In Edinburgh, the “unexpected” return of the largest arts festival in the world

“The sky is blue above the High Street, savor The Scotsman. The coming weeks are going to be exciting.” The long wait is over, in Edinburgh. Three years later, the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, canceled in 2020 then organized at least in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, are making a comeback with great fanfare. “The kick-off was given on Friday August 5 with a great show at Murrayfield stadium”reports the daily newspaper of the Scottish capital.

Until the end of the month, a “huge” an orgy of theatre, stand-up, films (Edinburgh International Film Festival), literature (Edinburgh International Book Festival), dance and concerts are offered to spectators: more than 4,400 events, in total, including 3 430 just for the Edinburgh Fringe, originally thought of as an “off” festival but now considered on its own as the most important artistic event in the world. “The Fringe celebrates its 75th anniversary this year., adds The Daily Telegraph. For amateur troops who sometimes come from afar and for young actors, his late-night slots in small dilapidated rooms are great springboards, the promise of seeing his career take off. Monty Python’s Michael Palin, comedian Eddie Izzard, actor Ian McKellen (present this year in Hamlet by William Shakespeare) and the double Oscar winner Emma Thompson: all have walked the boards of the Fringe during their careers.

A very political festival

“That the festival retains this scale despite the undeniable impact of Brexit, Covid, the rising cost of living and the war in Ukraine is simply unexpected”resumes The Scotsman. This year, predicted The Guardianpolitics “will occupy a prominent place in the creations presented at the Fringe”. Between the resignation of Boris Johnson, the race for his succession and the repeated scandals in Westminster, “it must be said that the terrain is particularly favorable”. The future ex-Prime Minister “is also the subject of a play in its own right, Boris the Third, a satirical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III”.

Only downside: “even if theaters are reporting an explosion in sales in recent days”, ensures theEdinburgh Evening News, questions remain about attendance against a background of galloping inflation. At the same time, “Some 1,700 performers, embittered by rising house prices in Edinburgh and worried about ticketing revenue after two difficult years, wrote an open letter to organizers this week”, explain it FinancialTimes.

“The problem is that like a sort of cultural Ponzi scheme, the Fringe is counting on an ever-increasing increase in the number of spectators, alert the Scottish edition of The Times. The pandemic has put a stop to this constant expansion and it will be difficult to recover. Especially since a year of decline can quickly turn into a lasting weakening. Edinburgh, renowned for its vibrant cultural scene and which the festival brings in £1 billion each year, cannot afford this and must find solutions, including making accommodation and transport affordable again.”

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