Wednesday 30 July 2014

Edinburgh Fringe 1984 - Fringe Sunday

In 1984 a young couple visited the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time, here are some of their souvenirs. At that time there was a tradition of Fringe Sunday, an open air event which began with a parade of floats down the Royal Mile and culminated in an afternoon on the green in Holyrood Park. Performers would showcase their events, sometimes in tents, sometimes on the back of trucks, and there would be general open-air shenanigans, the likes of which most of us would associate with the usual summer festivals which, unlike, Edinburgh, are all tents and outsideyness. Fringe Sunday had begun in 1981 and continued every year until 2008 by which time the Fringe had grown too big to accommodate it. Now more street performance takes place on the Royal Mile every hour than was staged in 1984's Fringe Sunday. (The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre performed in the Cabaret Tent of the final Fringe Sunday in 2008).

Above we see some street performerly art performance with big flags and colourful costumes. There was a lot of that. And below you might just make out Tom Robinson, then cult pop star riding high in the charts with War Baby, now a Radio 6 DJ, wanging a welly* in the general direction of Hank Wangford, a qualified medical practitioner and humourous country and western act who in 1984 was nominated for the Perrier Award, and aged 73 is still gigging.

You can also see tickets for two shows we attended at 84's Fringe, a Tom Lehrer musical for £2 and The Cambridge Footlights for the then highest-price-in-town of £3.50. Riddles Court, where We Will All Go Together was staged, is a unique A-listed 16th Century courtyard house with a rare late C16th painted beam ceiling and rooms that once housed a banquet for James VI. Now being preserved and restored, back then they let student theatre groups loose in it.

The Footlights show of 1984 starred Steve Punt, Hugh Dennis and Nick Hancock. A very funny show (we still quote the line "he was ever an unfortunate man"), their predecessors had won the Perrier in 1981 and, though many ex-Footlighters have gone on to win the award, the Footlights itself would not be nominated again until 2001 (as Best Newcomers).

* Wikipedia says it was a cow pat. Thirty years on I stand corrected.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014, July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm

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