So, we’ve come to the end of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival: the mecca for experimental and exciting theatre. It’s a hive of talent and little gems of performers and pieces that have the chance, on some occasions, to get skyrocketed beyond their humble origins. In contrast, the West End is still going strong and is drawing in massive numbers weekly. Thing is, are these two styles foes, or on a more father/son, mother/daughter level?
Being a student that is constantly in need of more money I’ve spent my summer working as much as possible. As a result I couldn’t make it to the fringe; it’s something I’m making time for next year. Thankfully though, the final term of my university academic year allowed a flavor of what it’s like. We were given a seven week period in which to write, cast, rehearse and perform plays. It happens every year and is a true celebration of skills and styles learnt across the other terms and an opportunity to be as experimental as you want. Some were great, others not so, but together it created a huge splodge of colour and vibrancy, and a melting pot of far reaching talents and disciplines. It was a great opportunity to share talents, not to compare them; an environment quite dissimilar from my experiences of the West End.
A group of my university friends took their comedy, Scenes From ‘The Kitchen Sink‘ up to Edinburgh after a great mini run at the previously mentioned festival at my university, through our theatre society E.U.T.C.O. (Exeter University Theatre Company). It’s a very forward thinking production concerning itself more with the up and coming generation than the current one. It’s quite relevant really, considering the current funding crisis within the arts. To see the show when it was touring in Exeter pre Edinburgh, it cost £6. In comparison, when looking to find a ‘decent’ seat (we’re talking stalls to royal circle here) in a West End theatre, it would be ten-times-plus that to see something that has probably been there for many weeks.
‘So what?’ you may be thinking; ‘West End shows are there for a reason: they’re top notch’. This is true, as it’s definitely not easy to get onto the famous end of London that is a key landmark of British theatre. Once more, it’s possibly the biggest and most stable economic contributor to the industry. We can see the pinnacle of skill and refinement there, and whilst I may have this Vive La Revolution air about me when it comes to up and coming theatre we all need a beacon to aspire to. Where my issue comes from is the feeling of prioritisation of the West End over things like the Fringe. I feel it would be appropriate at this point to mention one of my theatrical philosophies: The top of the ladder is where people always look, but the climb up it is far more interesting. The Fringe Festival is that very ‘climb’ and quite often some make it far up the ladder.
The North is not fighting the West End or visa versa, they’re learning from each other. So I’m sending out an appeal to not choose between the two: supporting both will stabilise the industry’s monetary stance and strengthen the two way learning process.
To read a full review of Scenes From The Kitchen Sink, follow this link: http://exepose.com/2015/06/25/the-kitchen-sink-review/
Image by: Phil Richards from Flickr.