Barry Gordon: The show goes on - if you can pay, that is

Barry Gordon
Barry Gordon
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EDINBURGH has always been a theatre city. We’re fortunate to have the Playhouse, Festival Theatre, Royal Lyceum and the King’s.

There’s the Traverse, too, and in Leith Theatre, Edinburgh Makars and Siege Perlious - home to some of the best in amateur, community and innovative theatre.

Every August, vitually every available space is transformed into a Fringe venue, and there’s no shortage of creative people willing to write, cast, direct and produce theatre, either.

One big problem: money. It’s hard enough finding the time, energy and resources to produce a show, but when you have the added pressure of sourcing enough money to purchase a theatre license from City of Edinburgh Council, well, you have to wonder if the ‘Inspiring Capital’ catchphrase is inspiring capital of a non-creative nature instead.

From £43 (per day) for street theatre, up to £2623 for large commercial operations, it’s anything but cheap. Grassroots groups are looking at shelling out £874 to acquire a license (with a yearly added fee of £711 to renew), and if you happen to be a charitable organisation it’ll not only cost you £109, there are only four licenses to go round.

Sure, such high prices ensures any corporate, fly-by-night companies from outside the country won’t get their own way, but what about our own tax-paying citizens?

For instance, if you’ve written a script, have a couple of friends willing to act, set up the lights, direct and do the door - and want to put on a show in a small venue it’s going to cost you. Big time.

Is that fair? During Shakespeare’s time, London had a great gap between the rich and poor. However, it didn’t matter what social rank you were, they all shared a delight in producing and attending theatre.

These days, it would seem producing theatre is a privilege - not a right.