US performers staying in disused bunker to avoid Fringe rent costs

Alphabet Soup are living in a Cold War era bunker after being quoted £30,000 to rent accommodation in the city centre.

A group of performers who travelled from the US to take part in the Fringe are staying in a disused nuclear bunker to combat the soaring cost of accommodation in Edinburgh.

The LGBTQI+ group Alphabet Soup have set up camp in the Barnton Bunker on the edge of the city after being quoted £30,000 to rent accommodation in the centre of Edinburgh for the month of August.

They managed to strike a deal to allow them to stay there to help raise the profile of the Cold War era bunker.

Seven Graham is the producer and a performer in the group.

He said: “I was in tears because I thought I would have to tell all these comedians who have got really excited about coming to Edinburgh that we’d have to cancel.

“I ended up purchasing three trailers – we’re peeing in a portacabin and all sharing one shower – but we’re here.”

Steve Goodie is a comedian from Nashville.

After performing in last year’s festival, he decided to take part in the Free Fringe this year to help save money but says the costs still add up.

He said: “This year the goal is to break even – if we make money then great but we are not expecting to.

To take part in the Free Fringe is approximately $250 per show – you also have to register with the overall Fringe and that’s more money.

“I don’t know how most people perform in the Fringe without being from here – being from here saves a lot of money in travel and in lodging.”

Jay Lafferty is a comedian based in Edinburgh. While she does not have to worry about accommodation costs, she says the rising cost of living means performing at the festival is becoming harder.

She said: “There’s always that excitement of the Edinburgh Fringe – you spend all year working towards it and  it is this amazing showcase of talent.

“The other aspect is that it’s absolutely terrifying that you might not be able to pay your mortgage in September because you’ve not made any money in August.”

The deputy chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Lyndsey Jackson said they are encouraging performers to stay outside the city centre and take advantage of public transport.

“The city is very commutable – it’s about trying to make artists understand that while it’s nice to be staying a 15 minute walk from your venue, there are loads of other options that are affordable.

“The average ticket cost at the Fringe is still less than £12 – there are hundreds of free shows, pay what u want shows and street performers so there are ways to do the Fringe on a budget.”

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