In The Midst of The Edinburgh Hype Storm

We are right in the midst of the Fringe Festival once more, and its as hectic as ever for us here at Grey Coast.

With over 3000 unique performances gracing the myriad of venues all across the city, we’ve decided to take a different approach to our schedule this year.

kids-cutthroat-pirate-costumeA great deal of our young performers come from across the widespread area of the Highlands. Due to the large distances that many of them have to cover, in order to rehearse, we thought we’d give them their own unique challenges to face.

Each one of our 20 cast members have been given their own improvisation challenges to work on for the last month. Using a mixture of techniques, including mind maps, regression therapy and extreme method acting; they have been creating their own unique characters to sink their teeth into over the Fringe.

child-politicianInstead of a traditional performance, taken over a few nights in one venue; the 20 different characters, the children have created, will be wandering the streets of Edinburgh in costume and fully realised.

As they all know each other by sight (and have been in contact over Social Media during the course of the last month or so) they will be able to walk around a small square of the City, interacting and creating their own dramatic scenes on the fly.

axe-murdererThis weekend, the city will be at its busiest and our young performers will be out amongst the punters, mixing it up and causing mayhem as their own creations.

From serial killers to news reporters, scurvy pirates to corrupt politicians – this motley crew of zany characters will be bumping into each other for the first time in over a month. They’ll have to hide their initial surprise and joy at seeing their friends; whilst staying in character and concentrating on creating an exciting, tense scene that the unwitting people of the Fringe will not be able to take their eyes off.

We wish them all the best this weekend, and hope to update you with the results of their sporadic performances!

Getting Out For Edinburgh!

So that bloody festival is coming again and a lot of Edinburgh residents are preparing to flee the city and the crowds and the noise and the traffic and get away from it all for a month or so. Many will rent their house out for more than their annual pay check, jump on a plane and get the hell out of this cursed city. Well we’re certainly planning to. We’re going to head down to Liverpool for a week then hop on a plane over to Greece. We’re driving down there and seeing the family for a week, enjoying the delights of Liverpool International Music Festival at the end of the month (Echo and The Bunnymen with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra live in a park for free? Yes please!). Then its Greece, sun and revolution!

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We’re using this airport parking site to shotgun ourselves some cheaper parking at the airport, normally we’d try and leave the car with family or something but it’s so much easier and cheaper now than it was even a few years ago. Greece is going to be amazing. We’re going to rent mopeds, we’re going to have a lot of fun.

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Er… fun?

I love fun yeah. Fun is great. Good ol’ family fun in Greece.

Festivals of Performing Arts in Scotland

Scotland is a country with a strong and proud tradition of a vibrant performing arts scene. Year round, there are a number of performing arts festivals which showcase new and upcoming talent in the field and attract people not just from the UK but from all over the world. Some are better known than others but all have a striking sense of Scottish imagination and drive. Here are just a few of the many festivals you should come to this year:

– Edinburgh International Festival (and Fringe):

This is by far the most famous festival of performing arts in Scotland and is one of the most famous festivals worldwide, attracting huge numbers of people to the Scottish capital each year. The 2015 festival runs from the 7th-31st of August. The full programme of events will be announced in March, but one can always be sure that it will include a vast number of amazing performances.

fringe

Alongside the Festival runs the Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, with more amazing independent shows than you can shake a stick at starring a huge number of talented actors, both amateur and professional. It would be a surprise if any performing arts lover has not heard of this mammoth event.

– Imaginate Festival:

This lesser known but equally inspiring festival is also held in Edinburgh. It is Scotland’s International Festival of performing arts for children and young people. The 2015 festival will run from the 11th-17th May at venues across the city. This festival also has its own mini Fringe on the last weekend of the festival, at which local artists and performers put on short shows for family audiences.

– Fringe by the Sea, North Berwick:

For those for whom the frenetic pace of Edinburgh’s bustling streets during the festival all gets a bit much may like to head on over to North Berwick, on the East Lothian Coast for a more serene seaside experience and yet more amazing theatre, and other events.

– Merchant City Festival:

This four day festival in Glasgow’s Merchant city is a large, four-day festival celebrating the best of Scottish theatre, music, visual arts, dance, film, fashion, food and more. The details and dates of the 2015 festival will be released shortly. This is a quirky event and many of the events and shows are free of charge.

– Buzzcut Festival:

Another cutting edge Glasgow performing arts festival, this event is held over three days, from the 18th-20th of March and is an eclectic event with an ethos of sharing. it was created in response to the sad and surprising cancellation of the well-established New Territories Festival.

There are many more small local festivals all over the country, all of which are really imaginative, vibrant events and showcase the great talent to be found around this country and the passion that keeps the arts thriving in a country, rural parts of which have not always had the best access to arts and culture. So, if you are planning to visit Scotland, be sure to check out events this year, keep an open mind to fresh approaches and come to see as many shows as possible.

Accommodation is readily available all over Scotland. So, have a good look around and you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for and have a great stay in this wonderful country.

Classic Scottish Theatre

What exactly is meant by ‘classic Scottish Theatre’ is a debate which often rages in the thespian circles of the country. Whether or not enough of it is shown throughout Scotland is a vexed issue and one on which there are many differing opinions. Some believe that the National Theatre of Scotland have been far too keen to show new work at the expense of classic Scots pieces that highlight the very best Scottish playwrights of the past, while others argue that ‘classic’ Scottish theatre should be all about allowing new voices to be heard and new classics to be born. Whichever side of the fence you come down on, it is clear that 2014 was a landmark year for Scotland and for Scottish theatre.

From small theatres in the Highlands and Islands, to the major players in Glasgow, Edinburgh and other big cities, many varied productions have been staged. Whether they were ‘classic’ or not depends on your opinion but it is clear that there is a drive and passion in Scottish cinema that has been a galvanising force and shows the same grass-roots guts and determination as the Independence movement. Like in politics, there are many people fighting to make Scottish theatre rather less elitist and more of the people for the people. Arguably, and to a degree, they are succeeding in this aim.

‘Blabbermouth’, a twelve hour collaborative theatre piece/ ceilidh held in the Edinburgh Assembly Halls on the eve of the referendum captured the mood of nation, not just through the pieces of Scottish writing read aloud by the attendant celebrities, but also through the sense of individuals coming together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. Another highlight of the cram-packed Edinburgh theatric year was ‘The Voice Thief’ at Summerhall, a piece for children about tyranny and oppression.


Much like this beautiful rendition of ‘Les Miserables’ performed by sock puppets!

The production of ‘Hamlet’ staged in Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre was a classic, if not a particularly Scottish one. Likewise, a new spin was put on a classic of English mediaeval poetry in the all-female dramatic reading of Beowulf. Traditional Scottish classics were also well presented though. ‘The Bondagers’ at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, was an excellent revival of the undisputed modern classic of Scottish theatre.

Looking away from the country’s main cities, much has also been done along the lines of touring theatre and arts support for classics new and old in the Highlands and throughout rural Scotland. Mull Theatre is one of the countries best and most productive theatre companies, based just outside the town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. Dogstar Theatre are a touring company and another major player on the scene. There are also the Out of Darkness Theatre company and Charioteer Theatre Company of Moray and many others who work together and independently to improve the arts throughout Scotland. The Highlands and Islands Theatre Network help to link up these groups and co-ordinate funding etc.. Touring theatre has made for some new avant garde production techniques and the innovativeness of small troupes and individuals is testament to the Scottish imagination.

There is perhaps an argument that more room should be made for the old classics of Scottish cinema, and to improve standards and coverage of theatre across the board, but it is clear that Scottish theatre is still going from strength to strength.