Wales took centre stage at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, thanks to a successful British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2011.
In August 2011, the British Council Edinburgh Showcase presented the best of UK theatre to over 200 international programmers and presenters looking to promote and programme work internationally. The event offered drama and dance companies the opportunity to present work with the view of future collaborations and possible touring opportunities building new relationships and opening new markets for the UK’s performing arts sector.
WAI worked with the British Council and supported two productions from Wales at the 2011 Showcase and organised a well attended, Wales focused, networking event described on Twitter by National Theatre of Wales Director, John Mc Grath, as "...packed and passionate. The huge energy of Welsh Theatre was bursting the walls".
National Theatre Wales and Told by an Idiot, presented The Dark Philosophers with an outstanding Welsh cast. And there was a fringe first of a different type - Llwyth (Tribe) presented by Sherman Cymru and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru – became the first Welsh language production to be presented at this international showcase, which was very well received by critics and the public.
To help the international delegates to engage with the sector in Wales, we produced a brief introduction to professional theatre practice in Wales which was distributed widely at the fringe. It includes links to various theatre organisations, collectives, initiatives and individual performers in Wales and an inspired introduction by Chapter’s Theatre programmer James Tyson. Please click here to see the publication online.
Ahead of the Showcase, we worked closely with the British Council, Arts Council of Wales, National Theatre Wales, Sherman Cymru, Chapter, and Aberystwyth Arts Centre on a series of development focus groups and seminars.
In organising and curate the Showcase, British Council worked closely with a steering group of leading figures from drama and dance in the UK which included James Tyson, John McGrath and Fern Smith from Wales. As well as presenting high-quality live performance, the British Council, for the first time, curate a supporting programme of artist interviews, industry know-how sessions and critical debates which contextualised the work being showcased, see here: http://edinburghshowcase.britishcouncil.org/. We supported the British Council digital activities to help promote companies from Wales.
The British Council also provided focused panel sessions particularly looking at new models for producing, the role of programming and an overview of what's happening in digital in the UK in the wider performing arts sector. These useful sessions focusing on creating digital content and engaging audiences digitally can be viewed online at http://envirodigital.com/2011/08/responsibly-international-performing-arts-practice-its-digital-environmentally-sustainable/#more-1143 .
The trade fair (presenting Welsh companies Chapter, Volcano and Earthfall) was a chance to discuss productions which are ready for international touring.
Watch this space.