, the calibre of the acts is next to none.
While the fringe may have its roots in Edinburgh, the genre is now well established as a global phenomenon with some of the most popular festivals established in Edmonton, Alberta, Orlando, New Orleans and Boulder, with Londonâ€™s â€˜Off-West Endâ€™ attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors all year round. But itâ€™s the off-piste festivals that are gaining the most momentum, such as Japan and Prague, which started with a turnout of just 400 people in 2002 and in 2018 boasted more than 6,000.
Regarded by performers and critics alike as a combination of edgy adventure, innovation, experimentation, inclusion and freedom of expression, fringe theatre has never tried to compete with its mainstream counterpart. While it has been a rite of passage for many now household names, fringe also pays homage to some of the most famous names in literature such as Shakespeare, Samuel Becket and even Sophocles, although never in their original form but as a unique and often irreverent take on their works and their characters.
However you want to describe fringe, you canâ€™t pigeonhole it. Be stunned, be amazed be shocked, be provoked, or â€“ of course â€“ be driven to hysteria. It is a breeding ground for raw talent and by its very nature, its format is unformattable wherever you are in the world.
So while Dubai may not yet have its home grown fringe talent, this spring at Warehouse Four will give audiences a true flavour of indie theatre at its best.
Kurt Parry | Editor | eventnewsdxb
Click links below for more details on each show.
Ian Smith – Craft – Feb 27th (Stand-up comedy)
In Loyal Company – March 6th (Fringe theatre)
Angry Alan – April 5th & 6th (Fringe theatre)
And This Is My Friend Mr. Laurel – June 2019 (Fringe theatre)