Fringe-is-big shocker!



It‘s big. But you knew it would be. It‘s actually bigger than ever, but you‘re unlikely to notice the difference between last year‘s choice of 12,132 shows and this year‘s 12.l76 when even the most enthusiastic culture vulture of I992 saw only 7 per cent of what was on offer.

Yes. the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme is once more at large and very large it is too. As the Fringe Office so usefully points out, ifyou went to every single performance it would take you one year. eleven months, nine days. two hours and 24 minutes non-stop. But don‘t try it without an adult. Or at least someone to carry all the leaflets.

Quantity does not mean quality. of course. but the one does make the other statistically more likely. Surely there must be something in one of the four Much Ado About Not/tings, and one of Abigail‘s four Parties is bound to be unpoopable. After all, any festival that throws up titles like Vampire Lesbians front Sodom and Graham Norton at the Karen Carpenter Bar and Grill can‘t be all bad.

lfyou‘re looking for names. there’s Julian Cope. Eddie lzmrd, Sean Hughes, Steven Berkoff, Emo Philips. Jo Brand, Margi Clarke. Garrison Keillor and the Jim Rose Circus. If you want dance, you‘ll head straight to the St Bride‘s Centre (see review in Theatre section) where Continental Shifts has put together the best movement-based programme to be seen on the Fringe for a decade. The cutting edge of theatre, meanwhile, is at the Art College where FEAST is mounting an ambitious and extensive intemational season that capitalises on what appears to be an uncharacteristically low-key Richard Demarco presence.

The Fringe runs from l5 August until 4 September and programmes are available by sending 70p in stamps to the Fringe Office. I80 High Street. Edinburgh EH1 lQS. The List’s weekly coverage ofthe Festival and Fringe kicks off with ajam-packed preview issue on Thursday I2 August. (Mark Fisher)

Message received and understood?

‘News is not a reflection of a world “out there“ but . . . a product ofthe practice of those who have the power to determine the experiences of others.‘ Not the most elegant of sentences. but you get the message. Or you will after reading “Getting The Message: News. Truth And Power‘. a new collection of essays from Glasgow University Media Group, the highly-respected/much reviled (depending on your standpoint) monitor of theory and practice in the news media.

In examining ‘what it is that takes place in British television under the banner of objectivity. impartiality and neutrality‘, the concerns of GUMG are broadly political. ‘The question that‘s constantly been raised throughout the 705, 805 and 905 is, what is the structure of media power, and how does that relate to our understanding of democracy?’ explains John Eldridge, editor of “Getting The Message‘. ‘Democracy is a contested concept, and is always in some senses under threat: this is what motivates and informs the essays in the book.‘

The contributors to “Getting The Message‘ tease apart the construction of and response to news reports by concentrating on stories and subjects that are in some way controversial, such as HIV and AIDS, the 1984

Ethiopian famine, Nicaragua. Northem Ireland and The Gulf War. Thus we learn, for example, of the elaborate tactics used by the Northern Ireland Information Office to promote the British government line (different treatment ofjoumalists depending on the news organisation and country they represent, the targeting of different ‘angles‘, like the IRA‘s Libyan connections. to different audiences). and that only 7 per cent of bombs dropped during the ‘surgical‘ Gulf War were ‘smart‘ bombs, or that 70 per cent of all bombs dropped missed their targets.

The whole adds up to what Umberto Eco is quoted as calling ‘semiological guen’lla warfare‘; the main purpose of GUMG‘s work is to equip the viewing public with the weapons for such battles. ‘We want people to know how to make somejudgement on what they are being shown,‘ says Eldridge. ‘In the end that‘s a long-term educational process, which says something about the importance of media studies given that we live in a media culture, it shouldn't be some kind of optional extra.‘ (Sue Wilson)

‘Getting The Message: News Truth And Power' is published by Rout/edge at £12. 99 (paperback) and £45 (hardback).

EIFF hits right note

The 47th Edinburgh International Film Festival will bring an award-winning array of world cinema to Scotland, with opening and closing gala films that snapped up no less than four Palmes d’0r in Cannes earlier this year. Jane Campion’s The Piano, a haunting tale of repressed love and desire in 19th century flew Zealand, opens the festivities on Saturday 14 August, while the affair comes to an end on Sunday 29 August with Mike Leigh’s disturbing new work, flaked.

Other highlights include a screening of This Boy’s Life, which stars Robert De Him as a violent stepfather in 1950s Washington State. The film was directed by Broxburn’s Michael Caton- Jones, who will be interviewed on stage for this year’s BAFTA Scotland! Scotsman Celebrity Lecture. Other personalities likely to be in town are acclaimed British documentarist flick Broomfield, Oscar nominee Mary McOonnell (star of John Sayles’s excellent Passion Fish) and director Robert Rodriguez, whose $7,000 movie El Mariachi is the centrepiece of a weekend of seminars and screenings on low-budget liS filmmaking.

Scottish input to the Film Festival looks particularly healthy this year, with two features Mike Alexander’s Gaelic film As An Eileen and Charles

Jane Campion’s The Piano

Gonnley’s Oown Among The Big Boys, which stars Billy Connolly in a Peter McOougalI script - several documentaries on subjects ranging from Monktonhall colliery to director Lindsay Anderson, and a selection of shorts and student films. A free programme with full details of screenings will be available from mid- July. (Alan Morrison)

Le Pen visit stopped?

The visit to Edinburgh by extreme right-wing French politician Jean Marie Le Pen and his fourteen-strong entourage may now be off after acceptance oi the group’s booking was withdrawn on Monday by the city’s Sheraton Grand ilotel. The 64- year-old French flational Front leader planned to hold his conferences there between 5-9 July and, at the time of going to press, no other hotel had admitted to taking an alternative booking.

Local anti-racism groups had been readying themselves for Le Pen’s arrival, with several protest rallies and marches due to coincide with the visit, the latest leg of a European ‘lunket’. Last week, newspapers had reported that his liit trip would go ahead, with Le Pen saying that he has full confidence in the British authorities protecting him during his stay. lie did, however, express his annoyance that his personal bodyguards were not permitted to carry fire-arms.

Over the past several years, Le Pen and his ‘technical party’ have been travelling across Europe and holding conferences In Paris, Rome, Vienna, Dublin, Venice, London, ilice, Madrid and Lisbon; he has even recently been photographed pool-side in Corfu. These foreign trips are not Illegal but, at an accumulated cost to the European taxpayer of around £300,000, Le Pen is accused of abusing loopholes In current parliamentary laws, which are only now being looked Into and questioned.

An official enquiry into over-spending by the flational Front and other parties will not be published until 9 July, too late to stop his Scottish trip.

Ill-feeling towards Le Pen and fellow racists will be aired at an Antl-ilazl League rally to be held at the Assembly Rooms in George Street on Sunday 4 July at 3pm - an event that the organisers will now treat as a celebration of Edinburgh’s rejection of Le Pen. tinder the title ‘ilolocaust Oenial - the new liazi lie’, the rally will be addressed by, anongst others, Esther Brunsteln (a survivor of the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz and Bergen- Belsen concentration camps), French anti-racist Paul Elie-Levy, and Labour MEPs Glyn Ford and David Martin. Given that one of le Pen’s misguided intentions was to use the trip to meet representatives of “the national party’ in Scotland, it is particularly fitting that Dr Allan Macartney, Deputy Leader of SIP will also be on hand to voice his opposition.

The following day, Monday 5 July, an Anti-Nazi League demonstration will assemble at 5.30pm at Waterloo Place before marching to meet up with the Joint Lothlan Trades Council and Scottish Anti-Racist Rally at Festival Square, outside the Sheraton Hotel. Should any alternative arrangements be made to accommodate Le Pen in Edinburgh at short notice, further action - to be announced in due course - will be taken by local protest groups. (Joe Lampard and Alan Morrison).

4 The List 2—15 July I993