Opera, Queer Theatre and the D-Day Landings – Army@TheFringe Returns

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Fringe venues are magnets for the extraordinary…

And even though Army@TheFringe is among the smallest and newest, it aims to be diverse.

Now in its third year it gives performing artists a chance to address an abundance of issues about life in and out of uniform.

Over the next few weeks we hope that this blog will give us a chance to look at some of our performers, writers and others – the stories behind their shows and what has brought them to Edinburgh.

But to start with here’s a quick summary of what’s on offer.

Once we’ve transformed the Hepburn House Army Reserve Centre into a temporary performance space we’ll be welcoming groups including Leith’s own Creative Electric – which specialises in bringing queer, disabled voices into traditionally straight, able places.

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Their production The Happiness Project is about human touch in a digital era. It developed from their research which suggests that many young people, aged 16 to 30, only experience much in the way of physical contact when they are having sex.

Two of the five productions we have this year focus very much on women and the military.

One of these is the opera Dead Equal which looks at the story of Flora Sandes, the only British woman to officially serve as a soldier in World War I – when she fought for the Serbians, rising to the rank of Captain and being decorated seven times.

This is paralleled with the experiences of today’s women in the Army.

The piece has been created by Palmer & Hall Music, who specialise in giving a voice to those who are often unheard or underrepresented in the mainstream arts world.

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The Shift Theatre, a female-led company from Australia, is presenting Hallowed Ground – Women Doctors in War (pictured). Even though this is a piece from the other side of the planet it has strong Edinburgh links.

In WWI Australian women were not allowed to serve in their own forces, so many seized the opportunity to join the all-women Scottish Women’s Hospital units set up by Dr Elsie Inglis.

Hallowed Ground follows the stories of four Australian women military doctors in conflicts from the Great War to the present day.

Our other two productions both have links to the 75thanniversary of D-Day. Unicorns, Almost, by Owen Sheers, was presented in Normandy during the commemorations.

Highly praised by Margaret Atwood, and earning a four-star review from the Guardian when it premiered last year at Hay, it portrays the life of the poet Keith Douglas who was killed just three days after the landings.

Part of the run will be as a live performance and part as an audio presentation – having heard some it, the audio version is compelling.

Our final piece is Bomb Happy, a verbatim play developed from the accounts of five young men who were there on the beaches.


And we feel very privileged that two of the veterans, now well into their nineties, are hoping to make it along to some of the performances and hopefully chat with members of the audience.

If you’d like to know more then you can visit our website www.Armyatthefringe.org and we also hope that you’ll visit us, and keep reading the blog.