FESTIVAL FEATURES | Counting Sheep
ideal of objectivity. While the forces of the state are not caricatured, the video footage condemns the criminal activities of the then-president, Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych. Since Yanukovych was given to poisoning enemies and sending troops against peaceful protestors, the show’s bias is not unfair, and lends a dynamic, even celebratory, compassion to each of its chapters.
However, Lemon Bucket Orkestra, who have been gathering a following by busking around Edinburgh throughout the Fringe, transform the serious message into something more playful and, at times, mournful. Switching between high-octane Balkan dance music and melancholic, unaccompanied songs, Mark’s description of Counting Sheep as ‘folk-opera’ captures both the importance of music in protest and performance, and the nature of the music itself. ‘It’s “folk” because the music is not composed specii cally for the piece, but it’s carefully selected from a repertoire that’s been collected from villages across central and eastern Ukraine over the past 16 years by Marichka,’ he adds. ‘The work is a representation of a life work of ethnomusicological research. And we believe that it truly represents the Ukrainian heart, soul and multiplicity of voices.’
Even the show’s genesis came from his awareness of a Ukrainian tradition. ‘We were sharing songs with friends and strangers in Ukraine: everything we do when we share something that’s special to us is a type of performance,’ he explains. The lesson he seems to have taken from the protests is the value of community and communication. ‘I became interested in what drives people to share in the i rst place and in exploring that in a public way, to coax other people into sharing. And because I think that performance is the i rst step towards conversation, and conversation is the next step towards understanding.’ The dense collision of ideas, revolutionary fervour and acts of onstage kindness has made Counting Sheep stand out in a Fringe that is often described in i nancial terms as an ‘arts market’. While it may not conjure the exact experience of being part of a protest – the boredom and sheer terror are absent – it does explore the possibilities of a theatre that is engaged, sincere and serious but, above all, playful. Summerhall @ The King’s Hall, 560 1581, until 28 Aug (not 22); 20 & 21, 27 & 28, 2pm; 18–21, 23–28, 8pm; £13–£20 (£12–£18).
20 THE LIST FESTIVAL 18–29 Aug 2016