RashDash's Two Man Show formed part of the 2017 Edinburgh Showcase programme. Photo: The Other Richard.
The British Council’s biennial Edinburgh Showcase ran from 1997 to 2019 as an opportunity for UK theatre companies to introduce their work to international promoters at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Festival. The event has given over 400 theatre and dance companies the opportunity to tour overseas, build new relationships and open up new markets for the UK’s performing arts.
The programme comprised of new work representing the very best of contemporary theatre and dance, reflecting the breadth and diversity of British performing arts. Participating artists and companies include: Bryony Kimmings, Jess Thom, National Theatre Wales, Travis Alabanza, Julia Cunningham Company, Tim Crouch, Selina Thompson, imitating the dog, Inua Ellams, Birds of Paradise Theatre and Forced Entertainment.
'I am now much better connected with presenters, partners and disabled and non-disabled artists in other parts of the world'
Artists tell us about the impact the Showcase has had on their careers.
Chris Thorpe, playwright and performer
I have been involved in the British Council Edinburgh Showcase quite a number of times and in different capacities. It's allowed me to make contacts with artists and organisations in other parts of the world.
There's a particular theatre in Germany, a tiny theatre I first came across through the Showcase. If I'm ever doing a show in Germany, I will always do a show in that theatre no matter what else I've got going on. Over the years, that's developed into a really important creative relationship. It's a real example of how a sense of connection can become important to you as your career progresses. It introduced me to groups of people that became pivotal to my practice and that relationship developed over a number of years.
It also exposed me to other British and international work which really widens your horizons about yourself and what you can do.
Chris Thorpe's work featured many times in the Edinburgh Showcase including Confirmation with Rachel Chavkin in 2015 and The Shape of the Pain with Rachel Bagshaw in 2017. He and his work have toured widely internationally, particularly in Europe.
Javaad Alipoor, writer, theatremaker and director
I didn't apply for the British Council Showcase or the Artist Development Programme that runs alongside it, but I did a a Pitch session to international delegates attending the programme. It was really important. Apart from being able to network and make some new links with international venues, it was great to have that space to really spell out how and why I like to work. As an organisation the British Council are such an important part of the international conversations, so it's great to be able to have time and space to really talk about what's important to you, and get to know what part of the conversation you can contribute to.
I think what's really helped me professionally and artistically is knowing that people of colour and artists from more working class backgrounds have really important things to contribute to the global conversation that the British Council helps to curate.
Javaad Alipoor was a Pitch Artist in Edinburgh Showcase 2017 and his piece The Believers are But Brothers was one of the shows we recommended to the delegates attending the Showcase. Since then, he has participated in a skills development programme in Ukraine and received interest from Australia to tour the production in 2019.
Jess Thom, co-founder, Touretteshero
Being part of the Showcase increased my confidence speaking about my work and about disability culture here in the UK. I am now much better connected with presenters, partners and disabled and non-disabled artists in other parts of the world and the conversations and opportunities I've had internationally continue to strengthen our approach to making and sharing our work.
Jess Thom's show Backstage in Biscuitland was in Edinburgh Showcase 2015 and her adaptation of Samuel Beckett's Not I featured in Edinburgh Showcase 2017. Backstage in Biscuitland went on to tour Ireland, Australia and North America. Not I toured the USA and Canada in January 2019.
Tim Crouch, playwright and performer
My first play opened in Edinburgh in 2003. It was picked up by the British Council at the start of the week and recommended to promoters. The first sign that anything might change was an Irish promoter inviting me to present the play at her venue. It also led to a run in New York in 2004.
The Showcase has enabled me to see my practice in terms of a much wider constituency. It’s allowed me to see my work in the world and the world in my work. There is a bigger dialogue in my thinking that includes a more global perspective.
That Irish promoter who booked me in 2003 has just commissioned a piece of work from me for 2019. In 2015 I made a collaborative theatre piece with artists in the Netherlands, New York and Germany. This was the culmination of relationships started in 2006. Connections made at the Showcase last.
Tim Crouch featured in the Edinburgh Showcase with productions including My Arm, England and I, Malvolio. His works are regularly staged internationally, with recent performances in Germany and India.
Find out more:
> Watch a playlist of trailers from the 2019 programme
> Watch a playlist of trailers from the 2017 programme
> Discover the themes of the 2019 programme
> Does the Fringe have a diversity problem? Read a blog from the Artist Development Programme participants from the 2019 programme.