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Edinburgh Fringe takes over numerous venues for huge festival

By Ian MacKenzie

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - With venues ranging from a 16th-century courtyard house to a converted church, Edinburgh’s annual Fringe Festival has unveiled its 2014 program with productions from 47 countries around the world.

    Marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One, veteran actor and Director Guy Masterson will recite the finest writings from both sides in "An Anthem for a Doomed Youth" at the Assembly Roxy performance venue in a former church.

    Actor, writer and presenter Stephen Fry will present "Forgotten Voices" at the Pleasance Courtyard, while Hour Lot Theatre tells the intriguing story of an unlikely friendship between the German Kaiser and a British prisoner-of-war in "Dear Mr Kaiser" at theSpace on North Bridge.

    The festival covers a huge range of art forms including cabaret, comedy, dance, circus, music, opera and theater.

    A record 3,193 shows – an 11-percent increase over 2013 – and nearly 51,000 performances cement the Fringe’s position as the biggest annual arts festival in the world, officials said on Thursday. The Fringe runs from August 1 to 25,

    Edinburgh annually doubles in size to around one million people with the Fringe, the Edinburgh International Festival of the Arts from August 8-31, the Edinburgh Book Festival from August 9-25 and the Royal Military Tattoo from August 1 to 23.

    An official survey has put the value of the festival season to around 250 million pounds to the Scottish economy, boosted this year with an expected further influx of visitors to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow from July 23 to August 3.

    Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Fringe Society, said she thought the key to the success of the Fringe “is that it’s an open-access festival and anybody who wants to take part in it can”.

    “You can see something that’s really new, that’s really avant garde, you can see every art form available and some things that adapt between the art forms,” she told Reuters.

(Editing by Michael Roddy)

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