Kath Mainland of Fringe (next to TV) interacts with city artistes. Picture by Bhubaneswarananda Halder
Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Mike Myers, Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson got their big breaks at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is currently scouting for talent in Calcutta from a cross-section of entertainers — from theatre artistes to dancers to musicians to stand-up comedians.
Billed as the world’s largest open-access arts festival, the Fringe from the Scottish capital was here on Thursday after stopovers in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai as part of its roadshow organised by the British Council and Creative Scotland. A two-member Fringe team met a mix of artistes, dancers and musicians — including Suman Mukhopadhyay, Ramanjit Kaur, Vikram Iyengar, Anjum Katyal, Tajdar Junaid and others.
The idea is to interact with as many local talents as possible and drive home the message that the Fringe could be your launch pad to stardom like sniper Jude or his girlfriend Rachel at Enemy at the Gates who made a Russian World War II bunker look sexy.
“We didn’t set out to be the largest but that is what the global artistic community wanted it to be,” says Kath M. Mainland, the chief executive of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.
Besides theatre, the festival involves dance, music, musical operas, art exhibitions, stand-up comedy and kiddy stuff. “The latest to be added in 2011 are spoken words and cabaret,” she says.
“The thing that makes Fringe the largest is its open access because no artistic director or company invites artistes to take part. It is a completely independent initiative made up of creative energies of companies and individuals from all over the world that want to participate. Apart from direct contact with a community of artistes, if one gets noticed, it can be powerful for the artiste’s development,” Mainland adds, revealing the Fringe USP which reflects an easy DIY model.
Participation is easy — log on to www.edfringe.com, fill the online registration, choose a venue and shoot an application by April for the festival in August. Oops this is May, but Fringe would be there next year.
A bundle of six Scottish and two English companies set up the festival in 1947 to reunite people ravaged by a long, traumatic war. In its 66th autumn, the Fringe has some awesome figures to show — over 2,500 shows; more than 40,000 performances; over 40 countries; 250 venues; over two weeks.
During the interaction, theatre personality Gitanjali Alagh Jolly gushed about taking a group of 21 martial artistes to the festival in 2002. Mainland, on her part, fielded queries and passed information such as the things that an artiste needs to pack in her bag before heading for the festival.
For details contact the British Council’s city office.