Why are New Yorkers choosing to bring their work to Edinburgh?


As well as working as Mobius' Senior PR Account Executive, Lorn is an avid fringe theatre attendee and performer being a regular visitor to UK and European fringe festivals. Lorn recently visited New York and connected with some artists bringing their works to Edinburgh Fringe this year to hear about what drew them across the pond…

Check out our previous pieces on New York's theatre scene here.

As the world’s leading celebration of arts and culture, it is no surprise that Edinburgh Festival Fringe pulls in artists and crowds from around the globe every year. New York City may be seen as one of the world capital’s of theatre, with the iconic Broadway, along with London’s West End, representing the highest commercial level of live theatre. So what is it about Edinburgh that is pulling so many New York-based theatre companies all the way over for August?

What do New York City based artists have to say about producing work in their home city?

Wild Geese Productions who are bringing their show ‘Dear Annie’ to Edinburgh Fringe this year said, “As emerging artists without funding or built in connections to back us, it is incredibly tough to find the time and resources to make the work you want to make, let alone get it to be seen by individuals who could help further the life of it.

Some of the best work in New York are pieces being performed in small, off the beaten path, black boxes, apartments, or even the park. However, therein lies the struggle emerging artists face in putting up their work in New York - sometimes the most noteworthy and deserving art is performed in a fleeting moment, seen by only 20 friends in a cramped apartment.

It’s magical, but tough.”

Writer and performer Kimberly Prentice whose new show Unseen is premiering at Edinburgh Fringe this year said, “New Yorkers are nothing if not creative with performance space. This biggest challenge in NYC is finding affordable rehearsal and performance space. There are a couple of organisations that offer spaces, but they fill up really fast. So, you end up in the alternate spaces that may or may not be the most advantageous for your piece.”
Twitter: @unseentheplay 
Instagram: @unseentheplay

Kristin McCarthy Parker from theatre company Recent Cutbacks who are bringing their show ‘Hold On to Your Butts’ to fringe this year said, “It's been trickier to find places to develop new work without spending a lot of money in the process, and you have to book performance slots farther in advance…. It's a real labour of love just to get something on its feet in the US.”
Twitter: @RecentCutbacks
Instagram: @recentcutbacks

Why have New York artists chosen to bring their shows to Edinburgh Festival Fringe instead?

Jane Elias is bringing her new show ‘Do This One Thing For Me’ to Edinburgh Fringe this year and said, “I attended the Fringe last summer to check it out and had such a great time. I saw some wonderful shows in the few days I was there and the positive energy and supportive environment were infectious! Not to mention that Edinburgh is a beautiful and enchanted city. I said to myself, ‘I want to be a part of this community. We need to bring our show here’.”
Twitter: @dothisONEthing
Instagram: @dothisonethingforme

Wild Geese Productions said, “We wanted to give the project a chance to live in the way we’ve always dreamed and sadly, we don’t feel that opportunity exists for us in New York at the moment, to the same extent and level that Edinburgh Fringe has the ability to elevate new work. We love that the Fringe is a place to sharpen your tools as an artist and a place to be inspired in our own work by seeing others' new and exciting ideas.

It's not just about making art; it's about getting the hang of the industry, figuring out budgets, reading through contracts, understanding marketing and PR, and making connections. Taking this all-around approach to our Fringe adventure doesn't just make us better artists, it also gives us a wonderful place to practise and set ourselves up to thrive in a constantly changing creative landscape.”

The concept of Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been copied around the world and has spawned the likes of Adelaide Fringe in Australia and the National Arts Festival in South Africa. So given the vast number of artists and creators in New York, you would think this would be the perfect place for a fringe festival, right? However, New York International Fringe Festival, a curated festival of around 200 shows a year with a jury-based selection process, closed in 2019. The return of FRIGID Festival, rebranded this year as New York City Fringe 2024, recently hosted 45 shows across 3 venues in April and was reformulated to more closely associate New York’s grassroots theatre output as part of the world wide fringe ecosystem.

What do you New York artists think the city’s theatre festivals could implement from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Jane Elias said, “We have plenty of theatre festivals in New York, why not one that encompasses and encourages not only plays and musical theatre but also stand-up comedy, dance, music, clown shows, circus, and puppetry?” She added, “Since Covid, New York's Open Streets program has expanded, with many streets closed to vehicles on the weekends to help create a space for the public to gather. I think the city could capitalise on this with a fringe festival that included free street performances throughout town.”

Kristin McCarthy Parker said New York should “use the available real estate we have to host artistic events and performances. There is SO much unused real estate in NYC, especially since the pandemic, that could and should be used for rehearsals, performances, art galleries.”

Wild Geese Productions said, “Edinburgh really understands the importance of lifting up and celebrating new and boundaryless work, and artists - both emerging and established - of all kinds. New York could benefit massively from embracing this same mindset.”

Kristin McCarthy Parker added, “Aside from making our show the best it can possibly be, we're going to learn a tonne ourselves as artists while we're there. We hope to return to NYC inspired and energised to create more compelling, hilarious, and joyful work in our city.”


Are you an international artist bringing a show to Edinburgh Fringe this year? What drew you to the arts festival and what do you think Fringe has that you might not in your home city? We'd love to hear about your thoughts and experiences so please do get in touch.

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