FESTIVAL 94 AGENDA
The International Festival has been looking forward to the future. the day when Edinburgh would have an opera house. for more than twenty years. Now it’s got one. or something similar. in the bow-fronted shape of the Festival Theatre. This has become the focus of director Brian McMaster‘s hopes. and fears. for a festival which in a year has seen a huge jump in the number of tickets it has to sell. ‘lt‘s a huge risk.‘ says McMaster. ‘This is a nail-biting time because we have four weeks to raise £600.000.‘
No wonder McMaster is somewhat preoccupied by financial targets. But the Festival Theatre has meant changes on the programming side too. At its launch. general manager Paul lles described the new theatre as the ‘de facto‘ centre of Scottish dance. It‘s a title McMaster has moved swiftly to confirm by bringing some of the biggest names in intemational dance to Edinburgh. ‘1 hope Edinburgh will become the mecca for dance in Britain‘. he says confidently.
With so much riding on the success of the Festival‘s centrepiece venue. McMaster is unable to say much about the future. It seems likely that the next few years will be a time for consolidation. not radical change. ‘I believe Edinburgh has something unique and very special in the festivals,‘ he says. ‘We can offer something to our audience that no other city in the world can do.‘
McMaster admitted that he was
‘traumatized‘ by the superannuated average age of the Festival‘s audience when he arrived a couple of years ago. Injecting a bit ofyouthful verve into the Festival‘s mailing list could well put a spring in his step. (Lila Rawlings)
It‘s unfair to press Hilary Strong on future plans when she remains unblooded as Fringe director. but everyone‘s asking anyway. Strong has inherited a behind-the-scenes administration which she says needs no overhaul. What she will do. however, is look at the public face of the Fringe.
‘We‘ve got to represent the Fringe internationally and make people believe Edinburgh is the place to go in August.‘ ' she says. 'Whenever you see a feature about the Fringe there is always a picture of someone juggling and it‘s still perceived as slightly grubby. anarchic and studenty. We need to change public perceptions.‘ i Unlike her colleagues at the Film and International festivals, Strong is not a i programmer. However she does believe I the scrupulously even-handed way the i Fringe Society deals with all its clients must change. Strong is conscious that a , sixth-form college‘s drama club and an 3 established comedian have very different needs.
Increasing ticket prices are another
I major concern and she is looking at l ways to offer groups an incentive to keep prices down. ‘If the ticket prices
With Edinburgh’s three major festivals starting any day, we asked their directors — Hilary Strong (Fringe), Brian McMaster (International) and Penny Thomson (Film) — about current concerns and future plans.
escalate it means the traditional pattern of seeing two or three shows a day becomes difﬁcult,’ says Strong. ‘That means that less shows receive an audience. The most important thing having produced a show is to have people watching it.‘ (Eddie Gibb)
Penny Thomson admits the Edinburgh Film Festival has its fair share of ‘trainspotters', obsessive buffs who gather to swap information about the dolly grip on their favourite movies.
In a sense, this is also the Festival‘s strength. Few other festivals on the international circuit manage to appeal to both film fans and the industry. Thomson is keen to enhance Edinburgh’s standing as a forum for ﬁlmmakers but there is, she says. no danger of turning into purely an industry talking shop.
‘We'll never not sell tickets to the public — that‘s the backbone of it.‘ says Thomson. ‘We‘re unusual because the hospitality area is Open to people that have bought a ticket as well as directors and our visitors. That’s exactly the point where people do meet.’
The Festival is bursting at the seams; it has outgrown the Filmhouse, taken up squatters‘ rights at the Cameo and will make two forays into the MGM for gala screenings this year. with extra money pumped in by a three-year sponsorship deal with Drambuie.
Next year Thomson expects to expand into the new conference centre but is already looking ahead to the millenium. Her pipe~dream is a purpose-built complex to house new screens and the support services for Scotland‘s growing production base. If Edinburgh were to become I999 City of Architecture. this could be a real possibility. (Eddie Gibb)
V FESTIVAL PROFILE
Days after being airlifted to Britain from Sarajevo, filmmaker Srdan Vuletlc is still taking in his Edinburgh surroundings. His wide-eyed expression belies the depth of experience this 24-year-old Bosnian harbours - painfully fresh memories of a nation at war with itself.
He is one of several Sarajevo artists in Edinburgh, determined to expose the reality of a conflict which is quietly disappearing from western television sets. His own story ‘I Burnt Legs’, shot in documentary style, is set to blow the Drambuie Edinburgh Festival open. Filmed in the hospital where he worked as a volunteer, it shows Sarajevo life at its most raw - when Vuletic did not have a camera in his hand, his job involved carrying corpses and amputated limbs from wards and operating theatres.
Vuletic takes seriously his responsibility as an artist to document the horrors which have become part of everyday life in Sarajevo. ‘lt’s easier to understand what’s going on in Sarajevo through an abstract painting, rather than figures in the New York Times,’ he says. But he admits he and other Sarajevo filmmakers are on uncharted ground. ‘We forgot film language because we were cut off from Hollywood and Europe. We were like kids learning new words.
As a cinema-going child, he remembers wanting to change film endings. He knows he cannot do that this time, but hopes it will be something like his dream of a democratic, peaceful Bosnia. (Kathleen Morgan)
l Burnt Legs is showing at the Drambuie Edinburgh Film Festival. See Film preview.
I Suzy Wrong’s show is called Human Cannon; a tube of KY Jelly and a ping pong ball are two essential props. ‘How, what and where‘?‘ we asked. but Suzy was remaining tight lipped (are you sure about this one — Ed?). In search of some hard facts. we asked Jim Rose. a much-travelled man who knows about this kind of thing. ‘I'd have to say the KY implies anus.‘ he commented. Before we could question him further. Jim had unhitched his pants to demonstrate his latest act — Organ Origami. You wouldn't believe a man could impersonate a windsurfer withjust his meat and two veg.
More and more Fringe performers are testing the roadworthiness of new material on London audiences before heading north. However, Hattie
Hayridge and Linda Smith’s new two- woman show needed a little bit more than a tune-up, according to our man in the audience. Like learning a few lines. The paying punters sat on their hands at the end of the show, but went home smiling after Hattie and Linda stood everyone a round in the bar afterwards. We’re sure ‘Split ‘I’ease’ is now taut as a drum but if there’s any sign of prompting from the wings, don’t forget to order a double.
I Legendary filmmaker Andre de Toth. a man who has broken his neck four times. father to nineteen children and veteran of seven marriages. is one eye short of stereoscopic vision. By chance, so is Deena Juras. de Toth's eye-patch- wearing personal assistant for his visit to the Edinburgh Film Festival. We
reckon they’ve got a right/left pair between them, which should enhance their collective enjoyment of de T oth's cult classic House of Wax. It was ﬁlmed in 3-D. you see.
it’s a risky business pointing out cock- ups in other magazines. We felt unable to let this one pass but it’s offered more in sympathy than mirth. ‘0rlentation in Edinburgh ls straightforward,’ says the Independent on Sunday’s useful festival guide. A ‘ swift glance at the accompanying picture looking down Princes Street from Balton Hill conflrrns that the Gardens are on the, or, north side. Surely some disorientated sub-editor hasn’t reversed the photo? ’Fraid so. I Another London preview tale and please. no jokes about corpsing (you'll see why in a minute). Ample Productions were just accelerating into their performance of Jam about a city
choked by car fumes when a member of the audience was struck down with an asthma attack. The show at the New End Theatre in north London continued and the interval medical bulletin reported the bloke‘s recovery. But the irony was not lost on local lad Ivor Dembina. also heading for Edinburgh, who remembered the New End is a converted morgue.
Anyone unlucky enough to be caught curb-crawling in Hull earlier this year was given a simple choice: a caution from the vice squad or the chance to help Hull Truck with its enquiries. Writer Gill Adams was doing a bit of background research for the company’s new show Coming Out and was anxious to speak to some real-life johns. One punter caught, literally, with his pants down had a perfectly innocent explanation. He was a bit warm.
‘6 The List 12—18 August 1994