My Festival: Rowan Rheingans

"Before I go to sleep I stare long and intensely into a hand-held bright light and half-read lots of contradictory text and colourful shouting. Like everyone else does, right?"

Rowan Rheingans. Picture: Ron Milsom
Rowan Rheingans. Picture: Ron Milsom

I only have time to see one show in Edinburgh. Why should I go to yours?

Welcome into a slowly unfolding true story about how hope can be found even in the darkest pockets of our ancestral history... spoken, sung, danced and shared.

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Now I think of it, I’ve got time to see two. What else should I definitely go to?

Spend some more time in the Scottish Storytelling Centre! It’s full of very beautiful and meaningful shows. Check out Puppet State Theatre’s The Man Who Planted Trees or Mara Menzies’ Blood & Gold.

What are the best and worst things that have happened to you at the Edinburgh festival?

When my car broke down on the motorway last week, I sat sorrowfully on the hard shoulder and wondered whether I’d ever make it to my first Fringe. But I did! And I’m so glad, because the response to my show and the warm welcome I have felt in this city have been immense.

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Please describe where you’re living this month.

I’m very grateful to be staying in my friend’s flat in Stockbridge. A stone’s throw from the botanical gardens, peaceful waters, great cafes and excellent charity shops. A good nesting place.

What’s your favourite place in the city and why?

Empires bistro on St Mary’s Street is just the right amount of walking from the Scottish Storytelling Centre for the all important post-show mezze. I think I’ve been there enough now to just say “the usual”.

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

I’ve been enjoying hanging out with my show’s co-writer Liam Hurley, who is a local here. After a lot of long-distance script editing, it’s lovely to digest this adventure together in the pub.

Where can I find you at 9am, 9pm and 2am?

I’ve been wandering the Water of Leith river-path to find some morning green. By 9pm I’ve been mostly post-show eating (that delicious mezze) and at 2am I’m afraid I’m tucked up in my bed in Stockbridge... not very rock and roll I know.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

A big inspiration in my work is a man who always wears a plastic bag over his head in public.

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

I would like to say I write my morning pages, meditate, do yoga... but truly I check my emails with one eye open and try to get strong tea into my system as quickly as possible.

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

Before I go to sleep I stare long and intensely into a hand-held bright light and half-read lots of contradictory text and colourful shouting. Like everyone else does, right?

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

Thanks, that’s kind. Well, as it’s tricky to get a decent cup of Yorkshire Tea up here, then I’ll go for the next best thing; one of your finest single malts in one of your excellent cosy pubs.

Rowan Rheingans: Dispatches on the Red Dress, Scottish Storytelling Centre, until 26 August. Today 6pm