Theatre at The Fringe

Crescendo issue: June 2014
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the world.

Every year thousands of performers take to hundreds of stages all over Edinburgh, Scotland to present shows for every taste. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the festival caters to everyone and includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children's shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events. In 2013 there were 45,464 performances of 2,871 shows, solidifying its status as the largest ever arts festival in the world. 

And this year, Interlochen's theatre department is taking a troupe of actors to join the festivities. 

"We will be performing four times between August 15 and 20 at the beautiful Church Hill Theatre," says Interlochen's director of theatre arts William Church. "We will be performing 'Sonnets for an Old Century' by award-winning playwright José Rivera."

"This piece was chosen for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted something a bit edgy for the festival. There are some traditional pieces there, but it certainly is fringy," he said with a smile. "There are clear efforts made by companies to try new things, which makes it an exciting place to be. Secondly, we also needed to keep in mind that, since these are Academy students, we will not have a chance to rehearse from May to August. Since this is a monologue-based piece where each student has one monologue, it is something that they could rehearse on their own over the summer. We couldn't have selected a play that required a great deal of timing or scene work."

"To be part of the world’s largest performing arts festival is huge," continued Church. "What is amazing about being there is that there are people from all over the world, of all ages, who are going to see theatre. The buzz in the streets is amazing, the lines are amazing, the energy is unique, I’ve never experienced anything like it. I think that the students will be able to take away a sense of the power of the art form in the world. It’s much more vital than we think. The pieces that we will see will certainly inspire the students to really think about the importance of their training, and being the next generation."

"At the heart of it all, actors are observers, and it is our job to experience as much as we can in order to fuel our performances," says Interlochen student Kathleen Taylor. "This trip will give us personal experiences to work and learn from, and it will also give us the chance to experience other people's stories through the things we do, the theatre we see, and the individuals we meet. This trip is honestly the best thing a student of theatre could wish for."

Kathleen's fellow castmate, Grace Fojtik, couldn't agree more.

"As a student of theatre, exposure to any new thing is good. Our job is to represent humanity, so going to festivals and other countries just to see what more people act like is itself important. It also is important as a performer to learn how to do your best work in this type of rehearsal process and performance schedule. Today it is more common than not for an actor to be thrown into a show after little rehearsal time and have shows performing in different places. I think it is good for a young actor to be exposed to processes like these, to show us the amount of work we have to do on our own to do justice to a piece."

A mix of students will be going on this trip including some students who have already graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy. Church sees this as a final hurrah for those students, many of whom will be heading off to college the day after they return from the Scotland trip.

For Church, the opportunity to share this completely immersive arts experience with his students is a dream come true. "The performances will be exciting because performances are exciting," he said with a laugh. "But, I am most excited to walk on the Royal Mile with them, which is this amazing stretch of Edinburgh where all of the people are, the ticket office of the Fringe, a lot of theatres are there, there’s a castle at each end, and it’s full of that theatre and arts buzz. I’m very much looking forward to watching them be part of this truly unique and alive environment. I think they’re going to thrive on it."