Notes from the Fringe
– a series of blog posts from SHP’s CEO, Ron McAllister –
Day 5 – Wednesday 24th August: Farewell to Edinburgh
I’m writing my final blog on the train, homeward bound from the biggest arts festival in the world.
Yesterday was the most spectacularly “festive” day of the festival – with experiences which included a dance performance on a bus, an Immersive performance of Trainspotting and – most powerful of all – a performance which galvanised the audience into barricading out riot police and pelting them with bricks in a Ukrainian uprising.
The day got off to a great start – the sun made an appearance – hooray! (though no heat wave up here – let’s not get carried away!)
I managed to get tickets sorted for two of the biggest international successes this year – “The Pianist” and “Counting Sheep”. Very happy about that.
“The Pianist” was a masterclass in one-man clowning – with everything you could imagine happening in and around a Grand Piano, a piano stool and a chandelier. Wonderfully entertaining and uplifting.
“Counting Sheep”, on the other hand, was a shocking portrayal of events in the war in Ukraine (still happening today.) We found ourselves eating and dancing at a Ukrainian wedding only to be forced to protect ourselves by building a barricade with tyres and tables before finally being led away, lined up, and…. shot.
Scotland’s equivalent onslaught of the senses was the drug-fuelled Trainspotting.
This was also harrowing. After an hour and fifteen minutes of extreme verbal and physical abuse it was a relief to get on board the Big Red Bus for Java Dance’s “Back of the Bus”. This was a delightful piece which took us to three different locations in Edinburgh to watch set dance pieces, with some amusing and interactive dance and comedy moments taking place on board the bus itself.
We rounded off the day in the beautiful Assembly Gardens where my daughter entertained delegates representing venues throughout the UK with “hilarious” stories of my parenting skills.
So what are the abiding memories of this year’s festival? Well, in addition to the big impressive festival pieces there were hidden gems tucked into small rooms – like Casey Andrew’s “Every Wild Beast” an intimate retelling of an ancient Japanese fable, in a tiny attic room which could only hold 15 at a time, directed with a deft touch by none other than SHP’s Head of Creative Learning, Mark Hooper. There was the beauty of the host city Edinburgh which never fails to amaze and delight, and – perhaps most reassuringly of all – the good-natured comradeship of colleagues from all over the world, brought together for the same reason – to celebrate the transformative power of the arts.
Contacts have been established, ideas discussed, possible collaborations proposed, and new friendships forged.
Farewell Edinburgh – Its been a blast – I hope to see you again next year!