Press release

Dialogue and diagnoses: The Sick of the Fringe returns to Edinburgh

Following the success of its inaugural year, The Sick of the Fringe is returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2016, to explore the connections between health, art and science, and celebrate the productions and people that do the same.

The Sick of the Fringe (TSOTF) was conceived by artist, performer and Wellcome Engagement Fellow Brian Lobel, and is led by him and producer Tracy Gentles, of In Company Collective. The project was commissioned by Wellcome, to highlight the wealth of work that appears at the Fringe each year that addresses issues around wellbeing, sickness, medicine, bodies and disability and to encourage new thinking among artists. TSOTF runs a series of events, activities and workshops for performers and the public alike, and aims to connect, support and inspire artists and theatremakers as they tell stories and create work that engages with these themes.

The project also asks Fringe artists to submit their work for the opportunity to have it seen by a team of over 25 writers, from arts critics to science journalists, who develop a detailed ‘diagnosis’ for each performance. Each diagnosis will be housed on the TSOTF website, building a resource of material that examines and connects the shows, their topics and their people, creating dialogue across the whole of the festival and a legacy beyond it. Programming directly from the Fringe, TSOTF thrives on the energy and vitality of the environment, responding to people and performances as they are happening, and building community on the ground.

Brian Lobel says: “I’ve long been amazed and inspired by the range and quality of work I’ve seen at the Fringe inspired by health, illness and everything in between. It reminds me that, like medical breakthroughs and scientific discovery, ideas thrive on connection and collaboration, and as part of a creative, engaged community. That is what is at the heart of The Sick of the Fringe and I can’t wait to return for a second time.”

TSOTF will open with an event featuring Wellcome’s Director, Dr Jeremy Farrar. He says: “Science does not, and cannot, exist in a vacuum. It is in the connections between people and ideas, the accidental conversations that spark debate and discussion, and the dialogue across disciplines that we find new, exciting ways of thinking and working. This is one of the reasons that Wellcome has long been a keen supporter of artists who engage with health research, and vice versa, and The Sick of the Fringe is a unique, collaborative project that champions them and will undoubtedly inspire many more.”

Other events will include a series at Fringe Central, Tickets to my Trauma, for artists making autobiographical pieces about their bodies and their health to explore how best to both promote and protect their work, with strategies and advice for selling tickets without selling themselves. Similar gatherings for producers will take place at the Traverse Theatre. Working closely with Equity, the actors union, as a ‘Partner in Sickness and Health’ highlights their parallel events such as The Sanctuary and Let’s Talk, alongside other opportunities for all those presenting work at the Fringe to discuss and experience self-care and consider practical ways to look after individual health and wellbeing. TSOTF will also include drop in sessions about best practice, funding advice and a pub quiz at Doctors.

The Sick of the Fringe team are looking to hear from any artists taking shows to Edinburgh that would like to be involved with the 2016 programme. Follow @TSOTFringe on Twitter and use the hashtag #TSOTF16 to connect with the project and the TSOTF community.   

Full events listings

Opening Event feat. Dr Jeremy Farrar | Medical School, University of Edinburgh
8 August , 18:30-20:00

Tickets to my Trauma | Fringe Central
9 August, 11:00

Producers Gathering | Traverse Theatre
15th August, 12:00-14:00

Tickets to my Trauma | Fringe Central
17 August, 15:30

Pub Quiz with Steve Nice | Doctors Pub
16th August, 16:00

Producers Gathering | Traverse Theatre
22nd August, 12:00 – 14:00

Spotlight on Mental Health | Summerhall
22nd August, 15:00 – 17:00

Tickets to my Trauma | Fringe Central
25 August, 11:00

Final event | Roxburghe Spa
27 August, timing TBC