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Forest happy to remain on edges of the Fringe

'No venue - no show' might well have been the sad swansong of Forest Fringe when, two years ago, the Forest Cafe in Bristo Place, Edinburgh, changed ownership, leaving co-directors Andy Field and Deborah Pearson without a base to stage their wildcard programme of performance events.

However, instead of shrugging the capital off their increasingly busy roster of Forest Fringe 'micro-festivals' across the world, Field explains that a certain kind of obduracy surfaced: after a comparatively low-key presence in 2012, he announced a full-strength Forest Fringe would again be on the cards, if not in the official 2013 Fringe brochure.

"We have never been in the brochure," he says. "We have always been a bit 'off the page' - on the edge, if you like. This year, you could say we are on the edge of the edge. We are in the Out Of The Blue Drill Hall in Dalmeny Street - it's off Leith Walk, and for many people, that is off the map.

"But it is a fantastic space and we have a fantastic programme. All events free, but donations welcome! For anyone who wants an alternative to the packed masses and familiar names that are in the city centre, we say, 'Come and spend a day with us'. You will see some great shows and also see some parts of this beautiful city you might never have seen before."

His is an attitude shared by Lorne Campbell, artistic director of Northern Stage, whose Fringe billet is located in St Stephen's Church, another venue that proudly flies a flag for being on the edge "where the view is amazing" - a claim that extends to what is on stage, as well as on the horizon.

So it is no surprise the two venues have come together in a one-day collaboration on Monday called Make Do And Mend. A new work by Third Angel has been co-commissioned and the spirit of the day will be debate and discovery with one of the questions up for discussion, the provocative issue 'What does radical even mean these days?'

The Forest Fringe programme has a goodly number of potential answers already on offer. Action Hero have kept faith with the whole initiative and are bringing their new show, Hoke's Bluff.

Rosana Cade, one of the originators of Glasgow's forward-thinking BuzzCut Festival, is bringing her Walking-Holding piece to the streets of Leith, while anyone opting for Rest Area could find themselves lying in the back of a van with Sarah Jane Norman.

As Field reels off names, the word 'community' keeps intervening. Not just because of the artists returning to Forest Fringe in a rush of relief and loyalty, but because creative forces such as Tim Crouch and Andy Smith have chosen to go to the edge with Forest Fringe, performing a new show, What Happens To The Hope, at the end of the evening.

"I think that almost sums up not just the spirit of enquiry Forest Fringe nurtures, but the bond that exists between the artists who don't really feel a part of the 'official' Fringe," says Field. "Forest Fringe was always going to be more of a mindset, not a building - a community of talents with shared ideals but very different processes and disciplines. So wherever they are, that's going to be Forest Fringe."

forestfringe.co.uk

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