Yes, the Festival is now almost upon us, and the ThreeWeeks Preview Edition for 2014 is now available to download. Meanwhile those of you living in Central Edinburgh may see a copy of our guide landing on your doormats in the next few days, and when the Fringe cranks into operation on Wednesday, you'll be able to pick up your copy in venues.

You can download the PDF version (16MB) by clicking here, or check it out in digital form via this page here. Some features from this edition are already online, and the rest will be appearing over the next few days, with alerts here in your ThreeWeeks Daily email.

Once again our preview issue is packed full of hints and tips, and we hope that they'll help you with your personal Fringe decision making processes. As usual, I've trawled the programmes looking for shows that look interesting, shows that I know will be good, and shows that someone else has convinced me will be worth seeing, and I've written about them all in our 3 To See previews.

Furthermore, four guest contributors – all former winners of ThreeWeeks Editors' Awards no less – have also been perusing the listings to provide some top five recommendations from their own genre specialisms: Richard Tyrone Jones recommends spoken word events, Daniel Cainer selects the music, Sarah-Louise Young offers you her cabaret picks, and Tamzin Fitzgerald gives you tips for the dance programme.

But that's not all, of course. Aside from all the tips and picks, we have loads of interviews and columns, all featuring acts and companies that we love. Some of them are Fringe stalwarts, others relative newcomers, and we have high hopes for them all. In this issue you'll find Q&As with stand-up types Susan Calman, Zoe Lyons and Dan Schreiber, as well as with the talented people behind a number of theatrical pieces: Apphia Campbell, star of 'Black Is The Color Of My Voice', Lucy Benson-Brown from 'Cutting Off Kate Bush', and 'Blind Hamlet' director Ramin Grey. We also spoke to Natasha Gilmore, choreographer from linked physical shows 'Tiger' and 'Tiger Tail', Guy Retallack, director of the musical 'Thrill Me', the team behind family show 'Potted Sherlock', and spoken word performer Nadia Brooks.

And it doesn't end there; we've also ceded the floor to a number of guest columnists, who have written enlightening articles for us, and you, on a variety of subjects. Comedian Chris Turner tells us about his descent from archaeology to comedy, Allen Barton outlines the genesis of his play 'Years To The Day', and Sarah Campbell shares her top Fringe worries. Don't worry, though, it will all be okay.

And, once you've read them all, I bet you will be much better prepared to attack the Festival. Informed, armed, and with at least a few shows to aim for. However, I would urge you not to leave it all up to us. Or indeed, our fellow media. There are thousands of shows, and only a fraction of them get picked up by the press; only a small number feature in pre-Festival preview picks, and not every show will get a review - from an established publication - in print or online.

So, when someone hands you a flyer, or when you are perusing the Fringe Programme and for some reason notice a particular show title, don't write it off because it has no "press quotes" in its blurb, or because you can't find a review of it online. It might be brilliant, it's just nobody knows it yet. And yes, you take a risk when you go to see a show like that – you might end up wasting your money and time on an hour of pap – but it might be a risk that pays off.

You might make a huge discovery. You might sit in a near-deserted performance space and watch a show by a fantastic new talent, you might go out and tell your friends. You might start a word-of-mouth movement that ensures a trickle of custom to that show every day. By the end of the Festival, there might be a queue for it all down the Cowgate... wouldn't it be exciting to be a part of that?

Caro @ ThreeWeeks
Long-term ThreeWeeks favourite Zoe Lyons is back at the Fringe this year with a brand new show called 'Mustard Cutter', an hour of quality stand-up promising to cover everything "from pan pipes to the price of lobster". Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Gilded Balloon castle, you'll find her appearing in 'Outings', a new show inspired by the YouTube phenomenon that was Tom Daley's 'coming out' statement last year, exploring the real-life coming out stories of various other gay men and women.

The last time I caught up with Lyons was in a small hot room in the roof of the Pleasance Courtyard, when she guested on the old ThreeWeeks Radio Show. But that was a few years ago now, and with a new comedy and theatre show to talk about, it seemed like a little bit more questioning was due. Click here to read the interview.
You need a very long memory indeed to remember an Edinburgh Fringe without the C venue, it having been a major operator at the Festival for many years now, with its long-established multi-storey base on Chambers Street and a number of other spaces around the city.

And this year that venue network includes two brand new buildings, the all new C south and the newly located C cubed. Introducing them both, C chief Hartley Kemp told ThreeWeeks: "C south is a Festival oasis on the south side of the city, a 19th century church and hall in extensive gardens just off Clerk Street, close to the Queen's Hall. We're creating a 120-seat theatre in the hall and a relaxed al fresco café-bar, and have programmed performances into the church and outside too".

There has been a C cubed within Kemp's mini-empire many times before, though this year it's at a new location in Riddle's Court near the castle. "It's an a-listed building and is one of the finest surviving burghal residencies on the Royal Mile", Kemp says. "We're creating an 80-seat black box performance space which has been very popular with theatre companies from around the world. Meanwhile, on the first floor we have a truly unique studio space in the Geddes Room, with panelled walls and a decorative ceiling".

In addition to the new buildings, there have also been new developments at C nova, a recent addition to the venue's operations towering above Victoria Street. C is using more of the complex this year, with Kemp confirming "we have a lot of extra space that we're using this time with installations and immersive work on the upper floors. Producer Jethro Compton brings back his 'Bunker Trilogy', three immersive pieces performed in a replica World War I bunker, and creates a 1920s Chicago hotel room for his newest project, 'The Capone Trilogy'".

He continues: "ImmerCity return with a monochrome circus space and Food For Thought are back with 'Dinner Is Swerved', an interactive piece including a rather unique dinner that isn't all that it seems". In addition to the immersive spaces, C nova also includes a cabaret zone which, says Kemp, includes "the Fringe's favourite senior Lynn Ruth Miller, and New York cabaret favourite Rosemary George. Nova is packed to the brim with much-loved and brand new shows alike this year, plus there's our popular Atrium wine bar upstairs and the Registry bar on the ground floor"

Needless to say, with so many spaces hosting shows this year, Kemp isn't keen on being forced into selecting just a few, and quickly lists way more than we can report. Though amongst his tips were 'Thrill Me' which is, he says, "a new musical based on the Leopold and Loeb story, which is already proving popular, as is 'What a Gay Play', with actors from 'Coronation St' and 'Casualty'. We also have three pieces from Macao's Point View Art Association".

"Other new shows to look out for are Korean company Haddangse (Brush), and Sonic Boom with 'We Never Land'" he concludes. "And, of course, Fringe veterans will know to watch out for returning favourites Tokyo Tapdo, Movin' Melvin Brown, Fringe First winners Pepperdine with new show 'Forget Fire', the Oxford Gargoyles and Alternotives, and the last ever Edinburgh trip from the Blues Brothers – Live!"

More at
Now we're not necessarily talking about older-older children here. These shows are more theatrical productions (as opposed to clowny toddler events) for children who are in the top end of their first decade, and probably a bit older too, because these are the kind of shows that parents will also really enjoy. Well, that's what ThreeWeeks Co-Editor Caro Moses thinks, anyway.

The Bee-Man Of Orn (pictured)

Always expect good things from Newbury Youth Theatre, it's a Fringe rule, and the reason why we gave the company a ThreeWeeks Editors' Award back in 2009. This year's show is an adaptation of nineteenth century author Frank R Stockton's 'The Bee-Man Of Orn' (famously illustrated by Maurice Sendak in a mid-sixties edition) and follows the central character on his journey to the deepest ocean, the court of a cruel king and the cave of the Very Imp. For children aged five and over.
Quaker Meeting House, from 4 Aug until 9 Aug. Tickets here.

Human Child
This show from the interestingly named Collapsing Horse sounds equally interesting; it's described as a "blazing fantasy adventure" inspired by changeling myths and the poetry of WB Yeats, and is delivered via the media of theatre, music and puppetry. It's already received a lot of great reviews from other publications, who have praised the talented cast and the aesthetically pleasing and highly entertaining nature of the production, as well as drawing attention to the well designed yet minimal set. It sounds pretty sophisticated, so I think this is one that you might want to go and see even if you don't have a child of 8+ to bring along.
Underbelly, Cowgate, from 31 Jul until 24 Aug. Tickets here.

The Comedy Of Errors
Shakespeare plays are great, obviously, but even the most boisterous and comical productions of them can be a bit long and dense for most children, I suspect. So perhaps the best way to start your kids on the path to Shakespearean enlightenment is with something like this, an adaptation made specially with 7+ audiences in mind, brought to you by Take Thou That Theatre with Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. The blurb promises a production that draws on Vaudevillian traditions, slapstick and sees a cast of seven playing the two sets of identical twins; hilarious mix ups and a lot of running around will ensue.
Assembly George Square Studios, from 31 Jul until 16 Aug. Tickets here.
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