ZOO’s 2023 Programme brings big names from the UK and abroad back to the Fringe

ZOO celebrate our 21st Edinburgh festival season with an outstanding programme full of fresh, innovative and spectacular performance from the UK and around the world, featuring established Fringe favourites, stunning international work and exciting, emerging new artists. Our 2023 programme of 40+ shows will be performed at our long-standing home ZOO Southside, and our stunning studios at ZOO Playground, along with site specific work at ZOO Dovecot, as well as online and hybrid work via ZOOTV, our streaming platform launched to bring light to the dark days of 2020.

Big in Belgium is back, the multi award winning showcase of Belgian work returns to the Fringe at ZOO with three powerhouse performances back-to-back in ZOO Southside’s Main House. Seven times Fringe First winners Ontroerend Goedpresent their latest work Funeral – a theatrical ceremony and collective ritual on the finiteness of things. The Fringe theatre powerhouse welcomes audiences to light candles, eat and drink and celebrate life. SKaGeN’s acclaimed Valentin Dhaenens (BigmoutH and SmallWaR) recreates Flemish classic The Van Paemel Family by seamlessly slipping into 13 different characters to dissect a society in which classes and communities don’t speak the same language, and where oppression by the one percent has resulted in a fierce social struggle. Completing our showcase of everything Big in Belgium is La codista / The queuer from Total Theatre Award winners Acteursgroep Wunderbaum and award-winning actress Marleen Scholten, whose piece on waiting, partially based on the true story of an Italian man that lost his job and stood in line for others, is a tragicomic, personal and political reflection on identity and slowing down.

Also returning to the Festival for the first time since 2014, in a major co-production with ZOO, are double Fringe First, Herald Angel and Archangel winners Song of the Goat with their new work Andronicus Synecdoche – a brutal and uncompromising warning of where revenge and cruelty lead, featuring original text and music which depict the extreme cruelty that stems from retaliation, in which war lasts as long as revenge takes.

Song of the Goat aren’t the only ones taking on the contemporary political zeitgeist. As in 2022 we’ve probing political theatre as part of #DANISH (Danish showcase) from Teaser Katapult in The Insider which offers a look into the human face of greed with live acting, visuals and a binaural soundscape that gives you the chills and brings to life the cum-ex tax scam with 50 billion pounds stolen from Europe’s treasuries. From headphones and 3D-sound to an enormous reverberating floor which becomes a giant speaker, shaking the room and setting the soil, the dancers and the whole space in motion in recoil performance group’s Harvest – also part of #DANISH. A choreographic piece featuring two dancers from different traditions, neo-flamenco and contemporary, depicting two trades side by side, farming and dancing, to explore the notion of working bodies.

As always, ZOO’s programme features not only stunning international work, but also the very best home-grown artists. We’re delighted to bring two more shows from the Horizon Showcase– celebrating work created in England. Total Theatre award nominated Figs in Wigs are back and this time they’ve got their period (dresses) for Little Wimmin’ – a live art, feminist “adaptation” of Louisa May Alcott’s novel. Wild, irreverent, and cosmically comical, it dismantles the canon, making way for the doomed future of humankind. Music-duo and dance company Bullyache make their Edinburgh debut with TOM, blending the myth of Orpheus with the DWP in a vertigo-inducing pop-culture collision of working class and queer expression.

Our new site specific venue for 2023, ZOO Dovecot hosts part of the Made in Scotland showcase with Barrowland Ballet’sFamily Portrait – an award-winning interactive video installation full of humour, candour, joy and love in which we join a family on a geographical and emotional journey across Scottish landscapes as they encounter rabbit skulls, converse with spiders, and face-paint with berries.

Over at ZOO Playground, we have the return of Herald Angel winners and ZOO veterans Spitfire Company with The Last of the Soviets. Influenced by the books of Nobel Prize laureate Svetlana Alexievich and built on the testimonies of witnesses of wars, the Chernobyl disaster and the collapse of the USSR, two exiled Russian artists reveal the cruelty of Soviet life with a good dose of dark humour and chilling jokes reflecting on the absurdity of their situation.

ZOOTV continues to bring the Fringe to those who can’t be there in person, and this year we’re offering a sneak peak of SKaGeN’s Shadow Game. Follow young Sajid Khan (SK) across the Balkans as he tries to flee the Taliban regime. Stuck at the Bosnian border for over a year, he desperately wants to reach his brother in Italy and risks his life by playing The Game, a dangerous endeavour to get into Europe. We’re also offering a unique hybrid in-person/online experience in Aionos – an African-Futurist Mixed Reality Production from Toasterlab where Ancient Egypt meets Star Wars as you travel virtual worlds to help an Egyptian Queen heal a broken love and navigate space time to recover an ancient technology in VR, streaming, and in-person, taking you across time, space, and the metaverse.

Finally, 2023 also brings great news in terms of our relationship with our local Edinburgh community as we’ve made ZOO Southside our year-round home, and will be supporting the Southside Community Centre to carry on providing some of the amazing services they do throughout the year such as the affordable food option on a Monday lunchtime, alongside presenting some of the community groups performance work as part of our programme.

We’re also teaming up with the centre to establish a training programme in which our experienced professional technicians will help develop and implement a training programme for local education partners. This training programme helps ensure the next generation of technical staff on which the festival depends receive training locally.

Full details of our programme are available through our website – zoofestival.co.uk- and for further information about any of our shows, or to make press bookings, please contact our Press and Marketing office.

We very much look forward to welcoming you back to ZOO – home to the unexpected.

This year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe will take place from the 4th until the 28th August 2023. To find out more about the festival, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop