Army@TheFringe has been transformed for 2020 and will offer a richly varied three-week programme of online workshops, readings, performances and discussions for the arts community and the public.
Rebadged as Army@TheVirtualFringe its focus will shift from hosting Edinburgh Fringe shows to providing practical insights and advice from a wide variety of emerging and established arts and cultural practitioners.
Films, live-from-home performances and screenings are also planned, plus rehearsed readings of shows that were scheduled to take place on stage at the Army’s Hepburn House Fringe venue.
Between 10 and 30 August there will be more than 40 free online events – with Week 1 dedicated to film and photography, Week 2 devoted to theatre and Week 3 exploring poetry, books and visual art.
Contributors come from all walks of life and include some with past or present military backgrounds. Among them are:
· Román Baca: A classically trained ballet dancer who joined the US Marines and served in Iraq as a machine-gunner and fire-team leader in Falluja. He then co-founded Exit12 Dance Company which tells veterans’ stories to increase cross-cultural understanding and heal divisions. He also works with victims of war and civilians across the world.
· Andee Birkett: An accomplished musician and singer, bass guitarist, double bass player, clarinettist and vocalist who toured with shows and performers – including Toyah Wilcox – before joining the Army where she is a Lance Corporal in the Band of the Royal Welsh Guards and plays at major royal events.
· Harry Parker: In 2009 Harry lost his legs in an IED explosion when serving in Afghanistan. He is now an artist and author – his first book Anatomy of a Soldier was widely acclaimed. Harry will talk about writing from lived experience.
· Ben Mason: Director of Music of the Band of the Grenadier Guards – possibly the most famous military band in the world. Captain Mason, who has also composed for theatre, will discuss using music to create atmosphere and evoke emotion.
· Wendy Faux: Lieutenant Colonel Faux, the Army’s head of arts, will discuss opportunities for performers to be part of Army@TheFringe in future years.
· Connor Deakin: A saxophonist and clarinettist who followed his sister into the Army and is now a Lance Sergeant in the Band of the Grenadier Guards.
· James Wharton: Whose autobiography Out In The Army is being turned into a play for Army@TheFringe. James was the first openly gay member of the Army to feature on the front cover of Soldier magazine.
· Rebecca Brown: The first female soldier to win Army Photographer of the Year.
· Phil Spencer: Former Royal Marine, now a filmmaker, looks at making short films.
There will also be Charlotte Green, writer and producer of Lest We Forget, which follows the fight against prejudice faced by a black veteran and white Northern woman in Britain after the First World War.
Oliver Yellop, writer and actor, will perform I Am Gavrilo Princip, his play about the Bosnian Serb whose assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand sparked WWI, live from his living room and will also discuss making solo works.
From the world of dance there will be Rosie Kay, creator of the internationally acclaimed 5 Soldiers, which premiered at Army@TheFringe plus the rare chance to see a screening of 10 Soldiers, an expanded version of the original.
Themes covered in Army@TheVirtualFringe workshops will extend from mask making, the use of film and photography and preparing plays for radio to making music for productions, theatre design for the Fringe and staging a show at Army@TheFringe.
Heather Marshall, who presented The Happiness Project with Edinburgh’s Creative Electric theatre group at the 2019 Army@TheFringe will this year be working with young people to deliver arts activism workshops resulting in an online gallery.
A number of those taking part in the event had been planning to present shows as part of Army@TheFringe and it is hoped that these productions will take place in 2021.