In the environmentally-conscious and increasingly computerised world, do we really need a paper Fringe programme? Electronic copies can be accessed anywhere, weigh nothing, and save thousands of trees. Why cart around a massive wad of paper when you can access the information on your phone, tablet or laptop?
We live in a fast-paced world, where things change A LOT. There are always a few cancelled performances, but last year, Romesh Ranganathan cancelled his entire Fringe run due to filming his own TV show. Then there was the palaver with the Cowgatehead venue being claimed by two promoters, culminating in shows being scattered to various different venues and timeslots. One promoter described the programme as a “work of fiction”. An online system can be changed instantly and remains a living directory of shows you can see, and apps can even tell you about shows which are happening in the next couple of hours or near where you are. You also have the added benefit of audience reviews and links to acts’ websites. Plus you can search for things with very little effort.
Performers have to get all their details to the Fringe by April, even though many of the shows haven’t been written or rehearsed yet. It takes a lot of hard graft to put together the beast of a programme, but a lot can change in a quarter of a year, including the content of the shows.
The thrill of the programme hitting the Fringe Shop has been undermined by various other guides being launched beforehand, plus tickets are going on sale earlier every year. Do the planned “extra” shows, which go on sale at the same time as the originals, annoy anyone else?
Until today I had pretty much decided the Fringe programme was old-fashioned and out of date. I had a fondness for the physical object like a CD, but was questioning its relevance.
But when it came to picking which shows to see this year, I was at a loss. The Fringe guide is the only place you can find everything in one place. I don’t like reading large amounts of onscreen text. There are a lot of programme distribution points now, and I was delighted to find a copy in my local library (incidentally, the one where Trainspotting was recently filmed).
So yes, it will be partially out of date by August, and yes, I will look things up on my phone during the Fringe, but for now I am a proud owner of a copy of the 2016 Fringe Guide. And when I saw that pile of programmes, I still got that thrill.