Early exit for theatre boss

A leading figure in Edinburgh's financially troubled theatre world departs this fortnight. two months ahead of schedule. leaving behind an admirable heritage and a few rays of hope amid the turmoil.

Paul lles has been general manager at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre since its inception in l992. but announced his decision to leave the council-run theatre in March. citing unhealthy competition with the King‘s Theatre and Apollo Leisure's Playhouse.

Council interference in programming was known to be a problem and the last straw may have been their refusal to sanction a lucrative pantomime last Christmas. instead. a Welsh adaptation of Gulliver Is Travels was booked. and then cancelled after it proved a box office failure. After the theatre lost £625.00() in I995. the council ‘grudgingly‘ agreed to grant £350.000. Rumours suggested the payment was conditional upon lles's departure.

Initially. lles planned to leave on expiry of his contract in September. but will now depart on I9 July. leaving theatre manager David Todd as acting general manager. Another typically quirky brochure for autumn l996 offers perhaps the rrrost exciting range of performances the theatre has so far presented. but the man responsible will not be there to see it. (Andrew Burnet)

Gay men voice fears over child abuse register

Gay campaigners are concerned that Scottish Office proposals for a register of sexual offenders will include records of men with convictions for cottaging and cruising (having sex in a public place) along with those of child abusers.

if the proposals contained in Michael Forsyth’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ white paper become law, details of anyone convicted of a sexual offence - whatever its nature - would be stored on a database, with the records made available to prospective employers, youth groups and voluntary organisations.

The measures are ostensibly aimed at preventing child abusers from applying to work with children and other vulnerable people. But the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties

(SCCL) have joined gay campaigners in voicing worries that concern for the safety of children might be used as a smokescreen to smuggle in wider restrictions. SCCl, who are compiling a response to the proposals, are not in favour of registers but accept that a case can be made for listing those who offend against children.

David Dixon, a criminal lawyer speaking for SCCl. said: ‘lt is vital that the database contains clear distinctions about the nature of the sexual offence. ‘There is all the difference in the world between consensual sexual acts between adults - even if they are outwith the law’s definition of acceptability - and sexual acts that are forced upon unwilling victims.’

At present the range of sexual

offences to be included on the register is unclear. Craig llutchison of Lothian Gay and Lesbian Switchboard is worried that young gay men convicted of having sex with partners under the legal age of consent, currently eighteen, could appear on it. ‘As the law stands, someone aged eighteen could be arrested for having sex with a seventeen-year-old and go down on the register as an adult who had sex with a child.’

ian Dunn, convener of gay rights organisation Outright, said: ‘These proposals are in urgent need of clarification. Anyone whose sexual lifestyle sets them outside the strict letter of the law, yet in no way impinges on the safety of children, could find themselves included on the register.’ (Conchita Pinto)

Designed for mass appeal

Organisers of September’s Glasgow international Festival of Design hope to pull up to 50,000 visitors with the message that design affects us all.

A poster campaign featuring design classics and their owners includes Terence Conran’s sofa, Paul Smith’s suit and Carol Smillie’s sunglasses. Another poster quotes ten-year-oid Christy Dryson, of the Gorbals, in admirably direct design critique of her bike: ‘I like it because it’s fast and i like going places.’

Efforts have been made to keep the main exhibitions on a personal level. Fly On The Wall will follow Glasgow companies step by step ‘from concept through to shop shelf’, and Objects Of Desire allows ten Glaswegians, ten designers and ten ‘personalities’ to choose products they feel are well-designed. items chosen range from disposable nappies to cars, chairs and stamps.

“This is part of an attempt to show that Glasgow takes design seriously, and should become a regular event,’ claimed festival director Deyan Sudjic. The festival will be centred in the old Post Office building in George Square. Perhaps the only fear is that people may walk straight past the building. ‘It is part of the street scenery but no-one actually knows what is in here,’ Sudjic added. ‘Spectacuiar interventions will signal its presence.’ (Stephen Iaysniith)

Cannabis website launch amid drought fears

Medical users of cannabis are suffering because of a national shortage of the illegal drug. according to the Legalise Cannabis Campaign Scotland (LCCS).

At the launch of LCCS's new Web site. spokesperson Linda Hendry said most enquiries she had received recently were from people with multiple sclerosis.

‘They have been using cannabis to replace up to three health service drugs but they can't find any cannabis at the moment.‘ she said. ‘One has said he won‘t be able to walk if he doesn't get any within the month and another has deteriorated to the stage where he can no longer write for himself.‘

The cannabis shortage. referred to colloquially as ‘a drought‘. has affected all parts of the UK for the last four months.

in Aberdeen. cannabis smokers have been daubing walls with the message ‘pay no more than thirty a score' a reflection of the commonly held belief that the drought has been engineered by dealers before imposing a price increase on the drug. Other smokers have put the blame on the CIA. the lRA and the Royal Family of Morocco. Cannabis is known to cause paranoia in heavy users.

Medical use is arguably the strongest card LCCS has to play in the case for legalisation. Although rrredical tests have not been carried out. cannabis is widely used by sufferers of glaucoma and Aids wasting disease. and those receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer

As well as providing information to rrredical users. LCCS aim to use their Web site as a campaigning tool. though Stuart Young. LCCS secretary and creator of the site. agrees cannabis users do not have a reputation for being highly active and motivated members of society.

Cannabis: campaigners on the Web

‘To sorrre extent. that is why the law hasn't changed so far.’ says Young. ‘People are apathetic. We are trying to counter that apathy and make it as much fun as possible so that people want to campaign and change the world. We want to publish medical uscrs' testimonies and let people know that others are suffering because they either can‘t score. or they are going through the stress of going to the street to score. or even worse. going through the stress of the criminal justice systerrr. (Thom Dibdin)

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Connery swoops to launch 50th Film Festival

iie’s big, has a fearsome reputation and, according to some, breathes fire. So who better than Sean Connery to give voice to the last of the dragons? Connery returns home in August for the opening of the 50th Drambuie Edinburgh Film Festival and the international premiere of medieval fantasy Oragonhearf.

Other big names to grace the festival’s golden anniversary include Bernardo Bertolucci, Peter Greenaway, ilitchcock actress Teresa Wright, Scots-born special effects engineer Euan MacDonald, documentary filmmaker iiick Droomflaid, Aardtnan animator Oave Sproxton and cinematographers Jack Cardiff and liean Alekan.

David Cronenberg will be another major attraction, talking about his graphic and controversial adaptation of .i. G. Ballard’s Crash. The film itself cannot be screened until bought by a tilt distributor, but exclusive extracts will be shown.

Elsewhere in the programme, a new section named Mirrorball examines the music video and includes appearances by Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and ilEM’s Michael Stipe.

Features shot in Scotland include tars von Trier’s magnificent Breaking The Waves and, if production is complete, Stella lines Tricks (starring Trainspotting’s iielly Macdonald) and lien loach’s Carla's Song wherein ilobert Carlisie plays a Glaswegian

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7 r Connery: fearsome reputation

bus driver caught up with a iiicaraguan refugee. (Alan Morrison) The Drambuie Edinburgh Film Festival runs Sun 11-Sun 25 August.

lThe List 12-25 Jul 1996