Features & Highlights

Features & Highlights from Edinburgh's Festivals

New book sees Robert McCrum getting to grips with death

IN 1897, after the death of his daughter, and before his suicide attempt, the artist Gauguin scribbled three questions on the canvas of the painting he was working on: Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? “Good questions, those,” says Robert McCrum.

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A C Grayling. Picture: Geraint Lewis/REX/Shutterstock

A C Grayling: Democracy is in crisis in the age of unreason

Democracy isn’t just in crisis, philosopher AC Grayling told the packed audience in the Main Tent.

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Video: Guru Dudu’s groovy Silent Disco Walking Tour is anything but silent

FOR most, taking in the Edinburgh sights involves a trip on an open-top bus or a stroll through the city’s cobbled streets and airy gardens.

Edinburgh festivals

Video: Kempner’s impressions capture essence of the famous

Luke Kempner’s mesmerising impersonations instantly capture the resoluteness of Andy Murray, the dramatic flair of Christopher Biggins and the flamboyance of Alan Carr.

Edinburgh festivals

Video: Ashley Storrie on the ‘world buffet of entertainment’

By her own admission, Ashley Storrie has had a “very interesting upbringing.”

Edinburgh festivals
Karl-Ove Knausgard has shifted his literary focus. Picture: David Hartley/Rex

Knausgaard’s new book focuses on the present - not the past

Two writers, two events, two contrasting ways of pinning down the world, pruning its endless variety into recognisable form. And one question from the audience for both John Banville and Karl-Ove Knausgaard: how do you do what you do?

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Words spilll out of A. L. Kennedy, impossibly fast and more articulate than anyone has a right to expect. Picture: Gary Doak Photography

An audience with the ‘impossibly fast and articulate’ AL Kennedy

Someone in the audience asked AL Kennedy about voice, and how she managed to get the way her characters speak to themselves so right.

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The Scotsman Fringe First awards 2017 winners

SINCE 1973 The Scotsman’s world famous Fringe First awards have been recognising outstanding new writing premiered at the festival - here are our first winners of 2017.

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Jon Snow: 'We all know nothing'. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Brian Ferguson: ‘We all know nothing’, says Jon Snow

There were precious few moments of humour in Jon Snow’s MacTaggart Lecture, the centrepiece of the opening day of the TV Festival.

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Apphia Campbell in Woke.

Tim Cornwell on the groundswell of Fringe shows by, and about, young black women

At the Scotsman Fringe Awards tomorrow morning, the performer Apphia Campbell is set to perform the song Wannabe Free, from her award-winning show, Woke. It’s sung by her character Ambrosia, a naive US university student, a delightful dreamer whose story draws us along with her. Ambrosia is “lovely, she wants to be a singer, take on the world,” Campbell says. But when she goes to Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown, this innocent young black woman will see her dreams crumble around her.

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Ayesha Hazarika has experienced a month of mixed fortunes

Brian Ferguson: A month of mixed fortunes for Ayesha Hazarika

Ayesha Hazarika is still recovering from experiencing the agony and the ecstasy of the Fringe in quick succession.

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Bashabi Fraser and Alan Riach edit the anthology, a mix of Scottish and South Asian poetry. Picture: Gary Doak Photography

Poets launch anthology of Scottish and South Asian Poetry

One of the things the Book Festival does so well is to provide a platform for conversations across borders and cultures. It played host to a multi-voiced throng of conversation yesterday morning, launching Thali Katori, An Anthology of Scottish and South Asian Poetry.

Edinburgh festivals
Alan Johnson mastered five Cabinet briefs in six years. Picture: John Devlin

Alan Johnson: Theresa May is toast

Alan Johnson makes politics look easy. All you’ve got to be is normal, affable, at ease in front of crowds, with a neat line in self-deprecating charm and a surprising talent for mimicry, palpably decent and caring, and bright enough to master five Cabinet briefs in six years.

Edinburgh festivals
A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad), one of the shows on the shortlist.

Comment: Now is perfect time to launch Mental Health Fringe Awards

It’s 10:30pm on Monday 14 August, and I’m one of almost 30 people crammed into a Free Fringe venue smaller than my bedroom, watching a woman crying and crawling across the floor in her pyjamas. It is, unexpectedly, one of my favourite memories of this year’s festival.

Edinburgh festivals
A scene from We LIve By The Sea, which went from Edinburgh to Adelaide last year.

Edinburgh-Adelaide Fringe prize set to broaden its horizons

One of the Fringe’s most treasured prizes is broadening its remit this year. Ten years ago the Australian director and actress Martha Lott launched the Holden Street Theatres Award, which takes a chosen production from Edinburgh to its Antipodean younger sibling, the Adelaide Fringe, running for a month from mid-February.

Edinburgh festivals
Jenni Murray.  Picture: Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images

Jenni Murray: I was only journalist to silence Maggie Thatcher

Right, class. Who can tell me anything about the battle of Alcacer Quibir? You know the one. The Battle of the Three Kings, 1578? Where they all die? Biggest battle of the century in Africa? Changed Europe? That one.

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Video: Meet the man who has mastered the Rubik’s Cube

A Rubik’s Cube has 43.2 quintillion possible combinations - or 43.2x10^18.

Edinburgh festivals
Andy Gray: Bad hair day? Picture: Ian Georgeson

Brian Ferguson: Cowgate brimming with 24/7 revelry

The Cowgate has been brimming with round-the-clock revelry – but it has also been the scene for my two most troubling festival shows to date.

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Bridget Christie, second right, receives her best comedy show award from Steve Coogan, left, in 2013, along with John Kearns, best newcomer, and panel prize winner Adrienne Truscott. Picture: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL

9 things you need to know about the Edinburgh Comedy Awards

As the lastminute.com Edinburgh Comedy Awards announces its shortlist, Claire Smith shares nine key things she has learned as one of last year’s judges.

Edinburgh festivals
Henry Marsh wants an admission something needs to be done. Picture: Contributed

Former neurosurgeon author wants answers on state of NHS

Tomorrow morning, semi-retired neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, author of the best-selling Do No Harm, sits down for a one-on-one chat with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. On the basis of his book festival event, it should be an interesting meeting.

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