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Wee subdued bit of Edinburgh Fringe
By Nie Xin

THE Edinburgh Fringe Festival is famous as the world's biggest exploration of performing arts, notably theater arts and comedy. A Fringe Showcase version of five plays is being staged at the Shanghai Grand Theater from October 10 to 28.

More than 3,000 tickets will be available at affordable prices, as low as 50 yuan (US$7.9), according to the event's producer Yuan Ming.

The works are "The Monster in the Hall" from The National Theater of Scotland, "Watch Me Fall" by Britain's Action Hero, "André and Dorine" by the Kulunka Theater Company of Spain, "Detention" by the Tang Shu-wing Theater Studio from Hong Kong, and "I'm Moon" by Shanghai's Damen Theater Studio.

This is Shanghai's, and the Chinese mainland's first, quieter, tamer taste of the Fringe, works that considered "out there."

When the larger-than-life Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012 closed in late August, 42,096 performances and 2,695 shows had been staged.

"But the few, carefully selected fringe performances from 2011 and 2012 are sure to evoke strong emotion from local audiences and open a new chapter of festival theater in Shanghai," says Shanghai EFF producer Yuan.

"The Monster in the Hall" is a musical comedy depicting complex family issues between a feisty 16-year-old girl, Duck Macatarsney, and her biker father, Duke, a drug abuser who relies on drugs, heavy metal and horror movies to survive after his wife's death. He also has worsening multiple sclerosis. Young Duck cares for him but local social services threaten to remove her from the home.

"No special costumes, props or stage backdrops are used during the show. The entire performance depends solely on the acting of its four actors," Yuan said of the work that won Best Ensemble at EFF 2011.

"André and Dorine" by the Basque country Kulunka Theater Company is a mask drama that makes use of bare walls, the sound of type-writer keys and the lone notes of a single cellist to tell the story of an elderly couple. They cling to their memories to remember how they once loved to sustain their love for one another.

"For us, gestual (gesture or mime) theater doesn't need words to tell stories and provoke emotions; it is a universal language that transcends all cultural differences," says Garbi?e Insausti, producer of the Kulunka Theater Company.

"It is a language in which the subject is the human being, in which the verbs are actions and whose grammar is articulated by emotions. This is most definitely our great discovery with 'Andre and Dorine,' in which a non-textual dramaturgy is built to tell a seemingly conventional story."

"Detention" by Tang Shu-wing Theater Studio from Hong Kong is a purely comical physical theater, in which the director explores the possibilities of stage work to extremes.

"Detention" was the first Chinese theater production in years that was staged for weeks on end at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

It tell the story of four children held late after school for misbehaving and how they manage to escape their punishment by dancing, singing and trickery behind their teacher's back.

In addition to the Fringe plays, the three-week festival will feature play workshops, seminars, video reviews, an open market and posters.

Producer Yuan describes the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as the exploration of unlimited freedom and possibilities in theater.

"I hope this platform can provide Chinese theater insiders with an outlet for more creative ideas, allowing them to break through traditional approaches and enhance their script writing," Yuan says.

For a complete schedule, check http://www.shgtheatre.com/en/main.jsp please.

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