FRONT—OF-HOUSE FESTIVAL 95
Dame Sybille Thorndyke
The grand old lady of the stage, she of the stout figure and matching handbag, reminisces about the glory days of the Festival.
' Edinburgh. Edinburgh that grand old lady. I always love to return to this
great old city at any time. but especially
during the Festival. I've been coming
here to perform on the Fringe for over 80 years now. Even before there was a Fringe. l was here performing in churches. banks. abandoned buildings. peoples' homes. Finally the police gave up trying to stop me and built a Festival around me so that I wouldn't be so
Looking around today. I‘m struck by
how little has changed since I first
started all those years ago. The only
thing that’s really different is the way people perceive an. For example. I went to the Palladium the other night and saw Club Swing. those charming lesbians. flinging food and themselves
through the air. Well. in l957 I spent a
week in jail for doing exactly the same
; thing. Granted. bungee jumping from the Scott monument wearing nothing
but a generous dollop of Smash was a
little saucy for the 50s. but bugger it. I
()ne thing that hasn‘t changed is the high quality of the performers. Kevin Day. Mike Wilmot. Phil Kay. Radio Free Vestibule. Paul Tonkinson. Kate .1. Ed Byrne. Smiley. Phil Nicol. Ben Keaton. Struck ()ff and Die. The
(iadflys. Lee Evans. have all bought me
and four bottles of Cossack Vodka later.
a drink. Sir Bernard Chumley and I went out last night fora little drink to relive some of our theatre memories
we ran into a Polish dance company who thought they were hard. We waded into them like the veteran campaigners
we are. The police pulled us off before we could do any lasting damage but suffice to say these lads are going to miss the Last Tango in Warsaw.
Each year. I come back to these streets. these smiling faces. the ﬁghts. the tears. the laughter. the great empty stage that is Edinburgh during the Festival. i recall how the great Peter O‘Toole summed it all tip after the opening of the Lion in ll’imer we performed here in l973. He turned to me and said. ‘This town always smells of urine.‘ And I said to him ‘I think you'll find Peter. that it's you that smells of urine.‘ ‘. . . . So it is. Let‘s get pissed.‘
5 I A Lot of People Ask Me . . . An ﬂour
with Dame Sybille Thorndyke Gilded
Balloon (Venue 38) 226 215l. until 2
Sept (not 29) 8pm. £5 (£4). Dame
: Sybille’s alter ego Sean Cullen joins
Corky and the Juice Pigs at The Palladium from 28 Aug-~l Sept at
The maverick performer and artist, who has been described as Edinburgh’s answer to Tom Waits, reveals how he plans to escape the Festival frenzy.
‘l’ll be spending most of the Fringe dodging leaflets and crowds in the city centre — though I’ll be braving a Sunday trip to Greenside car boot sale - an endless source of inspiration. Another inspiring place is the Gramophone Emporium in Stockbridge where I’m often found browsing through secondhand records. This is a difficult place to avoid crowds because it’s so small, three people make it seem busy. At this time of year I drink locally in South Queensferry where you can have a night in The Ferry Tap or Anchor Inn, before strolling home to take in one of the uonders of the world - the Forth Rail Bridge - absolutely free!
Eddie Farrell’s installation Asparagus de Spud is on display at the Theatre Workshop, where he will also be playing his ukelele.
; The girl in the right place at the right time
Throughout her career Billie Whitelaw has worked with some of the
‘ greatest directors of stage
and screen, as she recounts in her new
‘ autobiography. Gill Harris ‘ spoke to the renowned
. English actress.
Billie Whitelaw stumbled into acting by accident when her mother sent her
to drama classes to cure her of her stammer and by the age of sixteen. she
radio plays. Much of her career has
me. and I‘ve been fortunate in where
was already a veteran of hundreds of been down to chance. "l‘his little stream which carries this little stick which is
it's taken me.’ she says. ‘l tncan I could
have got jammed in the first tree at the top of the stream.‘ Whitelaw has worked with such great
I names as ()rson Welles and Laurence
()livier. with diverse screen roles
ranging from Ronnie and Reggie‘s
; I < beloved mother in The Krays to the ex- wife of a successful novelist in Albert
. Finney‘s ('bar/ic Bubbles. llowever.
her greatest achievement of all is her
work with Samuel Beckett. Again. this came about by chance after another
production she was working on fell .5 through. Whitelaw found herself
working on Play. but admits she didn‘t understand his work. ‘l‘m not a Beckett buff or groupie.‘ she says. ‘I certainly was not when I started off. [just knew he‘d done Happy Days and it was a
I rather odd play I thought. but I hadn't
seen anything of his or read anything of
his but I took to his work straight away in as much as I didn‘t understand it intellectually but I understood it emotionally. and [just read it a bit like music.‘ Their close professional relationship ' was to span 25 years and numerous plays. one of which. [par/ally; was actually written for her. Nobody else worked with Beckett so closely. so Whitelaw is one of the few people who can shed light on some of the greatest drama of this century. ‘We spoke like choreographer and conductor and dancer and musician.‘ she says. ‘If you get a piece of Mozart or Schubert. you don’t say what does this mean. you just get on with it and do it.‘ It was her work with Beckett that I convinced Whitelaw to write the f autobiography. to put it down on paper so people would finally understand the great man's theories. Her book shows . that this talented actress can also write . beautifully. Iii/lie lV/Illl’fllll‘ l'lSl/S I/I(’ Edinburgh Bank l'i'slival an 26 Aug at 6.30pm. - Her (lulu/Hugrap/1y [ill/lo ll’llllt’Iali' -- ll’lla He.” is pub/[slim] by limb/0r and Slutty/lam (If [20.
New York performer and choreographer Rod McLucas comes to Edinburgh for the first time with his show Jawbone, a comic monolgue about life, love and Tupperware. He chooses the shows he hopes to pack in during the Festival.
I Spank l happened to sit next to the Cambridge Feminist Revue at the Fringe orientation and they‘re just as beautiful as the poster — which is enough to make you believe in Truth again.
C Venue. until 2 Sept (HUI 3/) 9.10pm. I Anything'at Cafe Graffiti In between the acts they have totally cool. twenty- foot puppets and you can always look at the massive murals — which is
’ enough to make you not care if the I 5 humour, Ivor Dembina deals with the l anti-Semitic joke.
Can Grafﬁti. (‘m‘ncr (lfB/‘(llbL’lI/(l/l Sireel and [fast Lam/(m Street. 557 8003.
I Tonight I’m Entertaining Richard Gere Cecilia Delatroi is the single most delightful person at the Festival —- which is enough to make you propose marriage.
Marco's. mail 2 Sept. 9.45pm.
I Steven Berkoff Last year Berkoff directed a mixed company of Brits and ‘ Yanks in th‘lllll't/ II and actually got them to perform the same play -- which is enough to make you believe in miracles.
Bank l'i'sa'i'al. 24 Aug, 11pm.
I Jawbone (Fringe) Rod McLucas. ‘ Randolph Studio (Venue 55) 225 5366. l until 2 Sept (not 3|) 10pm. £5 (£4). l
IVOR DEMBINA’S KOSHER KOBNER
In the last of his series on Jewish
A punter approaches after a show: ‘Lovcd it. mate. i know a Jewish joke you can use in your act.‘
lnevitably. the joke is virulently anti-
Semitic — and brilliantly funny. A
Jewishjoke has to be anti-Semitic in
order to be funny. Forget all this
charming. wry. philosophical nonsense.
What they want these days is some good ol' fashioned Jew—hating. If there isn‘t the smell of gas in the first two lines. it just ain't funny.
Jews'.’ Go for where it really hurts — our wallets. Here is the definitive anti- Semitic joke:
God offered a Jew the choice of a dozen copies of the New Testament or a
f hundred pounds. The Jewish man took the books.
, ‘Why‘l‘ asked God.
; ‘Where could I get a hundred pounds i wholesale." says the Jewish man.
i I told you it was brilliant.
Ivar Dcmbina in Stand Up Jewish
('(mmly is a/ The I’lcasant'e until 2
Sept (1! 9.30pm.
The List 25 Aug-7 Sept 1995 7