The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has always been home to youth and student theatre companies. Even excluding musical theatre, these groups form a large part of he Fringe and they mount at least as many new, innovative productions as they do classics or light-hearted comedies. Adult theatre groups rightly have no monopoly on exploration and experimentation.
Edinburgh Youth Theatre, for example, is taking on a new show this year (written by George Williamson with music by Rab Handleigh) set in 16th century Italy and the New World, an ambitious project which runs at St Oswald's, Montpelier Park from August 14-23. St Oswald's is also home to Youth International which brings together youth theatre and dance from Scotland, England, the US and Latvia including a new play Asleep Under the Dark Earth presented by Gordounstoun Youth Theatre (August 26-30).
The Edinburgh Acting School, whose youngsters can often be caught sight of in August in the chorus of visiting professional shows like Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat is mounting two comedies at the YMCA in Ferry Road - See How They Run and another new play Tongue-Tied (both August 19-23).
Edinburgh University Theatre Company has two productions at The Bedlam, a radical adaption of Shakespeare's Timon of Athens and a new comedy entitled Slavs! (both August 11-23). Napier University Drama Society meanwhile presents Postcards, described as "a selection of short stories to provoke idle minds, " at Diverse Attractions in the Lawnmarket (August 25-30).
The Bowhouse Project, a company of unemployed youngsters from West Lothian, is in residence at The Famous Grouse House from August 21-30 with Sleeping Dogs Wake, a new play scripted around issues and ideas generated by the young people themselves.
The Scottish Theatre and Music School is at the St Stephen's Centre with Mary O'Malley's popular comedy Once a Catholic (August 18-30) and Haggis, Neeps and Burns - a romp through the life of the Bard which includes a meal and whisky (August 11-22).
From across the border, Leicestershire Youth Arts is doing three shows at St Ann's Community Centre: Romeo and Juliet (August 11-16), John Godber's Teechers and The Killing of Sister George (both August 11-23). The National Youth Theatre of Great Britain is at George Square Theatre with They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (August 8-17) while the National Student Theatre Company is at the Southside venue with Nobody Here But Us Chickens (August 9-30) and Sex and Death (August 6-23), a black comedy. Nottingham Education Theatre Company offers Roman Scandals (a conflation of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra) at C venue (August 25-30) and Caryl Churchill's Mad Forest at Greyfriar's Kirk House (August 11-23).
From further afield, The Church Hill Theatre in Morningside Road is playing host to an American High School Theatre Festival with Youth International at St Oswald's. The two venues will present more than a dozen US youth productions including Children of a Lesser God, The New Mexico Masque and Mummers Play and The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail.