Week 3: Edinburgh Fringe Festival

August 23rd, 2011


Having just returned home from a stand up comedy show by the hilarious Neil Delamere, my cheeks are still sore from laughing for an hour straight and I feel euphorically light-hearted. I find that to be the best aspect of living in and amongst the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For a whole month, people are sauntering through the old town, sprawling in the meadows whenever the sun decides to make an appearance, laughing easily with friends over coffee or a few pints. Maybe I should be fretting over the looming and rapidly approaching deadline for my dissertation, but in this atmosphere, it is just nearly impossible to take life too seriously. I went to Mr. Delamere's show with a bunch of friends who will be scattering in all directions over the next week. We sat in the front row and readied ourselves for the heckling. We knew our friend Chris would be a target. Really, you cannot miss him with this overgrown halo of curly hair and huge smile. When asked, Chris told Delamere he studied Artificial Intelligence, and Delamere smartly asked if his girlfriend was a sci-fi creation, because he truly couldn't have a real girlfriend like that. My old flatmate Nick became the brunt of many jokes throughout the show though, rightfully taking a beating for his posh English accent, rugby shirt and plaid shorts. I couldn't possibly convey how funny he was, so just check out the link.



Earlier this week, I stopped into an art market that sprung up on the grounds of an old graveyard at the base of the crag of which the Edinburgh Castle sits atop. If Edinburgh is short of anything, it isn't breath-taking views. Expecting hodge-podgy matronly trinkets, crafts and doilies, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and completely off track. I spent a pleasant hour meandering through the lanes of stalls, talking with the artists of whose work I was particularly interested in. One woman, Ali Mackay – creator of the Furniture Farm line, made these fantastically playful footstools of wooden sheep covered in the softest sheepskins. Lynsey Jean Henderson studied at the Edinburgh College of Art, focusing on textile design, and now creates her own line of beautiful hand printed wallpapers and fabrics. Along side her own work, he runs a screen printing workshop each week at the local studio space she rents. Being such a delightful person and talented artist, I may treat myself to one of her courses after I am freed from the library and searching for something to fill the massive void that is surely to become present in my schedule. Another young woman was selling kitchen wares and bits and bobs made out of juniper under the name Pure Juniper Ltd. I bought three organic-formed buttons of this oddly scented wood which I'll use on the next scarf I make. Talk about matronly crafts, right. I also stopped to talk to a young man who is one part of the artist duo behind Lion and Owl. Simple, but by no means lacking in talent, the prints were quite nice. I particularly liked the print of a bear holding up a fish on a line, which reminded me of the times I've spent in upstate Minnesota and the Adirondacks in upstate New York. Another print artist, Stephen O'Neil, took real photographs of buildings and places around Scotland and distorted their reality with unnaturally bright colours to create a pop-art esthetic. 


This past Tuesday, I happened upon some free tickets while just walking along the street. It seems that many Monday and Tuesday night shows have a hard time filling up, so the performers and venders would rather give away the tickets than put on a show for an uncomfortably empty house. As part of a series of historical dramas called Lullabies of Broadmoor, Wilderness documents the span of Chester Minor's life spent in the Broadmoor Insane Asylum after he murdered an Irish man after years of increasing paranoia. Portrayed as a compassionate man whose perception has been contorted by his incessant paranoia, the actors succeeded in conveying Minor as an invaluable genius who contributed much to the writing of the Oxford dictionary, and less as a murderer whose ability to feel remorse was stifled by his obsessions.

With little over a week left of the festivities, and more events and performances to see than anyone could possibly see in a year, I'll have to make a list and narrow down the options to priorities. The Lady Boys of Bangkok is still at the top of that list. 

Caroline Engel for Danish Teak Classics 

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