The British Council’s biennial Edinburgh Showcase run within the wider Fringe Theatre Festival is the single biggest opportunity for UK theatre companies to introduce their work to international promoters. This year’s programme comprises 30 new works that represent the very best of contemporary theatre and dance, reflecting the breadth and diversity of British performing arts. Since the British Council’s first Showcase in 1997 the event has given 350 theatre and dance companies the opportunity to tour overseas, building new relationships while delegates from more than 100 countries were introduced to the UK theatre sector and were able to develop their festivals’ programmes and initiate collaborations with UK companies.

British Council Russia regularly organises visits by Russian delegates to the Edinburgh Showcase, including theatre and festival representatives, producers and theatre unions. In 2015 we had representatives from the Chekhov International Theatre Festival, Golden Mask Festival, Electrotheatre Stanislavsky, Theatre of Nations and Theatre Union of Russia.

Russian theatre representatives about Edinburgh Showcase 2015

Isabel Douglas-Hamilton, Electrotheatre Stanislavsky

The British Council Showcase at the Edinburgh festival was an incredibly rewarding experience and one that helped me to broaden my professional network enormously. 

Throughout the week, the delegates were invited to participate in a number of inspiring events, the timetable was packed with fascinating lectures given by industry experts. 

Every day there were events organized for the delegates to meet and network, such as the opening and closing parties and delicious brunches, which were laid on every morning and gave artists, producers and theatre representatives from Britain and all over the world the opportunity to make connections with one another and forge new relationships.  

Every event, lecture and networking opportunity was organized to the highest standard. Each delegate was provided with a comprehensive programme for the week’s performances and events. We were also provided with a booklet containing the names, nationalities and contact details of all the other delegates. This was extremely helpful in locating exactly the people you wished to contact. Or, if you didn’t manage to see them during the week due to the whirlwind of events and performances, you had the information to contact them after the showcase. 

All in all, it was a thoroughly exciting and enjoyable week, which provided a tremendous opportunity for broadening professional networks within Britain and internationally.  I would highly recommend anyone from the performing arts industry to attend.  

Roman Dolzhansky, Art Director at “Theatre of Nations”

If you visit the Fringe, the biggest theatre festival in the world, you should be ready for anything: those used to the cosy atmosphere of a half-lit theatre hall (and a chance for a nap), don’t have much to do in Scotland’s capital in August.

No one will have the time to figure out who’s who at the enormous Fringe Festival with almost fifteen hundred plays participating in it. That’s why twice a year the British Council runs a Showcase in Edinburgh for producers and professionals from different countries. It is mostly focussed on international tours, so, basically, British experts have to quarrel over their bread and butter – the traditional belief that new drama is a ‘hobby-horse’ of the insular theatre industry. In fact, the biggest hits of the festival are usually the most marginal plays: performances, promenades, multi genre fantasies. 

The best play the Fringe offers this year is “Tomorrow’s Parties”, performed by actors from the world-famous British company, Forced Entertainment. As it turned out, they aren’t too fastidious to participate in the rather democratic Fringe. The play begins with: “In the future, there will be no nations or countries…”. Strictly speaking, that’s how it goes. Two actors, a man and a woman, standing in front of the audience for more than an hour without even looking at each other, make predictions on what the future of humanity will be like. “In the future…” one of them begins and then a funny or absurd idea follows. “Or…” – another contradicts them and suggests something even more frightening or funny. Maybe in the future there will be a single person per continent; or several people will use one body; or, for instance, every morning a person will have a chance to decide, which body to live in this particular day; or every race will occupy its own continent, or there will be no races at all; or what if sex will be something boring, an oldman’s hobby of a sort… These arguments seem like a simple quarrel between a man and a woman, but sometimes the actors take up the parts of a conservative or a liberal, giving an edgy political vibe to futuristic exercises. Dynamic and sharp, Forced Entertainment’s play is, obviously, not about the future, but about the present – about the hopes and fears of the man of today, his fear of the future. It is no coincidence that the dialogue of the characters closes with the prediction that in the future a person’s lifespan will be a single hour, while darkness falls, as the garlands have almost gone off by the finale. 

More from Roman Dolzhansky on Edinburgh Showcase 2015:

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