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Meanwhile in Edinburgh: The Final Week of the Czech Showcase @ Fringe 2015

1 SEPTEMBER 2015 – A spectacular end of the brilliant Czech journey through the festival of theatrical plenty.

With opulently beautiful fireworks has ended the world’s biggest celebration of performing arts. Throughout August the streets of Edinburgh have once again experienced the 3-week long buzz of street entertainers, military parades, circus acrobats, restless clowns, stand-up comedians, theater celebrities, costumed weirdoes, eagerly discussing theatre journalist and critics (or pseudo-critics). Plentiful, ungraspable, chaotic, fascinating…

 

Edinburgh in August is a city like any other. It is not just the Fringe festival that occupies the streets, pubs, theatres, public houses and parks with its 3,000 shows brought from all around the world and performed daily at all places imaginable.  Apart from the Fringe there are at least another five festivals happening at the same time within the city, varying from the famous opera houses performances showcasing some biggest names of contemporary theatre makers (Edinburgh International Festival), literary events of world’s significance (Edinburgh International Book Festival) to the fringe theatre activities serving the original role of the Fringe with the capital F (Forest Fringe). The festival season in Edinburgh has something for everybody however suspicious that may sound. As a result it may be rather uneasy to keep oneself oriented within such artsy madness; hence there are few points that may save your sanity before you get lost somewhere between theatrical hell and theatre heaven. The most obvious guideline is to follow the review stars. The more stars have sparkled through a show’s reviews, the more audiences it will attract. It is a little baffling, as there are probably as many critiques, reviewers, arts bloggers and other “star-givers” as there are shows and so the city becomes over-flooded with 4 and 5-star stickers all over the festival posters within the first festival week. Regular festivalgoers have obviously developed their own techniques of picking the very best of the un-curated Fringe programme. Some venues, most generally, are patrons of their own programmes and have become notable guarantees of quality. As the Guardian famously made reference to the festival programme of Summerhall (one of the most popular arts venue at Fringe): "You could spend the entire three weeks at Summerhall and never be bored for a second."

 

As the festival programme gets even more varied over the years, it seems that the international mini-programmes such as our Czech Showcase serve as dramaturgical guidelines of increasing value. During the five years of its existence, the Czech Showcase has received growing recognition from festival organisers, art critics and art professionals alike. This year’s showcase has once again proven the dramaturgical consistency and high artistic quality of the selected shows with primary focus on cutting edge physical and dance theatre. The overall success of the showcase has been validated with the Herald Angel Award won by VerTeDance and three nominations for the Total Theatre Award (Correction, Antiwords, Boys Who Like to Play With Dolls).

 

The success of the Czech performances is even greater when we realize that Edinburgh turns into a real battlefield during Fringe.  Arts promoters from all around the world come to the festival ready to fight for the recognition of their shows while artists are often willing to do literally anything to earn their bit of publicity (like to perform a life threatening trapeze stunt from a city centre bridge with no safety net whatsoever – cheers for that, La Putyka J)

 

Thanks again to the brilliant Czech artists who have been courageous and bold enough to encounter the world’s’ toughest competition and thrive!