August 9, 2009 / 3:13 PM / 8 years ago

FACTBOX: Edinburgh's Fringe festival rolls again

(Reuters Life!) - A record number of performers from around the world are flocking to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year despite the global recession.

The Fringe combines with the city’s international book, art and jazz festivals and military tattoo to make up the world’s biggest annual open access showcase of the arts.

Here are some facts on the Fringe:

* WHAT IS THE FRINGE?

-- The Edinburgh Festival Fringe (commonly known as The Fringe) started in 1947 when eight theater groups turned up uninvited to the first Edinburgh International Festival.

-- A year later Robert Kemp of the Evening News unknowingly coined the name saying “Round the fringe of the official Festival drama there seems to be a more private enterprise than before..”

-- More perfomers came to Edinburgh to perform on the outskirts of the main festival and by 1958 the Festival Fringe Society was formed to provide information, a central box office and a published program of all the Fringe shows.

-- Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson first found fame at the Edinburgh Fringe as did Dudley Moore, the comic star of “Arthur” and part of a duo with Peter Cook. The first notable premiere was considered to have been Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” in 1966.

* NUMBERS:

-- Last year, hundreds of groups put on 2,088 shows with a total of 31,320 performances in 247 venues. The Fringe will expand in 2009 with 34,265 performances of 2,098 shows in 265 venues.

* BAD YEAR:

-- Jon Morgan, director of the Fringe, quit last August after just 18 months in charge following a 10 percent drop in ticket sales blamed on computer glitches and bad weather.

* COMEDY FIRST

-- Comedy makes up 35 percent of the performances, with such notables as Jo Caulfield, Jimmy Carr, Frank Skinner, Alistair McGowan and American Greg Behrendt.

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit

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