Gothenburg gets Fringey…

The Gothenburg Fringe Festival had a small pilot project version of its festival back in 2014. Now it returns for the main course in 2016! With less than a month to go until showtime, we spoke with Gothenburg Fringe team member, Isabel Lagos, to get the low down on what we may get to see at the first official full-sized Gothenburg Fringe fest!

Isabel Lagos of the Gothenburg Fringe team, and venue manager of Kronhusteatern.

1. Who are the key players in the startup of Gothenburg Fringe and what are their roles?

Hanna Walden , our festival general, was part of the mini GBG fringe festival in 2014. She is an accountant with a passion for theatre and all things art.

Malin Johansson is Hanna’s assistant and has been helping out with several things, such as planning, schedule etc.

Ulf Skogsen is a theatre administrator for Studiefrämjandet with a deep passion for contemporary theater.

Isabel Lagos is currently a venue manager at Kronhusteatern with ten years producing experience at the Edinburgh Fringe, she is in these coming weeks stepping in to co­-manage GBG Fringe.

Hanna, Malin and Ulf are away at the moment so Isabel will be answering the questions on behalf of the team.

2. What is your background in the arts/festival management?

I will answer this question from me myself & I as I haven’t met the rest of the team.

I started as a director/producer taking theatre/musical shows to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this was in 1999. We teamed up with other productions and set up our own venue as we didn’t find slots or places that suited us ­ and fortunately, struck gold, we found a great location at the top of the Royal Mile and developed good relationships, and… the taste of fringe success is like no other… I was stung by the fringe­bees and came back teaming up with my own theatre people until we decided in 2003 to open for other applicants over all genres, and I co­funded Sweet Venues with Julian Caddy. I was there every year, every step, working as a co­director until 2010. Over that time, we grew Sweet to become one of the most established venues at the festival, programming over 700 productions to audiences of more than 500,000 people. The venues were pop­up theatre spaces where we programmed ‘everything’; in hotels, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh University Medical School, lovely disused buildings, clubs, bars, and one year on an abandoned island in the middle of the Firth of Forth ­ and & did I mention swimming­ pool with a favorite show: Ophelia (Drowning). We ran live TV news station and a Film Festival. It was hard to cut those ties, but I decided it was time to balance my busy life with writing, meditation and my own artistic activities, and moved to the Swedish countryside. Oops. Nah, it was good, honestly. The last couple of years I got the fringe production sting back and amongst many other things helped open a Theatre in Trollywood, and one in Gothenburg… and here I am, ready for more.

3. Why did you want to take the fringe to Gothenburg?

A Fringe Festival is an important cultural event for many reasons and Gothenburg is a growing and beautiful city, ready for new perspectives. A fringe Festival brings a perfect blend of productivity and creativity and is, in my view, an evolutionary process. Our Swedish culture needs true open access culture for both audience and artists alike (add producers to the list), one that challenges new writing, creative use of spaces (with or without technology), real life meet­ups to be part of cutting edge storytelling. A city forgets… (or takes for granted) what is it that it gives open access to , really, really… Who chooses and what is it that actually is seen and promoted? Therefore: the Fringe does in turn not only help develop our culture, but is essential for it. I’ve got to know this in my professional life where I have seen artists, audiences and cities benefit from the development and communication arising from healthy Fringes. Gothenburg is ready for it. There are several reasons why this is a good place: the size (great places available at possible walking distance, or with trams), waterfronts, wealth of interesting areas and buildings, the variety and talent of the existing theatre groups, people are open minded, warm, welcoming, have a sense of humor and are willing to connect and create, and of course the city’s history (much still to be explored by its own citizens as well).

4. What part of Gothenburg Fringe this year are you most excited about?

Meeting the artists!! It is going to be a blast to watch performances and share them with audiences. I haven’t yet got my teeth into the program but shows that come to mind are Climbing Vegetables by Erez Majerantz from Israel and Romeo and Chulio, never wrong with some bear love, and can’t wait to meet and see what the feminist norm­breaker group Blaue Frau bring.

5. Who have been your major supporters and partners?
Frilagret, Studiefrämjandet, Göteborgs Dramatiska Teater, Kronhusteatern and Stockholm Fringe.

6. In the process of starting Gothenburg Fringe, what have you learned about arts in Gothenburg or Sweden as a whole?

In short and not specific to Gothenburg as I have just come onboard: people truly want to express themselves, tell stories and bring new forms to life. Knowing the endlessness and importance of this, it is wonderful to give it a space and lots of care.

7. How are you hoping Gothenburg Fringe will develop over the next few years? 

I’ll give you a spontaneous note for now:

I believe it will connect the city in surprising ways. Theatre and storytelling will step by step gain newfound status through the passion of international and local artists. The Nordic Fringe Network will bring touring opportunities and thus get the most out of the neighboring festivals and their locations. At the Nordic festivals we will together team up to challenge quality and diversity. Lastly, I’ll share a vision: I see exploration and development of new writing. I see people from outside Sweden being surprised by the charm of this city and people and Gothenburg’s itself exploring its own history with new excellent writing that will set the Gothenburg Fringe festival on the map.

Thank you and welcome everybody. Keep in touch.


The 2016 Gothenburg Fringe Festival runs 18-21 August. For more information, check out gothenburgfringefestival.com or join the Facebook event here.