Fringe ’08

As promised, I’ve been trying to catch up with the summer’s photos. I’ve become one of those annoying touristy people, always snapping pictures of things (albeit strange things usually), but I’ve found that if I take a picture I’m much more likely to remember some commentary on the lives we lead. I could scribble notes, but they get lost. And let’s be honest..photoless posts are a lot more tedious to read.

So, our first show of the season was a Star Wars-themed drama workshop for Joseph. He thought that was quite grand, so well done me. He generally gives me that ‘no thank you’ with the hopeful ‘please don’t force me to do this’ expression on his face when I suggest drama activities.

Then, once we managed finally to find the venue (a most awful little box constructed in a parking lot), we saw A History of Scotland in 60 Minutes or less, which was really really brilliant. The cast is just charming. I never would have thought of so many prop uses for a crappy Argos rolling clothing rail. We then found the next venue. The kids didn’t mind waiting, the reason for which you can see below:

There were bins of candy. Freee candeeeee.

The show itself was a sort of experimental dark comedy for children called ‘Shut Up Stupid.’ I thought, from the description, that it was going to be a semi-educational show that focused on the naughtier side of linguistics. It was, er, not. It was a play about a fantastically, violently dysfunctional couple. There were a lot of parents sort of looking around a few minutes into it, wondering if we were indeed in the right place. Now, I’m not one to talk down to kids, but I do believe certain forms of humour evolve at certain ages and wasn’t sure the kids would like it. They appreciated the absurdist elements, predictably, and had a good time so fair enough I suppose.

Our last show was Bale de Rua, a dance show put on by a couple dozen men and one female from Brazil.

Quite the venue.

Nyssa reveling in the rain.

It was fantastic. Joseph initially was really upset by the loud drumming and I hoped and hoped I could convince him to tolerate it, because Nyssa and I were really enjoying ourselves. The performance included elements of samba, hip hop, capoiera, break dance, interpretive dance, etc. etc. The following two videos are ones I found on Youtube of the group from their tour in Paris. The last one shows the opening number as we saw it in Edinburgh. Granted, it’s a crappy audience member video, but the music and smiling dancers make me quite happy, and the troupe in their trilbies and white suit jackets are quite, quite attractive.

Our next day in Edinburgh was less successful. We had a great deal of flooding in Scotland this summer, and this was Edinburgh’s day for it. This is a shot of the tracks I got on the way home:

The flooded tracks meant we got into and out of the station at a crawl, and we managed to miss Nyssa’s drama workshop, boo. We did have just enough time before the next show to run to Cafe Nero where the most notable occurrence was my not seeing the ‘no debit or credit cards’ sign and having to go find an ATM to pay for my coffee. We hustled to see the drama class’ proper adult theatre company put on a Star Wars-themed showing of Rapunzel. Honestly, it was painful. I didn’t know it was possible to mangle an American accent so badly, but there it was, plus bonus bravado. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t taken away my coffee.. In any case, the kids adored it, so I suppose it was worth going. I can’t remember what we did for the rest of the day, but I imagine it involved warm drinks and indoor activities. We tried to get a pre-rush hour train home, knowing how awful getting out of the city was going to be, and did succeed in getting home at a reasonable time.

The next week our day to Edinburgh was sort of a wash..sort of literally. My public transport alarms should have gone off as soon as we got on the bus:

Your eyes are not deceiving you..the floor of the bus, the first run of the day, is flooded. I should have known better. I told the driver I had heard that there was flooding on the way to Ladybank, where we were to catch the train. He said he hadn’t tried it yet. *sigh* So I paid him the money and we were off. A couple miles out and we practically needed oars.

At least Nyssa enjoyed the huge sprays of water hitting the window. Goof. We did make it to Ladybank. The bus pulled away, and we made our way to the station. We got as far as the parking lot when a Scotrail lady came and told us that there would be no trains. The way north to Dundee is flooded and there has been a landslide on the way south to Markinch. FFS. So we went to see about catching the bus to Edinburgh. We waited a couple hours until we were finally informed by those cripplingly uninformed people at Traveline that no buses would be coming either. We waited for a bus back home. We waited and waited. We dinked around in a town with only a corner shop to its name for a couple hours until we were informed that there wouldn’t even be any buses back home. How they managed to get us there in the first place was some great mystery to them. So, I grudgingly paid the £20 or so to get a taxi all the way back. I was a lovely storm cloud walking in the front door.

I was really disappointed because we had the kids’ expensive circus skills workshop booked, Nyssa and I were going to see Hair, Joseph and James were going to see some kid-oriented standup comedy, and then James was going to see a talk by one of his favourite authors, Iain M. Banks. Hoping I could salvage something, I rang around and around, trying to get a hold of someone at the circus company. They were kind enough to let me use the tickets for the next day’s workshops. Hooray! So I penciled in some other shows the kids and I could go to afterward and we tried once more to get into Edinburgh.

This time we were successful, on time even! It required my first navigation via Edinburgh’s city buses, and that wasn’t any trouble either. For the circus workshop we had to go to a Scout Camp on the edge of town.

Some definite contrast in scenery.

And now for some skills!

(I love the smile on his face!)

Joseph was really hesitant to come and try this stuff, but he put on his bravest face and he did it! He can be his own worst enemy at times and will cripple himself with self-doubt. Sometimes we have to be really mean and push him fairly forcefully, but so far he’s had no regrets and has more reasons to be confident. Fingers crossed that this sort of parenting doesn’t land him in therapy later..:P

The next show is something I picked because it was at the right time and looked intriguing. It is called Wheels of Life and is comprised of fantastical machines made by eccentric Russian sculptor Eduard Bersudsky (creator of the Millenium Clock Tower in Edinburgh’s Royal Museum) which are choreographed by Tatyana Jakovsyaka to sounds and music that is vintage, charming, frenetic, old worldly, at times a bit frightening.

Please, please look through this gallery and the other collections to see his ‘kinemats’ (kinetic sculptures). If nothing else, you’ll never have seen more unique repurposing of old sewing machines.

I adore this kinemat, called ‘Self-portrait with Monkey’, who moved along to a gorgeous, husky Russian folk song.

Our next stop was a production of Seussical the Musical put on by kids from an American high school in Utah, of all places. They were quite wonderful, the boy who placed The Cat, in particular. Horton had a beautiful voice, and his little bird friend was adorable. We hung around afterwards to chat with them, give our grateful congratulations, etc. It’s sometimes just nice to see Americans en masse. Not too often, mind. 😉

This face makes all the trouble of making her happy worth it.

A few other random things we saw..

African children singing and dancing and drumming in Jenners. No, the irony wasn’t lost on me, thanks.

The Fringe wouldn’t be the same without silver 80s dancing guy.

A more familiar sight, though far, far from home.

I dunno, a double-decker bus with learner plates struck me as funny.

Two nice enough girls being accosted by some creepy man.

Meeting Francesca Simon, the author of Horrid Henry, Nyn’s favorite series of books.

A more modern take on Highland Dance at the Royal Museum.

The weekend of the book festival friend Kirsten was hugely kind enough to take Nyssa and Joseph to her house for the night so James and I, gasp, could do something grownup. So we did–we saw Rich Hall (who made fun of my coming from Idaho..which is really something as he comes from Montana, generally seen by us as the hick neighbors, but I digress) who I adore and Jimmy Carr, who was actually a bit obnoxiously offensive. I must be getting old. Particularly as we left early due to a guy behind us making life unbearable. Imagine the most grotesque, nightmarish snoring you’ve ever heard. Translate that into a laugh, plug it into an amp and sit right in front of it. It was either leave or get myself arrested for assault. Fortunately, we had a nightclub sort of event to go to in the very same building, bless. I danced for ages to vintagey music and James, er, drank Moscow Mules and watched all the very pretty people. After that we bought crepes from a street vendor and, oh my goodness, went to a hotel without kids in tow. I ordered a huge room service breakfast. Our now very funny-seeming end to our day was stopping into the Bank of Scotland museum. I took a long look at the big engraved chart showing its history of acquisitions and changings of hand, haha. I love morbid hindsight. James had wanted to visit for a while, so I suppose it’s good that he did before the place shut down. I can’t imagine they’re going to keep it open and rename it the Lloyds TSB Museum of Buying Up Scotland’s Fiscal Heritage…

Oh yes, on a slightly less dour note (sorta), James and I did hang out in the National Museum for a while. There was a special exhibition on life in the Arctic North. I took this picture of a picture to show the kids when they start whining about their chores:


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One Response to “Fringe ’08”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    What did you think of the Bank of Scotland Museum? It occurred to me that we should visit soon but everyone is saying it will stay there so.

    Your festival advantures look great. I think the circus skills was where Eldest goes to Scout camp.

    Shall we go somewhere soon??


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