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From cannonball battles to wartime rationing, Show Scotland makes Scottish history come alive. Kirstin Innes rounds up the best events
One of the most underrated annual events in the country, Show Scotland is unfurling itself out again, and we advise you to sit up and pay attention. Not so much a festival as a nuanced celebration of Scottish history and art, the five-year- old event takes place in museums and galleries from the Borders to Shetland. This year, it’s packing 40 events into one busy little weekend.
The beauty of Show Scotland is it allows curators to unleash their creativity, leading to events that engage with local history and bring museum exhibits to life through roleplay, drama, workshops and discussions. Various venues in Dundee and St Andrews are joining forces to pay tribute to the influential Scottish mathematician, biologist and classics scholar, D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, the Professor Brian Cox of the early 20th Century, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth. Look out for street theatre piece The Parrot and the Polymath, about Wentworth Thompson’s life, playing across both cities, as well as live music and creative writing workshops inspired by his work and a lecture from Nobel Prize-winning biologist Professor Lewis Wolpert at Dundee University. Over in Alloway, they’re reacting just as creatively to another famous son of that parish: Beauty and the Bard uses the whole village of Robert Burns’ birthplace as the setting for a roaming play about the
poet’s life, told by seven of his lovers.
Modern-day bard Margaret Elphinstone will be taking audiences even further back in history, too, with a series of events in various venues around the Kilmartin area. Elphinstone’s latest historical novel The Gathering Night is set in that area in the Mesolithic period, and she’ll be talking about historical research and the process of imagining an area way back in its past, amongst other things.
If all this is a little gently paced for your liking, Glasgow’s Clydebuilt Maritime Museum is rather ambitiously recreating the blockade-running travails of the American Civil War at its Smash and Grab event, before restaging a Confederate/Unionist naval battle. This will be, apparently, totally interactive – all visitors will be handed cannonballs and told to pick a side. Yes, we’re a little baffled too. Finally, a number of the Show Scotland events this year commemorate the 65 years since the end of World War II. We like the look of We’ll Meet Again at Glasgow’s People’s Palace, a full-on VE Day party complete with 1940s make-up demonstrations, interactive rationbook shopping and a full-on swing dance.
Show Scotland, various venues across Scotland, Fri 30 Apr–Mon 3 May. For full details see www.showscotland.com
www.list.co.uk/aroundtown Hitlist COOKING, VOTING, FERTILITY RITES*
✽✽ Ganghut Closing Event Reasons we love GI: so many ace parties popping up around the bigger exhibitions. This is the last night of the Ganghut, with film, food, quizzes and a live appearance from a GangBand. Poloc Cricket Club, Glasgow, Fri 30 Apr. ✽✽ The First Annual Rock Paper Scissors Championships And the prize for ‘Most Awesome Event of the Fortnight’ goes to – Get your thumbs in training. Belushi’s, Edinburgh, Sun 2 May. ✽✽ Beltane Fire Festival It’s time to crown the May Queen again as Edinburgh’s annual Celtic festival of fire rolls around. See picture, page 30. Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Fri 30 Apr. ✽✽ Show Scotland A nation- wide day of invention, workshopping and discussion. See preview, left. Various venues, across Scotland, Fri 30 Apr–Mon 3 May. ✽✽ Election Night Special and Morning After Discussion Don’t just spend Election Night in front of the telly while Peter Snow diddles his swingometer. Pool your impending sense of dread with big screen live coverage, commentary from Gerry Hassan and a quiz. Cookie, Glasgow, Thu 6 May. ✽✽ Grassroots Organic Cookery Classes Learn to cook Indian cuisine without hurting the environment too much, with the lovely Grassroots team. Grassroots Organic, Glasgow, Thu 13 May. 29 Apr–13 May 2010 THE LIST 29