21 must-see shows for booklovers at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe

Booklovers - your guide to the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Category: Reading

The Edinburgh Festival is a carnival of colour amongst the gothic grey of Auld Reekie’s streets. In this explosion of art it can be intimidating to delve into the technicolour phonebook of events which is the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe programme. That’s why we’ve done the legwork for you (for booklovers anyway).

Have a scroll through the 21 bookish events we’ve spied in the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe and add any shows we’ve missed, or that you’ve seen and loved (or hated), in the comments below.

Disclaimer: We haven’t seen these shows. We only like the sound of them because we love books. Proceed with caution and remember that the worst shows make the best anecdotes.


1. Create Your Own Comic

Hendrick's Carnival of Knowledge (Venue 225) | Events | 7 August | 12:00

Ever wanted to create your own Batman, Watchmen, Wonder Woman, Ghost World, or even that gothic girl Nemi in the Metro? Well here’s your chance. Work with Creative Director of Graphic Scotland Ariadne Cass-Maran, and live models, to bring your characters to life with all the techniques you need to create comic history.


2. Orlando: An Autobiography

Gryphon@WestEnd (Venue 109) | Cabaret (theatre, new writing) | 4 to 9 August | 19:30

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando reinvented as a foul mouthed, 500-year-old drag queen

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando reinvented as a foul mouthed, 500-year-old drag queen – it’s hard to get more Fringe than that. This Orlando invites you to sit down, shut up, and explore the performances we put on every day in a 'grotesque cabaret of gender that would make anyone drown themselves in a river.'


3. Edinburgh Book Fringe at Word Power Books

Word Power Books (Venue 154) | Events (political, poetry) | 8 to 23 August | Times vary | @WordPowerBooks

Even if you can’t make it to one of the fantastic events at Word Power Books go to Word Power Books while you’re in Edinburgh – the city’s only independent and radical bookshop. It's nourishing. 


4. Memory Lane – Leith in the Stories of Locals

Living Memory Association (Venue 224) | Events (walk, visual art) | 1 to 31 August | @ambleskramble

Grab your MP3 and explore Leith’s waterside as locals fill your ears with colourful stories. All you need is the audio track and walking route map from the Living Memory Association and follow the route at your leisure. All the stories are underscored by a soundtrack of music from Scottish traditional musicians Kris Drever and Amble Skuse – and there’s even some street art from visual artist Kate Mackay to spot along the way.


5. Interpreting Shakespeare with Ian McDonald and Liz Carruthers, Playwrights Studio Scotland

Fringe Central (Venue 2) | Events | 16 August | 14:00 | @Pwrightsstudio

A practical workshop led by poet Ian McDonald and director Liz Carruthers for those interested in finding exciting ways to adapt the Bard, and other works of fiction.


6. BBC Poetry Slam Grand Final

BBC Potterow Blue Tent | Spoken word (poetry) | 16 August | 20:15 | @BBCEdFest

Performance poets battle it out in the sparkly BBC tent at Potterow in the BBC Slam

Watch performance poets battle it out in the sparkly BBC tent at Potterow in this, the fourth edition of the BBC Slam. The unticketed heats will take place in the Pink Tent on 11, 12, 13 and 14 August from 8.15-9.30pm. Follow the link above to book your tickets for the grand finale. 


7. Austen: The Musical

The Space on the Mile (Venue 39) | Musicals and Opera | 13 to 16 August | 19:05 | @AustenMusical

Embark on a musical journey through Jane Austen’s less famous real-life romances and her struggles to get published in a very male industry.


8. Animal Farm

Assembly George Square Theatre (Venue 8) | Theatre (dance, physical theatre) | 31 July, 1 to 10, 12 to 17, 19 to 24 August | 12:00 

Revisit George Orwell’s famous political satire on the stage in an epic production from Georgia’s premiere theatre company: Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre. Performed by 25 actors with ‘stunning physicality and power’, this promises to be a memorable retelling.


9. Brave and Free: Traditional Tales of Scotland

Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30) | Spoken word (storytelling, traditional) | 1 to 25 August | 13:30, 15:30 | @ScotStoryCentre

Let Calum Lykan, a nominee for the best newcomer at last year’s British Awards of Storytelling Excellence, bring Scotland’s myths and legends alive. Sit back and enjoy tales of giants, broonies, selkies, and heroic stories of old warriors and kings from the mists of time.


10. Starchild: The Little Prince Reborn

Greenside @ Nicolson Sq. (Venue 209) | Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus (family, adaptation) | 1 to 2, 4 to 9, 11 to 16 August | 12:40 | @UrbanAphrodite

Return to the incredible journeys of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry with Shanghai’s Urban Aphrodite theatre company. Starchild: The Little Prince Reborn is an original take on the tale using dance, theatre and movement methods based on the Suzuki Method, blended with strong imagery and an original score.


11. Blackwell’s Writers at the Fringe

Blackwell’s Bookshop (Venue 133) | Spoken Word (events, new writing) | 7, 14, 21, 28 August | 18:00 | @BlackwellEdin

Edinburgh's oldest bookshop presents an evening of the best Scottish writing. Discover new voices in poetry, tartan noir, folk music and contemporary fiction in this stellar line up: www.blackwell.co.uk/edinburgh.


12. A Short Story about a Short Story

The Assembly Rooms (Venue 20) | Spoken Word | 13 August | 12:20 | @writerer

Let one of the leading lights in Scottish writing, AL Kennedy, take you behind the scenes of a short story. The true roots of fiction are often misunderstood but Kennedy’s exploration of them is guaranteed to entertain.


13. Alice

theSpace on North Bridge (venue 36) | Theatre | 6 to 9, 13 to 16, 20 to 23 August | 23:55 | @FourthMonkeyTC

Dark and magical late night look at Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland seen through the eyes of the White Rabbit

‘I wonder if I've been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? But if I'm not the same, the next question is "Who in the world am I?”’ Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The multi-award-winning Fourth Monkey return to the Fringe with what promises to be a dark and magical late night look at Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland seen through the eyes of the White Rabbit.


14. Liz Lochhead: Somethings Old, Somethings New

The Assembly Rooms (Venue 20) | Spoken Word (poetry, music) | 1 to 10, 12 to 24 August | 12:15

Carol Ann Duffy described the National Poet of Scotland as ‘an inspirational force in British poetry, a writer who has tirelessly brought poetry to the drama and drama into poetry.’ Join Liz Lochhead for a retrospective of more than 45 years of her poetry, performance pieces and in-character monologues to the tunes of Steve Kettley’s saxophone.


15. 21st Century Poe: Moyamensing

Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29) | Theatre (storytelling, horror) | 4 to 10, 12 to 17 August | 17:50 | @MartyRossWriter

In 2013 Marty Ross reinvented some of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories in a sell-out show. This year Ross has poor Poe telling his own tale, imprisoned for drunkenness in Moyamensing Prison and facing his worst nightmares - a true but little-known incident from the last few weeks of Poe's life.


16. Siddhartha, The Musical

The Assembly Rooms (Venue 20) | Musical | 1 to 5, 7 to 12, 14 to 24 August | 18:10 | @Siddhartha_Tour

Bringing a groundswell of buzz from tours of North America and Europe, Siddhartha, The Musical is coming to life at this year’s Fringe. Inspired by Herman Hesse’s novel, the musical tells the story of Prince Siddhartha’s spiritual quest for enlightenment but with an Italian and South Asian-influenced pop-rock score and ‘sexy performances’. Not only that, this adaptation began as an inmate rehabilitation programme in Milan’s maximum security prison. A must-see.


17. God’s Own Country

Zoo Southside (Venue 82) | Theatre (adaptation, solo show) | 1 to 25 August | 20:00 | @FineMessTheatre

A one-man adaptation of Ross Raisin’s disturbing, and highly-rated, debut novel has to be a must-see for lovers of contemporary British fiction. North Yorkshire farmer Sam Marsdyke is struggling. Everything is changing in his Yorkshire valley until she shows up...


18. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

Underbelly, Bristo Square | Theatre (family) | 1 to 12, 14 to 25 August | 14:45 | @scamptheatre

The stage version of War Horse recently delighted Edinburgh audiences at the Festival Theatre. Now it’s the turn of Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful to make the transition from page to stage. It’s the tale of a young WW1 soldier awaiting the firing squad at dawn. During the night, he looks back at his short but joyful past growing up in Devon, the accident in the forest that killed his father, his adventures with his first love, and the injustices of war.


19. Riverrun

Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) | 2 to 3, 5 to 10, 12 to 14, 16 to 17, 19 to 24 August | Times vary (check website for details) | @The_Emerge_Room

You can usually put a blindfold on and stick a pin into the Traverse’s Fringe programme and you’ll be sure of a great / challenging / beguiling night of theatre. Booklovers should be especially keen to see Olwen Fouéré, one of Ireland’s leading theatre-makers, perform her acclaimed new take on James Joyce's Finnegans Wake


20. The Seussification of A Midsummer Night's Dream

theSpace on North Bridge | Theatre (comedy, family) | 1, 3, 5, 7 to 9 August | 11:00 | 

Lovers of Shakespeare and Dr Seuss will be counting the minutes until this family-friendly adaptation of the Bard’s best-loved comedy.


21. Wuthering Heights

Summerhall (Venue 26) | Theatre (contemporary, performance art) | 10 to 14, 16 to 17, 19 to 24 August | 22:00 | @mcmaster_peter

In this all-male interpretation of Emily Bronte’s oft-adapted text, four performers explore their experiences of what it is to be a man. As they recall the bleak beauty of the Yorkshire moors, they join each other in full-throated song, and lose themselves in dance to Kate Bush. They ask, almost 200 years after the book was published, are the aspirations of men very different now? 


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