Indoor and outdoor shows set to be staged by Traverse Theatre under plans for Edinburgh Festival Fringe comeback

One of Edinburgh's leading year-round cultural venues has revealed it is planning to stage indoor and outdoor shows at this year's Fringe - if current social distancing restrictions are eased.

By Brian Ferguson
Friday, 21st May 2021, 11:53 am
Updated Friday, 21st May 2021, 12:22 pm

The Traverse Theatre a mainstay of the Fringe since the early 1960s, said it was “very hopeful” being able to reunite audiences and performers in August.

An announcement from the venue about the festival season said the Traverse was “determined and excited to do what we can, when we can.”

The venue, renowned as “Scotland’s new writing theatre,” revealed it was “tentatively” making plans for August despite a backdrop of uncertainty what the guidelines for live events will be later this summer.

Most Popular

    The Traverse joined forces with other leading theatres across Scotland earlier this month to plead for a rethink on the reopening rules for venues.Although they were given the green light to bring back audiences last Monday, the government has insisted that two metre social distancing must be enforced.

    The Traverse announcement said: “Operational circumstances continue to be challenging and it remains extremely difficult to make concrete plans.

    “In spite of some more hopeful news emerging from Scottish Government regarding potential relaxation of rules and possible future funding, much is still unknown or unconfirmed.

    "We are working with performing arts colleagues across the city, Scotland and the UK, Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh Council to establish clear protocols and processes to make reopening and live performance feasible as soon as possible.

    The Traverse Theatre has been one of the mainstays of the Fringe since the early 1960s. Picture: Stuart Montgomery

    Though the restrictions that we will need to operate within are yet to be confirmed, we are very hopeful that some form of live performance will be possible for August, and we are tentatively making plans based on what we believe the situation is likely to be at that time.

    "We are actively considering what may be possible regarding outdoor performances, and the potential for presenting work within specially modified indoor spaces.

    “We have lots of thinking and planning to do in the coming weeks and months, and are grateful for your patience and support whilst we work things through.”

    Scotland’s theatres sector has warned the government that reopening will not be economically viable unless theatres are brought into line with hospitality businesses, which can open at 1m social distancing.

    The Traverse added: “"Rest assured, audience and performer safety is our top priority in any reopening scenario and we will have comprehensive health and safety guidelines in place, which will be communicated as soon as they are confirmed. We are determined, and excited, to do what we can, when we can.

    “Whatever is possible, we are committed to supporting our industry, artists, and community, and strengthening our relationship with you, our incredible audience, who have continued to be so supportive of the Traverse during this period of challenge and upheaval.

    "We sincerely thank you for your understanding, loyalty and unwavering passion for our work, and for your continued advocacy.”

    The Traverse started life as a theatre club in an abanonded former brothel off the Royal Mile, in 1963. It moved to a former sailmaker’s loft in the Grassmarket in 1969 and its current home on Cambridge Street in 1992.

    Billy Connolly, Simon Callow, Timothy Dalton, Bill Paterson, Tilda Swinton, Ashley Jensen and Bill Nighy have all appeared at the venue over the years.

    A message from the Editor:

    Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

    If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

    Neil McIntosh