Ever wanted to see a show in an old locker room? How about an football stadium or a bunker? At Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival held every August in Scotland, these are just some of the non-traditional theatre venues where festival-goers can take in a performance. Fringe offers more than 3,000 shows, and artists often think outside the box about the spaces best suited for presenting their shows.
Check out some of this year’s unusual venues below and follow along at Playbill.com/Playbill-Goes-Fringe as the Playbill staff travel to Scotland and uncover the best of what the fringe has to offer. We hope you’ll find our Fringe coverage so exciting, you’ll want to book a trip to see it for yourself.
An Old Laboratory
One of Fringe’s best known venue hubs is Summerhall, an arts and events complex which was home of the Royal Dick Veterinary College from 1916 to 2011. The building features a number of rooms that reflect its scientific past, including a laboratory. Tony nominee Jamie Armitage (SIX on Broadway) will present his debut play An Interrogation in the historied space this August.
A Former Women’s Locker Room
This other unusual venue of Fringe can also be found at Summerhall: it’s a former women’s locker room. The small space will be host to several shows this summer, including Oh My Heart, Oh My Home from Scotsman Fringe First winner Casey Jay Andrews, which Andrews will perform with a doll’s house as a prop. Chicken, a new play from the makers of Scotsman Fringe First-winning show Mustard, will also be mounted in the former women’s locker room. Playbill caught a soundscape installation here last year called Dýra, which only had audiences of four at a time as we took a sonic journey through the Westfjords of Iceland.
A Shipping Container
Theatre company Darkfield creates immersive theatrical experiences inside 40-foot shipping containers, and is bringing a show back to Edinburgh this year called Séance. The audio-theatrical experience also had a run at ArtsDistrict Brooklyn last year. At last year's Fringe, Darkfield also presented Eulogy, which takes audiences through an unfamiliar hotel with a less-than-forthcoming companion in pitch black darkness as the drama plays out via individual headphones. Playbill caught both shows at Fringe last year, and it was certainly a memorably eerie experience.
A Football Stadium
While not technically staged on the field, Never Trouble Trouble (Till Trouble Troubles You) will take place at the soccer stadium Tynecastle Park, in the museum dedicated to the team Heart of Midlothian. It’s a fitting setting as the work traces the story of one of its biggest star players: Bobby Walker.
Musselburgh Racecourse, the second-largest racecourse in Scotland, will turn over its Loretto Lawn for a performance of Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen’s classic tale about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy will play out in the open air where audiences can pack a picnic to enjoy with the show.
A Tent That Looks Like a Purple Cow
Underbelly has multiple famous venues that host shows for Edinburgh Fringe each year, including the Udderbelly, a giant tent set up in George Square that looks like an upside-down purple cow. Returning for this year's festival is a newly expanded version of the 2022 show Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder. Two best friends decide to try and crack the case when their favorite author is killed, and hope to become famous true crime podcasters along the way. This highly anticipated show is being brought back to Fringe by the Olivier winners behind Fleabag—pointing to a potential future for the show outside of the United Kingdom as it will play Bristol and Manchester this fall.
Actually, audiences will have their choice of three bunkers, all located at Pleasance Courtyard. Under low-arched ceilings, audiences will have their pick of shows: including a solo show about queer identity that’s interwoven with folk music and British mythology titled Sing, River, and another about grief and the cult-like attraction of spin classes with Spin Cycles.
A (Small-ish) Tent
In the internal courtyard at Summerhall, a tent is set up in a small section to create an intimate space for shows performed in the round. One of the shows this year is Strategic Love Play, which follows a first date arranged via a dating app as it unfolds in all of its awkward and uncomfortable moments—it promises to be a probing examination of modern romance.
An Anatomy Theatre
Also at Summerhall is the anatomy lecture theatre with curved, tiered, seating and a vaulted skylight. Playing the space this year will be The Fish Bowl, an experimental theatre piece exploring how a person with dementia experiences the world using real stories of people living with it. Gunter is another work to be staged in the anatomy lecture theatre, which is based on the real 1605 historical event of two boys who were murdered amid deception, torture, and accusations of bewitchment. And their mother wants justice.
Want to discover more unusual venues of the Fringe? Be sure to read this article about spaces that have been a part of the festival in previous years.