Drama invited to attend Festival Fringe in Scotland for first time in almost two decades

May 5, 2024 — by Kathy Wang
The poster for the “Zap” play
Drama teacher Benjamin Brotzman expresses excitement for Drama’s attendance in the Fringe Festival

The bustling streets explode with laughter as a variety of street performers ranging from dancers, acrobationists and mimes — fill the sidewalks. This is a typical scene at the annual Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland, which occurs every summer.

This year, 13 drama students will be among those crowds attending and performing at the Festival Fringe from July 26-Aug. 9. 

According to drama teacher Benjamin Brotzman, it is the largest art festival in the world since. It showcases a variety of art institutions ranging from professional groups to small nonprofits, turning Edinburgh, population 500,000, into a wall-to-wall theater town for a full month.

“Everything about the town turns into this festival,” Brotzman said. “Every coffee shop, every street corner and everything that can possibly turn into a venue turns into a venue. There are small performances here and there. It’s a place that relishes in new work, old work, Shakespearean work, and everything in between.”

The selection process for the Festival Fringe

The drama department was invited by the American High School Theater Festival, which selects 30 high schools from the nation each year to attend the festival. Brotzman mentions that a number of colleges — most of which are local to the U.K. — from all over the world are selected to attend the festival as well. 

SHS drama was invited to apply for the festival in fall 2023. In the application process, Brotzman put together a number of small essays and a portfolio about the drama department containing photos, a description of what they do, their goals, aspirations and hopes. The drama department received their acceptance to the festival in January.

“It’s a fairly small group, but they’re very excited about going and there’s a number of family members that are going along with us as chaperones,” Brotzman said.

The preparation for performing at the Festival Fringe

At the festival, SHS drama is planning on performing a show they performed recently in early February. The show — called “ZAP” — is a comedic production playing on the limited attention spans of people when scrolling through electronic devices. The entire play includes seven different plays within it, switching to the next one when the audience “gets bored” of one play and “pushes a button” to watch the next. Each of the seven plays is from different time periods including Shakespeare’s Elizabethan period, 1800s drama and modern-day performances.  

Since drama has already performed the show, Brotzman is currently putting the play “in the freezer” and rerunning it in May to ensure that the play is at a good peak when they attend the festival.

“We’re making sure that we’ve taken control of all our properties, all of our set pieces, all of our costume pieces that we need to take and make sure that we know how we’re taking these things,” Brotzman said. 

What drama plans on doing at the Festival Fringe, besides performing “ZAP”

During the trip, drama plans on first traveling to London where they’ll see a show with London’s West-end Theater. Afterward, they plan on taking a bus to Edinburgh where they can sightsee, go to beaches, visit historical monuments and explore the town. 

Additionally, drama will also watch a variety of plays performed by other highschools, colleges and groupings at the festival. 

“The festival has been something that I heard about nearly 30 years ago and thought maybe one day [we can go],” Brotzman said. “It’s really exciting to be able to share with the students so much theater, the thing that I’ve helped them fall in love with. And it’s just a really exciting venture to be able to go and do that.”

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