Alternative Fringe hubs: The Forest Cafe

This article is from 2011

Alternative Fringe hubs: The Forest Cafe

Inky Fingers

Edinburgh's soon-to-be dearly-departed hippy haven

Name: The Forest Café

Occupation: Leader of the resistance, home of Edinburgh’s true creative spirit.

Resembles: A glorious, shambolic cluster of plants, art, rugs, hippies and graffiti, spread across several rooms.

What’s on there, then? Usually a loose free-space hosting semi-regular gigs, spoken-word events and discussion forums, as well as a variety of madcap one-off events, during August the Forest becomes the home of Forest Fringe, full of free, experimental theatre and performance. This week you can also catch some lunchtime poetry as Inky Fingers are running a literary minifest.

Quick, how do I get there? A refreshing alternative to the corporate, comedy-focused intensity of the main commercial Fringe hub at Bristo Square, and only two minutes round the corner? Why yes. Cross the road as though you were going to Princes Street and stop when you smell falafel.

Mmm. Is there a café? Yes, all food is veggie, cheap, and put together by the Forest’s volunteer team. You’re more than welcome to have a drink (wine and beer only), but you have to BYO.

Any good for celeb-spotting? Aren’t you listening? The Forest isn’t about celeb-spotting. Man. Which is exactly why you’ll sometimes find the odd lefty comedian or author going incognito in there …

Sounds like a real credit to the city. You’d think. Unfortunately, it’s the organisation’s last Fringe – at least in this venue. They’ve been fighting the closure of the building for a while , but August 31 is their last day. Make the most of this great place while you can.

The Forest Café, 3 Bristo Place, 220 4538.

The Time Out

  • 3 stars

The last five minutes of a water polo match, and you get to decide the outcome. With motivational speeches, projections and soundscapes, The Time Out draws relationships out of strangers.


  • 4 stars

Gary McNair challenges you to relinquish the shackles of money in his five-step programme, presented as part theatrical monologue and part motivational talk.

30 Cecil Street

  • 3 stars

Dan Canham presents an evocative piece of dance performance as an elegy to the loss and ruin of a theatre.


Ross Sutherland and Hide&Seek perform a piece of interactive theatre about the spaces in language that appear when we are not speaking in our mother tongue.


Lucy Ellinson is Forest Fringe's doer-in-residence and will be around for the duration of the festival creating projects and experiments.

We Might As Well Live

Sharon Smith and Tom Parkinson explore sound and relationships towards movement, space and the body.

Interactivity in the Age of the Audience

A discussion focusing on the ideas and thoughts on interactive theatre by leading theatre makers, brought to you by Non Zero One. Also featuring Non Zero One's popular interactive game 'Hold Hands/Lock Horns'

Keep Rising: Radicalism and Revolution in 2011

Spend the day thinking, remembering and celebrating the ongoing radical movements in world, and opportunity to share ideas and inspiration with like minded people.

Self Portraits

Artist McNair turns the tables and pays you to draw his portrait.

Art Massage

Learn from the experts on theatre, the artistic method, and anecdotal biographies while you receive a massage or a hair cut from the Snip and Sip Hairdressers and Massage Parlour at the Forest Fringe.


A new participatory project by Lucy Ellinson based on the Japanese game Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (‘gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales’).

Devising: Protest

Gain an insight into the practice of theatre artists in a movement based weekend workshop by Complicite. A sharing of work takes place on Mon 15 Aug at 3pm.


In an innovative version of 'Autoteatro' theatre using only text, Ant Hampton and Gert-Jan Stam create a piece of participatory theatre and comedy.

Comedian Dies in the Middle of Joke

Ross Sutherland curates this piece of auto-theatre where audience members play out a scene with different possible endings and different characters.


A 'flash-conference' on topics such as public perception of art, theatre, performance and the audience.

Every Rendition on a Broken Machine

A screening of a film on the creative relationship with machines by Ross Sutherland, made for the London Word Festival, featuring a live DVD commentary by the artist himself.


An exploration into how we are raised by influences and experiences, from relationships to television.

We Hope That You're Happy (Why Would We Lie)

Made in China theatre bring you an entertaining show featuring a cooler full of ketchup, flour, beer and ice cream, exploring what it means to be a consumer in this crazy ol' world. Presented by Battersea Arts Centre Take Out, after an initial premiere at Forest Fringe.

Live Art Speed Dating

STK International bring you a modern version of performance theatre, an evening with mini dates with artists and comedians from the festival. The triumphant last day in the Forest Cafe, home to free art and performance during the Forest Fringe as well as all year round.

Andy Field: Occurrences

A series of posters act as your cues in a piece of auto-theatre that blurs the boundaries of performance and reality.

The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society

A host of comedians who provide something more anarchic than your typical comedy evening, busting out their best comedy moves, with a line-up that change each time.

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