If you’ve been reading religiously, you will have heard a lot about Edinburgh’s Forest Cafe on the blog over the past couple of weeks.  Apologies to readers who aren’t based here but there is a reason for it; namely that this is likely to be the last time the building is used in the Fringe Festival.  They’re obviously hoping to leave Bristo Place with a bang, so that when they find a new venue it’ll have something amazing to live up to.  Forest volunteer Harry Giles somehow found the time in amongst poetry marathons and readings to write this guest post on what to expect from the Forest’s swansong.

This August is (probably) the Forest Café’s last Festival season in 3 Bristo Place. That makes us sad.

But it hasn’t stopped us programming an amazing month. Forest is a year-round multi-arts centre, with a gallery, gig rooms, spoken word events, library, workshop space, and much else besides. We’re also a free venue: it’s free to put work on here, and free to see it. So when August comes around, with eager, bigger audiences, we use it as a chance to champion what we do the rest of the year – or show off a wee bit – showcasing the fringes of the arts world.  With free and liberated events providing space to the marginalised (or just plain awesome), Forest is a venue  that programmes what commercial venues won’t. Plus we throw some pretty awesome parties.

We’ve become known for Forest Fringe, a festival of performance art and experimental theate that began as a yearly thing and grew into a widely-respected organising collective for the frontiers of performance. That draws in new audiences to the Forest, and we like claiming them for our own.

Everything at Forest Fringe is amazing, but I’m particularly excited about Hinterland, a game/poem/game/poem by Ross Sutherland and Hide&Seek, and Live Art Speed Date, a marathon orgy of intimate performances.

But we do way more than just that. Over the past couple of week, we’ve had the Inky Fingers Minifest of spoken word and Ragged University’s three-day symposium on censored arts. Our other big minifestivals are I Am Not A Poet in the gallery, an art/txt/video/exhibiton/mashup type of thing, and Ultrachip, a two-day fest of chiptune music and everything related, including, so I hear, the ability to play a Mario game with a theremin.

Other big nights include our birthday party on Saturday 13th, featuring live bands, DJs, several kilos of glitter and huge balloon scultpures; our all-day literary cabaret, the famous Golden Hour on Wednesday 24th; and The Happening on Saturday 27th. We don’t know what will happen, but really, the point of Forest is that it’s somewhere anything can happen.  And this is probably our last big arts night in the building, so it’s going to be special.

We’re an open space and we like saying yes to things. We’ve got something cool programmed every night, from Scottish hiphop to Italian tarantella, but we’ve also left some space to fill with whatever we like. And we’ve got a lot of rooms to fill. Spontaneous stuff goes on. So come in an ask! If you’ve got something good, drop in and have a chat. We’d love to have you. Be part of it.

See you soon.

Harry is a theatre director and performance poet, along with being one of Forest’s open organising collective. He blogs at http://harrygiles.wordpress.com/ and tweets @harrygiles.

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