Princes Street Gardens to host new open-air theater festival in Edinburgh


The Ross Bandstand will host the new Edinburgh Theater Festival in May. Photo: Lisa Ferguson

Edinburgh-based theater companies are joining forces to create two days of outdoor drama at the Ross Bandstand with a capacity of 2,500.

Free shows will be held throughout the day at the site, which was built in 1935 on a site where shows have been held since 1877.

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Events currently held at the bandstand include the Summer Sessions concerts, the Fly Open Air Dance Music Festival and Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights.

A previous production of The Ladykillers by the Edinburgh Graduate Theater Group. Photo: Lindsay Snedden

Admission will be free to the new theater festival, StagEHd, which aims to showcase leading artists and performers from the city’s popular and amateur stages.

The festival, which was in part created in response to the pandemic, is also said to have sprung from debates over the ‘commercialization’ of events and public spaces in the city, including Princes Street Gardens.

The city council supported the inaugural year of the festival, which is due to be held on May 28-29.

Organizers say they plan to make the theater festival an annual event that will travel to different locations around the city.

The Edinburgh Graduate Theater Group, pictured here performing The Lark, is leading the organization of the new theater festival. Photo: Jon Davey

Festival planning is being led by the Edinburgh Graduate Theater Group.

The event, which is open to all independent, local and community theater companies based in Edinburgh and the Lothians. is expected to feature a mix of old and new plays, with the show lineup due to be revealed in March.

The Edinburgh Makars, Edinburgh People’s Theater, East Lothian Youth Theater, Leitheatre and Theater Sans Accents are involved in organizing the new event, which encouraged submissions “from all areas of the performing arts” .

An official announcement on the festival said: “StagEHd hopes to establish itself as an annual fixture in the Edinburgh Festival program, providing a space and opportunity for performing artists to experiment and present their work to their own. local audience. “

StageEHd founder Hannah Bradley Croall, board member of the Edinburgh Graduate Theater Group, said: “Edinburgh is known worldwide as a city of festivals, but its theater companies and local artists can often be overlooked at these events. major international events.

“With support from the council’s community fund, we can organize a community event that champions the talented artists who live, work and perform in Edinburgh year-round and present them to a local audience.

“StageEHd will show that art and performance can be woven into the fabric of the city without disturbing it.

“It will be an open-air, open-access event with social and environmental considerations at heart.”

Claire Wood, founder of the local theater company Production Lines, said: “It has been a very difficult time of almost two years for all arts organizations.

“Community and local groups have suffered in less publicized ways – not having the budgets to support riskier productions, not being able to access community spaces for rehearsals and not having their pockets deep enough to support performances with an audience. hectic.

“I am delighted that StagEHd is giving us this chance to celebrate all the great things about community theater with bands from all over town, to show old audiences that we are back with bells on and hopefully d ‘attract new enthusiasts along the way. “

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