Inspired by the music and work of Nina Simone, and one particular event in the legendary singer's life, Apphia Campbell conceived, wrote and performs 'Black Is The Color Of My Voice', a one woman show that combines music, history and an imagined recall of what Simone went through during a three-day 'spiritual cleansing'.

Campbell premiered the show in Shanghai, and later performed it in New York, but now brings the work to the Edinburgh Fringe for a full Festival run at the Gilded Balloon. Ahead of that we spoke to Campbell about the conception of the show, how Simone's life inspired the piece, and her preparations for the Edinburgh run. Click here to read the interview.
After two years with a Fringe base at St Stephen's church in the New Town, Northern Stage are this year setting up home at King's Hall on the Southside of the city, placing them just around the corner from that cultural hub Summerhall and much nearer the Bristo Square epicentre of Edinburgh's festival month.

"During our two summers at St Stephens we learnt a lot about ourselves and the Fringe and how it all works", Northern Stage Creative Associate Mark Calvert tells ThreeWeeks. "And it has given the team a lot of vital experience ahead of the move into King's Hall, with a much more ambitious programme and a definite sense of collaboration with other key venues in Edinburgh".

"Kings Hall's key difference to St Stephen's is its location" Calvert admits. But that's important, he reckons. "This year we're right in the heart of the beast, nearer Bristo Square, so we have much more competition for audience but also much more chance of people finding us. You were never going to find St Stephen's by accident, you had to make a choice to go there".

The biggest of the collaborations Calvert mentions is with Paines Plough at the now nearby Summerhall. Says Calvert: "We are collaborating with Paines Plough to present their portable Roundabout auditorium in Summerhall's courtyard. Paines Plough are showing four new pieces of their own work and they're hosting some pretty incredible companies, from the Greater North, that are part of the Northern Stage programme of work".

Northern Stage is a major presenting and producing house in North East England, which also tours shows nationally and has its own artist development programmes. The company decided to take on the ambitious task of running its own venue at the Edinburgh Fringe primarily in a bid to provide a platform for theatrical talent from across its 'Greater North' region.

"I think that when we had a look at what we were programming at Northern Stage, alongside conversations that we were having with a number of regional artists, Erica Whyman, our Artistic Director at the time, decided to combine a 'love affair' she'd had with Edinburgh with the fierce regional ambition for work that was being made across the Greater North. We wanted to find a showcase for the work from our part of the world at the biggest theatre festival in the world".

To that end the Northern Stage venue seeks to support and help the companies it brings to the Fringe. "We wanted to change the model of how artists could get to Edinburgh, when money is such an obstacle", Calvert says. "So as part of our offer we cover accommodation, there's no recharging and we try to offer enough technical support for the shows to be presented as the artists and companies intended".

You feel that the shift to King's Hall, and the tie ups with Paines Plough and Summerhall, are all signs Northern Stage is now here to stay as a key player in the Edinburgh Fringe's theatre strand. And – with comedy and more commercial productions now so dominant within the Festival at large – Calvert hopes that his company's expansion here is part of a revitalisation of a special element of Edinburgh's Fringe.

"I think you could say that the Fringe is moving away from its cultural roots and that needs to be readdressed", he says. "Venues such as Summerhall, Forest Fringe and ourselves are putting together programmes of work that are driven by the exploration of culture and art, for an audience that needs and wants to be part of that debate – in a society that increasingly sees value in being a customer rather than a provider or an enabler".

He concludes: "I'm not saying that we're waving some magical cultural wand and the world will become changed by our 'artistic interventions', I say that with irony, but offering people the opportunity to engage or see the world in a different way and be entertained during that experience is a valid and much needed counterpoint to the other offers across the Fringe".

More at
ThreeWeeks Co-Editor Caro turns her beady eyes to the theatre section next, and chooses three shows from companies and people that have received ringing endorsements from our team in the past.

Critical! (A Sociopath's Guide to Influencing Edinburgh Fringe Reviewers)
Well, a title like that is bound to attract a Fringe journalist, isn't it? Though they might not want to stay, given the premise of the show. "How far would you go to secure a favourable Fringe review?" asks the blurb, "You bring the duct tape – we'll supply the reviewer". I may be shifting nervously in my seat right now, but I am also able to acknowledge that this company, Practical Magic, have never done a Fringe show that didn't get a glowing ThreeWeeks review. Which means that a) this will probably be as good as all their previous shows and b) I probably don't need to watch my back...
Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall, from 2 Aug until 9 Aug. Tickets here.

Mary Stewart
This is the second Mary Queen Of Scots themed pick I've done for Fringe 2014 thus far, so I'd better 'reign' it in after this one. Ahem. But seriously; this one has been selected because of the skill and dedication of the ThreeWeeks Award winning production company behind it. Theatre Alba have garnered plaudits from many of our reviewers over the years, and their shows aren't just excellently put together, they are also staged in one of the most super venues in Edinburgh, Duddingston Kirk Manse Gardens, in the shadow of Arthur's Seat. Robert McLellan's 1951 script, written in "light poetic Scots", is to be performed in this atmospheric location as dark falls. I suspect it will be a mesmerising experience.
Duddingston Kirk Manse Gardens, from 6 Aug until 24 Aug. Tickets here.

Sweater Curse: A Yarn About Love (pictured)
Yes, I confess I was initially attracted to the title because, over the last year or so, I've learned to crochet and become an unrepentant yarn addict with no plans to aim for recovery; and so, even though this appears to be more focused on knitting than on crochet (the difference, FYI, is huge - I am utterly terrible at knitting), it's something I'd like to see. But then I searched through my brain, addled by nearly twenty years of trying to remember the names of many thousands of Fringe productions, and recalled that creator Elaine Liner brought this very piece to the Festival last year and it was well received by our reviewer, who considered it to be a "very sweet show". Sounds like the perfect post-lunch relaxer.
Sweet Grassmarket, from 1 Aug until 24 Aug. Tickets here.
© ThreeWeeks is published by UnLimited Media

ThreeWeeks, Fl2 Unicorn House, 221 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6PJ.
t: 0131 516 8842 |