Ten outstanding artists with international-quality, tour-ready performance work have been selected by Horizon – Performance Created in England for its third Edinburgh Festival Fringe showcase.

From theatre and music to durational performance installations, these works bring new ways of encountering technology, history, politics, identity and extraordinary true stories.

Horizon is commissioned by Arts Council England and is one of four showcase programmes of work from the four UK nations at the Edinburgh Festivals. Selecting exceptional, stand-out performances created in England and ready for international distribution, Horizon catalyses international touring and commissioning opportunities for artists. Its approach is to create a supportive showcase environment in which artists and presenters can engage equally and equitably.

For the 2023 showcase, Horizon audiences will be invited to lie down and rest, put on PPE to witness live welding, plunge into a swimming pool, and of course, to watch performances set on stages large and small. The showcased artists have created works which engage with questions of identity, work, memory, climate, survival, connection and change.

Amy Letman, Creative Director of Transform on behalf of Horizon said: “We are elated to show the range and reach of this year’s showcase programme at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The ten pieces are very different in form, content and location, but all alike in their potential to connect with audiences beyond the UK.”

A young, white, bald man stands in the foreground wearing a grey suit and tie. He is on a stage in the spotlight, playing an acoustic guitar in front of a microphone. Behind him is a drum kit and a white man in a black suit and blue tie playing the bass guitar. The background in draped in green velvet curtains, upon which hangs a quote from the Bible, Proverbs 13:18.

Image by Paul Blakemore

Birthmarked (Gig Theatre)
by Brook Tate (he/him)
Queer, Identity LGBTQ+ True story, Musical Theatre
Assembly Ballroom
3 – 27 Aug

Matthew Austin, Co-director of MAYK said: “Birthmarked is Brook Tate’s personal story of growing up as a young gay Jehovah’s Witness. The show features songs, a live band and tap dancing. It’s beautifully colourful, full of heart and bursting with joyful emotion. Brook’s story is full of heart and he brings audiences along with him on his journey to becoming the artist and the performer that he is today. We’re thrilled to be presenting this at Horizon showcase. The themes are universal, love, belonging and growing up. We think that audiences young and old are going to be blown away by his story, and the way that he shares it with the world.”

A young, white woman with short, brown hair and wearing a beige vest top stands in a recording booth. She is also wearing headphones and speaking into a large microphone, eyes closed. Her arms are thrown in the air with finger-guns pointing to the sky. She visible from the waist up and illuminated in red and green lighting. The walls of the booth are covered with spiky foam soundproofing material. Outside of the booth is completely dark.

Image by Ana Viotti

The Talent (Theatre, Contemporary, Devised)
by Action Hero & Deborah Pearson
Humanity, Future, Pandemic, Sci-fi, Solo-show
22 – 27 Aug

Kate Craddock Festival Director, GIFT said: “The Talent is a collaboration between Bristol-based performance duo Action Hero and London-based writer and performer Deborah Pearson. The Talent is about the voice and human presence in the 21st century. It asks questions about the nature of liveness, about memory and time, and what it means to be present in the world right now. On stage, there’s a sound booth and a woman is sitting inside it alone. She’s a voiceover artist, and offstage two disembodied voices are asking her to conjure different voices for commercials for self-help audiobooks, and computer games. It captures the feeling of the pandemic years without overtly referencing them. We are including The Talent in Horizon because it’s a strong collaboration between really experienced theatremakers. It’s daring conceptually, ambitious, and confidently crafted. There’s a balance between the work feeling humorous, sinister, and political, and it’s reflective of our society today. It’s highly watchable with a virtuoso performance”

A group of seven performers wearing white facepaint with heavy blush angled upwards and bright lipstick stand in front of a red curtain. Their costumes are an assortment of colourful, thrifted, cropped, stitched together, with shiny and crinkly textures. Two performers are on all fours in the foreground, slightly out of focus, eyes closed, mouths open. The remaining five performers stand in the background, looking directly at the audience, some scowling, one with her mouth wide open, one smiling slightly.

Image by Harry Clarke

TOM (Dance/Music)
Class, Pop Culture, Identity & Gender, Live Music, LGBTQ+
ZOO Southside
20 – 27 Aug

Paul Russ Artistic Director and CEO at FABRIC said: “BULLYACHE is a London-based music, drama and dance company led by friends and artists Courtney Deyn and Jacob Samuel. TOM explores working class and queer identity in relation to pop culture. Drawing on influences from drag pop ballads, rave culture, and Tik Tok to investigate notions of gender identity and power. TOM is loosely inspired by the opera Orpheus and the six performers draw on their real-life experiences of being a world champion gymnast, legendary Voguer, a ballroom dancer, and B-boy to consider how we can create communities inside a system of exploitation, especially in uncertain times. It’s a fresh, stylish and new dance work of scale with multiple narratives and relationships between the dancers from an exciting new company.”

Image by Graeme Braidwood

The Trauma Show (Theatre)
by Demi Nandhra (she/her or they/them)
Mental health, Identity True story,  Contemporary, New Writing
22 – 27 Aug

Pippa Frith, Director (Producing) at FIERCE said: “Demi Nandhra is a Birmingham-based artist and writer working in live art, theatre and TV. Her work usually starts from a place of the personal then becoming much wider looking at frameworks and systems, often rooted in home, drawing on their lived experience. The Trauma Show explores childhood trauma, its lasting impacts and therapist culture in a light-hearted and humorous way through anecdotes, memories, self-analysis and psychobabble. Demi playfully lampoons the current social media and advertising trend for exploiting trauma, it’s a funny wise show from a magnetic performer.”

The camera looks down on six white women standing against a bright green background in a V formation, looking up. They are wearing, bright orange wigs in a bob hairstyle, striking orange toned stage makeup, full body black leotards, bright orange hoop cage skirts, and bright orange and black trainers.

Image by Rosie Collins

Little Wimmin (Theatre)
by Figs in Wigs
Adaptation, Climate/Environment, Feminism, Gender, Satire
ZOO Southside
21 – 27 Aug

Pelin Başaran, Head of Programming at Battersea Arts Centre said: “Figs in Wigs is a genre-bending performance collective that combines live art, theatre, comedy, cabaret, and dance. Little Wimmin is an anarchic, feminist adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. The show starts as a straightforward retelling of a story before descending into unrecognisable visual chaos. A high-concept midscale show that is making fun of theatrical tropes and is an enjoyable and delightfully funny watch.”

Things Hidden Since The Foundation of the World (Theatre)
by The Javaad Alipoor Company (He/Him)
Human, Survival, Digital, Political, True Story
15 – 27 Aug

Tarek Iskander, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Battersea Arts Centre said: “At Horizon we’re delighted to be presenting Things Hidden Since The Foundation of the World by Javaad Alipoor. This theatre piece is a thrilling ride down the rabbit hole of Wikipedia and murder mystery podcasts. Javaad and his ‘co-presenters’ take the audience down a crazy journey to solve this case, using only the internet. The case is the murder of a famous 70s Iranian popstar Fereydoun Farrokhzad. Javaad Alipoor company are a brilliant Manchester-based collective that specialises in work exploring the intersection of politics and technology. This show is an excellent representation of the most exciting work that is being made in England today. Work that is politically postcolonial, playful in form, digitally savvy and truly international in outlook. This who-done-it completely hooks you in with its insightful engaging storytelling.”

Out from ten layers of dusty beige sheeps wool peek two women in red tops, only their faces and one arm visible. On the right, a Middle Eastern woman with black hair and a fringe looks directly at us with one arm reaching out to the left and her hand loosely grips the wool. Underneath her and to the left is an older woman with grey hair lying on her side, head resting on her arm, eyes closed as if asleep.

Image by Jemima Yong

Always Already (Durational performance, Performance art)
by Haranczak/Navarre Performance Projects
Social Cooperation, Nature, Humans, Tech, Feminism, Social issues
Summerhall offsite @ Edinburgh LifeCare Centre
23 and 25 Aug, 11.30 – 19.30, 8-hour performance installation

Paul Russ, Artistic Director and CEO at FABRIC said: “Created and performed by performance artists Karen Christopher and Tara Fatehi Irani, Always Already uses material, text, sound and movement to explore the weaving together of plant, human and machine. This is an eight-hour durational performance installation, that references the length of an average working day. And for me, it talks about womanhood and the quiet labour of women. Always Already is grounded in the accumulation of small actions, and invites us to consider how seemingly insignificant gestures can develop meaning through repetition, from computer code to activism. This is a really carefully considered layered, moving and visually beautiful performance from two exquisite artists. It offers a different type of experience to the festival mix. As audiences can come and go across the eight hours, it’s a work that will break up the pace of festival Edinburgh and is suitable for everyone.”

A Jewish woman with dark brown curly hair is welding an iron gate. She is wearing a distressed denim shirt and a brown leather apron as well as protective goggles and gloves. Sparks are flying from her welding tool. On the iron gates stands the word "AFTER" as seen from the back in reverse on the top section. The scene is washed in a traquil pale purple shade juxtaposed against the red hot glow of the welding, which illuminates the woman and the gate.

Image by JMA Photography

FORGE (Durational Performance, Installation, Site Specific)
by Rachel Mars (she/her)
Political, History, Holocaust, 1 performer
Lyceum Workshop, Roseburn
23, 24, 25 Aug

Amy Letman, Creative Director of Transform said: “Rachel Mars is a London based writer and performer with a background in theatre and live art. Her new work FORGE investigates how to balance living with a traumatic past with a responsibility to the present. In 2014, the iron Welcome Gate was stolen from the Dachau concentration camp. A replica was created to stand in its place. Over the course of three days, within an extraordinary location, Rachel Mars will create her own replica gate. You will join her in welding gear to bear witness to a cathartic experience, underscored by live sound design with a finale that includes a live piper playing ‘Flashdance’. FORGE explores who memorials are for, what happens to places where traumatic events take place, and who decides. Alongside this installation, public conversations will be convened focused on personal, local and international issues of memorial that connect to this extraordinary project.”

A dark swimming pool is illuminated by a kaleidoscopic blue and pink wall projection, which makes the space glow blue. A few swimmers recline in the water, using pool noodles to keep them afloat. Small orbs glowing green, pink, and blue float in the water with them.

Image by William Townsend.

BODIES (Immersive, Interactive, Audience Participation)
by Ray Young (they/them)
Climate/Environment, Social Issues
Summerhall offsite @Deans Community High School, Livingston (subject to licence)
20 and 26 Aug

Amy Letman, Creative Director of Transform said: “Ray Young is an artist whose work exists on the boundaries of live art, text, movement, activism and neurodiversity. Their work BODIES is an immersive water, light and soundscape experience that takes place in a swimming pool. The audience is invited to take part in an active sensory experience of water, discovery, and rest, led by Young’s narration and exploring our bodily and sensory connection with water.  BODIES beautifully and sensitively explores global perspectives of our changing climate and is created with accessibility at the heart. So pack your swimming costume and get ready for a soothing and reflective, immersive experience.”

A concrete urban landscape, tower blocks, trees and metal railing set against a pale blue sky. In the foreground, a Spanish-Phillipino woman with long, brown, curly hair lies on her back on a concrete bench with her eyes closed. She is wearing a yellow t-shirt, a black zip-up hoodie and dark jeans. Her hair cascades over the edge of the concrete bench. Her left arm rests stretched outwards, her hand slightly lifted towards the sky.

Image by Paul Samuel White.

A Crash Course in Cloudspotting (Durational performance, Installation)
by Unchartered Collective, Raquel Meseguer Zafe (she/her)
Disability, Socio-political, True Story
Summerhall offsite @ Institut Français d’Ecosse
22, 23, 24 Aug, various times as a 35-minute installation or a 55-minute installation

Kate Yedigaroff, Co-director of MAYK said: “Raquel Meseguer Zafe is a UK-based dance theatre practitioner. She identifies as disabled and works with rest and ‘horizontality’ or lying down as their creative impulse. She founded Uncharted Collective in 2016 to create theatrical encounters that explore the lived experience of invisible disability. Her work is beautiful, layered, delicate and important. A Crash Course in Cloudspotting is an intimate audio sensory installation that exists as both an audio experience on its own and with a live performance. In this piece, the audience is invited to lie down in a designed immersive environment where an intricate soundscape unfolds. We listen together to the collective stories from across the country of people’s experiences of needing to lie down in public. Simultaneously, the real-time resting patterns of people from all over the world illuminate light bulbs within the space as a choreography of lights. It’s a piece about the stories we don’t get to hear. It’s about absence and presence, and how we can come together to listen and grow empathy and gently make change.”

More than a showcase, Horizon has also supported six artists to develop new work with the potential for international touring over the last year, each hosted by one of the consortium organisations. The residency artists Gareth Chambers, Jo Hellier and Yas Clarke, Rachael Clerke, Rhiannon Armstrong, Takeshi Matsumoto and Victoria Dela Amedume will all attend the showcase week, where they will be part of the cohort of Horizon artists, introducing their work to key industry professionals and international presenters.

A further eight artists will attend the festival on Horizon’s ‘Nova’ programme, designed to help artists access international networks and opportunities. Selected by Horizon’s Associate partners, the Nova artists are Eelyn Lee, Faizal Abdullah, Jessica Lucia Andrade, Nwando Ebizie, Patrick Ziza, Sonny Nwachukwu Symoné and Vijay Patel.

Commissioned by Arts Council England, the Horizon showcase is being delivered by a consortium made up of Battersea Arts Centre, FABRIC, Fierce, GIFT, MAYK and Transform.

Horizon showcase runs from 20 to 27 August at Edinburgh Festival Fringe.