Irvine Welsh attacks 'centralisation' of Edinburgh Fringe


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The author Irvine Welsh has attacked the "centralisation" of the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival, protesting that high-profile city centre venues dominate at the expense of those in less well-known areas.

The festival begins today and central Edinburgh's best-known theatres, such as the Pleasance, will see the likes of John Malkovich and Marc Bolan tread the boards this month.

But the writer of Trainspotting – who is promoting theatre youth group Strange Town, operating at a venue in his birthplace of Leith, north of the city centre – feels that many of the festival's hundreds of thousands of visitors are unlikely to venture further afield.

"A lot of theatre companies are just shooting themselves in the foot by not showing an interest in areas like this one, and others like Gorgie and Dalry, which have some great old halls and buildings," he said, speaking in Leith.

"Although Leith has its own festival, it's great to see a Fringe venue like this happening here. It shows people that the Fringe isn't something that is just for the Old Town or the New Town."

Strange Town is performing at Leith on the Fringe, a venue which aims to support the local talent in the area. John Diamond, a spokesman for the venue, told The Scotsman: "We want to bring people from all over the city down to the venue and encourage them to spend as much time as possible in the area.

"We've got shows on every day from 9am to 10:30pm, and the idea next year is to expand to other venues."

The Edinburgh Fringe is the world's largest arts festival. During its three-week run there will be some 2,542 shows, in which 21,000 people perform in 258 venues, which range from purpose-built tents to bars, nightclubs and lecture theatres.

The Fringe began in 1947 when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to the first Edinburgh International Festival.