Visual art and theatre alternatives at the Edinburgh Festival

by Jules on August 22, 2012

What to see, eat and drink if you’re tired of theatre at the Fringe.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe is upon us, and after a week of comedy, theatre, stand-up, musicals, dance drama, monologues and much more, performers and audiences alike have already had a taste of many things to come.

Theatre at the Fringe is obviously the order of the day, but Edinburgh as a city – and the whole Festival as a program – has plenty to offer those who are beginning to tire of the red curtain. This year is characterized by a more outdoors approach to festival encounters – particularly in the name of visual art.

Primarily a space for performers, Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals have not often been praised for their promotion of visual and installation art. In many ways, the nature of the festival is far more traditional and a little troubadour – anyone can pack up, pitch up (as long as they pay the entry fee) and put on a show, usually using their wit and words to draw attention.

The same principal seems to apply on the Royal Mile where touts and actors sell their shows as best they can, competing with cries and acted scenes to get the attention of a willing – if sometimes dazed – audience. With so many spaces jam-packed, then, it’s a surprise, but a welcome one, that the Fringe is making space for some quite serious art installations and events this summer.

Using perhaps the largest and most ambitious canvas of all the 2012 projects is Speed of Light from NVA, which takes Arthur’s Seat as its playground, and puts the audience/visitors/viewers into the performance itself.

Playing with light packs, and beginning at night, the show takes place across and up the city’s most famous natural landmark. Hundreds of runners with light packs line special tracks below as the audience, also carrying light, move up the mountain, and enjoy an incredible view of the city whilst also providing the city’s residents with an incredible view of its most prominent feature. Lyn Gardner’s review for the Guardian is a little skeptical, but for those looking for an adventure, it could be a good option.

Streets and roads of the city, as well as the outdoor old market areas, become art galleries too this summer, as the Edinburgh art festival ‘comes out of the gallery’. Artistic director and curator of the festival, Sorcha Carey, has put the emphasis on Scottish artists and an innovative investigation of the specific sites and histories that can be drawn from the Edinburgh streets themselves.

If all this art is making you hungry, then there are innumerable options for food and drink in the city centre. Avoid the main eateries on the Royal Mile as they will be rammed full and a little pricey; instead head up towards Teviot Place and the university for bites at the Forest Café or some hearty fare at the Red Squirrel on Lothian Road, where you’ll get a burger and beer and much more for under a tenner.

If you’re going to the festival and need a hotel in Edinburgh, consider the Holiday Inn for its convenient location and good value accommodation.

Related Posts:

Leave a Comment