Yearly Archives: 2011

Getting ready

With a bit of DNS wizardry and poking at bits of WordPress trying to remember what I’d done last year, I’m managing to reuse last year’s installation for this year’s adventure 🙂

Two events conspire to bring me to Scotland this year – I’m speaking at Edgelands, part of the Forest Fringe, on “What is digital innovation in the arts and why is it important?” (eek), and my cousin is getting married in Glasgow. So I thought I could probably fit a few shows in inbetween, as well as Edinburgh vs Stuttgart in the roller derby…

Due to disorganisation on my part, whilst we have £5 single train tickets back from Edinburgh to Birmingham at the end of our stay, all cheap train tickets had gone for the journey up north, so we’ve resorted to £9 single coach tickets. Two hours longer than the train, but much much cheaper – will stock up on the podcasts.

Organising has felt different to last year – then, the amount of time I had meant I decided to be (and could be) quite laissez-faire about booking things, as I knew I could always see it later on in the run. This time, I’ve decided to book quite a number of things in advance (even then, I was too late for a couple of things), perhaps slightly too many, but have still left a few gaps. We’ll see!

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International and interplanetary intrigues

The first thing to do this year at the Fringe proper was to pick up the mound of preordered tickets from the main box office. This accomplished, the Bedlam was our destination for Belleville Rendez-vous. I’d been to Bedlam last year, but in the main theatre had obviously never looked up and seen the immense space and gothic window above the stage lights. Anyway, the stage captured the film pretty much perfectly, from the excellently realised dog barking at passing trains to the ingenious method for catching frogs or the rolling waves of the Atlantic.

Meadowbank Sports Centre was home to the international Edinburgh vs Stuttgart Roller Derby match. Edinburgh led narrowly throughout the first half, but lost the lead shortly in the second half, and from then on it was a closely fought back-and-forth between the two teams. With two points between them going into the final jam, Edinburgh managed to claim just one more, thereby losing by the narrowest of margins. A great game, and Juicy Lucy made some excellent points in her final bout for Edinburgh.

The bout finished in time for us to catch M J Hibbett and Steve Hewitt in Moon Horse vs the Mars Men of Jupiter. I saw Dinosaur Planet last year, and this more than matched that for laughs and high production values; it’s an important story that needed to be told, about the man, horse (and robot) keeping us safe from threats from other worlds.

The last event of the day was Evelyn Evelyn at the new Assembly George Square. Very accomplished piano and accordion playing, with harmonious tunes and humourous lyrics, but I didn’t really see the need for the concept itself. The bits that weren’t songs just seemed to get in the way of the music slightly; the slight audience participation wasn’t that interesting, though shadow puppetry is always nice. If Amanda and Jason want to duet together, they should just do so, it’d be just as good, doing all the same songs and fitting in more.

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Today I attended and spoke at the Edgelands conference organised by the lovely Andy Field and Hannah Nicklin. I spoke about archives, silos, and open data, with particular reference to GeoCities, the Edinburgh Fringe, and the Birmingham Rep archive on the AHDS – or rather, only on Theatricalia (which now also has all the Fringe productions from 2010 and 2008). There are audio recordings of the talks on AudioBoo, and I was being filmed (eek) so I guess that’ll be appearing somewhere at some point.

Rachel Coldicutt spoke before me, and she’s written up her talk and subsequent discussion. I felt my provocation wasn’t that provocative, but as people don’t seem to know or learn from what has happened, it’s always worth banging the drum for innovation that doesn’t have to be particularly innovative 🙂 My subsequent discussion ranged from personal backups to curation and is all this potential process getting in the way. I guess the overarching point I’d like remembered is that it’s about informed decision making, knowing the risks and rewards for e.g. putting your video on YouTube, and thinking about the future, and how open data and collaboration can potentially help.

I was rather nervous beforehand, as it’s a very different audience to one I’d be more used to, but I think it went well overall – my favourite response was the following, which is basically all I could ask for:

This guy needs to stop making me laugh or I’m gonna be giggling all over this audioboo #edgelandsless than a minute ago via UberSocial for BlackBerry Favorite Retweet Reply

Everyone else’s talks, or provocations, were interesting and indeed thought provoking, it was certainly good to spend time thinking about things far removed from where I normally am, and to meet some new people or finally meet people in person.

Today’s show count is pretty tricky, but as part of the day I definitely saw two excellent performances, by Deborah Pearson and Hitch by Kieran Hurley, and I’m going to count the conference itself as one event.

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Classics of sorts

Agamemnon by Steven Berkoff told the timeless tale of the curse of the house of Atreus. Performed in loincloths with big hair (plus the director’s note in the programme tells of the cast’s hatred of the caked-on mud) on a propless stage, this energetic show went from slow motion horse galloping to fast bath murdering in a dark, moody way. To follow, a completely different type of classic, with a stage production of the 80s (well, I assumed that, but I’ve just checked and it was actually 1990) computer game The Secret of Monkey Island. Very reminiscent of the game itself in its manner and execution, this was a lighthearted romp through Melee Island.

Simon Munnery up next, and I’m sure I will remember his bubble hat for a long time. Any show including zeppelins is going to be a good one, and this certainly was, also including a poem read by the city of London, and two microphones having a chat.

Back to theatre for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, staged in an appropriately run-down C soco 2a. The production always had the feeling of things on the border closing in, and though my enjoyment of the show was slightly marred by one or two young kids in the audience who would not stop asking questions (well below the age suggested in the programme, I’m fine with it in appropriate situations as Jabberwocky will say in a couple of days (ooh, spooky)), this was an enjoyable version of the book, from the train journey beset by actual wolves to the sinister metaphorical wolves of the governess and schoolmistress.

Lastly for the day was Helen Keen’s Spacetacular, which as well as a shadow puppet show about the moon and its inhabitants (Clangers, or lizard men?) included guest turns from an astrophysicist talking about gamma ray bursts and Amateur Transplants singing some vaguely (and some not at all) science related songs. Helen had provided us all with some tin foil before the show to fashion as was our wont, and the ray gun someone near me had made was very detailed and certainly deserved the prize it won.

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