Edinburgh Festival Fringe: My Festival - Alan Bissett

The Scottish author and performer on reviving his ‘one-woman show’, his Fringe picks and why he never wants to see a pig in real life.

Alan Bissett in Moira in Lockdown. PIC: Contributed
Alan Bissett in Moira in Lockdown. PIC: Contributed

What are you doing at this year’s festival?

A new instalment of my ‘one-woman show’, called Moira in Lockdown, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. After two previous Moira Monologues, which went down really well, I thought I’d bring back the character of Moira, aka Falkirk’s Hardest Woman, to see what kind of pandemic experience she had. A good excuse to get back into the heels, basically.

What do you most want to see this year and why?

Kevin P. Gilday’s Spam Valley at The Stand. I think Gilday is one of Scotland’s most interesting writer-performers, plus I love his clothes. The same goes for Luke Wright, who has probably been the best performance poet in the UK for the last ten years, and who is bringing two shows to the Fringe this year. Don’t know where he gets the energy from. Finally, I think Morna Young’s play Americana: A Murder Ballad looks excellent. She has really established a name as an unpredictable and powerful writer.

Who do you most like spending time with at the festival?

The staff at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. There’s a reason I keep going back there every year.

What do you remember about your first ever Edinburgh festival appearance?

The venue had never hosted a Fringe show before, and, uh, didn’t realise that they were supposed to take a cut of the box office. Put it this way, it didn’t happen the next year at the same venue.

How was lockdown for you? Did it change you, and if so how?

Lockdown was desperately trying to find something to occupy my two young sons all day, every day – with everything shut – for many, many months, while still trying to work at the same time. Bonded tightly to them, but I think I aged about ten years.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I have never seen a pig in real life. It is now getting to the stage where I don’t really want to see a pig in real life, because then I’ll just be one of those people who has seen a pig in real life.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Sort out an argument between aforementioned sons about what they should watch on TV. Gabby’s Dollhouse or Odd Squad. Dad must decide!

And what’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?

Watch an episode of New Girl or Parks and Recreation with my wife, while we mumble exhausted words about whose turn it is to be up at 6am with the kids.

Thanks for the interview! We’d like to buy you a drink. Where are we going and what are we drinking?

The Waverley Bar, where I always take the audience for a drink after my shows. White wiiiiiiiine, cos it’s summer!

Moira in Lockdown is at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, until 23 August (except 11, 15, 17, 19, 22), 6.30pm.