Edinburgh fringe on the cheap

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By Cara Sulieman

FESTIVALS goers will have the chance to see some of the biggest showbiz names in the world – for a fiver.

The top secret gigs – unveiled by Edinburgh Fringe Festival bosses yesterday – will include top acts normally only seen on TV or who’s ticket prices might normally be out of reach for some.

The For One Night Only shows – part of the Five Pound Fringe events – will include old festival favourites and sell-out shows from this year – but the details will only be released on the day of performance.

And as part of the credit-crunch new look, Fringe bosses have also revealed that a quarter of the shows this year are free.

Special guest gigs

Combined with other money saving offers, the savvy Fringe goer can save a wad of cash to see the biggest arts event in the world.

Organisers have promised that theatre, comedy and kids performances for the rock bottom priced events will definitely include special guest gigs from stars of the main Fringe.

Lisa Keddie, Co-ordinator of the Five Pound Fringe, said: “The Five Pound Fringe isn’t just about saving money.

“It is about encouraging audiences to take a risk and see something they have no knowledge of, someone they’ve not seen on the TV or doing an arena tour, at a fair price.

“It gives people the opportunity to have a proper fringe experience, seeing six or seven shows in a day and still having enough change in their pocket to buy a pint.”

Jimmy Carr

The full Fringe programme offers the usual mix of the famous and the unheard of, with stars like Ricky Gervais returning to the city’s stage.

He’s joined by comedian Jimmy Carr, and TV presenters Clive James and Nicholas Parsons.

Fans of the comedy show Flight of the Conchords may be disappointed that they aren’t making a return to the capital, but co-stars Rhys Darby and Kirsten Schaal are stepping in with their own shows.

As well as the usual staple of comedy, music is getting a boost this year with the appearance of chart-toppers Calvin Harris and The Streets.

“Fulfilling their dreams”

Kath Mainland, the new Chief Executive of the festival, led the launch of the programme.

Having been involved with the Hogmanay celebrations, the Assembly Rooms and the Edinburgh Book Festival, she has had many years experience with the arts on the city.

And just 13 days into her new job, she is looking forward to August.

She said: “The festival is about performers fulfilling their dreams in an environment where they are supported.

“One of the best things about this festival in the inclusion, anyone who wants to and who can find the resources can perform at the Fringe.

“Companies have travelled from over 60 countries to take part in the Fringe and I look forward to welcoming visitors from all over the world to this great festival city in August.”

Dead body

Councillor Steve Cardownie was also on hand to introduce the line-up and spoke about his own experiences with the festival.

“I have performed at the festival in the past. I played a dead body. I had to lie very still for five minutes and try not to breathe before I was lowered into a coffin and the lid was lowered.

“I then had to sit behind the curtain for 45 minutes until the show was finished. So I know what it’s like to perform at the Fringe.”

The Festival and Events Champion was keen to point out the financial benefits for both the city and the country.

£75 million

He said: “When I’m trying to convince fellow councillors to approve grants for festival events, the cultural benefits don’t always sway them.

“But once I mention the amount of money that is brought in to the city during August they soon change their minds.”

It is estimated that the Fringe brings in £75 million to the Scottish economy, enticing people to the country for the festival before they travel through the rest of the country.

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