Malkovich, Berkoff and Callow lead Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has launched its largest ever programme as household names continue to travel to the Scottish capital in August.

John Malkovich is directing Julian Sands, Marc Almond is performing a Mark Ravenhill libretto, Steven Berkoff will perform in his own version of Oedipus, with Anita Dobson and Simon Merrells, and Simon Callow is dragging up for the first time.

In absolute terms, the programme features 2,542 productions – 89 more than last year and 1,080 more than in 2001. In the different sections, comedy continues to dominate, as it has done since 2008, with 935 shows. Theatre productions have also increased, up to 761.

Launching the programme, Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Fringe Society, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe will be the biggest ever, reaffirming this as the largest arts festival in the world.

“That more people than ever see this as a valuable place to bring their work to show off to the world is a very good sign of the vitality of the festival.”

As the programme increases, the Fringe Society has produced new ways of navigating the fringe. The biggest change is the introduction of a new cabaret strand in the programme, which has 65 productions. The change has made a small dent in the Dance/Physical Theatre and Musicals/Opera strands, which are down to 89 and 90 productions respectively.

New media continues to be supported with the existing iPhone app being re-launched on June 23 and an Android app to follow a month later. Both apps will be able to sell tickets from August. A searchable pdf of the programme is available on the fringe website and it will be joined by a version for iPad.

In addition, the Fringe Society is to liberate its own data for the first time ever. Up to 20 different companies will be able to use it, to create new apps with the data.

As the fringe grows, the number of venues remains roughly stable at 258, down one from last year, despite the concentration of venues in Edinburgh’s Southside, with Assembly taking over the whole of George Square. Notable additions include Gryphon Venues at the Point Hotel, and the Playhouse at Hawke and Hunter Green Room on Picardy Place. C Venues, which last year had expanded into some of the George venues, this year takes over the Edinburgh College of Art.

The full programme for the month-long event is available from www.edfringe.com and ticket sales start at 8am tomorrow, Friday June 10.

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