My Edinburgh: Steven Berkoff, actor

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The Independent Culture

Edinburgh in August is one of the most extraordinarily dynamic manifestations of human creativity in the world.

I was first here in 1968 with Leonard Rossiter for The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui, but every time I return it's incredibly memorable: getting off the train, breathing the fresh air and knowing there's four weeks of hell ahead.

Like a great multitude of people all rushing to the holy land, (there are so many shows) Edinburgh is like an army obstacle course. The main thrust is panic; panic just to get the show on.

It's a festival that runs like a conveyor belt; having only a few hours to set up a complex show, the more ambitious you are the more you will be crushed because coming after you is another show, and after that, another.

So if you want to survive Edinburgh you have to be really prepared, flexible, patient and not too irritable. You have to fight for your space; with so many one-woman/one-man shows, people will occupy a cupboard just to get their personality and message across.

But there's something quite moving about the spirit of these people, when you see the staggering energy generated by thousands working for not much more than their bread and butter and somewhere to sleep at night. Such devotion to the creative act purifies society, purifies Britain, purifies Scotland.

Steven Berkoff's 'Oedipus', Pleasance Courtyard (0131 556 6550) to 29 August

Steven Berkoff's Must-See

I saw one of the most astonishing manifestations of human energy and wit I have seen in my life: Jerry Sadowitz. Like a dynamo on stage, he lances the poison of the boils you have inside you. Others worth watching are George Dillon, who is doing no less than six one-man shows, and Guy Masterson's 'Shylock' at the Assembly Rooms.