What your choice of Fringe venue says about you- Ruby Gilding

 

Are the Edinburgh Fringe blues setting in? Fear not! Here the wonderful Ruby Gilding takes us through what your Fringe venue of choice might say about you…

 

1. Underbelly Circus Hub

You’ve headed towards what looks like a model of Elmo the Elephant set up on the Meadows. This is the festival’s Circus Hub; you’re not brave enough for cabaret, so you came to prove that you’re still ‘out there’. A short walk south of the city centre and this patch of green makes you forget about the hubbub of the Royal Mile. There are people practising tai chi on the grass, and a group sitting in a circle enthusiastically drumming. At first you feel relaxed, mistakenly thinking you’ll be at home amongst other mindfulness practising townies. But soon you’re inside the Lafayette and every surface is covered in mirrors; add this to the multi-coloured confusion outside and it’s all starting to give you a migraine, but you won’t let on.

 

Where tai chi meets chai tea...

Where tai chi meets chai tea…

 

2. Pleasance Courtyard

The Pleasance is proud to call itself the biggest venue of the Fringe with its total of sixteen stages. You’ll repeat this to yourself throughout the festival; because no, you’re not missing out. Why would you want to leave and explore the rest of Edinburgh when everything is so comfortably middle class here? You can stay for days within the courtyard with its festival atmosphere channelling Latitude or Greenman and still feel like you’re ‘doing’ the festival. “Defy the norm” announces the Fringe as this year’s motto, perhaps you should take this on board and strike out from the sheltered cobbles of The Pleasance.

 

The nurturing embrace of Pleasance Courtyard

The nurturing embrace of Pleasance Courtyard

 

3. C Venues

You’re probably here to watch your mates’ show, or most likely you’ve brought one up to the Fringe from your university’s drama society. You thought that it would be the best way to meet fellow thesps and announce your arrival to the theatre world. After the first few shows in a tiny back room (with an even tinier audience) you’ve realised that you’re small fry. There are hundreds of student shows to compete against, so your youthful confidence makes the most of it and you spend a heady month getting drunk and completing the obligatory clamber up Arthur’s Seat at four AM.

 

4. Cabaret Voltaire

You paid enough for a train ticket getting you up here to fork out for the shows themselves. So you’re lurking around the free fringe venues, after being lured in by the “free hour of comedy starting in ten minutes” chant of the guy pushing flyers on the street. And now you can’t leave. At first it looks promising, there are shows in different caves around the bar and the bicycle stool décor is kind of fun. But now it’s looking like you’re trapped in an underground bunker with one cringey stand up show after another to keep you company.

 

How much Free Fringe can you handle before the purse strings finally loosen?...

How much Free Fringe can you handle before the purse strings finally loosen?…

 

5. Bedlam

Who knows what you came to see. Bedlam has more cheap drinks than even the Weatherspoon’s in your home town. But as it’s in a gothic church there are enough artsy vibes going round to make it acceptable for the Fringe. Bedlam is also the oldest student-run theatre, and that must stand for something, you reason. This is where the drama cliques in the know will end up every night for the whole month, getting steadily blotto.

 

"I came here for the architecture- the cheap gin is a delightful bonus"

“I came here for the architecture- the cheap gin is a delightful bonus”

 


‘Iraq, Out & Loud’: Chilcott at the Fringe- Ben Ray

 

Somewhere out there, in the brash, cacophonic madness of the Edinburgh Fringe, is a small garden shed placed next to a London bus. Inside this unassuming space is one of the most interesting and valuable events of the whole festival: ‘Iraq, Out & Loud’. Members of the general public are signing up to help read the entirety of the Chilcott Report, nonstop, for 24 hours a day until it’s finished. That’s 12 volumes, and 2.6 million words, through the night and through the day for over two weeks, whilst the busyness of the Fringe swirls around the small shed.

 

 

 

The question is, why is this happening? This is not an effort in satire, nor simply a display of literary stamina, nor a witty observation on the insanity of the world we live in. Instead, one of the organisers tells me, the event aims to turn the question around. Why was there British involvement in the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq? Mr Chilcott spent 7 years compiling this gargantuan report on the reasoning, and if the public don’t read it and hold those responsible to account, then who will? This continuous reading is a political statement, a display of solidarity that shows that the world hasn’t forgotten the pointlessness of the 2003 Iraq War. There have been some harrowing, emotional moments: one night, at 3am, the section on counting death tolls was read out loud by a member of the public. The British and American figures were counted exactly, it was reported, whilst Iraqi deaths were rounded up to the nearest half million. These are the sort of atrocities the world needs to know, and remember.

 

 

The whole event is being continuously filmed by a webcam, hiding in the corner of the shed. After the reading is finally finished the organisers plan to take the video on tour, playing it in various places and even condensing it into an art instillation. This is a fitting legacy for this fascinating project: one of acknowledgement, sharing and remembrance. The grim lessons that the Chilcott Report can teach us may yet be the most resonant and long lasting thing to come out of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.inflatable camping tent


Bean There, Done That: Edinburgh’s Coffee Shops- Caragh Aylett

We know that finding plays to see at the Fringe is pretty hard, but what’s harder is finding the perfect coffee shop; who does the best flat white? Where can I gaze longingly out of the window? And where can I make sure that the Wifi always connects? Don’t worry, we’ve sorted it out for you, here’s our #PickOfTheFringe for coffee, because that’s more important.

 

1. Black Medicine

First things first, Black Medicine is pretty much everyone’s favourite. With its dream location in the centre of town, on Infirmary Street, and its beautiful take out cups, Black Medicine is the Instagramers dream. There’s a huge room downstairs where you can set up camp, connect to the wifi and while away the day alongside other festival goers. They also do amazing peanut butter brownies, I’d definitely recommend.

2. Brew  Lab

With its especially-for-the-Fringe pop up shop, Brew Lab is perfectly situated on the picturesque Victoria Street. The flagship site is nestled on South College Street, near local rivals Black Medicine. It has an extensive amount of cake on offer and the pop-up branch has a great rustic feel. blackboard csub . It’s also the place where we accidentally left our Ed Fringe Review whiteboard for several days, so they’re pretty good at lost and found.

 

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Brew Lab, tucked away on South College Street (Image: STV Photos)

3. Elephants and Bagels

Not strictly a coffee shop but pretty good. Just off Nicholson Square, Elephants and Bagels is the perfect location for most Fringe venues, pop in after a show and refuel. They have a huge selection of pretty amazing bagels and the drawings of elephants on the wall are really cute, if you stay long enough you can even draw one yourself. My personal favourite was a drawing of ‘Donald Trunk’.

 

4. Hula

Good food and good coffee, what’s not to love? Hula holds a special place in my heart for two reasons. Firstly, it was the place I went to recover after seeing the worst play I’ve ever seen at the beginning of the Fringe last summer. Secondly, its lentil curry saved me from the most horrendous hangover at the end of last year’s Fringe. The coffee is pretty great and they do some incredible vegetarian food and if that isn’t enough for you, it’s right on the corner of Grassmarket so the perfect place to people watch during the festival.

 

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5. Century General Store

Probably my favourite coffee shop of them all, Century General do great coffee and they even sell locally grown strawberries. Being on the Marchmont side of the meadows, it’s the perfect place to escape the crowds and there’s outdoor seating for when the Edinburgh rain lets up. They also have another, bigger branch on Montrose Terrace on the other side of the city.

 

So there you have it- our round up of the best places to grab your midday caffeine fix.


Interview with the minds behind ‘GMO’- Caragh Aylett

 

I was lucky enough to meet with the producer and directors of Cardiff University’s new production, ‘Genetically Modified Organism’ (GMO).  You might have seen them on the Royal Mile staging a protest about the life of Amelia Fowler and demanding her death. With such an intriguing marketing technique, I was excited to find out more about ‘GMO’. Rob Maddison is the writer and director of this bold new production while Lucy Spain is the assistant director and choreographer, and Martin Newman and Dan Gammond produced the piece.

 

So, what’s ‘GMO’ about? 

 

Newman: It’s a courtroom drama where the audience play the jury; everyday they decide the outcome of the play.

Maddison: It portrays a four year old girl, Amelia Fowler, who has been illegally genetically modified by her father, the piece presents a debate over whether or not she should live. Even though Amelia is only four I really wanted to give her a voice, she is represented in the piece as a teddy bear but an older version of her interacts with the audience but cannot be seen by the other characters.

The verdict is about the death of a four year old child

Spain: It blends naturalist theatre with physical theatre as well as projection and one character who is played solely as a voice over.

 

With such a sensitive topic, did you come across any moral issues in the writing? 

 

Maddison: Yes, the piece is entirely focused on moral issues. The audience are deciding whether or not she should be killed. If Amelia remains alive then she sets a precedent for future genetic modification which could be a huge danger for humanity since it could be used in bio weaponry and a huge number of other things. If she is killed then it is the death of a young girl who is entirely innocent.

 

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How are the audience responding so far, are they voting to kill Amelia or to keep her alive? 

 

Maddison: Out of the three performances that we’ve done two of the audiences have voted innocent and one has voted guilty.

Spain: The verdict is about the death of a four year old child, I think if we were talking about a plant then no one would have a problem in viewing them as guilty but we’ve used age as a huge emotional factor to the decision.

 

With such a unique topic what was your motivation?

 

Maddison: I studied biochemistry at Cardiff University and did a specific module in this kind of technology. My lecturer was really excited about a recent breakthrough in the field and how revolutionary this could be.

 

So all the science in the show is accurate? 

 

Maddison: Yes it’s very well researched. I’m really interested in combining science and theatre and people do know a little about GMO through genetically modified crops but this gives a lot more information.

Spain: It’s quite science-heavy in parts but is broken up through physical theatre and projection to make the science digestible.

 

‘GMO’ is on at Paradise in the Vault at 12:45 until 13th August