Who on earth created the first fringe festival?
It’s an interesting question.
Last year my husband and I took the trip of a lifetime to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. One of our last stops was Edinburg, Scotland.
Here is a photo of the Edinburg castle.
(While we toured the castle, I had an encounter with a ghost in one of the jails cells, but that’s a post for another day….)
The popular Edinburg Fringe Festival was running, but unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to attend. I would have liked that. Had I know then what I know now about fringe festivals, I would have made it a point to attend some part of it.
So, I promised I would speak about the history of the Edinburg Fringe Festival.
The History of Edinburg Fringe Festival
“In 1947, eight theatre companies showed up at the Edinburgh International Festival, hoping to gain recognition from the mass gathering at the festival. In 1948, Robert Kemp, a Scottish journalist and playwright, described the situation, “Round the fringe of official Festival drama, there seems to be more private enterprise than before … I am afraid some of us are not going to be at home during the evenings!”. Edinburgh Festival Fringe was founded in 1947.”
According to the United States of Fringe Festivals:
- “Focused on the performing arts: At its core, Fringe gives a spotlight to theater, dance, puppetry, music, visual arts, and spoken word. Fringes don’t have a focus on one single discipline or genre, but are a performing-arts smörgåsbord
- Uncensored: From family friendly to bawdy and burlesque, Fringes do not curate or constrain the material or content used in participating show.
- Easy to participate in: Ticket prices are purposely low for audiences and production fees are low for artists. We strive to make the arts available to everyone. Show selection varies from festival to festival but is generally quite open to participation by the gamut of amateurs to professionals
- Festivals: Fringes around the world vary. They last from just a few days to a few weeks and involve lots of people at multiple venues.
- Original: Fringes feature a wide array of original material—sometimes by design, but usually because that’s what Fringes do naturally well.
- Rapid-fire: Typically, tech is minimal and time is a factor at our festivals. Shows are often kept brief (Fringes most frequently have shows right around 60 minutes in length) and technical requirements kept simple (minor sets, streamlined cues, nothing elaborate)
In the U.S., no one organization or individual owns, controls or regulates the name “Fringe”. There are no national rules for how each individual festivals operate; festival content, finances, and structure vary from city to city. Generally, all festivals are committed to an open forum of expression that minimizes the financial risks for both artists and audiences. Fringes work hard to keep production fees and ticket prices low so that more people can participate in our festivals.”
Doesn’t that sound like fun? People doing theatre just because they want to. People being creative and imaginative with other people doing the same thing.
I think you’d like to attend one. I have several former students who participate in them each year and they enjoy the freedom of creativity they feel.
Here is a life of a few places in the United States where fringe festival occur: