Assembly Festival has announced a further 80 shows for its Fringe 2023 programme. This year, the festival is extending its wings across Edinburgh, beyond its festival hubs at Assembly George Square and Assembly Rooms to two new venues, with a co-curated programme at Assembly @ Dance Base and a residency at Murrayfield Ice Rink.
Recirquel Cirque Danse, the company behind 2019’s critically acclaimed My Land, will take over the art deco inspired arena at Murrayfield Ice Rink with an immersive circus experience IMA, directed by Bence Vagi, 04 – 27 August. In an installation space inspired by the starry sky, audiences will participate in a unique ritual guided by a 21st-century shaman, and adventure into the unknown territories of the human mind.
Assembly’s family programme includes more circus, with Chevalier – Hobbyhorse Circus, an irresistibly charming homage to circus horses and the silent movie era; and Cartoooon!! That mixes Japanese Manga animation with hilarious antics and unicycling for a live performance that jumps out from the cartoon world.
The festivals youngest audiences will be entertained as Monski Mouse and friends return with the renowned Monski Mouse’s Baby Cabaret and Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall. There’s an enchanting beginners guide to economics with Roger McGough’s Money-Go-Round; and the Reeflings go an under-the-sea adventure in DIVE, an immersive multi-sensory experience for children with SEN and PMLD.
In Cabaret, Broadway Diva brings the best West End Wonders, Broadway Belters, and Earworms that you know and love to Assembly’s Drawing Room. The Māui legend is retold with rhinestones and glitter in Rutene Spooner’s Thoroughly Modern Māui; Scotland’s premier quiz company bring and interactive experience where anyone can win with Goose’s Quizzes Elimination Game; and there’s outrageous drag, burlesque and more with Ginava’s Messy Friends.
Assembly is proud to welcome Kyiv City Ballet for their first visit to Edinburgh at the festival’s flagship venue, Assembly Hall. A Tribute to Peace is a programme of excerpts from some of the company’s favourite pieces, showcasing the resilience of these exceptional dancers and people of Ukraine. A portion of the proceeds from every performance will be donated to charities supporting Ukraine.
Also at Assembly Hall, the festival launches with a celebration of the 2023 programme and highlights from some of the best and biggest productions in the Assembly Gala (Wed 03 Aug); and inspired by a tale as old as time, Matador is a fiery fusion of burlesque, dance and jaw-dropping circus acts, an emotionally charged journey through love and its many faces.
Dance takes centre stage at Assembly Festival in 2023, with a co-curated programme at Assembly @ Dance Base. Plus, a high-energy fusion of commercial dance intertwining ballet and street with contemporary and breakdance in Beats on Pointe; powerful full-femme, full-bodied dance in Angel Monster; blending the instinctive and spontaneous quality of live performance with a view through the eye of the camera in Shoot the Cameraman; and conjuring a realm somewhere between online/offline, For you: wicked draws on experiences in camming, life modelling, stripping and formal dance training.
Once again comedy has a strong presence in Assembly’s programme, and there’s plenty of laughs to be had with stand-up from Gail Porter: Hung, Drawn and Portered; Jo Griffin: The Power Hour (Perfect, The Paddock); Larry Owens Live (ABC, HBO, Netflix); Mad Ron: Crime School as played by Steve Lee; Fringe favourite Reuben Kaye: The Butch is Back; Robin Tran: Don’t Look at Me (Historical Roasts, Straight Up Stand Up); Sophia Cleary: It Gets Worse (MOMMY, SmileKnife); Urooj Ashfaq: Oh No! (Queens of Comedy); and comedy line-ups at Liars & Clowns: A Late Night Comedy Show and Aboriginal Comedy AllStars.
Exploring the fringes of the genre, there’s musical comedy with 30 Minute Musicals: Top Gun and Comedians’ DJ Battles; improv in Aaaand Now For Something Completely Improvised; the alternative and the absurd in drag king show How to Flirt: The TED XXX Talk, The Poor Rich, and The Power of Yep; comedy sketches from BriTANicK: Work In Progress; storytelling in 5 Mistakes That Changed History and Skye Scraper: The Life and Times of a Drag Queen Accountant; drag, comedy and cabaret collide in I consent; and a performance performed simultaneously on stage and on the big screen in The Umbilical Brothers: The Distraction.
From the big screen to the stage comes the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s production of Big Fish, based on the book by Daniel Wallace and Tim Burton’s 2003 film; and Edges, a contemporary song-cycle from the creators of The Greatest Showman and La La Land.
There’s more music as the smash-hit gig theatre What Girls Are Made Of returns for its final Scottish dates; Jon Culshaw and Erin Armstrong star in Lena; a young Jehovah’s Witness comes to terms with his sexuality in Horizon Showcase: Birthmarked; a musical feast of storytelling in Of Moonset and the Milky Way; and The Beatbox Collective ask What’s Your Sound?
There’s something for everyone in Assembly’s theatre programme – from new takes on the classics with The HandelBards cycle-powered version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to a breadth of new writing – kitchen-sink drama meets post-apocalyptic horror in The Hunger; a life drawing class plunges into chaos in Artist/Muse; A young boxer tells us his story, from his rise to fame to tragic fall from grace in Shadow Boxing; The Stronger examines the role and position of women in society; and four musicians seal themselves in an underground studio In Everglade Studio.
The realms of science-fiction are explored with a drama about feminism, climate change, and David Bowie in ALONE; an uncanny adventure with friendly cryptids in Hive; and Ray Bradbury’s Tomorrow’s Child is turned into an immersive blindfolded experience for the audio equivalent of a five-star dinner.
Queer stories are shared with DARLING BOY, a hilarious and heart-breaking ode to growing up; a lip-sync battle like you’ve never seen before in Split Lip, a story of trauma and forgiveness; and a show about a queer, autistic, latinx caterpillar, on the edge of Super-trans-metamorphosis in Dre Spisto: El Dizzy Beast.
There’s theatrical character-comedy in Kravitz, Cohen, Bernstein and Me and GUSH; politics and clowns go hand in hand with Finnish clown duo Mike and Zin in Don Quixote; from the frontline of a failed Presidential campaign, Manifest Destiny’s Child is a hilarious, true account of how America woke up in Trumplandia; while the Westminster circus is explored in Dom – The Play. Breaking the Castle is a powerful comedy-drama exploring the correlation between mental health and addiction; and an audacious hell’s-eye view of The Passion of Christ in the darkly comic The Devil’s Passion.
The life of the artist is under the spotlight in an uncompromising portrait of an undisputed genius and visionary artist in Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré; André & Dorine follows a pair of elderly artists in a deeply emotional non-verbal work; and a young, unknown writer becomes a legendary playwright in Jacob Storms’ Tennessee Rising: The Dawn of Tennessee Williams.
Assembly kicks off the festival season on Friday 14 July with the opening of its festival hub Assembly George Sqaure Gardens, where it plays host to the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival through to Sunday 23 July. The city’s largest free-to-enter annual celebration of Scotland’s larder returns Friday 21 – Sunday 30 July with the Edinburgh Food Festival; before Assembly Festival’s Fringe programmes begins on Wednesday 02 August.
Assembly Festival is one of Edinburgh’s largest and the Fringe’s longest running multi-venue operators. It’s 2023 Fringe programme will take place across Edinburgh, with festival hubs at Assembly Rooms, Assembly Hall, Assembly George Square Studios and Gardens, Assembly Roxy, Assembly Checkpoint, as well as venues at Assembly @ Dance Base and Assembly at Murrayfield Ice Rink.
Tickets for Assembly Festival shows are available now from the Assembly Festival Box Office www.assemblyfestival.com.