FESTIVAL 94 AGENDA
Each time the Festival and Fringe swoop into Edinburgh‘s streets and theatres. they provoke mutterings of discontent from those who feel left on the periphery of all the creative mayhem.
There is a feeling Festival fever is conﬁned to the city centre. leaving Edinburgh's housing estates to observe from afar or turn the other cheek. whichever suits. ‘The Fringe is seen as happening in the city centre and not in the outlying areas.‘ explains Fringe spokeswoman Faith Liddell. But at ground level. the cultural drums are beating and each year they get louder. reaching beyond conventional arts
and real life.
This month the acclaimed Mark Monis Dance Group will step off the Edinburgh Festival Theatre stage. into the uncharteer waters of Lothian schools. special needs and senior citizens' centres. With Festival applause presumany ringing in their ears following performances of Morris‘s masterpiece L 'Allegro. the American dancers will face their toughest audience yet — Scottish schoolchildren. The emphasis will be ﬁrmly on participation. the young critics being offered dance workshops with some of the world‘s most respected contemporary dancers.
Their renowned Seattle mentor and choreographer. Mark Morris, is used to spreading his creative wings in areas most artists turn their noses up. There is little ﬁnancial reward in tutoring and performing for deprived children in America‘s inner cities. but money is not the issue. We are talking job satisfaction — knowing your work reaches beyond theatre walls and into the community.
Managing director Nancy Umanoff speaks proudly of the dance company‘s
venues into schools. community centres
.:. ‘ A
l record for community work in Boston and other US cities. She hopes the group will have the same impact in Lothian schools. ‘We're bringing , something to these kids which they will ; value in the future.‘ she says. ‘If like 3 most American kids you‘ve never seen 5 soccer. you don‘t suddenly become a fan at 40. lfyou don‘t participate in dance and experience it. you‘ll never develop into a fan.‘ Umanoff admits schoolchildren can be i a tough audience to crack. but says the i dancers appreciate the challenge: ‘lt‘s an opportunity for them to develop their skills. Part of why they become dancers is to communicate their art 1 form to others.‘ The Festival is forging vital links with : the community. as is the Fringe. now : undertaking its ﬁfth year of workshops and performances in schools. Faith Liddell believes the Fringe in schools ; programme is a crucial means of sharpening not only children‘s j appreciation of the arts. but their critical faculties. ‘A school audience is
Edinburgh residents’ perennial beef is that the Festival circus leaves nothing behind when it packs up in September. But increasingly performers are looking for ways to put something back into the community, discovers Kathleen Morgan.
Indians: riding out into the community one of the tnost dangerous.‘ she warns.
A Fringe regular with a year-round commitment to communiity work. the Nottinghamshire Education Theatre Company is bringing its ﬁrst dance production The Iron Woman to Lothian schools. Company administrator Peter Norton praises the Fringe‘s efforts to penetrate the environments of children who have no links with the arts. ‘Thc Fringe is a great opportunity to learn about theatre-going.‘ he says ‘lt‘s less intimidating than going into a chandaliered theatre.‘
Reaching some children with school performances. the theatre group expects truckloads of others to come to its production of Indians. The idea is if they enjoy the experience. they might just pick up a Fringe programme next year
. The Mark Morris Dance Group is at
the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. 20 and 2/ Aug at 7. 30pm and 22 Aug at 2.30 and 7.30pm. f5—f20.
Indians is at the Theatre Arts Centre. until 26 Aug. £5.30pm. [2.
V FESTIVAL PROFILE Phoebe Showaish
Phoebe Showarsh was twelve when the Iraqi army spilled across the border into Kuwait In August 1990. She was on holiday in London and had to watch television to ilnd out any news irom her country. ‘I didn’t know where my iriends were,’ she says. ‘We lust watched the news all day ior about a year. It was really awiui.’
Four years on, Kuwait has been almost entirely rebuilt but the trauma oi the occupation remains - ior some it probably always will. An estimated 625 Kuwaitis are still held In Iraq, including Phoebe’s uncle and relatives at many oi her school iriends who have come to Edinburgh
‘When I went back after liberation, the biggest shock was seeing my grandmother,’ she remembers. ‘She had been so young-looking and young- spirited but aiter the invasion she looked really ancient.’ The iarnlly has had no news at Phoebe’s uncle since he was captured by the Iraqis during the invasion.
Darkness at Dawn was devised by their teacher Mike Thomas as a way oi telling the story oi the invasion and reminding westerners oi the number oi Kuwaitis still held as prisoners oi war.
For Phoebe and her classmates, rehearsing the play has brought back some traumatic memories, particularly a visit to a bombed-out house which has become a museum at the invasion. ‘The play has made me release the extent oi how bad it was,’ she says. ‘I ieel we’re doing something to help the rest oi the world understand what happened.’ (Eddie Gibb)
Darkness at Dawn (Fringe) Ilew English School oi Kuwait, Theatre West End (Venue 126) until 20 Aug, 7.20pm, £3
. 0“ to the Assembly Rooms club bar. ears ﬂapping as ever for hot tips. where an unprepossessing man sidles up and whispers in our shell-like. He's been to the Fringe. man and boy. for ﬁfteen years. apparently. and in that time only made it to one show. Who could this person be? Not Bill Burdett-Coutts clearly; too short and no tartan waistcoat. Malcom Hardee maybe? Can‘t be. he‘s not doing a show this year. No, it’s the bloke that sells early editions of The Scotsman in the Assembly foyer. And the show this long-serving vendor relinquished his Fringe virginity to see? Bitch! Dyke! Fag/rag! Whore! . . .‘for obvious reasons!‘
When IIrl Geller contacted the Gilded Balloon, Kevin Kopstein assumed he was phoning to bend his ear about the unauthorised use oi the cutlery coaterter’s name In his show IIrl Seller
FESTIVAL FLIEBS !
Ate My Dinner. But no, it was a message oi support. In iact Geller told us he has a “strange psychic ieellng’ Kevin’s show will be a success and hopes to travel to Edinburgh to check it out. Meanwhile Geller is working on a iew projects oi his own, including a new kniie-and-iork range due to be launched soon.
I Sample jokes: ‘l used to have a licence plate — NO CLEFT!‘ ‘Dating is a drag thanks to Michael — every girl 1 date has a rabbit.‘ it make no sense until you know the gag-meister is Eric Douglas. son ofthe distinctively- chinned Kirk and brother of the fatally attractive Michael. Now Eric hopes stand-up comedy will cut him a slice of the fame that is almost the Douglas birthright. Unfortunately. attempts to secure a couple of Edinburgh slots have so far been unsuccessful. despite urgent communiques to the Fringe Ofﬁce.
‘He‘s a self-publicist and wejust didn't want him.‘ commented one comedy venue his people approached. in the words of his dad‘s ﬁlm. this is a ‘town without pity'.
DK, we know it’s a publicity stunt, but it’s a pretty neat one. Corky and the Juice Pigs plan on perionning extracts irom their musical comedy show Doin’ Time at - where else - Saughton Prison (or Stockton as they have It in the news release). ‘We’ve got these pink 19405 prison uniionns but we’re not sure whether they’ll be wearing them,’ says Corky’s manager James Watson. ‘lt’s hard to say whether that’s iunny to a prisoner or not.’ Deputy governor Bod MacGowan reckons there are some pretty iunny guys In his prison already. ‘We’ve got more outstanding comedians than the Fringe - prison humour is renowned,’ he says. Johnny Cash would be proud. I So iar, it looks as if the Fringe can only manage three weddings and a funeral. Congratulations to Loretta
Preece and Gregor Hunt of 4X4 Theatre Company. who named the day last week. Not to be outdone. Torsion Theatre decided to announce two engagements. so all the best to Roland Queswel. Tracey Lewin, Malachi Bogdanov and Karen Ralf. We assume they've decided who’s marrying who. Meanwhile there was sad news from Polish stilt walkers Pheatr Biuro Podrozy who pulled out when a member of the troupe was killed in car crash while travelling to Edinburgh. You’d have thought It was the spirit oi the Fringe, but Edinburgh’s licensing board didn’t see It that way. Tire eagerly-awaited Alex and Ilod’s Drinking Games Workshop at Smugglers Bar was pulled treat the programme aiter the board took a ‘dlrn view’ at the Idea. Sadly you’ve been deprived oi the chance to learn the rules oi Mexican, Matchbox, Skunk- Pig and IIext, a game so harrowing that even Ilod has only played it once.
8 The List l9-25 August 1994