The Edinburgh Festival Fringe can be an intimidating but rewarding prospect for first-time attendees. With thousands of shows on offer across the city, it is a veritable avalanche of artistry, with just about every creative discipline on display somewhere in the ancient city.
Fresh off his Tony Award-winning run in Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt, Brandon Uranowitz leapt into the whirlwind with only a rough idea of what was in store, and an open heart. And he’s already craving a return.
“I desperately want to go back!” Uranowitz laughs. “It’s the most inspired I've been about theatre, and theatre-making...in several years. When we're all kids making theatre, we fall in love making scrappy shows. There's something about being at the Edinburgh Fringe that reconnects you with that inner child and that original love.”
Leopoldstadt was a life-changing show for Uranowitz, and in the aftermath of the productions' Broadway run, he found himself unmoored. So he took a trip to Scotland with his partner, Zachary Prince, who was directing a Fringe show (written and starring Stephen Brower) called Palatable Gay Robot (which is getting an encore run in London September 10). Through traveling to the Fringe (which gave Leopoldstadt playwright Stoppard his big break in 1966 for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead), Uranowitz found a renewed sense of purpose.
Uranowitz wasn't the only award-winning actor who found himself at the Fringe this year. Mandy Patinkin was there, as well as Marcia Gay Harden, Alan Cumming, Mike Birbiglia, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and more.
“We get distracted very easily,” Uranowitz explains. “We are always striving for something, trying to do the thing that we love, but we can end up changing in the process. Walking through [Edinburgh], seeing that at every corner there's theatre happening somewhere…I was reminded of why I got into this in the first place. Now I want to get all of my most talented friends together to go to Edinburgh and do a show on a bare set, to reconnect with that innocent love for the art form.”
That’s not to say that the Fringe is only life-affirming for artists; it is equally inspiring for audience members. With a new show around every corner, there are countless opportunities for audience members to experience something totally unexpected, and life-changing.
“Theatre has this uncanny ability to reflect things back at you that you didn't know about yourself,” Uranowitz details. “It has this weird sort of portal into our subconscious. I think by going to the Fringe, you can find bits of yourself that you didn't know were there, that you were afraid to confront. Even if you're not in a creative vocation or industry, it shows you that we are more powerful and more expansive than we are pigeonholed to be.”
What was once considered an intimidating trip has now settled in the Tony winner's heart as a must-return destination for inspiration and rumination. “You just have to have the courage and the confidence and the belief in yourself to go for it,” Uranowitz sighs with a smile. “I can’t wait to go back.”
To read more about Playbill’s on-the-ground coverage of the Edinburgh Fringe, visit Playbill Goes Fringe.