Good time at the Edinburgh Fringe

September 6, 2006

The Castle from the south side

Very well, here I am, writing my first “proper” post after my summer holidays in Scotland and a minor bout of laziness.
My good friend Ale, who manages the Angolo Nero blog, said in her comment that I had lost a good occasion to write a travelling blog. I don’t know… in retrospect, I can see a number of reasons why I didn’t even think of doing that.

First, I didn’t want to bring with me my somewhat battered, modem-powered, beloved old PowerBook G3.
Second, Internet cafés in Edinburgh are a bit costly. They could even ask 1 pound sterling for 20 min. Let’s say that the bargain is about 1,50 – 1,20 pounds per hour. It is still a bit expensive, if you ask me.
Third, Internet cafés can be found only in big cities – not in the middle of Glen Coe, just to make an example.
Fourth, and most important, I usually want to be totally immersed in my journeys. I do not like to filter my experiences through writing about them, or through filming them. I can write about them later. That’s why I am here now.
I took some pictures, though… 🙂

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Now, let’s start with Edinburgh and its festival, or festivals, I’d better say.

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This year was the Fringe 60th anniversary. Numbers at the end of the fair are impressive: 71 million hits on the website, more than 1,5 million tickets sold, 333 venues (proper theatres and halls, churches, pubs, yards, cellars, caves…), more than 28000 performances, more than 17000 artists…
More than 1800 shows, from comedy to music, from theatre to children’s shows, from dance to art exhibitions; and many other events, including food, wine and whisky tasting plus some show or other, Shakespeare at breakfast (free coffees and croissants), pub crawling with accompanying music, you name it.

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Anybody can present a show at the Fringe. Its staff is very helpful, suggesting procedures, ways for finding a venue, and so on.

But a great deal also goes on in the streets.

Flyerers in High Street

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There’s the crowd in High Street (part of the Royal Mile ), where hundreds of youngsters hand you flyers of shows, doing their best to tell you why you shouldn’t miss it. In 15 minutes you can collect a bookful of flyers… Most of the times it’s the artists themselves that do the job.

Then you have all sort of buskers, jugglers, acrobat, street artists in general. Just wandering around you can enjoy yourself for a whole day.

The Mound is another venue for artists showcasing their performance. So if you’re not sure whether something is worth the ticket, you may be lucky to see an excerpt.

I saw there a showcase that was almost the whole show (that was going on in an important theatre), by a Japanese collective called “Jump!”: they mixed martial arts, clownerie and music in a nice package.

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We didn’t see many shows: even going for cheap tickets you can reach quite an expenditure seeing something every day – as you would like to do…
Then some shows we wanted to see (Jason Byrne, Ed Byrne – no relatives, Danny Bhoy) were sold out even before the start of the Fringe.
These are the things we managed to see:

CHANBARA
A Japanese show mixing taiko drumming and sword (katana) choreographies. The latter were performed by the group that worked with Quentin Tarantino for Kill Bill’s sword scenes.

MUMMENSCHANZ
The legendary, beautiful, playful show of mime, mask, puppetry by the Swiss-Italo-American group. I last saw them at the end of the Eighties…

DAVID O’DOHERTY
A stand-up comedian from Ireland smashing corporations and human stupidity in general, aiding himself with a cheap Casio toy keyboard…

ANDY PARSON’S INTERNATIONAL INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIP MOANING
ROTFL for one of the best stand-up comedians and his ferocious social and political satire.

EDDI READER
A superb Glaswegian folk (but not only) singer, one of the mellowest, honey-toned and at the same time powerful voices I’ve ever listened to. After having done backing vocals for, among others, Eurythmics, she embarked in a solo career that has topped (IMHO) in 2003 with an album of songs based on Robert Burns poems.
The concert was absolutely fantastic. She was in top form and the band followed suit. Just perfect.

BOTH SIDES OF THE BAR
A play staged in a pub, about a successful actor, his fiancé (to whom he’s unfaithful) and a wannabe actor who has to work in the pub to support himself and who’s secretly in love with the other’s fiancée… Sort of fun, the three actors were much better than the play itself. I confess I went because of the free beer included in the ticket…

victoria-street.jpgAnd then there’s Edinburgh itself, its museums, pubs, gardens…
Beautiful, full of life and of kind people.

A city that doubles its popolation during the festivals month and still manages to look normal, as if guests from the whole world just belonged there and were part of the city texture.

A joy to be there.

P.S.

Re-reading everything, it may seems that I picked up the Scottish spirit for parsimony, but I strongly deny such hint…
Showcase at the Scott Monument

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One Response to “Good time at the Edinburgh Fringe”

  1. Stewart Wright Says:

    Great Fulvio. I won’t need to go in future as long as you blog it.
    Stewart


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