Wales

Edinburgh Fringe: Success for Welsh talent

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Media captionEvery August the Scottish capital hosts some of the best theatre and comedy in the world

After three weeks and almost 3,000 performances, the Royal Mile remains packed with visitors and theatre promoters as we enter the final days of this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

A stage at the Fringe can launch fledgling careers and propel established companies into the sights of international promoters.

It has been a particularly good year for Welsh talent, not just in the numbers who have spent August in Edinburgh, but in the critical response to their presence.

Undeb Theatre has been recognised for innovation and outstanding writing, with Gardening: For the Unfulfilled and Alienated winning a first prize.

The one-man show was performed in a shed by the Swansea Valley actor Richard Corgan.

Reviewers have also enjoyed National Theatre Wales' revival of The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, first performed last year and updated during the Fringe to reflect his conviction and sentencing.

The Scotsman newspaper gave it five stars, championing what it called a "fierce 100 minutes of theatre", while The Daily Telegraph said "the greatest credit goes to the cast who run, shout and jump their way through each scene of this slick, compelling drama with utter conviction".

The show's director John McGrath said Edinburgh was an important place to stage the play.

"It's an international platform and it's a place where you really feel that the temperature is being taken in terms of what people are interested and excited by," he said.

Image caption Harry Ferrier in the award-winning The Radicalisation Of Bradley Manning

"And one of the big comments that's come this year is that there's a lot of work that's dealing with global politics. I think it's also really important that Wales has a stake in that global conversation and we tell the [Bradley Manning] story very much from the perspective of young people in Wales as well."

The Bloody Ballad, a moody piece of musical theatre by Theatr Iolo and Gagglebabble, also pleased the critics.

It secured a clutch of five-star reviews, including one from The Big Issue which called it "darkly intoxicating" and "utterly un-missable".

The reviews are an important tool in getting noticed among the hundreds of productions scattered across Scotland's capital.

Yet the success of a stage at the Fringe is also measured by the offers and bookings that come once the performers have left Edinburgh and a number of Welsh productions are hoping to capitalise on the exposure they have had.

The British Council's biannual showcase is one of the events that's designed to attract attention to some of the Fringe's brightest talent.

The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning was selected alongside Cardiff's NoFit State Circus production of Bianco and the drama I'm With The Band, which was co-produced by Wales Millennium Centre and Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre.

The last showcase in 2011 helped the Welsh language production Llwyth, by Theatr Genedlaethol, get spotted by international promoters and taken on tour to Taiwan.

Helen Griffin's one-woman show Who's Afraid of Rachel Roberts is among new productions which sought a stage in Edinburgh.

After receiving good reviews from the critics, Ms Griffin admitted it can be tough to stand out among the 2,600 performances that take place in August.

"I have to say it is fiercely competitive," she said.

"So it's not easy as I had hoped that it would be, so how much we have been noticed I don't know. But the audiences are really enjoying so that's good."

In an effort to boost the profile of Welsh acts at this year's Fringe, a "Wales in Edinburgh" showcase took place this week.

It brought together 21 companies, including National Theatre Wales, Torch Theatre and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, with the aim of promoting Welsh artists to international markets.

Culture minister John Griffiths said it was important to promote Welsh talent at the Fringe.

"The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a hugely popular and respected arts festival that provides us with an opportunity to bring Wales - and our very talented artists and arts organisations - to the attention of the world," he said.

"It is important to actively explore and seek new markets and opportunities, to show others what Wales can offer."

Image caption A scene from The Bloody Ballad

 

 

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