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Boundless Blog: Edinburgh Vibes

by Pablo Romero
Robert Awosusi 20 August 2018

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So Boundless is heading up to the Edinburgh Fringe with Tom Wells’ and Matthew Robins’ latest show Drip which is a co-production with Script Club.  Somehow I managed to convince them to let me tag along with them. So to pay my way I’m back at it again with the blogs! Having not been to the Fringe in a long time I’m keen to share my thoughts about the festival and what I’m looking forward to up there.

A bit about me in case you haven’t heard of me (which is a shock): I’m a freelance theatre director/ writer based in London, with a taste for the unconventional. I’m also part of the Boundless Advisory Group, a collection of young people involved in the arts and beyond who work closely with the company, having conversations and giving feedback on culture, new work the company is interested in, as well as developing the artistic vision of the organisation.

by Julian Bruton

Photo Credit: Julian Bruton

I must admit I’m pretty excited for the Fringe. This will be the first time I’ve been in Edinburgh since 2015 and the first where I’m not working directly on a show or for a venue. For once I might have a chance to catch the shows I actually want to see and absorb the last of those sweet Edinburgh vibes. I’m also trying to fight off the massive FOMO that’s been prodding at me since July 30th. Have I missed all the gossip and shade? Will everyone be so exhausted that I’d be better off waiting for them all to come back and putting up with the constant “Like, you just had to be there to understand”? I guess we’ll find out. Excited as I am however, looking back on my previous experiences in Edinburgh it’s been a bit of a mixed bag.  Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival on the planet but as a result of that is also a beacon of so much that is wrong across theatre and arts today. Issues such as representation across racial and class lines, rampant financial exploitation that many participants deal with and the effect the festival has on the local community, much of which I’ve experienced myself first hand, are all big issues that need to be addressed further.

But there’s hope! From what I hear I feel like I’m seeing changes to the festival that are long overdue. More than ever before I’m seeing more work by people of colour being championed on the stages of the big venues. All over the guide I’m finally seeing and trying to book in for shows that I feel connected to. Conversations and steps towards better accessibility for deaf and disabled participants and audiences, such as the sensory backpacks they give out at Fringe central for Neurodivergent audiences and the increasing amount of venues providing captioned performances and hearing loops. More companies are taking to take the initiative to support artists trying to take work up the fringe, such as Pleasance’ Charlie Hartill Bursary and The New Diorama’s Untapped in collaboration with Underbelly.  Perhaps there is a disruption taking place?  Perhaps Edinburgh in August is starting to shift and become an artistic landscape available to more of us.  Surely then that’s only going to make better art.  I’m feeling optimistic but know that there’s still a long way to go.

For me personally I’m keen to see Queens of Sheba, The Fishermen, F**k You Pay Me, One Life Stand, White, Busking It, The Breakfast Plays: Youthquake, to name a few. I’ll also be at the Artists of Colour Meetup at Fringe Central if any of my fellow AOC want to come. If you do have any recommendations for the last week of the fringe, primarily made for or by young people, especially if it’s about POC or marginalised groups let us know! I want to see some theatre that might actually have a shot at changing the world! I’ll let you know how I get on and will write all of that up for a future Ideas post so stay tuned for when I tell you about what actually happened up there!

@afroteddyrob