There‘s a new kid on the world theatre block. To commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus arrival in the New World. twotheatre companies have left the sandy shores of the Bahamas for a one-year world tour. The Fringe is their first stop.
Harold Easton of American Festival Theatre has been out to meet the actors and he guarantees ‘gutsy‘ performances. ‘These plays are not “come to the Bahamas and sit in the sun“. Nor are they didactic diatribes.‘ he says. Instead they fall somewhere in between. exploring the ambiguities of life for the people ofa post-colonial state that now depends for its survival on Western tourism.
Easton expects an uncompromising European debut. The groups recount their story through their music and their words. The English scripts, for instance. are peppered with colloquialisms and scraps of dialect. Says Easton: ‘They just tell it like it is. with humour and without any attempt to sanitise.‘ (Carl Honoré)
I Island Dream: (Fringe) Derek Burrows. Southside 91 (Venue 82) 667 7365. 12—24 (not 18) Aug, 6.15pm, £4 (£3).
I You Can Lead A Horse To Water and No Seeds In Babylon (Fringe) Dundas Repertory Company, Chaplaincy Centre (Venue 23) 5565184. 12—24 Aug (alternating), 10pm, £4 (£2).
I Mualc DI the Bahamas (Fringe) Dundas Repertory Company, Randolph Studio (Venue 55) 225 5366.12—17 Aug, 2pm, £2 (£1).
V FOLK OUTBACK
The didgeridoo is no longer a surprise in Edinburgh. Stockton's Wing used to feature one. Last year‘s St John‘s Festival series featured an Australian Aboriginal band. Even Scotland’s own Dougie MacLean
plays one during his concerts. But the hollow log used as lead instrument in a dance band?
Yes, Outback do it this year for Heartbeat World Music.
And there are no Aussies in this band. Graham Wiggins was a sane Oxford physicist until his conversion to the didgeridoo. He spent four months studying with Aboriginal teachers. and like the fractal image in the centre of their Baka CD sleeve. is now lost in an infinity of sound textures produced by the magic tube.
Martin Cradick is a classically trained guitarist subverted by the music ofthe Caribbean. South America and North Africa. has a strong predilection for reggae. ﬂamenco and folk forms. and together with Graham. is responsible for the band‘s rhythmic compositions.
Sagar N‘Gom. who was brought up in a family of Senegalese traditional singers. adds percussion on the djcmbc and mbala. and completing the group is an old musical associate of Martin. drummer Ian Campbell. A third album ofthis unique crosscultural brew. Dance the DeviIA way. is due for release soon. (Norman Chalmers)
I Outback (Fringe) Outback. St John‘s Church (Venue 127) 12-17 Aug. 6pm. 19—24 Aug. 1pm. £5 (£4).
N. IRELAND SYMPHONY
Edinburgh at Festival time is a well established and fertile meeting ground for probably just about any sort of relationship you might care to imagine. But an lZO-strong choir meeting, for the first time, an 80-piece youth orchestra?
This ambitious friendship comes under the auspices of the Festival of British Youth Orchestras at the splendid Methodist Central Hall at Tollcross (go even just to look at the stained glass- delicate Art Nouveau) when the Northern Ireland Symphony in its ﬁrst mainland UK visit teams up with the youth wing of the renowned Huddersfield Choral Society.
Together they perform the Symphony No 2, subtitled The Violet Flame. by Derek Bell, more famously known as harpist with The Chieftains. who will not
only be present but will in fact take the solo harp role on this occasion. Playing both at lunchtime and in the evening. they give two chances to hear the symphony. the later programme being extended with the premiere of the orchestral version of Wilfred Josephs' Northumbrian Dances and popular choral items. (Carol Main)
I N. Ireland Symphony and Huddersfield Choral Society Youth Choir (Fringe) National Association of Youth Orchestras. Central Hall (Venue 100) 13 Aug. 12.30pm and 7.30pm. £4/£l .50 (£2/£l.’Free).
MICHAEL JAMES MANAIA
Produced by the same team responsible forthe stylish and highly acclaimed re-working of Hedda Gabler at last year‘s International Festival. New Zealand‘s Downstage Theatre returns to Edinburgh with a distinctly Kiwi play.
Michael James Manaia is the story of a man growing up. volunteering for Vietnam and returning. ghosts er (11.
Actor Jim Moriarty. whose gripping performance fuels the one-man show, worked closely with writerJohn Broughton to create a play he feels is ‘not trying to mimic any other world formula. lt reeks of us. the people who live here. It‘s about forging a New Zealand identity.‘
Downstage Theatre‘s concerns (they are responsible for a vast number of activities from Theatre In Education to drama magazines) help refute the Euro-centric notion of New Zealand as an historical and artistic desert (I went to NZ but it was closed) and consciously expose the many different cultural streams which have formed that society.
This diversity is embodied within the play by Manaia's parents. of English and Maori descent. and by the specially written music from Mapusa, who fuse Maori, Samoan and Pakeha styles to create a
Such a background might suggest a rather esoteric piece. but Moriarty assures usthat ‘hy honouring the specific. people can see the universality in it.” (Stephen Chester)
I Michael James Manala (Fringe) Downstage Theatre. Traverse Theatre (Venue 15)226 2633.13—18 Aug. 6pm. 20-25 Aug. 3pm. 27—31 Aug. 8.00pm. £8 (£4).
YOUNG VORONEI BALALAII 3
Among the ti e-trove ofentertainm tthe Pleasance this r is a phenomenal; aof young musici; om the USSR.appea under thetitle Youn ronezh Balalaikas. Fr .heir home town of mezh. just slightly h ‘han Edinburgh; ‘d half way bCIH/Ct‘ v and Glasgow‘s Rostov-o regularly home ant rhe visit to th ;s their UKt
‘Altogeti Christopher. idson.
director at the Pleasance. there are eleven children aged mainly between ten and sixteen. Their repertoire covers traditional and modern and they sing in both Russian and English, which is rather charming. They have also won a number of competitions in Russia.‘
Richardson is especially pleased to have secured their visit as. he says. ‘you don‘t often get young Russians coming to Britain and we would very much like themto have the chance to meet some young musicians from this country.‘ Celebrations will certainly be in order while they are in Edinburgh as one ofthe group, Andre Gorbachev, has his let birthday on 11 August. Although no relation to the more famous Gorbachev. he has played at the Kremlin and no doubt greatly impressed his namesake. (Carol Main)
I Young Vononezh Balalalkas (Fringe) The Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 1513. 10- 19 August (please note change of dates). 6pm . £5/£5.50 (£3/£3.50).
V THEATRE KWAMANZI
jHaving played to much smaller audiences than they deserved last year,
because the . were based in one of E inburgh's
more remote venues. the award winning Theatre For Africa is back at the 'Fringe with its unique brand ofdynamic and vigorous drama.
Kwamanzi is an animal mime set around a water hole in the African bush. In it the actors explore animal movements from the leopard to the dung beetle, and. unlike traditional mime, recreate the animal sounds of the bush. ‘The sounds range from the tiniest squeak of a warthog, to the roars of the big cat family,‘ explains writer-director Nicholas Ellenbogen. ‘These marvellous sounds. so evocative of the spirit of Africa, are made almost entirely by the actors without recourse to any type of musical instrument or technology.‘
Written ten years ago. the show is back by popular demand. ‘But sadly,‘ says Ellenborgen ‘the conclusion ofthe story is as pertinent now as it was ten years ago.‘ (Robert Alstcad)
I Kwamanzl (Fringe)The Netherbrow (Venue 30) 5569579. 12.14, 16.19. 21 , 23. 26, 28. 30Aug. 6pm. £6 (£5).
: v THEATRE
; WEISMAN AND iCOPPERFACE
When George Tabori
unveils a new play,
continental theatres vie for the rights. Having triumphantly staged his Mein Kampf: farce in 1989. the Traverse Theatre this year offers up his newest work.
Billed as a Jewish Western and set in the Rockies. Weisman and Copperface is built around the lives ofthree characters. each from a vilified minority: an American Indian, a New York Jew and a handicapped woman. Himselfa Jewish refugee from Hitler‘s Germany. Tabori is on familiar territory.
The story is unravelled with characteristic wit and irony. Artistic director Michael Batz says that the blend of black humour and serious thought is the secret of Tabori‘s success. ‘It‘s a very Jewish mixture
that makes for engaging theatre,‘ he says.
The play fits snugly into Tabori‘s long and glittering track record. Though originally written in English. it won last year‘s best-play award in Germany. (Carl Honoré) I Welsman and Coppedaco (Fringe) Yorrick Theatre Company. Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 226 2633. various dates/times
In a neat turn of events. Charles Nowosielski. outgoing artistic director of Musselburgh‘s Brunton Theatre. has come full circle. ‘I opened at The Brunton five years ago with The Wallace,‘ he recalls, ‘and now the last one‘s going to be The Bruce. It wasn‘t planned. It‘s just how it transpired.‘
R.S. Silver‘s play, which takes us from the Battle of Bannockburn in 13l4to the granting of Scottish independence in 1328, is only now being given its ﬁrst full production after a rehearsed reading last year and a 40-year period of neglect. ‘The word that Robert Silver uses is “tonal”. very gentle,‘ says Nowosielski about the production. ‘If it instils in some people a national pride. then fine, but ifit was in Portugal there would be a Portugese person we could instil a national pride in. It’s about knowing who you are, believing who you are and then having a determination and a true identity.
‘In the end it’s not Scotland’s independence one‘s talking about,’ he continues, ‘it‘s the independence of all peoples including the individual. It's the self-determination of the individual, the family. right up to the nation, and then of course the United Nations. Without self-determination you can‘t unite.‘ (Mark Fisher)
I The Bruce (International Festival) Brunton Theatre Company, St Bride‘s Centre, 225 5756, 9—13, 15—17,7.30pm; 10, 15.17 Aug, 2.30pm. Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, 21—24. 26—31 Aug, 7.30pm; 22, 24, 29, 31
The List 9— 15 August 199141