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  • Alistair Braidwood

Edinburgh Preview No1…

It’s time for the first of this year’s Scots Whay Hae! Edinburgh Fringe previews. As usual Edinburgh is awash with big name comics, famous authors and actors off the telly, so I though that this preview should concentrate on some of those events which you could miss amongst all the celebrity spotting, general hoopla and incessant juggling.

First off we go to Charlotte Square to flag up a must attend for anyone serious about their comic books. Pat Mills and Rodge Glass meet up to talk War and Comics. Mills has been called ‘the godfather of British comics’, having worked on 2000AD, Judge Dredd, Nemesis the Warlock and Charley’s War. Rodge Glass (see Dougie’s War…) is best known for his novels and his biography of Alasdair Gray, but his first visit into the world of comic books has proven to be thought provoking and timely. Dougie’s War tells the tale of Dougie Campbell, a young veteran of the war in Afghanistan who finds his return home nightmarish, and who can’t leave the battle field behind. It will be fascinating to see what conclusions the two come up with about the role comic books and graphic novels have in dealing with the most serious of subjects. You can hear those conclusions at 12.30pm on the 28th August as part of the Book Festival.

You may have heard the name Withered Hand when it looked as though he would be barred from visiting the US for this year’s South by South West, something which would have been Texas’s loss. Whether on his own or with a full band he simply plays beautiful music simply, and sometimes you need nothing more. He is undoubtedly a man who is well thought of by his peers, the reaction to his Visa problems prove this, so if you can make it along to Queen’s Hall on the 25th at 8pm you can find out why. Here he is performing Religious Songs:

You don’t get much for free these days, at least not much that you’d actually want to view, but if you fancy something quiet yet subversive I would suggest you visit the National Library of Scotland’s Banned Books exhibition (see Banned Book at the NLS). Books featured are as diverse as Harry Potter, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Spycatcher, Ulysses and the scripts from Father Ted. There is also the promise of ‘What the butler saw’ – a peepshow-type display of ‘censored’ images from ‘Fanny Hill‘. So if you fancy a little filth with your festival experience this is without doubt the classiest way to go about it.

Some of the best theatre the Fringe has to offer has often proved itself elsewhere already. This is certainly true of Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut which has already been hailed as a triumph for its run at Glasgow’s Tron theatre and which you can catch in Edinburgh at The Pleasant Courtyard at 4.30pm until the 29th August. It has TV’s Gavin Mitchell as Bogie as Rick, and has Jimmy Chisolm and Clare Waugh playing multiple roles. I love the original Casablanca but missed this when it was in Glasgow. This is something which I am going to rectify. In fact if I could only see one thing this year I suspect it would be Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut . Here’s the trailer:

If the thought of visiting Edinburgh during the Fringe brings you out in hives, here’s something that you will be able to visit when the city becomes quiet once more. It’s David Mach’s Precious Light exhibition, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the first King James Bible, and which is on at the City Art Centre, Market Street until the 16th October. I find Mach’s work to be unpretentious, witty, thought provoking and entertaining and what more can you ask from an artist. He hasn’t worked in Scotland for some time so it’s exciting to have him back. For me he is as important as Peter Howson, Stephen Campbell and Jenny Saville, which is as good as it gets. Here is the man talking about The Devil, part of the exhibition:

And finally for something a wee bit different. Alma Mater is the name of Fish and Game’s interactive film for one which you can partake in during the festival. You will find it at Venue 157, St George’s West but you can read more about this fascinating project here Fish and Game’s ‘Alma Mater’. In the meantime here’s a clip of Eilidh MacAskill explaining the concept to an apparently baffled David Sillito:

That’s all for now. The next preview will appear later in the week and will concentrate on the laughs to be had at the Fringe this year.


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