Arts diary: Comedians to take a stab in the dark to prove their environmental credentials

THE carbon footprint of the Edinburgh festivals is about to get a tiny bit smaller.

Comedy in the Dark will get its debut at the Gilded Balloon as part of this year's Fringe, working on the principle that it's not just funny, it's green. The diary is proud to bring you exclusive pictures of the darkly comic new show.

Promoted by Leicester Comedy Festival, the gigs will feature top comedians with the lights switched off – a dangerous combination at the best of times.

The line up for Edinburgh 2010 includes Dan Antopolski, Shappi Khorsandi, Reginald D Hunter, Phil Nichol, Kevin Bridges, Lucy Porter, Sarah Millican and Andrew Lawrence.

Antopolski called it "a unique experience – compellingly intimate. Other senses heighten, the language comes alive and it gets really funny."

The show has run for two years at the Leicester Comedy Festival, which has been pushing a green take on comedy modelled on green initiatives in the music industry. Projects have included the planting of a Comedy Wood, made up of trees paid for by donations from promoters, performers and the audience.

Burning bright

ARTIST Darren Woodhead has returned to the more familiar climes of southern Scotland after a foray into tiger territory.

Watercolour paintings, mostly from his recent book, Upriver – Song of the Esk go on show at Edinburgh's Henderson Gallery from Saturday. They depict the countryside along the River Esk and its denizens, from sheep to birds.

Woodhead's skilful watercolour pictures and sketches are made in the open air, never from photographs. In 2009 he was named Artist of the Year by the leading birding magazine, Birdwatch.

The exhibition has come to Edinburgh after a showing at the Scotttish Ornithologists Club in Aberlady that saw about 40 works sold.

Woodhead returned recently from an artists' trip to the Bandhavgarh and Kanha Tiger Reserves in India, sponsored by the Artists for Nature Foundation. Practised at capturing British birds in paint, Woodhead said the tigers – glimpsed through the undergrowth, once in company with a group of cubs – took some getting used to.

"When a childhood dream is in front of you, you use all your normal ability," he says. "It's a new shape, it's a new form, it took a day or two just to get the hang of them. It's trying to build up a memory of it, trying to observe it, trying to learn the shape."

The tiger paintings will appear in a future exhibition, hopefully later this year.

Top gear baton

DANISH conductor Christian Kluxen, 28, will take up a three-year assistant conductor post at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. A record number of applications – 167 from 26 countries – were considered by the orchestra, a 40 percent increase in applications for the post three years ago.

Eight were invited to the RSNO Centre earlier this month for audition with full orchestra, where they were invited to conduct repertoire including excerpts from Dvork's Symphony No 7 and Beethoven's Symphony No 3, Eroica. Four were invited back for interviews.

"I got such a kick out of conducting the orchestra during the audition," says Kluxen, currently music director of the Copenhagen Youth Symphony Orchestra. For a young conductor, he said, "it felt like suddenly getting the chance to drive a Porsche."

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