Back in 2004, around 15 students from Benilde-St. Margaret’s brought their performance of “The Feast of Life” to the world’s largest, most diverse arts festival, Scotland’s famous Fringe Festival, or simply, “the Fringe.”
In the summer of 2011, current students from Benilde-St. Margaret’s have the opportunity to be a part of the excitement. “We worked on Feast for about a year before we went over,” said Lauren Effertz, 2004 participant. “We did a couple shows here in the States before we brought it over.”
The trip, originally scheduled to take place during the summer of 2010, was rescheduled for the summer of 2011 due to the fact that not enough students signed up (10 to 15 students are necessary to make the trip possible.)
Freshman Lauren Effertz recalls her experiences on the trip. “I remember going to their shows,” said Lauren Effertz, referring to the shows of other high schools who also perfortmed at the festival, “I saw ‘Into the Woods’ and ‘The Crucible’.” From Minneapolis to London to Scotland and back again, for a student with an interest in theater arts, this is an opportunity not to be missed.
All About The Fringe
Students traveling to Scotland will have the opportunity to take their show on the road to “the Fringe,” capital of all arts festivals. As diverse arts-mecca, the Fringe Festival settles in the small town of Edinburgh, Scotland, for several weeks of exhibitions, performances, shopping, food, and an all-around good time.
The opportunity to travel overseas and perform at the Fringe Festival is certainly an extraordinary one, and the opportunity is not open to just any school. “You get nominated,” said Mr. Effertz, “the first time we went, Greg Sawyer from Holy Angels nominated us.” That trip was back in 2004. “Once you are an alumni of the program, if you want to come back, they know you,” said Mr. Effertz. “What they are looking for is schools that have pretty consistent quality programs.”
While the name of the festival might require some explanation, it helps to remind participants and travelers of its origin and humble beginnings. “They had this big arts festival and it became really established,” said Mr. Effertz, “and then these other groups who wanted to do stuff that was a little different were literally performing things on the fringe of the city.”
While Benilde-St. Margaret’s students only contribute their talents to the theater portion, the festival does feature much more than just drama. “The International Fringe Festival in Scotland was one of the first ones,” said Mr. Effertz, “it is really an international arts festival, so it’s theater, dance, music, art, and there is an international film festival and book festival.”
The original Fringe Festival, located in Edinburgh, Scotland is now world famous and has inspired many smaller versions all over the world. “It’s kind of like the Sundance Film Festival. When it became really commercial, they started another one,” said Mr. Effertz. “There is a Minnesota Fringe Festival that happens during the summer.” This local variation runs from July 30 to August 9, in several locations around Minneapolis, including Uptown, Northeast, and the West-Bank districts.
A Cultural Tour as Well
The festival itself is a busy place. “There are about 900 performances going on in the same city,” said Mr. Effertz. This includes about 15 to 20 high schools from the United States, each putting on its own production. It adds up to about 300 to 400 high school kids all at the Fringe Festival for the same reason: the chance to perform at a premier arts festival in a multi-cultural setting.
Student travelers stay busy throughout the ten days. “We perform the show four times,” said Mr. Effertz. With those four days occupied, six days remain, two of which are travel days. “They essentially spend the rest of their time touring the city and museums,” said Mr. Effertz.
On the 2010 trip, along with the opportunity to perform at the Fringe Festival, students also get the chance to tour parts of both London and Scotland. “They fly into London, sightsee a bit, attend a West End theater play in London, and then the next day they get on a train and go from London to Scotland,” said Mr. Effertz. “They tour Mary Queen of Scots’ castle, and they take a day trip out to Stirling Castle,” said Mr. Effertz. This castle is a major Scottish tourist destination, the sight of at least one of the Scottish wars of independence, it is also one of the locations where director/actor Mel Gibson’s movie, Braveheart (2003) was filmed.
“Edinburgh is a relatively small city, so one of the things most of our students will learn to do is use public transportation,” said Mr. Effertz, “during the off days they go to other shows, so it is kind of a cultural tour, too.”
Important to remember, however, is that this trip is still in the planning process, and has not been guaranteed to actually take place; it all depends on the number of students who decide to go. “Because it’s so far away, it has been kind of hard to publicize,” said Mr. Effertz.
Mr. Effertz is hoping for about ten students to go on the trip; however, this number is neither a limit nor a minimum. “The play we are thinking about doing is a flexible cast play so we could potentially have up to twenty students,” said Mr. Effertz.
“If you are interested in technology, and you go to an engineering camp and you love it,” said Mr. Effertz. “The students who got to go [to the Fringe Festival] last time said it was one of their best experiences ever.”