In the 70 years that they've been growing and learning, the Edinburgh Festivals have become a markedly changed experience for people with different access needs. Both the Fringe and the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) offer supported booking services, and the Fringe Society is working with 'Gig Buddies' this year to pair music fans with learning disabilities up with fellow gig goers. Also new this year: a 'Mobiloo' mobile changing place open 10:00am-10:00pm on Windmill Street to help make festival going a bit more feasible and dignified for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well people with other physical disabilities. So, what about some good shows? Here's a start...
Ray Bradshaw: Deaf Comedy Fam
There's a lot more BSL-interpreted comedy now – expecially at the bigger venues. But this one's a first. Ray Bradshaw grew up with two hearing-impaired parents, so has been signing all his life. And now he's doing it as he performs, essentially doing comedy for British Sign Language (BSL) users, rather than it being 'translated'. And this ain't no gimmick. Bradshaw is a two-time Scottish Comedian of the Year finalist.
The Divide Part 1 and Part 2
19 August sees audio-described and BSL-interpreted performances of Alan Ayckbourn's beguiling new play, while the 20th is captioned. This is a mammoth of a drama, in two parts, which imagines a dystopian future where men and women are segregated. It's a world premiere, and a co-production between the EIF and the Old Vic.
Three Half Pints Present The Three Musketeers
Kids shows can be lively affairs – a fantastic, energetic, creative space for some, but a bit much for others. There are plenty of kids shows offering relaxed performances for people with sensory or communication disorders, or people on the autistic spectrum, for example. The Three Musketeers has the benefit of being utterly hilarious, too. Very, VERY loosely based on the Dumas classic, this is mostly silly fun. Relaxed performances on 9 and 23 August.
Lucy Jane Parkinson's recasting of the French heroine as an outsider looking for a space to exist hit last year's festival. It was awesome, so if you get a chance to see it, don't pass it up. Fortunately, that's an option open to more punters, with a relaxed staging on the 24th, and captioning for all performances.