After the cancellation of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, the popular Army@TheFringe has been transformed for 2020 and will instead offer a varied three-week programme of online workshops, readings, performances and discussions.
Rebadged as Army@TheVirtualFringe, its focus will shift from hosting 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 August 10 and 30 there will be more than forty free online events. Week 1 focuses on dance, film and photography, Week 2 features theatre, and Week 3 explores poetry, books and visual art.
All Army@TheVirtualFringe events are free but places need to be reserved in advance at www.Army@TheFringe.org.
Leading the contribution from dance, on August 11, choreographer Rosie Kay talks about her experience of working in dance and film, from live streams of 5 Soldiers at an army drill hall, to choreographing the hit musical, Sunshine on Leith and the global live broadcast of the Commonwealth Games Handover Ceremony. On the way, she will reveal some of the things anyone should know about when creating work for screen or adapting stage work for digital.
The following evening, August 12, sees the online premiere of Kay’s 10 Soldiers, an expanded version of the original, and that explores the training, friendships, loves and teamwork behind an army unit. A Q&A will follow the streaming and the previous afternoon’s talk.
Earlier that week, on August 10, Suba Subramaniam will share some of her own collaborative processes and Akademi’s work, especially The Troth, which looks at the contribution of Indian servicemen in World War I, as she explores the use of projection in dance and theatre productions.
She will explore some of the questions around why use projection, how it is an integral part of design and how it can be an extension of the emotional experience and is now such an integral part of lots of dance and theatre work.
On August 13, Roman Baca, former classical ballet dancer, US Marine and Iraq veteran, will talk about his healing journey from ballet to the Iraq War and back again, and interpreting military themes in dance.
Baca will also discuss the work of Exit12 Dance Company, which he founded after leaving the Army, and that tells veterans’ stories choreographically, and explores the military veteran experience and the impact of war on civilians and families. He will also discuss leading workshops with military veterans, victims of war, and civilians all over the world.
There is much more. 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.
These include James Robert Moore’s play, POSTERBOY, based on James Wharton’s autobiography Out In The Army: My life as a gay soldier. Three online sessions will look at the production, one of which will feature six actors performing a 20-minute section of the play.
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.
Also taking part will be author and artist Harry Parker, Army Photographer of the Year 2019 Corporal Rebecca Brown and founder of the new Liberally online arts platform Daisy Rogers – who will lead a session on minority voices.
Lieutenant Colonel Wendy Faux, head of arts for the Army, said, “After the cancellation of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe we talked to the arts community about how we could reshape Army@TheFringe to give them some support.
“There was huge enthusiasm for a digital event that provided practical insights and ideas for arts professionals as they prepare to rebuild after lockdown.
“The result is Army@TheVirtualFringe which brings together some remarkable people, from a multitude of backgrounds, to share their knowledge and experience – and also has performances and events that we hope will appeal to the public.
“In keeping with our past events, we will continue to put a strong emphasis on promoting diversity and providing forums to discuss a wide range of issues.”
The online event has been welcomed by Brigadier Robin Lindsay, operational head of the Army in Scotland, as a way of continuing the work of Army@TheFringe to work with the arts community and promote debate about key issues.
He said, “We launched Army@TheFringe four years ago as a way of sparking conversations about diversity and identity by hosting performances that offered insights on life in and out of uniform. Those discussions have ever been more important.
“While Covid-19 has meant that the Edinburgh Fringe can’t go on as normal, I am delighted the Army can draw on its organisational resources to help carry the torch and to provide support to the arts community at a time when it faces immense challenges.
“We also look forward to returning in full force with live productions at our Army@TheFringe venue 2021.”
For the full line up of Army@TheFringe and to reserve places, visit www.Army@TheFringe.org.