Category Archives: edfests

#10wos 08: Edinburgh festival shows, part two (11-17 August 2014)

IMG_3383Another week, another list of Edinburgh shows to take the place of a proper review of the week. The first such lists came in the previous ’10 weeks of summer’ post, just here. Week two of the Fringe means the first full week of the International Festival (although from 2015 they will be realigned, with the EIF moving forward a week). I also went to Charlotte Square to see a Book Festival event – more on that below. So, this is what I went to see and do…

Fringe Week 2, and Week 1 of the International Festival and Book Festival

My attendance at the Book Festival event was part of a project we’re running at Edinburgh Napier. Because of our links to World War I through the Craiglockhart campus we have set up a blog where we can cover some of the events they are running to mark the centenary of the Great War. The blog is here: http://blogs.napier.ac.uk/world-war-one/, with my write of David Reynolds here.

I was also in a Fringe show! The first time in years. My friend Xela ran the ‘arts admin’ session at Fringe Central and asked me to be on the panel. There were four panel members and around a dozen in the audience, but I think we did a pretty good job of covering the subject in the time available. Xela heads up the Fringe University, among other things.

Of the other shows, Nick Helm was raucous and went on late into the night. Alex Horne has since been nominated for the Comedy Award. Phill Jupitus was very open, very honest and very engaging in his poetry hour, which was a Free Fringe event. It’s less easy to be enthusiastic about the EIF show ‘I AM’ I’m afraid, which was long, slow and not particularly uplifting – social media wasn’t kind to them, though The Guardian tried to make sense of what they were seeking to achieve.

Here’s Nick and flag wavers, trying to hold the UK together:

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#10wos 07: Edinburgh festival shows, part one (4-10 August 2014)

IMG_3370Being a slacker, it has taken me until the closing days of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to start writing up my 2014 shows and events. To save everyone some time it’s probably best if I just list them and keep the comments to a minimum. I’ve left out the venue preview shows that I attended, which are covered elsewhere.

 

 

Fringe Week 0 (which was #10wos 06):

Fringe Week 1

No duds in there and plenty of highlights. The Planets was excellent and a full house – as you can see I had a good spot from which to see pretty much everyone in the room. Holly Walsh and David Trent were both very good: relaxed, engaging, funny and seemed to be having a good time themselves. Daniel Kitson… normally a banker, though it made me think that I’ve mostly seen his theatre pieces in recent years and this was more of a mix; still excellent in many places, somewhere between midnight and 2am. Spoiling at the Traverse Theatre had an explicit link to the independence referendum and was one of the few shows which has done that; many stand-ups are steering clear, it seems to me. Wonders of the Universe was the most uplifting and joyous thing I’ve seen, really good fun and very well performed. The Object Lesson had lots going on as a guy sorted through a lifetime of memories, with some excellent touches and moments of very innovative creativity. And Foodies in the sunshine was ace!

Sunday of this week was a little different: up to Aberfoyle in Stirlingshire for some Go Ape! fun. Some slight rain, but not enough to dampen the spirits.

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‘The Great War’s Grand Legacy’ – David Reynolds, 13 August 2014 | World War I

During the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival I’m taking part in a project being run by the EIBF and the Festival and Event Management team at Craiglockhart. With the Festival’s help we’ve highlighted a dozen or so of their events that have a particular focus on World War I.

The first event that I attended took place a couple of days ago and you can read my blog post here:

‘The Great War’s Grand Legacy’ – David Reynolds, 13 August 2014 | World War I

Over time there will be others on the site, contributed by a mix of staff, students and graduates.

#10wos 06: I @LoveEdinburgh and not just for one week (28 July to 3 August 2014)

IMG_3329For a few short days I held in my hand the power to reach thousands of people through the @LoveEdinburgh account on Twitter. I wrote up my hopes and plans for the week just as I was taking up the reins, you can read them on the blog here. I am happy to report that the follower numbers went up during my week, though not quite to the 10,000 that remained tantalisingly close yet out of reach. Here are some thoughts from the week.

  • I stuck to the theme of Edinburgh’s August festivals for almost all of my tweets. I wanted to have a distinct identity while running the account and focusing on the festivals seemed a timely way to do so. I had, after all, chosen this particular week months ago with the Fringe’s previews in mind, so it would have been a missed opportunity not to talk about them.
  • In the lead up to the week I lined up a few special events as well – invites to some of the venue media launches, that sort of thing. That gave me some set piece events to cover, hopefully adding some value by giving an insider view from time to time. It was good to see that the official venue accounts retweeted my posts from time to time – Assembly Theatre was most active in this regard; Pleasance much less so.
  • There were some topics that I avoided: the #indyref for example. The previous incumbent said that he had found it problematic when he mentioned the referendum, so the nearest I got was to retweet a message about making sure people were registered to vote.
  • On the subject of retweeting, I avoided doing it as a rule. There were a few occasions when I was asked to RT something by someone I knew, or for a cause I supported, and I was happy to do so. My general feeling though was that followers of @LoveEdinburgh are interested in the voice of the curator, rather than receiving a relatively large number of second hand tweets from other sources.
  • With the same thought in mind, I didn’t spend much time looking through the feed of tweets that previous curators had signed up to. I decided early on that I would send my own tweets, that I would respond if people replied to them, but that I wouldn’t do much in the way of dropping in on others’ posts. That might be seen as antisocial, but I kept my regular account going for that sort of thing.
  • Along the way I posted a few photos – during the venue launches, for example. I could have done more of this as images tended to get a reasonable response. This had been a regular approach of the previous curator and I know that he enjoyed the positive reaction he received from doing it.
  • In the first few days I was picking up 20-30 followers a day, so it seemed perfectly feasible that the account would get to 10,000 while I was looking after it. My bright idea was to set up a competition to mark the occasion if it happened and to ‘reward’ the 10,000th follower. The prize was sourced with a local business and all was going well. However, there were a couple of commenters that questioned the wisdom of this approach as it wasn’t inclusive for the existing followership. An interesting perspective and perhaps a valid one, though that hadn’t been my intention of course. There are apparently ways to pick a random person from among your existing followers, which would have been good to know. Lesson learned therefore. I can report that the growth in followers seemed to stall around the time I announced the competition though, so maybe it was a tad counter productive!
  • With the festival kicking off, work to do, places to be and people to see I didn’t always have time to put much into @LoveEdinburgh. That meant quite a slow start, which was a good thing I think as it helped me work out what to do with the account, gave me some breathing space before the Fringe kicked off and helped separate my week from the previous curator. Things picked up though and I really enjoyed it when friends commented that they recognised the face in the account’s profile picture! (A picture carefully chosen for its inclusion of the lovely Union Canal in the background.)

As the week drew to a close I didn’t have much of a final flourish planned. What I had taken over from, at the start of my week, was quite a crescendo of activity. That reflected the higher level of interaction that my predecessor had had with the followers; I was very happy to wait for those late-weekend conversations to die down before posting much myself.

My closing hours were perhaps the opposite: they were somewhat taken away from me. During the mid-evening on Sunday I opened up my Twitter app to check for any mentions, to see that the picture had already been changed and the next host was sending out messages! This wasn’t exactly what I had expected nor planned for, so there wasn’t much chance to say goodbye.

Hopefully I did my bit to bring a little of the Edinburgh festivals online. The weather was excellent for the most part, the shows I saw all good and there was a lively vibe in the city. Not every city has residents who are proud of where they live, but Edinburgh has a special place in the hearts of just about everyone I know. Some were born nearby, others have travelled far to be here. It’s not just the castle atop a volcano that happens to sit in the middle of the city. It isn’t only the festivals and the universities and the history and the architecture. This is a place where new ideas are given a chance, where those of all backgrounds can have a voice, as can those who are here to reinvent themselves. This makes it hard to leave – just ask the people who love Edinburgh so much they come back every August, who I’m sure wish they could just move here.
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Here’s a Storify of some tweets I sent while running @LoveEdinburgh. Please remember that the picture associated with the account changes on a weekly basis!  

Curation: pre-@LoveEdinburgh guardianship

Edinburgh_from_Murrayfield_roofThe clock is ticking around to midnight and I’m about to take over the @LoveEdinburgh account on Twitter. It’s what they call a ‘rotation project’, where a different person runs the account for a week before passing it on. Thus far tonight the preceding guardian has stepped back, announced my forthcoming curatorship and I’ve gotten caught in the crossfire of messages! I fear that it might be difficult to know from which account I’m replying at times, but we’ll see how we go. I’m going to lie low for this evening anyway; no need to jump straight in.

It’s proving hard enough just to pick a photo of myself to use as the account’s avatar.

At the time of writing @LoveEdinburgh has 9,825 followers. I suppose a successful week means not losing too many of them, maybe even adding a few. There are some other things I’d like to do though, besides the metrics. Firstly the community around the account will hopefully be welcoming and help me shape the narrative as we go – I’m very interested to see how that plays out. I suspect there’ll be folk who engage with the account whoever’s running it, while others will be more or less active depending on the topics up for discussion, the photos posted and so on. My hunch is that I won’t track or respond to many Direct Messages: there’s only so much I can keep my eyes on at once.

I want to use different media as we go along, building on text and photos with the occasional Audioboo clip and whatever else comes along. It might make most sense to create, and post these to Twitter, from my usual account (@dsrjarman) and use that as the basis of an @LoveEdinburgh posting.

What will I write about? Well, after seeing a few friends take on the account over the winter months I thought ahead and plumped for late July into early August. It’s no coincidence that we’re on the verge of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (@edfringe) and as such there’s plenty going on in the city. I’ll be going along to the media launches of a few venues, then keeping my eyes open for more festival goings on along the way too. Let’s see how Fringe venues, performers, promoters and, of course, audiences both near and far engage with @LoveEdinburgh. I would have thought that reaching 10,000 followers would be a good start when pushing your show…

In seven days’ time I’ll pick over the experience. If I’ve the energy.

#10wos 01: Ties, reflections and projections (23-29 June 2014)

Brass monkey10 weeks of summer is a new project to get more stuff onto this blog: it’s all very well calling it ‘Intermittent notes’ but there really should be some notes to go with the intermittency. It will also help me track the passing of time, as we make our way towards the inevitable heat death of the universe. So #10wos is a prompt, a tool, a thread and who knows what else by the time we reach the end of August?

I’ve titled this post ‘ties, reflections and projections’ because in the space of a week I was prompted to think about the past, present and future from a mix of perspectives. Four events that as the week passed looked furthest back and peered furthest forward.

Part one: I work at Craiglockhart War Hospital. It’s not known by that name any more, these days it’s the Craiglockhart campus of Edinburgh Napier University. It’s quite possible that the building wasn’t known as ‘Craiglockhart War Hospital’ during the years in question, but that’s what Wikipedia has decided to go with. Over three years, from 1916 to 1919, the Craiglockhart Hydropathic was a place of refuge and treatment for soldiers in the Great War suffering from ‘shell shock’; patients who these days would possibly be diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and similar conditions. What has kept Craiglockhart’s war history alive and relevant is its connection to Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen other ‘war poets’ and their publication ‘The Hydra‘. On Monday of this week I helped plan a project the university is running with the Edinburgh International Book Festival: we will be running a blog through the summer to cover some of their World War I centenary related activities, with student and staff contributions. The campus and its archives offer something unique to the festival and its visitors, which we are very happy to share with their world – there’s a small museum on campus, always open to the public. Later in the summer I’ll report back on the process of compiling the blog, as well as thinking about the events that have been put together by the Book Festival. These include ‘The Poetry of War‘, which has been produced with contributions and sponsorship from Edinburgh Napier, on Sunday 24 August.

Part two: Thursday of this week was my grandmother’s funeral. While not quite encompassing a full century, she had plenty of tales and memories from the twentieth century’s other World War and a lot more besides. Though this isn’t the platform to say too much, spending three days in the Weald of Kent where gran lived, my mother grew up and other relatives of mine are based now was an opportunity to think back on all our lives. It’s a lovely area of picture postcard villages, cricket matches, farms and oast houses that even looks good from space courtesy of Google Maps. Family photos were pored over and a few mementos gathered up for safe keeping: I’ve used one to illustrate this post, smoothed from many years of careful brass polishing. Thinking of you always gran!

Part three: Back to Edinburgh for the weekend where the university celebrated its 50th anniversary as a higher education establishment with a day and a night of events, talks, demonstrations, have a go sessions and all manner of other goings on. It’s an interesting time to be in academia, at a Scottish institution. The country has a proud (long) history of education and Edinburgh Napier plays its part in the current provision, having established itself as a centre of expertise and excellence in a range of areas. Looking ahead to the future we await the outcome of 18 September and whatever it may bring, though it’s fairly safe to assume that the university will survive, that festivals and events will continue to take place and that there will be a place for those who wish to understand and deliver them better.

Part four: Universities exist to educate, among other things, so it is always a joy to see the successful completion of degree courses every summer. Sunday of this week took me to the 2014 Business School Graduation Ball, complete with waist coat and bow tie. I can confirm that the future is in good hands.

Festivals and events of 2013

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Since the beginning of September I’ve had a small pile of used event tickets, programmes and flyers on my desk, waiting for me to report on my cultural highlights of the second half of 2013. If I don’t remedy this situation my patience will snap, the urge to tidy up will see this paper in the bin and an opportunity missed. To get the job done I’ve had to resort to bullet points, so here goes:

  • Edinburgh’s summer festivals had another good year and I again counted myself lucky to live in a city that friends are keen to visit: it’s a pleasure to put them up and a bonus to see a broader mix of events and performances as a result.
  • During the Fringe this included ‘Chalk Farm’ (relating the personal experiences and dilemmas of those caught up in the 2011 riots) and ‘CIRCA: Wunderkammer’ (an Australian display of strength and athleticism).
  • This was also a summer of music. Beatboxing and hip hop came courtesy of ‘Stanley Odd’ (Scottish) and ‘Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum’ (Australian). On the orchestral side came Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ courtesy of the International Festival Chorus and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the Usher Hall: stunning.
  • The International also ran a well attended series of talks under the ‘Interfaces’ heading. Described as exploring ‘moments when changes and advances in technology enter our lives and affect them in ways we could never have predicted’ there was a roll call of some of the cultural commentators I’m most interested in hearing from. In several separate events these included: Aleks Krotoski, Paul Mason, Ben Hammersley, Emily Bell, Tom Standage and Jonathan Mills. An international festival in full flow is a perfect setting for this kind of cultural exchange, with the topics and discussions ranging far and wide into politics, technology, protest, unrest, identity and the turbulent progress of progress itself. I hope that both the contributors and the audiences enjoyed the events and that the EIF continues this good work.
  • For pure enjoyment nothing topped a night at ‘Hot Dub Time Machine’. Take yourself along, fully hydrated, as anyone who’s had any interest in popular music since the 1950s will have a ball.
  • Sticking with the music theme, I saw Tim Burgess (of The Charlatans) at the Book Festival, talking with Ian Rankin – who looked like he was having as good a time as anyone in the tent. Other EIBF events included Christopher Brookmyre (thank you to EIBF for my ticket) and Alistair Moffat being interviewed by James Naughtie (thank you to Edinburgh Napier, as we sponsored this event).
  • Out with the festivals I’ve been along to some excellent gigs: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (Edinburgh, Usher Hall); Bonobo (Edinburgh: Picturehouse; Glasgow: O2 ABC); and, KT Tunstall (Glasgow: O2 Academy). 2014 may struggle to match that mix, all of which were excellent and great fun too.
  • There’s been some sport too, seeing Scotland’s cricket and rugby union sides fall to Australia (the former in bright sunshine, the latter with the lights off at Murrayfield), with a little more rugby against Japan (a win!) and South Africa (not a win).

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2014 – Scotland’s year of sport, culture, Homecoming, politics and possible independence. There’ll be plenty of events and festivals along the way and perhaps some more regular blogging.

Happy New Year!