|Headquarters||Corporate: London, England
Operational: Edinburgh, Scotland
|Products||Theatre and Comedy Promotion, Productions and Venues|
|Subsidiaries||Underbelly Promotions Limited|
Underbelly Limited operates a series of four venues at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in Scotland. From 2000-2004, Underbelly, Cowgate was the only venue operated by Underbelly. In 2005, Underbelly added the Baby Belly venue. In 2006, these venues were joined by the E4 UdderBELLY and the Cow Barn. Since 2007 Underbelly have also used venues such as McEwan's Hall in Bristo Square and Appleton Tower in Crichton Street. In 2009 they also created the atmospheric Hullabaloo in George Square Gardens with its Al Fresco bar and hosting shows in the Bavarian Wooden Bosco Tent.
Underbelly Limited was set up in 2001 to turn the Underbelly venue into a professional venue with a number of performance spaces and a wide range of productions. The venue was set up with performance spaces in the Iron Belly, White Belly and Big Belly. The Belly Laugh (then named the Belly Bar) was also used for late night cabaret as well as the venue's second bar. Space downstairs which is now used for the Belly Dancer was used to exhibit a film installation by Nick Hornby.
In 2002, the Underbelly venue was renamed Smirnoff Underbelly to reflect its sponsorship by Smirnoff vodka. The number of performance spaces was increased to include the Belly Button and Belly Laugh comedy venues and a third bar, the Jelly Belly, on the first floor. The number of shows increased from 18 to 50+.
In 2003, the Belly Dancer was soundproofed to ensure that it could be used throughout the day without disrupting performances in other spaces. This allowed Underbelly to team up with Forth One 97.3 to host a series of free live music gigs every night in the Belly Dancer, known as the Forth One Fringe. Acts have included established acts such as Mark Owen, Ocean Colour Scene and Skin and newer bands like Keane, Athlete, The Thrills and Nizlopi.
In 2004, the Delhi Belly space was added. The bars were rearranged to create more space and ease congestion and queuing. Finally, a new box office was created in one of the rooms off the front alley, which freed up the old box office to become a larger and more usable publicity office. The shows at the Underbelly venue won a record number of awards, including the Perrier Award for Jackson's Way; Fringe First Awards for The Ignatius Trail, Manchester Girl and The Jammer; Perrier Newcomer Nomination for Joanna Neary in Joanna Neary is Not Feeling Herself; and an Amnesty Award nomination for Someone Who'll Watch Over Me.
In 2005, Underbelly was joined by the Baby Belly on Niddry Street, just off Cowgate, a two-minute walk from the original venue. The number of shows was now up to 140 spread over the three weeks of the Edinburgh Fringe.
Underbelly has diversified away from its original routes as solely the operator of a venue at the Edinburgh Fringe. Today it operates four venues at the Edinburgh Fringe and also promotes and manages comedy acts and produces theatre and comedy shows around the country.
- Underbelly, Cowgate
- Baby Belly, Niddry Street (now Just The Tonic Caves)
- E4 UdderBELLY, Bristo Square
- Cow Barn, Bristo Square
- McEwan Hall, Bristo Square
- Hullabaloo, George Square Gardens
- Appleton Tower, Crichton Street (now Fringe Central)
Performers who have appeared at Underbelly venues since 2000 include:
- Stewart Lee - co-writer / director of Jerry Springer - The Opera
- Waen Shepherd
- Will Adamsdale aka Chris John Jackson in Jackson's Way
- Rob Deering
- Lucy Porter
- Janey Godley
- Rain Pryor
- Robin Ince
- Russell Howard
- Howard Read
- Paul Provenza
- Ricky Tomlinson
- Topping & Butch
- Richard Herring
- Simon Bird
- Reginald D Hunter
- Phil Nicol
- Joan Rivers
- Frisky and Mannish
- The Thrills
- Ocean Colour Scene
- Tom Jones
- Mark Owen (of Take That)
- Tina Dico (formerly of Zero 7)
- Gwyneth Herbert
- Underbelly's website
- Underbelly's Smirnoff Underbelly website at the Wayback Machine (archived July 23, 2007)
- The Guardian article on Underbelly
- The Scotsman article on Underbelly
- Edinburgh Evening News article on Underbelly
- Official Edinburgh Fringe website
- Edinburgh Guide - news and reviews.
- Scotsman/Evening News reviews
- ThreeWeeks - comprehensive coverage of the Edinburgh Fringe and other festivals
- Official Edinburgh Comedy Festival website