/ The Edinburgh Guide
Edinburgh — By Andy Hayes on August 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm
Filed under: featuredarticle, festival

Why is the Edinburgh Fringe called the Fringe?

Every year, someone asks me: why is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival called the Fringe?  Well, we have to go back to the start in 1947 to answer that question.  It’s a worthwhile trip in the past, as the festival certainly had a very interesting journey.


The Edinburgh Fringe makes its unofficial start, unnamed, by 7 theatre companies that show up at the International Festival.  Oh, did I mention they weren’t part of the International Festival?  They hoped to take advantage of the incoming crowds and dazzle them with their ‘alternative’ theatre.  The shows featured nudity and crass behaviour that was very unbecoming of the time.  It is said the underlying cause was to rally and entertain a post-war Britain.


The Fringe gets its current name after Robert Kent, a reporter for the Evening News, said “Round the fringe of official Festival drama…”


The University of Edinburgh sets up a drop-in centre to help coordinate and organise the continued growth and influx of performers.


The 19 companies that perform in the Fringe this year operate under the banner of the Festival Fringe Society, which was setup to provide a formal charter for the festival.  The two important aspects of this charter included the Fringe guide, which the society produced, and the charter also established that shows in future would never be censored or veto for topic.


The Festival Fringe Society buckled under continued growth.  In 1968 it became a more official, constitutional group and in 1970 established its first director.   In three years, a number of companies, including the Scotsman, would start to hand out awards for the best acts.


494 theatre companies perform in this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, making the Fringe now the largest arts festival in the world.  This would be confirmed again in 1996 by the Guinness Book of World Records.


With the launch of a computerised ticketing system, the Edinburgh Fringe becomes the first arts festival in the world to sell tickets across multiple venues in real time status.  The majority of the shows are comedy and theatre.  The number of talent scouts looking for new acts is nearly a thousand.


The Edinburgh Fringe remains the world’s largest arts festival.  Over 30k performances and more than 2k shows showing in over 250 venues.  That means a show is started every 41 seconds, every hour of the day, for the entire month of August. (Obviously shows don’t run all night long, so actually the number of shows on at one time is pretty incredible.)  37% of the shows this year are world premiers.

Photo by theedinburghblog.co.uk

Tags: featuredarticle, festival

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