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by Mark Fisher

"A perfect introduction to what could be a lifetime of pleasure"
British Theatre Guide

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With a foreword by Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune




14 Jul 2017 The List

Alan Ayckbourn – 'Plays brew in my head for anything up to a year and then I just have to burst out'

An Edinburgh International Festival preview

WHEN a man has written 82 plays, you could forgive him for treading old ground. Alan Ayckbourn is just such a man, but there's something about him (78 years old and semi-retired yet knocking out at least one play a year and directing another) that means he's always moving on. 'I am anxious not to repeat myself,' he says. 'People say "does it get easier to write?", and it does in a sense because you get a facility; but equally as difficult is you say "oh my God, I've done that"!' The urge to reinvent himself is pathological. It's why he wrote a farce in which a single stage represented all floors of a three-storey house (Taking Steps). It explains how he came to write two plays of exactly the same length simultaneously performed by one cast legging it between adjacent theatres (House and Garden). And it's the reason he wrote one play with 16 variations subject to an onstage toss of a coin (Intimate Exchanges).

11 July 2017 The Scotsman

The “uninvited eight” who started the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

An Edinburgh Festival Fringe history

THEY'RE calling it Spirit of ‘47. It’s a series of talks co-curated by the British Council as part of this year’s 70th anniversary Edinburgh International Festival (EIF). The one on 16 August has an intriguing premise. It’s called “Contesting the Spirit of Unity: Whose Festival? Whose Culture?” and rather than focus on the productions that were invited to the inaugural EIF, it’s looking at those that weren’t. In particular, it will explore the case of Glasgow Unity Theatre, one of a string of early-20th century Scottish companies with a left-wing agenda. This was the company that first staged Robert McLeish’s The Gorbals Story in 1946 and Ena Lamont Stewart’s Men Should Weep in 1947, and it was naturally keen to be part of the EIF’s inaugural line-up. Founding director Rudolph Bing, however, decided against.

11 Jul 2017 The List

The Arab Arts Focus showcase shines a dramatic new light upon Middle Eastern life

An Edinburgh Festival Fringe preview

THE refugee crisis has produced tales of knife-edge escape, but how many journeys have been made more terrifying by the smuggling of a puppet? That's what Rafat Alzakout had to contend with when he fled Syria for Beirut in 2011. The director's voyage was made extra perilous by his unusual contraband: a satirical figure of President Bashar al-Assad. One of the props for a series of 40 short films he'd made in Damascus, it did for the Assad regime what Spitting Image had done for Thatcher (look up 'Massasit Matti' on YouTube to see them). Featuring a flat-faced finger puppet with a shark-fin nose and no mouth to speak of, it brought a knockabout Punch-and-Judy humour to an otherwise unbearable political situation. The films had the impudence to call Assad by his nickname, Beeshu ('top bully'), and portrayed him as feeble and friendless.

27 Jun 2017 The Scotsman

Fringe interview: playwright Lara Foot on South Africa’s fringe festivals

Edinburgh Festival Fringe preview

IRVINE Welsh is doing it. Zinnie Harris is doing it. So too is Lara Foot. They are an elite group of writers who have not just one but three plays on stage in Edinburgh this August. “It’s a huge privilege for me to be in that situation,” says Foot, a South African playwright, director and producer. And it wouldn’t have happened, she says, were it not for another festival. “I was the featured artist at the Grahamstown arts festival last year. The criteria for that was that I would present one new work and two former works. Because they were put on at the same time, it means they’re all ready to tour.”


23 Jun 2017 The Guardian

Room to roam: how Scotland's vagabond national theatre broke free

A National Theatre of Scotland blog

FOR two or three centuries, national theatres have been based in grand culture palaces, with their colonnades, proscenium arches and chandeliers. For little more than a decade, the National Theatre of Scotland has been a theatre “without walls”. If you want to see an NTS show, you have to find it first. The idea takes a little getting used to, but the absence of a building is fundamental to how the organisation operates. Far from being a limitation, it can be artistically liberating. This company is shape-shifting. It can be what it wants.

31 Oct 2016 The Guardian

Back to the rivers of blood: Enoch Powell returns to a divided Britain

Preview of What Shadows by Chris Hannan. A Royal Lyceum theatre preview.

A NATION divided. Two factions at war over foreigners. One side claims to tell it like it is. The other cries racism. Neither can agree. Brexit Britain? Well, yes, but also Birmingham in April 1968.That was when the Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South West forced immigration on to the political agenda. His name was Enoch Powell and what he called his Birmingham speech would prove even more incendiary than he’d hoped. Reacting to Labour’s Race Relations Act, Powell argued that allowing mass immigration from the Commonwealth was “literally mad” and prophesied doom in the language of the Roman poet Virgil: “Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”








by Mark Fisher

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"Every single page of this book is enhanced by Mark Fisher’s lifelong enthusiasm for, and commitment to, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the greatest arts festival in the world."

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Chief executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society




Scottish theatre blog

REVIEWS, thoughts and observations about theatre in Scotland.


The Guardian

ARTICLES about theatre published in the daily newspaper and online


The List

RECENT articles about theatre published in the fortnightly events guide.


Mark Fisher

SAMPLE articles, reviews and CV by the writer, editor and theatre critic.


Scotland on Sunday & the Scotsman

FEATURES on a range of subjects, plus some reviews.



REVIEWS, articles and extensive database about Scottish theatre.



REVIEWS and news items about Scottish theatre in the US theatre bible.

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