In Edinburgh, Fringe performers weigh in on Scotland's independence choice

Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:26pm EDT
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By Alistair Smout

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - The Edinburgh Fringe Festival may attract performers from all over the world, but in 2014, the future of the nation where it is held is on every performer's lips.

The largest arts festival in the world has a distinctively political edge to it this year, as thousands of comedians, actors and singers descend upon Scotland's capital in the year of its independence referendum.

Scotland votes on Sept. 18 on whether to end 307 years of union with England and leave the United Kingdom. Polls suggest that the campaign to reject independence has a substantial lead, although as many as a quarter of the electorate are undecided.

The Fringe festival's reputation for political comedy and satire have meant that the prominent figures from both sides of the campaign have come under fire, often in the same show.

"Scotland's in two minds to reverse itself into the cul-de-sac of revolution," comedian Andrew Maxwell says, before apologizing in advance about the wide-ranging criticism that politicians will come in for.

"If at any point you feel offended, just wait five minutes and someone else will be crying."

While no one is safe from satirical attack at Edinburgh, Scotland's artistic community has a vocal pro-independence presence, exhibited by groups such as "National Collective".

Describing themselves as "artists and creatives for Scottish independence", they have organized their own festival, "Yestival", which toured the country in July. Several acts from that are putting shows on in Edinburgh.   Continued...