The curtain has fallen on the third Army@TheFringe, with the venue celebrating the critical success of its five shows.
This weekend also saw the awarding of three Lustrum Awards for “best festival moments” by Robert McDowell, Director of Summerhall.
These went to:
- Bomb Happy: A verbatim play developed from the experiences of Normandy veterans from Everwitch Theatre. Two of the veterans, Ken Smith and Ken Cooke, have attended some of the performances.
- Dead Equal: An all-female opera, performed by three world-class sopranos, telling the forgotten true story of Flora Sandes, hero of the Allied frontline in World War I, presented by Palmer and Hall Music.
- Hallowed Ground: Exploring the experiences of Australian women medics over the past century – including those who served with The Scottish Women’s Hospital. By The Shift Theatre.
This year’s full Army@TheFringe programme also included:
- The Happiness Project: Queer theatre looking at our need for non-sexual physical contact in a digital age.
- Unicorns, Almost: Owen Sheers’ play about the poet Keith Douglas and his Faustian pact with war. Initially as an audio experience and then as a live performance.
All the productions in the programme received four and/or five star reviews.
Brigadier Robin Lindsay, operational head of the Army in Scotland,said: “Army@TheFringe has worked hard to establish itself as a home for high-quality shows which are diverse, inclusive and that prompt debate about life in and out of uniform.
“We are extremely proud that the shows we hosted have enjoyed so much success – with a series of awards and excellent reviews.”
Dead Equal was also highly praised by Edinburgh author Louise Miller’s whose biography A Fine Brother: The Life of Captain Flora Sandes was one of its key inspirations.
She said of Flora, who was the only British woman to officially fight as a soldier in WWI, who rose to the rank of captain (and was decorated seven times) in the Royal Serbian Army: “Flora was the most courageous woman I have ever encountered. I loved the opera. To see her brought to life on stage in front of me was wonderful.”
The book has been optioned by Mad as Birds and a film is under development.
Army@The Fringe takes place inHepburn House, a Drill Hall in Edinburgh’s New Town for training Army Reservists.
During the festival it is transformed into a performance space, staffed by soldiers and hosting shows intended to encourage debate about the role of the Army – and wider social issues.
This year there was also a field kitchen serving Army food, a series of post-show discussions about issues raised by the productions and Live Equal, a photographic portrait exhibition of serving Army women by Wolf James.
Army@TheFringe takes place in association with Summerhall.
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Notes for editors
More about the shows
Bomb Happy: A verbatim play from Everwitch about ordinary young men in extraordinary times. It brings to life the powerful testimonies of five Normandy veterans –inexperienced conscripts, who find themselves part of one of the most dangerous operations of World War II. Memories – humorous and harrowing – collide, allowing a close-up experience of life on the frontline. See https://everwitchtheatre.com
Dead Equal: An all female team tell the forgotten true story of Flora Sandes, heroine of the Allied front line in World War I, in a new opera. Flora and fellow nurse Emily Simmonds travel to the Serbian front as medical volunteers. Sick of the sidelines, Flora joins the Serbian army as a soldier while Emily continues nursing. Presented by Palmer and Hall Music.
- Tickets included admission to Live Equal, a portrait exhibit by acclaimed photographer Wolf James.
Hallowed Ground. From Serbian snowfields to deserts in Afghanistan, four women unite across a century. Lilian, a surgeon in her 50s denied service in the Australian army in WW1 joins the WW1, joins The Scottish Women’s Hospital. In WW2, Australian radiologist Mary finds herself the only woman among 3,000 British troops in the Middle East. In Iraq doctor Tam, plagued by dreams of fleeing war-torn Saigon, reconciles her own refugee experience. Catherine, on active service in Afghanistan, reflects on the remarkable women who paved the way. Presented by The Shift Theatre. See https://theshifttheatre.com.
The Happiness Project from Creative Electric explores our need for non-sexual physical contact in our highly digital era. It features scenes of graphic reality TV binge-watching, Whitney Houston and spooning. Previous projects include the award-winning Church of Broccoli (Leith Late, Kelburn Garden Party) and Leith Is Where The Heart Is (Hidden Door). See http://www.creative-electric.co.uk
Unicorns, Almost: Presented byThe Story of Books. See https://unicornsalmost.com.Audio Experience:An immersive audio experience and installation based on the play by Owen Sheers about the life and work of WW2 poet Keith Douglas. Unicorns, Almost tells the story of Keith Douglas from childhood to his early death three days after D-Day landings aged 24. It is the story of one man’s Faustian pact with a war, which would both gift his unique and penetrating poetic voice, but then also take it away. Directed by John Retallack. Sound design by Jon Nicholls. Exhibition design by Leslie Oschmann.
Live show:An immersive set and Dan Krikler’s “wonderful performance” (Margaret Atwood) take you into Douglas’s world, from childhood to his death three days after D-Day aged 24. This is the story of the accelerated development of a poet and his desperate race to see his words in print before time runs out. Following the performance the audience is free to explore the installation.
- Army@TheFringe is presented by The Army in association with Summerhall. Summerhall works with the Army to present a diverse programme of performances that tell stories of life in and out of uniform.
- Facilities at Hepburn House include the relaxed and comfortable Mess Bar plus an Army Tuckshop.
- Summerhall is at 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Details of all the shows can be found online at www.summerhall.co.uk
Shows from past years
Army@TheFringe is continuing to build on its strong track record of presenting bold, high quality, independently produced performance art.
Last year’s dance theatre production The Troth, from the Akademi, (★★★★★ Broadway Baby, ★★★★ Herald) won Herald Angel and Lustrum awards with its portrayal of the experiences of South Asian soldiers on the Western Front in World War I.
The queer theatre production Cezary Goes to War, from Poland, (★★★★★ Broadway Baby) also won a Lustrum Award. In 2017 5 Soldiers, from the Rosie Kay Dance Company, achieved huge critical acclaim with a string of ★★★★ and ★★★★★ reviews and went on to enjoy major national and international success.
Summerhall is Edinburgh’s independent arts venue
Now in its ninth year, Summerhall occupies the former University of Edinburgh Royal Dick Veterinary College – on the south side of the city. It is well known for its award-winning and critically acclaimed Edinburgh Festival programmes, presenting innovative international work that challenges and entertains from the likes of Ontroerend Goed, Sh!t Theatre and Paines Plough.
Summerhall’s exhibitions are free and open all year, and the visual arts programme has welcomed world-class artists including Genesis P-orridge, Susan Hiller, Carolee Schneeman, Tamsyn Challenger and Laure Prouvost. Its live music programme, Nothing Ever Happens Here…, has been lauded for its contribution to the Edinburgh music scene, with a programme which combines the best new music coming out of Scotland with touring national and international artists including Shonen Knife, Sun Kil Moon, Charlotte Church and Pussy Riot.
All this combined with housing over a hundred artists and creative businesses, the renowned Richard Demarco archive, a brewery and a gin distillery plus hosting festivals and events year-round.
- Please see the website for details www.summerhall.co.uk @summerhallery
- For more info, images or interview requests, please contact email@example.com
- Open every day: The Royal Dick Pub (midday – late) and The Cafe (8.30am – 5pm, 9am – 6pm in August)
- Exhibition galleries (11am – 6pm), Weds – Sun
“Thank the dark gods for Summerhall” The Guardian
“Summerhall is one of the city’s best live music outlets” The List
“Summerhall has effectively rewired the fringe” The Stage
Shows Celebrate Three Awards as Curtain Falls on Army@TheFringe 2019For media information about Army@TheFringe contact Matthew Shelley at SFPR on 07786704299 or Matthew@ScottishFestivalsPR.Org