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EDINBURGH (Reuters Life!) - In the true spirit of its founders, the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe will defy the effects of a gloomy global economy by staging its biggest ever line-up of acts and performers.
British rapper Dizzee Rascal will join thousands of actors, dancers, comedians, musicians, artists and acrobats in August at the 64th Fringe in a month-long talent showcase for everyone from top stars to unlikely chancers chasing fame.
Launching the program for the Fringe, which runs from August 6 to 30, Fringe Society Chief Executive Kath Mainland said the key was in the accessibility for performers and the fact that it had become a huge showcase attracting impresarios from around the world looking for fresh talent.
"This year's Fringe program is bigger than ever and more companies are coming to take part, and I think that's because they are seduced by the idea that there's open access and if you have an idea you can come here - no-one will stop you," Mainland told Reuters.
The 2010 program features a record 40,254 performances of 2,453 shows by an estimated 21,148 performers from across the globe. This compares to 2,098 shows with 18,901 performers last year, also a record.
"It's a showcase, you know. International media, international arts buyers come every year looking for works to take back to their venues, to their countries. The showcasing is a huge part of the appeal to companies," Mainland said.
Acts range from the Chinese State Circus, to a new play on Shakespeare with actor Simon Callow, puppetry, topical comment on the issue of sex trafficking, disability and social stigma, music and a plethora of comedy.
Come rain or shine, hundreds of street performers from sword-swallowers to comedians and clowns will also ply their acts down the Royal Mile through the medieval Old Town.
Comedy makes up 35 percent of the program, the same as last year, followed by theater with 29 percent, music with 16 percent and musicals and opera with five percent.
The exotic, rambunctious Fringe runs in parallel with the Edinburgh International Festival of theater, opera, music and dance which this year highlights major performances from the Americas, Oceania and Australasia, and the International Book Festival, which unveils its program next week.
Another perennial attraction is the Military Tattoo, which runs through August on the esplanade of the castle towering over the Scottish capital.
Details can be found on the following sites: the Fringe www.edfringe.com; International Festival (Aug 13-Sept 5) www.eif.co.uk; Edinburgh International Book Festival www.edbookfest.co.uk; Tattoo www.edintattoo.co.uk.
The International Festival was started in 1947 as an antidote to the dark days following World War Two. The Fringe was founded at the same time by eight companies rejected by the main festival who refused to go away.
Editing by Paul Casciato