Welsh Theatre Takes Centre Stage at the Fringe; There Will Be a Strong Welsh Presence on the Streets of Scotland during the World Famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Karen Price Speaks to Some of the Artists Showcasing Their Latest Works Centre Feature

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Byline: Karen Price

THROUGHOUT August the eyes of the world are on Edinburgh as anyone who's anyone in the arts world arrives in the city for the festival.

Well not just one festival - two to be precise.

The Edinburgh International Festival was launched in 1947 to celebrate the performing arts.

During the same year, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was formed as an alternative. It's now the world's largest arts festival and it's become renowned as a hotspot for comedy as well as theatre.

As in previous years, 2008 will see plenty of Welsh input at The Fringe, as the alternative festival is now lovingly dubbed.

Chris Ricketts, artistic director of Cardiff-based ShermanCymru,will be in Edinburgh to see the world premiere of the company's latest production, Deep Cut.

Previewing this weekend in the Welsh capital, it is based on the real-life tragedy at the Deepcut army barracks.

It is now almost 13 years since Private Cheryl James from Llangollen died from gunshotwounds at the barracks - one of four young officers found dead in similar circumstances.

An inquest returned an open verdict into her death and in 2006 an independent review concluded that all of the deaths were "probably self-inflicted".

Now, as her parents Des and Doreen James, continue fighting for a public inquiry, their harrowing story has been picked up by Swansea-based playwright Philip Ralph.

Deep Cut explores the investigation into the deaths of the soldiers and it also provides particular emphasis on the impact that 18-year-old Private James' death in 1995 has had upon her parents.

During the last few years, Ralph has been researching and developing the play and has conducted many face-to-face interviews with the families involved, including the Jameses, and professionals with views on the way in which the deaths were investigated. He has also considered in detail public records.

Deep Cut receives its world premiere at the TraverseTheatre in Edinburgh on July 31. It will run at the venue for three weeks and the Jameses will travel to Edinburgh for one of the performances.

It will be the first time Sherman Cymru - which was formed after Cardiff's Sherman Theatre merged with production company Sgript Cymru - has had a presence at The Fringe.

"It's very important for us to be there as it's such an important festival," says Ricketts. "And we are delighted to be at the Traverse, which is one of the premier venues.

It will be a great profile for the company and the piece (Deep Cut) deserves it."

Ricketts approached the Traverse with the script for Deep Cut.

"They read it and came back to us with the invitation."

He is now looking forward to audiences' reactions to the piece.

"We can show them that this is the quality of production which we aspire to achieve through all of our work.

"The important thing is to have the right piece to go to Edinburgh and, for me, a lot of it is being in the right venue where we know our work will be seen.

"We hope to have an on-going relationship with the Traverse and take our work there at other times of the year as well as stage work from the Traverse here in Cardiff. …