My Edinburgh: Mark Ravenhill, Playwright

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The Independent Culture

I first came up to Edinburgh in 1985 as a student and slept on a friend's floor. It was the first chance I'd had to see a hell of a lot of work, everything from John Godber's Bouncers to a piece of Polish theatre called The End of Europe with 40 Polish actors.

These days I tend to leave a year between festivals: coming up every year can get a bit full on. Where the Fringe is really good, it encourages people to take risks, to experiment and try something new. There's a group of people concentrated in the centre of the city all showing work and that creates a sense of heightened excitement. Where it works less well is when it's simply another way to promote comedians doing shows that they've done hundreds of times before.

This year I'm working with the actor Bette Bourne. When I first met him years ago he told me he'd lived in a drag commune. He's led such an incredible life, so eventually we decided to work together to tell his story. It's very different from doing a play. It's part chatshow, part therapy session, part writing a biography – a little like This Is Your Life and I'm the host.

As a student I'd buy 10 tickets a day and rush around seeing everything. Now I tend to be more selective and prefer to see one or two. I don't think either way is preferable. The only thing I've bought a ticket to so far is Faust at the International Festival. I've heard a lot about Silviu Purcarete: he's one of the directing giants of European theatre. I also want to see the new plays by my friends Simon Stephens, David Greig and Dennis Kelly.

Edinburgh's the perfect size for a festival. It's big enough that there are all manner of different atmospheres but small enough that you can phone someone up from Arthur's Seat, agree to meet them on the Royal Mile in 20 minutes – and then start running.

Mark Ravenhill appears in 'A Life in Three Acts', Traverse Theatre, to 30 Aug, not 24 (0131-228 1404)

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