By Ian MacKenzie
EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Over 21,000 performers in search of fame and infamy will gather in Edinburgh in August to put on 2,542 shows in a record year for the city's Fringe, the largest annual arts festival of its kind in the world.
The flamboyant and exuberant Fringe, running from August 5-29, covers the full range of theatrical artistry, from cabaret through to comedy, opera, theater and music.
Impresarios, agents and scouts keenly watch the performances for new talent in an environment that has opened the door to many of Britain's top performers for more than 60 years.
Fringe director Kath Mainland told Reuters at the launch of the festival's program on Thursday that international media exposure and the presence of over 1,000 festival directors, theater programmers and talent scouts from around the world were key factors in attracting performers.
Several productions will mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, with the American High School Theater Festival presenting "War at Home," "created out of the journals of students, teachers and community members after the attacks."
In a one-man show, American Chris Wolfe explores how 9/11 affected a generation through television and the internet.
Edinburgh's Cutting Edge Theater Productions will premiere a new musical "11" weaving in stories of people whose lives have been affected by two world wars and 9/11 itself.
One notable absence from the program was political satire on Britain today.
"Yes, that's interesting, I don't know why that is," said Mainland, adding that "maybe it'll emerge" as August rolls on.
In fact, the genre has been a relative rarity on the Fringe since former prime minister Tony Blair was a target for satirical arrows back in 2007.
A survey by Festivals Edinburgh this year showed the festivals attracted by the city benefited the Scottish economy by more than 250 million pounds ($410.6 million) a year, with the Fringe alone generating over 141 million pounds in 2010.
The Fringe started as an offshoot of the Edinburgh International Festival founded in 1947 to brighten the austerity of post-war Britain.
The International Festival, focusing on Asia this year, runs from August 12 to September 4, the International Book Festival runs from August 13 to 29, and the military tattoo from August 5 to 27.
The Jazz and Blues festival runs from July 22 to 31.