Edinburgh Fringe launches massive 2017 programme

The biggest arts festival in the world reveals its typically huge programme, which takes in comedy, theatre, music, dance, opera and everything else in between

Feature by The Skinny | 07 Jun 2017
  • Whose Line is it Anyway?

The official Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme has been revealed this morning under the banner Alliance of Defiance, a programme celebrating 70 years of defying the norm at the Fringe. As usual, the programme is incredibly varied – offering theatre, dance, circus, physical theatre, comedy, music, musicals, opera, cabaret and variety, children’s shows, free shows, exhibitions, events and spoken word – with a line-up bursting at the seams with performers from all around the world.

Famous faces at the Fringe

Some of the bigger names at this year's Fringe have instantly caught our eye. There’s the indomitable Ruby Wax, who comes to Edinburgh with a show inspired by her best-selling book A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled. With Bake Off now on Channel 4, Sue Perkins has time to bring a new show to the Pleasance, while Sean Hughes returns to the Fringe with Blank Book, a show in which a team of comedians will make up a story live on stage. Talking of improv, Clive Anderson will host a live incarnation of legendary improvisational comedy TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? – we’re promised it’ll feature a rotating cast of familiar faces.

Robin Ince will be busier than most with two Fringe shows: Robin Ince’s Rorschach Test at Gilded Balloon and Pragmatic Insanity at The Stand. Geordie comic Dave Johns will be on the Fringe stage for a show dissecting his experience of becoming an unexpected film star thanks to his lead role in Ken Loach’s award-winning I, Daniel Blake. And Dead Ringers star Jan Ravens makes her Fringe debut with a show taking on some of the key female figures in international politics (we’re looking forward to her take on the Maybot).

Scottish talent at the Fringe

Craig Ferguson last performed at the Fringe 24 years ago. Since then, he’s become a massive star of American late-night TV with talk show The Late Late Show; his new Fringe act, The Craig Ferguson Show, will take place at the Gilded Balloon. There’s also a new show from the razor-sharp Daniel Sloss, who brings new stand-up show NOW.

A brace of plays from Irvine Welsh pop up at this year's Fringe: darkly comic pop-opera Creatives, which examines the contemporary music industry, and black comedy Performers, which revolves around two gangsters auditioning for roles in a 1960s film. Talking of Welsh, Trainspotting Live comes to the Fringe; an interactive version of Welsh’s seminal novel, it takes place in the tunnel below the EICC.

Fringe virgins

As ever there's plenty of up-and-coming talent heading to the Fringe. Keep an eye out for rising star Ed Night (son of comedian Kevin Day), who’ll be in Edinburgh with his debut Fringe show Anthem for Doomed Youth. Burnistoun’s Iain Connell, meanwhile, is hardly a greenhorn (he was at the Fringe last year with Burnistoun Live), but we’re looking forward to his turn to stand-up with in-progress show Some Buzz.

Also heading to the Fringe for the first time is author and comedian Mindy Raf, with Mindy Raf: Keeping My Kidneys. She's joined by rising stand-ups Kwame Asante with show Open Arms and Sean Patton with Number One, both at the Pleasance.


Highlights of the music line-up include the brilliant Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon; Canada's guerrilla-folk troubadours Lemon Bucket Orkestra; and experimental electronic artist Blanck Mass – all at Summerhall. Also look out for Modern Robot's live score to a new cut of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead; Concerto a Tempo d'Umore, a theatrical concert for the whole family featuring well-known pieces from composers including Vivaldi, Bach and Beethoven; and Misha’s Gang, in which Russian maestro Misha Rachlevsky and his 14-piece string orchestra bring their passion for classical music to theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall.

In Conversation events

This year’s New Town Theatre In Conversation With… series features an eclectic line-up of actors, writers, artists, broadcasters and musicians including Val McDermid, Stuart Braithwaite, David Heyman, and John McDonnell MP.

New venues

Some weird and wonderful new venues have been added for Fringe 2017. Hibernian Football Club becomes a venue for the first time for Strange Town’s production of A Field of Our Own, while The Leith Volcano, formerly St James Church on Constitution Street, will be flooded for Volcano Theatre’s visceral production of Chekhov’s The Seagull.

The Army Reserve Centre on East Claremont Street is transformed into a venue, while the old Charlotte Chapel on Rose Street becomes four performance spaces as part of Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre. The swimming pool of Lauriston Place’s Novotel becomes a venue for 274 Theatre’s water-based production Brodsky Station and Chamber Pot Opera brings some toilet based opera to The Bathroom at Assembly Hall.

Outside the city centre, the idyllic surrounds of Inveresk Lodge Garden will be the arena for a new take on Alice Through The Looking Glass; Musselburgh Race Course is the venue for a programme of music and theatre presented by The Brunton; and two performances of Oceanallover’s dance piece Sea Hames will take place at Dalkeith Country Park.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said: “It’s an honour to be releasing the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme today. This is a very special year for the Fringe as we celebrate 70 years of defying the norm, of championing artistic freedom and providing a platform for artists around the world to come and present their work in a truly unique environment that is inclusive, inspiring, and often life-affirming

“The fringe movement has circled the globe and inspired a worldwide network of over 200 sister fringes, with fringes now taking place on every continent except Antarctica. In the current climate of global uncertainty, fringes are more crucial than ever, continuing to provide artists with a space to express themselves without fear of censorship.

“The 2017 Fringe Programme reflects the principles that guide the fringe movement, it is diverse, topical, challenging and of course, exciting. I hope that as many people as possible will join us here in Edinburgh for the 70th anniversary edition of the Fringe, to witness and participate in this joyous international celebration of arts and culture.”

These shows and events mentioned above are just the tip of a very huge iceberg. Head to edfringe.com for more details.