Thursday 23 June 2011

This year's Edinburgh Fringe takes green ideas into new areas

Every year we comb through the Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme, speculating on whether productions may have a connection with environmental themes or climate change. This year seems different to previous years.

There are half a dozen theatre shows that clearly have environmentalist themes: mountain-top removal mining; allotments; restrictions in response to climate change (a comedy about socks); and protests against nuclear energy (an adaptation of Lysistrata).

There are shows about human relations with animals, about bullfighting, vegetarianism, our fear of the wolf, and the return of a show taking place in the Edinburgh Zoo. There's also a return of The Man Who Planted Trees. Each year has a share of Frankensteins and Fausts, and shows about Darwin, Francis of Assisi and Galileo.

But there are more shows this year than previously that connect indirectly with environmental themes. Many shows are set in a post-catastrophe world (in previous years, the environmental catastrophe was usually still on its way), or set in the woods, or in dystopian cities.

Other shows relate an environmental situation to another aspect of life: the flooding of overwhelming human emotions is related to the flooding of rivers; a search for a longed-for grandfather is related to a search for a forest. And looking even more widely, we've included productions about capitalism, poverty and urbanisation. This dispersal of environmental ideas into new dramatic territories seems to be a notable change in what this year's Fringe offers.

The number of shows on at the Edinburgh Fringe that we list in the Ashden Directory is still a very small part of the Fringe overall, whose most popular themes remain World War II, the Holocaust, sex, relationships, and personal identity.

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