Arts blog: Summerhall’s special brew proves a refreshing change
The Summerhall venue at the old Dick Vet building came to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time last year in a new and deliciously offbeat style, with stand-out shows like Hotel Medea and These Silences.
Now back in a more permanent fashion, as patron Robert McDowell follows through his ambition to turn the complex into a new arts hub for Edinburgh, it has contributed to the recent shift of the Fringe to the south of the city.
The venue had its own beer on offer at the launch of its 2012 Fringe programme yesterday, though it is not, yet, brewed on the premises. Also on offer were copies of The Arts Journal, a new publication edited in the building by the veteran and versatile novelist, military history buff and art expert, Iain Gale.
The influence of Ricky Demarco can be clearly seen at the venue this year, not just the display of his archive and art collection, but in the strong line-up of Polish acts, including the welcome return of the Song of the Goat Theatre, with Songs of Lear. I will be personally looking out for The Guild of Cheesemakers, promising guest cheese producers and wine experts in their search for the “captivating 198th cheese in The Book of Curds”. Given the £20 ticket price, the cheeses are presumably real.
The building, observes one party-goer, has a kind of comfortable, quirky, retro-Victorian feel about it, with medical implements and African masks on the walls and lavish G&Ts at the bar. There’s talk of repainting the somewhat dour grey of its inner courtyard in a fitting rusty colour.
The Arts Journal features mostly trusted names on trusted subjects. “There hasn’t been a magazine of this kind launched in Scotland since 1832,” Gale writes in an editor’s forward, when William Chambers first published the Edinburgh Journal.
There’s Alan Taylor opining on the festivals and (in something of a stretch) the provenance of the Skating Minister, and Gale himself on Callum Innes. There’s also writing on Gerald Laing and Basil Spence, writing by Richard Holloway and (more impressively in this context) fiction from Colm Tóibín. It’s a classy first outing, with a festival issue to follow, featuring the feral beasts of Scottish arts journalism in readable form, replete with impressive ads. At first glance, though, it could use (dare I say it) a few more rebel yells.
French on the Fringe
SID VICIOUS, Le Petit Prince, L’homme éléphant et les autres. The French Institute also returns to the Fringe this year, with a feisty Gallic offering, following last year’s outing with Two Jonnies Live Upstairs.
The line-up at Randolph Place includes the Walloon company, Oh My God, presenting their show It’s So Nice.
This is billed as “a kaleidoscopic historical drama” performed in French (with English supertitles) in which two spokeswomen draw the portraits of Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I.
The Elephant Man by Compagnie du Fomenteur features Benoit Hattet as Joseph C Merrick; after a successful French tour, the show will be performed in English here. Rock by Ateliers du Plateau, meanwhile, is an on-stage oral history of 1970s New York punk based on “punk bible” Please Kill Me.
Topping the bill at the Dovecot Studios centenary bash, meanwhile: a new outing this August by the makers of the Okavango Macbeth. After their success with an opera set among the baboons, novelist Alexander McCall Smith, and composer Tom Cunningham, are collaborating with a take on tapestry.
A Tapestry Of Many Threads features 19 specially written poems by McCall Smith, set to music and woven together with narrative passages taken from letters between weavers and artists, in a celebration of song and spoken word.
It will be performed on the Dovecot weaving floor, alongside the looms on which the tapestries are created, in the converted Victorian swimming baths on Infirmary Street.
The show features a company of four singers and musicians, including mezzo-soprano Beth Mackay and barritone Andrew McTaggart. A recording of the piece will be released on Delphian Records to coincide with the performance.
The Okavango Macbeth opened in Botswana in 2009, with the chamber orchestra later receiving its European premiere at Dovecot.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East