Amy Macdonald, Judy Murray and David Mach lined up for Fringe venue
They are set to be unlikely bedfellows - even by the typical standards of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Singing star Amy Macdonald, tennis coach Judy Murray, artist David Mach, record-breaking cyclist Graeme Obree and best-selling crime writer Val McDermid are to share a stage this year - in a masonic lodge.
Veteran actor David Hayman, Stuart Braithwaite, guitarist in the indie-rock band Mogwai, singers Barbara Dickson and Rab Noakes, and broadcaster Hazel Irvine are also lined up to appear.
The spoken word events will be staged close to the long-running home of the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Charlotte Square Garden.
The Freemasons Hall at the west end of George Street is being taken over by the team behind the Stand Comedy Club for this year’s 70th anniversary Fringe.
Comics Limmy, Mark Thomas, Janey Godley, Richard Herring and Paul Sinha will also be appearing in the New Town Theatre venue, which will be part of an expanded festival scene in the city’s west end in August.
The venue, which is the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and dates back to 1911, will also be hosting live music, theatre and dance events during August.
These include a play about Alla Nazimova, the Russian actress who became a huge Broadway star after emigrating to the United States in 1905, a drama about a politician behind a law for convicted paedophiles who is implicated in a historic abuse case, and a Cantonese opera version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
It emerged last month that the Stand Comedy Club was taking over the Freemasons Hall as part of an expansion to the west end which will see it help run a new outdoor arena on George Street with the book festival. Up to four new venues and an outdoor cafe are expected to host hundreds of shows during August.
Another Fringe promoter, Gilded Balloon, has also announced plans for a new west end venue, the Rose Theatre, which will be created in the former Charlotte Baptist Chapel on Rose Street.
Kenny O’Brien, director of the Stand Comedy Club, said the plans to use the Freemasons Hall had emerged from discussions with the city council about staging events on George Street rather than St Andrew Square, as in previous years,
He added: “We have a three-year deal to use the building at the moment, with the first refusal to use it for another three years. We’re not running a big comedy club in there this year - most of the shows are not even going to be comedy.
“We’ve never operated it as a venue before so part of what we’re going to find out is what its strengths and weaknesses are. It will be interesting using all the space that is available in there.
“There’s no long-term strategy for the building, as such. We actually ended up during a process of trying to help out some other people. Hopefully we’ll get it running well this year and get a bunch of other people to come and have a look and possibly come back to perform in future years.”