Male Ballet Dancers – The prejudice through the pirouettes?

Male ballet dancers are strong, flexible, and graceful, but many professionals are forced to overcome stigma along the way. Why is the judgement and prejudices from a bygone era still prevalent today?

By Andrew Cook

‘Dad, I’ve started ballet classes….’ What followed that statement was the longest 10-minute silence in my life as my father looked out the window, pondering what my new hobby would lead me to, and the implications of the profession.

Unfortunately, this is an all too common situation. For many people, not unlike the father of Billy Elliot in the famous film, the thought of a boy starting ballet immediately brings connotations of homosexuality, weakness, and femininity.

What is the reality of ballet?

Ballet training is perhaps one of the most intensive and gruelling educations that young men can receive. Whereas many young men seek out traditionally ‘masculine’ sports such as football, which include a few hour-long training sessions every week, young ballet dancers must dedicate themselves to several hours a day of training, for five to six days a week, on top of any other commitments they may have.

These levels only increase when they reach full-time ballet school. Their strenuous education includes not only a two-hour-long basic class, but specialised classes for all the nuances of dance. Men have additional classes with a slower tempo, to force them to jump to inhuman levels. Men must learn how to securely partner women, an exercise in delicacy, strength, and precision, immediately lifting their partners above their heads without showing a hint of the strain.

Male ballet dancers, or danseurs, also require intense physical workouts to prepare themselves and their bodies. Their physiology is honed to become muscled in the correct ways and stretched beyond their bodies’ natural limits.

Nor is it all physical training, as all dancers must learn a range of scientific studies including biology, as their careers are built on an innate understanding of how to exploit their bodies’ potential to the absolute maximum.

The career is a fascinating balance between artistry, athleticism and biology.

So why are they judged for this career?

For many people an evening at the ballet is a joyous occasion. The auditorium is dark, an orchestra begins a beautiful symphony, the spotlights come on, and a tall, muscled figure walks on stage carrying his partner, an entire human being, above his head with effortless grace.

But to some, all they see is a man wearing make-up, and walking around in tights.

It is a judgement based entirely on its comparison to women and it begins from a young age. This is the idea that art and dancing are a traditionally for girls, and that a boy’s masculinity is measured in sweat produced on a rugby or football ground. Although I’d wager more blood, sweat, and tears are shed behind the scenes of the stage than any football game.

Rugby players in England taking ballet lessons to improve their posture

So Ballet is still mostly for girls?

Absolutely not. Where would a ballerina be without her partner to lift her? Ballet requires a blend of femininity and masculinity to be complete. However, women have always outnumbered men in companies and classes, leading to a circular argument :

  • There are more women doing ballet, so therefore ballet is for women.
  • Ballet is for women, and that’s why there are more women doing ballet.

We have seen stereotypes broken all around our culture. While traditionally, the kitchen was a woman’s place, now we see male chefs taking the lead. We have more househusbands than ever before. Men taking care of their children is completely normalised as we now have no shame in extending paternity leave, but the male ballet dancer stereotype remains.

So why is the stereotype so hard to break?

It has been repeated for so many years. William L Earl conducted a poll on American middle-class shoppers in 1988, asking them to describe male ballet dancers in a few words or phrases. Unfortunately the answers produced were ‘Pretty boys afraid to soil themselves with honest labor’, ‘narcissistic’, ‘soft’, ‘homosexual’, and other such derogatory terms.

Time moved on, but unfortunately people’s views did not. In a sociological study from 2003, male ballet dancers gave stereotypes that they had been confronted with during their training and careers. These included ‘homosexual’, ‘weak’, and ‘wimp’. Even today, an incredibly high level of male ballet dancers and young aspirants to the profession are forced to undergo some level of harassment. Even royalty are not exempt from mockery. In 2019, ABC’s Lara Spencer publicly ridiculed Prince George for enjoying ballet classes.

While an apology was issued shortly after due to public backlash, these dismissive, off-hand comments are pervasive. Perhaps not intentionally toxic, or perhaps an attempt at light humour, these perpetuate the made-up stereotypes, and provide support for darker, and more personal bullying for young, aspiring professionals.

Protests by male dancers against the negative comments made by the media about Prince George taking ballet lessons

What are the consequences?

Ballet is incredibly gruelling work. Dancers spend their lives being told to raise their legs higher, to push their limits, to jump beyond what is feasibly possible, constantly realising that their best needs to be better. Facing stigma and ridicule on top of the difficulties of the profession can increase psychological stress on individuals, young or old.

Sometimes it’s just not possible to face these challenges, and withstand the torment of bullies as well. This can lead to so many young men, bursting with potential, but ravaged by the scorn of bullies, being forced away from continuing their passion. Perhaps the next Rudolph Nureyev, or Mikhail Baryshnikov has passed up on their career for fear of being called ridiculed by their surrounding community.

What encouragement is out there?

Nowadays larger numbers of professional ballet dancers are being given a greater platform. With social media, even young aspirants can look up to and be inspired by these artist-athletes, and see the possibilities of their future.

Many internationally famous artists are also using their unique platforms to send out messages of support and solidarity. When Prince George was mocked for loving ballet, famous dancers such as Alex Wong, Eric Underwood, and an entire online community of ballet stars took to the internet and publicly condemned the senseless bullying of a child’s interests.

Thankfully we have begun to see changes in public entertainment. The movies Center Stage and Billy Elliot began a mainstream media portrayal of non-stereotypical ballet dancers. More current media are slowly breaking down these same barriers, with young aspirants citing new shows such as ‘So you think you can Dance’ being the reason they were inspired to take dance classes. In fact, a few years ago, the Royal Ballet School even accepted more male students, than female ones!

Ballet companies now also frequently offer intensive courses specifically aimed for young men. Not only do these boys have the opportunity to learn from talented, experienced male dancers who have faced similar challenges, but they can also do so in an environment surrounded by like-minded individuals.

These courses offer a community, a brotherhood of sorts. A chance to face their problems together, without judgement; and a chance to shoot for the stars and chase their dreams.


Title Image – Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling

Lights? Camera Action – 41% of lighting workers unsure if they will return post-Covid

A survey of lighting professionals has found that over 40% are not sure they will return to the industry after the Covid-19 lockdown.

According to the Stage Magazine, the survey of 197 members of the Association of Lighting Designers also found 70% of lighting professionals say they will have to accept changes to their terms of employment after the coronavirus crisis, with half forecasting this will include lower pay, a poll has found.

Other findings from the poll include:

• 80% had all their work between March to mid-May 2020 cancelled.
• 77% had their work through to September 2020 cancelled within the first month.
• 46% had lost at least three quarters of their annual income by May 2020.
• 87% are not confident their confirmed work for the rest of 2020 will take place.

42% of respondents said they do not believe the entertainment industry will restart until 2021 at the earliest, while 89% agree the industry will be fundamentally damaged by the current crisis.

The survey was carried out at the beginning of May to contribute towards a call for evidence from Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the impact of the pandemic on the cultural sector.

The survey will give many at Edinburgh Fringe worries about tech support as many performers are reliant on hundreds of lighting workers being available in August. There were also concerns not least for the lighting and tech support workers themselves, but also for a generation of stagecraft and set design knowledge that might be lost.

Speaking to The Stage, Johanna Town, chair of the Association of Lighting Designers, said: “The survey shows how desperate a state our members feel the industry is in, the figures are shocking.

“ALD members earn their living from the live entertainment sector, which relies on short-term contracts and long hours, with many of its workers operating as freelancers.

“Many of these workers have found themselves falling into the cracks between the various support schemes offered by government as they have either earned too little, not been self-employed for long enough to count, or have earned too much.”

Town added: “We fully understand the ALD is one cog in the wider theatre production community and as such we have joined with other collectives and associations.

“The data we are all collecting is vital at this time to help protect our members but also to show government where our membership is suffering.”

Stage Fright – The Biological Curse

Sweaty, shaky hands, shortened breath, and a heartbeat as rapid as the drums of the Edinburgh Tattoo. Stage fright affects thousands of performers and public speakers, but where does it come from, and more importantly, how can we overcome it?

By Andrew Cook

Ask any performing artist or public speaking figure and they can regale you with horror stories of stage fright. Be they personal, or the recollections of colleagues, stage fright is an incredibly common problem for those who present themselves in front of crowds. From actors’ monologues, to singing songs, to giving a public address on a podium, we are all susceptible to this overwhelming force.

So what is it?

In biological terms, stage fright is the body’s ‘fight or flight’ reaction. Our symptoms are an evolutionary adaptation that kicks in whenever we feel extreme danger or anxiety, and while it aided our ancestors’ survival, it is a severe obstacle and a liability for public performers and speakers.

  • Firstly, our bodies receive a large dose of adrenalin, and so begins the urge to physically protect ourselves. This manifests in muscle contraction; our shoulders hunch over, our back muscles force the spine to curl up, attempting to coerce our bodies into a foetal position. The first position we learn as babies, and the safest position that our natural brains immediately conceive.
  • Resisting these urges triggers other reactions. As our muscles contract, they tense and harden. This is our bodies’ default ‘attack’ mode, causing the body shakes and muscle spasms we dread before the stage.
  • Our blood flow constricts, increasing the blood supply to our internal organs, while decreasing the flow to our extremities, causing our hands and feet to freeze up like ice.
  • Then we experience a massive spike in blood pressure. Our bodies receive a boost in oxygen and nutrients, causing us to overheat, and heavy sweating to begin. We breathe rapidly to maintain excessive levels of oxygen consumption. Our digestive system shuts down to prepare an immediate influx of energy for an emergency response. These are our breathing and sweating symptoms, and the reason we feel those ‘butterflies in their stomachs’.
  • Finally our pupils dilate to their maximum. This deteriorates short distance vision, but vastly improves our long distance vision, resulting in every audience member seeming too close. Every detail is magnified, we panic, and the cycle of anxiety begins anew.

Can people with stage fright succeed in the public eye?

Absolutely. Countless famous people, both historical and present day, have been stricken with stage fright and overcome this challenge. Some methods require coping mechanisms, other sufferers find their passion for a cause outweighs the vulnerability and anxiety they experience. For those who truly want to fight it, it is no barrier to success.

Even Presidents of the United States of America are not exempt from biology. Both Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson suffered from fears of public speaking. In fact, by analysing historical documents, Duke University diagnosed Thomas Jefferson with social phobia!

Despite a two-term presidency, he delivered only two public speeches. He overcame his biological barriers and still managed to maintain a successful presidency. Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, was comfortable performing speeches as a local politician, but as he began the climb from local to national figure he flustered and feigned excuses to escape the pressure he felt.

Mahatma Ghandi, an extraordinary revolutionary who forever changed the future of India, began his legend struggling to string two sentences together.

As a student, his agonising panic attacks were numerous. Attempting to speak at a vegetarian community in London, he fell apart after one line, relying on someone else to read the speech for him. As a professional lawyer he ran out of his first case before a judge, stating ‘My head was reeling and I felt as though the whole court was doing likewise’

Somehow this quiet, unspeaking individual found his passion for a free India. This dedication to a cause dwarfed the anxiety he felt. He claimed ‘Be stubborn…because you have considered the maximum number of people who will benefit and wish to serve them by solidly banging the drum for what you know to be true.’ He truly fought his inner demons of stage fright, and through the banging of his drum, changed the future of a sub-continent.

A more current example of success is the billionaire Warren Buffet. From a young college student, to billionaire. From a boy afraid to speak his name in front of others, to the third-richest man on the planet.

A stock-broker with big dreams, at 21 years old he overwhelmed his stage fright before it could overwhelmed him. Enrolling in a Dale Carnegie course for public speaking, he educated himself, and studied the techniques available in order to change his life forever.

So it can be beaten?

It’s a terrifically hard thing to overcome. Our minds believe they are trying to save our lives, but are ultimately hindering our progress to our dreams. The only way to truly combat these problems is within ourselves.

Deep slow breathing is the first step. Our breath controls what we do every second of every day. By focusing on breathing, we can focus on relaxing. After the breath is calm, then the rest of the body can follow, muscle by muscle. This is a technique akin to meditation, and it requires great self-control to achieve before every public show.

Modern singers such as Adele, and Rihanna both suffer severe stage fright and have ritualistic coping methods. These preparations become patterns for the mind, and the repetition of a personal act gives a sense of relief. It might be a calming tea, a shot of alcohol, or imagining the audience naked! The individual finds their routine, and subdues the stage fright inside.

Or, like Ghandi, you need to find an overwhelming belief and dedication within your goal, your message, or your performance. A belief so powerful and passionate, that your own worries and fears are trivial in comparison.

The struggle is intense, and each cure is unique, there is no easy one-step method. So try your rituals, dedicate yourself to what you are doing, search for that centre of calm within yourself, and any one of us could be the next world-renowned singer, legendary president, historical revolutionary, or Edinburgh Fringe legend!

Hannah Bardell MP presses UK Government to offer greater support for theatre and the arts

In light of the pressures on the Arts sector as a result of the Covid lockdown, SNP MP Hannah Bardell for Livingston has raised concerns at Westminster to the UK Government about how the industry will be supported.

On 18th June at Business of the House questions, she urged the UK Government to offer greater support for theatre and the arts.

Bardell highlighted Local theatres in West Lothian and in particular Howden Park Centre in her Livingston constituency as being ‘so important to our community and economy’.

In an interview with the Observer, Rufus Norris, the artistic director of the National Theatre revealed that “Without additional government support 70% of theatres will be boarded up by Christmas.”

Bardell cited a recent £1.2 million support package for the Edinburgh Fringe given by the Scottish Government and Edinburgh Council and asked that the UK Government ‘step up and support these vital sectors’


We have reset our countdown clock to 2021 – sadness yes, but hope too for the future of Fringe

It is with mixed emotions today that we have reset our countdown clock to the Edinburgh Fringe 2021.

Sadness that Edfringe 2020 was inevitably cancelled and that Edinburgh never got to see the talent that could have been showcased, discovered and nurtured had the Fringe gone ahead.

Worry for the artists and businesses that rely on Fringe as a major source of income in the year.

Fear that many artists will simply give up; that their disappointment in rehearsing for hundreds of hours will have gone to waste, and that other career paths offer more stable and viable futures.

But there was also a sense of relief. The decision to cancel from the Fringe Society, though some would argue it came too late, did at least allow many productions to cut their losses and recoup deposits to fight another day. Relief too that crowds would not be gathering in the streets of Edinburgh when we do yet know whether the virus has been contained.

As of today, 2,472 who have tested positive for coronavirus have so far died in Scotland. The impact has been nationwide, but also personal with almost everyone knowing someone who has lost a friend or relative, or of someone who has had to be admitted to hospital.

Whilst the peak of the virus appears to be over, its impact both personal and economic will be long-felt.

The April statement from the Fringe Society began with perspective:”Just a few months ago, the idea of Edinburgh without the Fringe and our sister festivals would have been totally unthinkable; now, like so many other aspects of our day-to-day lives, we must pause and take stock in the face of something far bigger.”

We, like many involved with the Festivals, have every confidence that the Fringe will return next year. But perhaps this moment of perspective and reflection could also be extended to the Fringe itself. As the Fringe Society themselves state: ‘From its earliest beginnings in 1947, the Fringe has provided a totally uncensored platform for artists from all backgrounds, cultures and perspectives to tell their story and shape their own worlds. As we try to adapt in the face of an all-encompassing global emergency, this spirit of shared storytelling and open dialogue feels more important than ever’

We too have hope that not only the Fringe will return but also a hope that those involved and the City of Edinburgh will take time to reflect on what has made Fringes successful for artists audiences and city residents in previous years, but also how the Fringe can develop, evolve and work for all in future years. We hope, as other Edinburgh Fringe Review sites do, to be part of that journey.

We at the EFC will not only be back next year, but we will continue year-round reporting on the Fringe and its artists, audiences and stories right up to next August.

We too have taken time to reflect on how we want this site to develop and have used the last couple of months to strengthen the site and deepen the integration with (WIL).

The world needed rebuilding after the horrors of the Second World War when the International Festival first started. It will need rebuilding again in 2021 once the battle against coronavirus has been won. We believe there is a desire to remold, refresh and reinvigorate the Fringe next year to help in that rebuild. It is a once-in-a-lifetime chance that should not be wasted. We at the EFC look forward with every hope that the events of 2020 will rightly be remembered and reflected upon, but also that Edfringe 2021 will show Scotland and the globe how arts can represent all that’s best in the world.

Take care, stay safe and we look forward to seeing you next August.


Brighton Fringe Postponed

Brighton Fringe organisers announced today that the festival which was due to run 1st-31st May has now been postponed until September 2020

Following the statement by the UK Government urging the general public not to visit “pubs, clubs, or theatres” and advice from Brighton & Hove City Council, Brighton Fringe announced their decision today.

Brighton Fringe has contacted participating venues, artists, staff, partners and funders and issued a public statement from Brighton Fringe CEO Julian Caddy:

“On behalf of the thousands of people who have invested so much in putting on Brighton Fringe, I am devastated to say that we are unable to proceed in May due to the Coronavirus outbreak.  I would like to thank you for all the work that you have done and also to thank all our funders, partners, sponsors, patrons, friends and the ticket buying public for your ongoing support, trust and patience at this difficult time.

It is incredible to believe that a mere three weeks ago we launched our brochure and ticket sales for 1,035 events in 170 venues, with more than 5,500 performances due to take place across the city of Brighton & Hove. We were ready to welcome 160 international events from 32 countries with 50 international collaborations.  Over that time COVID-19 has grown from being a far-away news story to a pandemic affecting everyone, all over the world.  

But we won’t give up that easily.  After consulting with key stakeholders we are looking to reschedule Brighton Fringe to take place in September and October, when we have been advised that it will be again safe to proceed.  We do not know yet what this Brighton Fringe will look like but we will now work with all our participants, venues and partners to make it the best it can be- for all involved.

In the meantime, please do bear with us while we take stock, rebuild and return.  We are a universal platform for artists to put on work and we are determined to do our bit to stand up in the face of an invisible threat never before seen in modern times. 

Finally, please take care of yourselves and those around you: self isolate, work from home, go offline and also try to take advantage of these strange times ahead. We will be back and we can’t wait for you to be able to finally dive into the best Brighton Fringe that we can create, for all of us.  By September and October, I think we will definitely need and deserve it!”

At this stage, we understand there are no plans to postpone or cancel the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

Happy St David’s Day – Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!


We just wanted to wish all our Welsh readers Happy St David’s Day / Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

As you can see the daffodils are out in force in Edinburgh in celebration. And we hope to be celebrating Welsh talent this year at the Fringe.

Already two Welsh acts are confirmed. Firstly, music legend Mike Peters, best known as lead singer of the Alarm. Among his many achievements are being awarded an MBE in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to cancer care, one of the first people ever to create a website dedicated to a music band website back in 1992, and establishing one of the world’s leading rock and roll cancer charities – ‘Love Hope Strength Foundation’.

Mike Peters will bring his show ‘Hurricane of Change‘ to the Ghillie Dhu this summer.

This unique one-man performance binds classic 1980s Alarm album Change into a powerful theatrical narrative, backed by emotive electro-acoustic rock concert dynamics…A show packed full of hits and more that has already been described as the must-see acoustic concert of the year.”

Tickets available now from from the Fringe Ticket Office. (2 shows available).

Secondly, Cardiff’s Miss Aida H Dee will be bringing her Drag Queen Story Hour show to the Fringe with daily readings at the Assembly George Square Studios. Drag Queen Story Hour UK aims to show the world that being different is not a bad thing, and by providing imaginative role models for children to look up to, ‘changing the world book by book!’

Miss Aida H Dee is an autistic and ADHD advocate and all Edinburgh shows will be autism friendly. 

Are you sitting comfortably kids? It’s time for Drag Queen Story Hour – an interactive storytime like no other! Join in on the interactive fun with sing songs, stories and lots and lots of jumping around! Miss Aida H Dee is the first drag queen in the UK to read stories to children in a nursery. She has travelled from Guernsey in the Channel Islands to the Brighton Festival at the Brighton Dome. This August, she comes to Edinburgh for her nationally acclaimed Drag Queen Story Hour show!”

Tickets for Drag Queen Story Hour now on sale from the Fringe Ticket Office.

Lastly, we would like to mention Ffion Jones, who won our 2019 Poster Competition with her amazing artwork on the poster for her show ‘The Wrong Ffion Jones’. We hope to see you back at Fringe this year Ffion!

Second Batch of 2020 shows released

A further 105 shows have been released today as the second batch of 2020 shows goes live for ticket sales.

This includes 35 music shows and 22 comedies :

Cabaret and Variety 7
Children’s Shows 10
Comedy 22
Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus 1
Events 1
Exhibitions 1
Music 35
Musicals and Opera 6
Spoken Word 3
Theatre 19

The majority of the performers listed are from England (56), with 30 from Scotland, and artists from Cyprus, Sweden, the US, Australia, Canada and Ireland also listed.

2019 Wireless Operator lead Thomas Dennis

The Pleasance shows released today include some Fringe favourites and exciting newcomers. Their roster of shows includes Wireless Operator, which received a bunch of four and five star reviews at last year’s Fringe. A reworked version this year will focus on the airman agonising over the real cost of the mission. Definitely an early addition to our ‘must see’ list! Also returning are NewsRevue, the Guinness World record holder for the longest live comedy show. Meanwhile Aaron Simmonds ”discovers the positive side of being disabled; from having a blue badge to sex in disabled toilets and everything in between” in his show Hot Wheels.

The Ghillie Dhu has the foundations of an interesting programme with acts as varied as comedy ‘50 Ways to kill Your Mammy‘ to a Spoken Word presentation by Jamie Andrew (Limbless Mountaineer) and even a Daft Punk Tribute Show.

Elsewhere, Acuña Acuna at the Space @ Surgeons Hall, a one person comedy about a Peruvian Latino living in New York, Troy Hawke (Sigmund Troy’d!) at Underbelly Bristo Square, and Elsa Jean McTaggart Presents Hebridean Fire at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall all caught our eye.


After the furore this week when Mhairi Black MP visited a primary school as part of LGBT History Month with a drag queen, it will be interesting to see if Drag Queen Story Hour at the Assembly George Square Studios creates similar noise. Only positive vibes we hope!

Lastly, it is great to see that perennial Fringe cult favourite the Dark Room (for Kids!) is returning once again, showing at the Gilded Ballroom Teviot.

Already an amazing line up of 216 shows. We can’t wait to see what will be revealed at the next release of shows on March 19th!

Pleasance launch £10k Development Fund for Artists of Colour

Exciting news for Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2020; Pleasance have launched a platform to specifically support Artists of Colour.

The Charlie Hartill–Development Fund for Artists of Colour is a new scheme which will provide financing, mentorship and programming opportunities to support UK-based Artists of Colour in bringing their work to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Because of this support, Pleasance has been able to make £10,000 available, with productions receiving investment of up to £5,000, to support exciting projects that would otherwise not be able to come to the Fringe.

Pleasance are working with VAULT Festival, HighTide and Stories in Theatre Productions –each of whom have experience producing at the Fringe and developing work by diverse artists–as supporting partners and with other partners to be announced.

This new Development Fund is the result of consultation with a wide cross-section of independent artists, companies and organisations with experience of presenting work at the Fringe, and is a response to specific barriers facing Artists of Colour when presenting work in Festival contexts. Pleasance hope that this funding will act as a catalyst and jumping off point for wider activity to discuss how to make the Fringe a Safe Space for Artists of Colour.

Anthony Alderson, Director of Pleasance, is hopeful the fund will enable new voices to be heard at the Fringe : “I’m so pleased that we are launching this exciting initiative which enables us to champion new works from Artists of Colour. We are partnering with a range of esteemed organisations so that this new fund has the widest reach possible and that we offer the very best support. I really hope this paves the way for ensuring the Fringe is an even more open community and making sure important voices are heard.”

Suba Das, Artistic Director of HighTide, added, “We’re delighted to support Pleasance in this new initiative. Ensuring that what is widely regarded as the UK theatre community’s largest marketplace is accessible to artists of all backgrounds, and fully reflects the stories, innovation and talent within our sector, is of huge importance to all of us -it simply makes for a better Fringe. We’re looking forward to getting to know the selected artists over the months ahead.

To be eligible for the Development Fund for Artists of Colour:
• Must be based in the United Kingdom.
• At least 50% of the lead creators (which could include the Writer, Director, Producer or makers/devising ensemble) must identify as Artists of Colour.
• At least 50% of the cast must identify as Artists of Colour.
• Propose a Theatre or Children’s production that will be ready to be presented at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2020. The show does not need to be a world premiere, but it must be an Edinburgh Fringe premiere.
• Pleasance are encouraging ambitious work, including but not limited to:large cast or ensemble-based work, work playing with form, work that would otherwise not be able to be presented at the Fringe.
• Pleasance also want to encourage artists to tell the stories they want to tell –exciting, political, surreal, comedic or hopeful. There are no limitations.
• Be able to attend the Selection Interviews at Pleasance Islington on Monday 2nd March 2020 (either in person or via Skype).
The Selection Day will consist of a relaxed discussion with representatives from Pleasance Theatre, Supporting Partners, and Independent Artists of Colour with specific experience of the Fringe.
To apply visit and complete the short application form by 9am on Thursday 27th February 2020.

The first shows of 2020 are announced!

The first shows of the 2020 Edinburgh Festival Fringe have just been released!

For the early birds, there are already some prize pickings! As of yesterday, 111 shows have been listed, and for the super keen, you can already add shows to your planner and buy tickets.

Of the 111 shows, there are 33 theatre productions, 24 music shows, 21 comedy shows, 9 musicals, 7 children’s shows and 7 cabarets.

And a healthy 23% of the shows are from international performers, the majority so far from the US.

The listings are already showing a good mix of first time performers right the way through to well-known Fringe and national stars.

Fringe favourite Daniel Sloss is bringing his all-new solo show ‘Hubris’ to Fringe 2020 at the Queen’s Hall. And TV panellist and stand-up maestro David O’Doherty is performing a full Fringe run at Assembly George Square with a show entitled ‘Whoa is Me’.

Foil Arms and Hog return to McEwan Hall with a new show called ‘Hogwash’. Their new show seems to have been chosen by Twitterpoll with ‘Hogwash’ getting 41.8%, just ahead of ‘Piggeldy’ on 39.1%. Quite close, but unlike Brexit, there appears to be no demands for a re-run of the vote!

LAMBCO productions are already confirmed as bringing 6 LGBT themed shows, a genre that has been somewhat underrepresented the last couple of Fringes, compared to previous years. Their shows include ‘a modern homoerotic jazz ballet’ called ‘Boy Toy’, and  a musical about erotic tickling!

From a Scottish perspective, Trads Scots singer of the year Iona Fyfe has a show entitled ‘Movies to Musicals’ which will feature some of the most iconic show tunes from movies and musicals such as Wicked, Frozen and Les Misérables accompanied on piano by the award-winning Michael Biggins. And in a year when everyone is talking about ‘2020 vision’, the very funny and blind comedian Jamie MacDonald has quite rightly been the first to stake his claim on the phrase as the title of his show.

And even though it’s only January, there are already 6 Shakespeare themed shows on the roster.

But we can all breath a sigh of relief :

‘Brexit’ themed shows – 0 results. So far…