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Fringe Dispatches: Standing Still


Opinion

Ahead of the press previews, Ewan Spence is worried that the Fringe may not be able to deliver this year and he’s looking for some inspiration.

Image of Fringe Dispatches: Standing Still
Public Domain, by Tharnton45/Wikimedia

The flurry of PR pitches to the inbox has fallen to a mere rustle. Courier companies have dispatched a million flyers to the arts capital of the world. Performers have bundled their sunburnt bodies onto every off-peak train to Edinburgh. The Fringe is close.

Once more I look forward to August’s revelry with a mix of emotions.

Every Fringe starts with old names. Friends are a year older, careers have moved on, and some in the community are no longer with us. The Fringe is a time when those in the arts are forced to live on top of each other (in some cases literally on top of each other thanks to the delight of tenement accommodation). This first week is a heady mix of greetings, catching up, and putting your foot in it when you realise Facebook didn’t show you about that marriage proposal in Pret a Manger.

But the Fringe has to be more than that. A good Fringe needs to end not just with old names, but with new names. My Fringe lives on the promise of discovery, of strangers becoming new best friends (who will, in time, become the old friends), and of progress. The circle of life at The Fringe is one of renewal.

Actually, it’s more about the confidence that renewal will take place.

Am I confident that the time I spend at the Fringe will result in renewal, or will I be left with a sense of “seen everything before, seeing all the same faces, not feeling the rush?” For various reasons, my confidence has been knocked back this year, and I’m looking at the Fringe to remind me that renewal is not just possible, but is mandatory. Yet I look around Edinburgh, the ridiculously expensive posters are appearing, and all I see are old names. Old shows. Old pull quotes. Five stars.

Do I still have confidence in the Fringe?

As the adventure is about to begin again, I’m troubled that the answer is no longer “hell yes!”

NEXT FRINGE DISPATCH: In A Moment Like This