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Aug 29 14

Yes No Plays Season 2

by admin

THE YES NO PLAYS
Starring Yes as ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ as No.
Season 2: Project Sunshine
Starts here, Monday.

*

Also featuring Devo Max, Rory The Tory, Radical Cindy, The Undecideds & special guests: Eddie Izzard, and Jimmy Reid’s Face In The Moon.

March: Better Together Announce their new strategy: ‘Project Sunshine’

*

The office of Dr RD Laing Jnr.

Dr: So, how can I help.
No: I want to seem more positive.
Dr: Hmm…

Dr Laing steeples his fingers

*
Dr: Do you want to be happier?
No: No
Dr: Do you want to widen your horizons?
No: No.
Dr: Do you want more control over your life?
No: No!

*
Dr: Do you want to feel more alive?
No: No
Dr: Do you want to swim naked in Pettycur Bay?
No: No
Dr: Do you want to try a threesome?
No: No.

*
Dr: Do you yearn for a future full of ideas, activity and optimism but feel yourself stymied by that great dark haunched beast – fear?

*
No: You don’t understand, I don’t want to BE more positive. I want to SEEM more positive. Being positive? That would be awful!
Dr: Hmm.
Mar 31
Dr: The beast fear that sits on your chest and crushes the very breath out of you?
No: Yes! I feel it!
Dr: And you want to change?
No: No.

*
Dr: So, you want to appear positive while remaining, deep down, negative.
No: Yes!

Dr Laing steeples his fingers

Dr: Hmm…

Clock ticks

*

March: Celebrities Offer Love to Scotland

*
Breakfast

No: Simon Cowell says he’s No.
Yes: Ah no.
No: What?
Yes: You won’t get me.
No: ?
Yes: There’s no flies in my porridge!

*
No: Simon Cowell said. It’s in the paper.
Yes: No, no. You’ll not get me with your obvious April fools designed to get my hopes up.

*
No shows paper

Yes: Dear God, he has!
No: I told you.
Yes: Are you ok?
No: I’m ok.
Yes: I’m so sorry.
No: It’s fine.

Yes holds No’s hand.

*
Yes: This must be for you like the David Bowie thing was for me.
No: Worse.
Yes: Oh love.

Yes cradles No

Yes: It’s ok. It’s ok.

*
No: …and Darling’s been slapped down by Cameron over the currency referendum…

Yes: Ah no! No way! You won’t get me!

Porridge Bubbles

April: Scottish Labour unveil their Devolution report.

*
The Undecideds read Labour’s Devolution Commission Report

*

He: It’s so hard!
She: I can’t take it in.

Bangs head on table.

He: (Groans)

*

By stove
Yes knits
No reads
Low thumps
Muffled voices

‘groan..(thump)..give it to me’

Yes: That’ll be the Undecideds at the bondage again.

*
By the stove

(muffled) ‘Can we tighten loophooles?…No…Do we have oil?…No…That’s going to make it rough…this is torture!’

Yes: (tuts)

*
By stove

(muffled) ‘…you can put it up but not down?..I don’t get the position…i’m tied up in knots…I’m swinging here…’

No: (sigh)

*
They put down the report.

He: What a disappointment
She: It’s supposed to amaze us
He: It’s just odd
She: It’s not even stapled properly!

*
By stove

(muffled) ‘See!…it just popped in my hand…now there’s mess all over the coffee table!’

No: (quietly) Wish I was undecided.

April: Polls show movement towards Yes

*
By stove

No: You knitting?
Yes: Chomsky bobble hat.

Yes: You reading?
No: Alan Titchmarsh.

No: You ok?
Yes: Fine.

Wind whistles.

*
By stove

No: It’s just –
Yes: Mm?
No: You’re quiet.
Yes: Am I?
No: A bit.
Yes: I’m fine.

No: Sure?
Yes: Sure.

Flames flicker

*
By stove.

Yes: I’m scared.
No: So am I.

Wind whistles.
Flames flicker.

Yes: I think we could win this.
No: So do I.

Clock ticks.

*

April: It is Announced The Red Road Flats will be blown up for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games

*

Yes: It’s sad. Something built with the best intentions destroyed. Bang. Dust. Nothing.
No: That’s what it’ll be like after independence.

*

Apr: Eddie Izzard says he’ll stage a benefit show for Better Together

*

*
Tesco Cafe
Alasdair Darling and Eddie Izzard
They look at trolleys.

AD: Sangwich?
E: Thank you.
AD: Paste?
E: Yum.

AD opens lunchbox.

*
Eddie Izzard looks at the sangwiches.

E: You wouldn’t happen to have a ciabatta would you?
AD:…
E: …
AD: A ciabatta?

E nods.

*
AD: A ciabatta?
E: Yes
AD: A ciabatta?
E: Mm
AD: A ciabatta?
E: Only if -
AD: A ciabatta?
E: If you-
AD: A ciabatta?
E: Do you?
AD: NO!

*
AD: Paste’ll do!

Offers sandwich.

AD: Ciabatta. Ha ha. Very good. Ha ha. Ciabatta!

E eats.

AD: You should use that joke tonight.

*
They look at trolleys

AD:…
E:…
AD:…
E: …
AD: ciabatta!
E:…
AD: ciabatta.
E: …
AD: ha ha
E: (sigh)

Trolleys drip in the rain

*

*

Apr: The Death of Margo McDonald

*

*
No: Sad?
Yes: Mm
No: Margo?
Yes: (nods) I used to think the great were common. But they’re not. They’re rare and they go.
No: Sad.

*

April: Eddie Izzard plays his benefit concert.

*

*
Breakfast

Yes: How was Eddie?
No: Oh he was funny…he did a bit about Ciabatta! Britain’s a lovely Ciabatta…wait no…

Porridge bubbles

*
No: No Scotland’s a Ciabatta! And Wales is cheese..no..the Olympics were a Panini..I forget the point but it was very funny.
Yes: (sigh)

*
No chuckles

No: …ciabatta…
Yes: mm.
No: It’s funny because we were all expecting him to talk about paste.
Yes: Mm.

Yes pours porridge.

*
No: What’s on your porridge?
Yes: Pine nuts
No: Pine nuts?
Yes: Pine nuts
No: ..
Yes: ..
No: Nuts from a pine?

Yes nods

No: Madness!

*

April: Polls show more movement towards Yes.

*

*
Porridge
Yes stirs

Yes:(sings) Zipadee doodah, zipadee ay! My oh my polls are goin’ our way!

Wiggles bum
Tosses spurtle in air

No: (sigh)

*
By the stove
Yes enters

No: Books?
Yes: Constitutional Law, Theory of Money, History of Ireland, History of Iceland, Tidal Energy…

*
Yes: Local Democracy in Finland, Andy Wightman, The Schengen Treaty, Smout, No Great Mischief if They Fall, McMafia, Boswell & Johnson…

*
Yes: …Argentina’s Dollarisation Crisis and a life of Tom Johnston.

Puts books down

No: Danielle Steele?
Yes: No
No: Jings

Pile totters

*
Yes opens book

Yes: If we’re going to win this thing, at least I want to have done the reading.

No nibbles Sir Chris Hoy egg
Clock ticks

*
In bed
Yes reads

No: Does it stop if you win?
Yes: What?
No: The talking, the reading, the arguing.
Yes: It starts if we win.
No: (sigh)

*

April: No campaign reported to be in crisis

*

*
By the stove

Yes: ..
No: What?
Yes: ..
No: What?
Yes: ..
No: Stop looking at me like that!
Yes: ..
No: ..
Yes: What’s the trick?
No: What?

*

Yes: Your campaign, it’s awful, just awful. You lot are supposed to be the grown ups. So go on. What’s the trick?
No: No trick.
Yes: …?

*
Yes: But it’s incompetent.
No: ..
Yes: Not you. It. Them. Hopeless.
No: ..
Yes: That can’t be real.
No: No trick.
Yes: Really?
No: None.

*
Yes: The No campaign really is this bad?
No: Yes.
Yes: ..
No: ..
Yes: ..
No: ..
Yes: Do you want a cuddle?
No: Please.

Clock ticks.

*
Tesco Cafe
Alistair Darling looks at trolleys

No: You ok?
AD: ..
No: Been here long?
AD: ..
No: Someone’s put a Yes sticker on your head.

*
Trolleys clank

No: I’m worried about you.
AD: ..
No: You’re very quiet.
AD: ..
No: What you thinking?
AD: Paste.

Gulls eat chips from bin.

*

April: It is announced Sir John Reid will become involved in No Campaign.

*

*

Tesco Cafe
Alistair Darling & No
Gulls
Trolleys

Voice Off: Ho! Darling ya BAM!
No: ?
V.O: Wake *p! Ya c*m*tose f*&^ny!
No: Sir John Reid?

*

Sir John Reid sits.

JR: Baron c^%ng Reid of Car-c&^g -dowan to you PAL.
AD: Sangwich?
JR: A**ewich! I eat STANES!

Slaps lunchbox on table.

*
JR opens Duke of Wellington Lunchbox

JR: Now! W*t the t!ts is going on with this f^%$ing CAMPAIGN?

Takes handful of gravel
Eats it

*
Breakfast

Yes: What’s on your porridge?
No: Nmfing.
Yes: ?
No: ow!
Yes: Is it gravel?
No: sr mmf!
Yes: Sore mouth?
No: (nods)
Yes: (sigh)

*

Tesco Café
Sir John Reid, Alistair Darling & No
No’s face swollen

JR: Scottish people LOVE gravel. WE trust gravel. WE are not FRUITARIAN!

*
JR: Gravel goes with everything! Gravel never goes off! You can SUCK a bit of gravel ALL DAY. Labour ARE gravel. THAT’s the MESSAGE!

*
JR: We should NEVER have given folk PASTE. F%^$ing P*STE! We GAVE the PEOPLE of SCOTLAND paste. Now they all want f*&^%ing LYCHEES!

*
JR: C*&^*ng SALMOND: ‘Like Paste do you? Why not try a SATSUMA? Here’s a PHYSALIS! Would you care for a KUMQUAT!?’ Deceit. Vile DECEIT!

*
Sir John Reid stares at gull

No: Sir..is ‘paste’..devolution?
JR: YES!

Headbutts window
Gull flies
Trolley clanks
Gravel rattles.

*
Sir John Reid slams fist on table.
Coffee cups jump.

JR: NO MORE F**^*%*G PASTE!

Slams fist.
Lunch box jumps.
Alistair Darling blinks.

*

Sir James Macmillan accuses the National Collective of being ‘Mussolini’s Cheerleaders.’

*

*

Yes reads paper.

Yes: Am I a fascist?
No: No.
Yes: Is my potato printing fascist?
No: No.
Yes: Phew! You making tea?
No: Yes mein fuhrer.

*

Yes makes tea.
No puts feet up by stove

No: …and you do force me to eat lentils… and you sometimes annexe the remote…
Yes: (sigh)

*
No: … And that patchwork bunting in the kitchen is a bit ‘Nuremberg.’

Yes grips spurtle.

No: I’ll stop now.
Yes: Thank you.

Clock ticks

*

April: The Sunday Herald comes out for Yes

*

*
Yes on a crisp box

Yes: It is a great day! A day for which a nation yearned! A day we can truly call (draws self up to full height) BRAW!

*
Yes: A day we will remember unto the end of TIME!

Stares into distance, weeps.

Mr Patel: You gonnae buy that Herald or jist wave it aroon?

*
May: Artists ‘Collective’ Vote No Borders is announced. They have a song.

*

*
Tesco Café
Alistair Darling holds single

AD: This is it. This’ll win it! They’re called Flowers of The Onion.

Opens dansette
Gull squawks

*
Music from dansette

‘Oh, Scotland, if you go then, where can we, wear our Boden?’

AD: So true. So true.

Stares at trolleys.
Weeps.

*

Aug 29 14

YES NO PLAYS SEASON 1 Pt 2

by admin

*

The aftermath of The Burns Night Escapades

*

*
In the Yes Yurt
Steven Noon massages Yes

SN: What’s wrong? Your chakras are as tight as Joanne Lamont’s mouth-face at FMQ’s.

Yes winces

*

Yes: I’m fine.
SN: You don’t seem fine. You’ve been quiet all week.

Tea lights flicker
A teardrop rolls down Yes’s cheek

Yes: I’m fine

*

SN: Your haikus are lucklustre, your spoon’s carved in the shape of a sigh and your bodhran playing’s frankly all over the place. What’s up?

*

Yes: I’ve done a bad thing.
SN: Nothing is bad in the Yes Yurt. Everything is good.
Yes: I kissed a tory.

Ringing bowl falls silent

SN: Mm

*

Yes: I kissed a Tory and I liked it. Down in the pine woods, we lay together on dewy grass and discussed Barnett Consequentials.. ’til dawn.

*

Yes: His voice…his eyes…his tweed longjohns. We drank Shiraz from the bottle and he offered me ‘full fiscal autonomy’
SN: Mm.

Incense burns

*

Yes: My vote felt so… soft.

Steven Noon holds Yes’s hand

SN: Did you fall?

Tea lights flicker
Incense smoke spirals

Yes: No.

*

Yes: As the Tory unbuttoned my Yes-Duffel I lay back and saw Jimmy Reid’s face in the moon.
SN: He does that.
Yes: And I came to my senses.

*
SN: This is a lesson. Tories can be charming. Their insouciance, their loneliness -
Yes: Their impecabble tailoring.
SN: They cut a dash.

*

SN: But if we’re ever tempted by Tories again, we just look up at Jimmy Reid’s face-in-the-moon and everything will be right.
Yes: (sigh)

*

Incense burns
Ringing bowls hum
Steven Noon massages Yes

SN: Nothing is bad. Everything is good.

Yes closes eyes
Teardrop dries
Sighs

*

The aftermath of the Burn’s Night Escapades Pt 2

*

Doorbell

No: Who could that be? Yes is out at the village Makar auditions.

Bell

RC: (shout) Ho! N-Dogg. Ya in?
No: (gasp) Radical Cindy!

*

No opens door

RC: N-Diddy!
No: Um -
RC: Can I come in?
No: Um – I – er
RC: Thought you’d want this back

Chris Hoy Face Thong

No: (Gasp)

*

RC: Fell oot the leg o ma capoeira pants. Pure spooked me! Sir Chris Hoy starin up at me oot ma washbasket – winkin.
No: !
RC: It’s ironed.

*

RC: Gave it a dash o Febreze n’aw.

Gives No the folded thong.

No: …Cindy…on Burns night.. did I… did you… did we?
RC: Did we whit?

*

No: Did we (mouths) ‘do it’?
RC: WHIT!!?
No: I remember you looming over me in the firelight.
RC: I was teachin ye how to resist an arrest!

*

RC: You said you’d come Golf Sabbing.
No: Golf sabbing?
RC: Up at Donald Trump’s bit. I was showing ye how to go limp!

No clutches thong.

*

No: Phew!
RC: Loosen up, N-Dogg. You don’t need underwear, anyway. Hang free! Feel the passin’ o the seasons on your skin!

No shudders.

*

RC: Be the change you wish to see. In the Yes Yurt we all go naked under our clothes.

Cindy winks
Cindy leaves

No: Madness!

Clock ticks

*

*

No campaign leadership questioned

*

*

Porridge
Papers

No: (groan)
Yes: What?
No: I never knew winning would be so depressing.
Yes: I never knew losing could be so much fun.

*

*

David Cameron Makes A Speech in Favour of The Union at The Olympic Park

*

By the stove
No listens to the radio

David Cameron: …When I think of Scotland I think of… wearing Boden on Hebridean beaches…

No sighs

*

Radio

David Cameron: … I think of the marvellous estates my friends own, and the lovely times I’ve had there killing things…

No nods

*

Radio

David Cameron: … of merry highland dances with Scottish people struggling to tell me things I can barely understand!

No smiles

*

Radio

David Cameron … and soldiers called Jock or Tam who josh their superiors but by jingo they’d gralloch a Taliban for you!

No grunts

*

Radio

David Cameron: I think of sunset and the mighty roar of jets landing at Scottish airbases, fat as geese and full of bombs

No nods

*

Radio

David Cameron: I think of Chris Hoy and his mighty thighs pumping..I think of the Forth Bridges…and Kevin Bridges!

No stiffens

*
Radio

David Cameron: I think of Sir Robert Burns, who said, did he not, ‘ye canny fling a jeely peice oot a twenty story flat!

No gulps

*

Radio

David Cameron: And as John Curtice has recently said, ‘Twenty thousand hungry wains will testify to that!’

A tear forms at No’s eye

*

Radio

David Cameron: And we DO testify. We testify to PASTE! The Great British paste that sticks our sandwiches together!

No weeps

*

Radio
Elgar’s Nimrod Plays

David Cameron: Salute the paste! Salute the paste!

Music rises
Tears stream down No’s face
No salutes

*

Radio off
Wipes tears from eyes with team GB cloot.

No: Magic that, almost as good as John Barrowman.

Sits
Clock ticks
Stove flickers

*

*

Cameron Calls on English People to Telephone Scots and offer Love

*

No sits by phone

Yes: Any calls?
No: One.
Yes: Yes?
No: Do we want to buy a smoke alarm.

Yes: Early days
No: Early days

*

Phone rings

No: (excited) Hello! – Oh. (to Yes) It’s Eddi Reader. She’s asking if you want to come to the pub.

Hands phone
Clock ticks

*

Phone rings
No jumps

No: Hello.
Voice: Why hoy!
No: ?
Voice: Oi em an English powrson frim Newcassel an oi love yew Sco’land!
No: ?

*

On Phone

Voice: Ploise vewt neow in yaar rafarendim.

No: Is that you, Yes?
Yes: Neow

No opens kitchen door

Yes: Sorry
No: (Sigh)

*

By stove

Yes: You just seemed so sad.
No: They will call.
Yes: What if they…
No: David Cameron said!

No cradles phone
Clock ticks

*

By the stove
Yes enters

No asleep, curled around phone.
Flames flicker

Yes pulls Jessica Ennis duvet over No

Yes: Bless

Clock ticks

 

*

Osborne says Scotland Cannot Use The Pound

*

Yes throws down newspaper

Yes: See this!?
No: Mm
Yes: The tone – the high handed –
No: Mm
Yes: The PATRONISING -!
No: Mm

Porridge Bubbles

*

Yes: I’m ragin’!
No: Mm
Yes: How does it make YOU feel?
No: Relieved.
Yes: !?
No: Finally, things are back to normal.

Porridge Bubbles
*

Yes: They hate us.
No: They love us.
Yes: Funny kind of love.
No: When they tell us we can’t do things it’s BECAUSE they love us.

*

No: There are things we’ve no business having. Things that aren’t ours, like the pound, and power. Now we’ve been telt.

Porridge bubbles

*

No: All the ideas. All the talk. All the possibilities. It was too much. Now we’ve been telt. We’re back in our box. Safe.

Porridge bubbles

*

No: We’ve been telt. You’ll see. It’s for the best.

No leaves
Yes grips spurtle

Yes: (whispers) I’ll not be telt.

Porridge bubbles

*

*

Valentine’s Day

*

Breakfast

No: Who’s the boss of Better Together?

No slides heart envelope across table

Yes: Alistair Pissoff

Slides envelope back.

*
No holds heart envelope.

No: It’s Alistair ‘Darling’!
Yes: It’s George Osborne
No: I was making a joke
Yes: You’re a joke!

Breaks spurtle

*

No: It’s Valentines… I’m saying you’re my ‘Darling’
Yes: This is not the easiest moment for me to display affection to a TORY STOOGE!

*

Yes leaves
Slams door.
A moment
No alone
Holds heart envelope.

No: (quiet) Oh dear.

Porridge bubbles
Clock ticks.

*

Kitchen
Heart shaped card in bin
Yes picks up card
Opens it

Eddi Reader: (sings) My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose tha…

Yes shuts card

*

Yes opens card

Eddi Reader: (sings) …ts newly sprung in…

Yes shuts card.

Yes: Bum.

Yes opens card.

Eddi Reader: (sings) June…

*

Tesco Cafe
Alastair Darling stares at trolleys
No’s phone beeps.
Text: Thnx 4 card. Y cant ur cmpaign be so thghtful? x Darling

No smiles

*

*

Un-named Government minister says Currency Union inevitable.

*

Breakfast

No: All the papers?
Yes: Mm.
No: You going to read them?
Yes: Every word.

Kicks off baffies
Plunges cafetiere
Porridge bubbles

*

Yes reads papers

Yes: D’you want one? Herald? Mail? Observer? SoS?
No: No

Yes: The Broons?

No takes paper
Yes smiles
Clock ticks

*

Aug 19 14

WELCOME TO THE FRINGE – YOUR STORIES NEEDED

by admin

At the start of the fringe, I set up a Kickstarter fund with the aim of bringing Palestinian artists to next years fringe.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/307277511/welcome-to-the-fringe

It was just the sort of ill thought through, spontaneous gesture that starts so many festival projects. For me it came out of a surge of sadness at the realisation of how Palestinian voices are effectively excluded from the grand clanjamfrie of Edinburgh in August.

The fundraising response so far has been terrific. We’re on £6,500 now with 12 days to go. The generosity has been astonishing. More important, much more important than the money, though, has been the huge amount of goodwill from artists, producers, venues & companies who have contacted me to offer their practical help.

The last couple of weeks have been a sharp education for me. I’ve learned that Palestinian exclusion from the fringe is as much about restrictive UK visas as it is about Israeli border control. I’ve realised that financial exclusion from the fringe extends far beyond Palestine. The cost of putting on a basic fringe show and promoting it will strain even well supported, middle class students from the UK, never mind groups from abroad with less access to networks and resources.

£10,000 will be a drop in the ocean, but nevertheless, with the goodwill of the fringe and the practical network in place, we might, just might, be able to spin it out in such a way as to enable Palestinian artists to come to Edinburgh.

Help is about plane tickets and beds. It’s about venue space. It’s about technical support. It’s about knowing how to negotiate the visa system. It’s about linking shows with the right promoters. It’s about setting up a ‘buddy’ system pairing Palestinian artists and companies with experienced Edinburgh counterparts. Artists like Ben Harrison or Chris Goode, companies like Forest Fringe, Northern Stage, Theatre Uncut & The Gate.

It’s also about recognizing the presence of absence. For example, it’s almost impossible for some artists to exit Palestine. A stand up comedian from Gaza will not be able to travel to Edinburgh no matter how hard we wish it. So perhaps in some cases all we can do is to find ways to use technology to allow that stand up comic to perform live in Gaza and screen it live in Edinburgh.

Out of all this education and chaos, slowly a project is beginning to emerge. The first stage is an open call for ideas from Palestinian & diaspora Palestinian artists. Later this autumn an advisory group will sift those ideas and work out how best to target assistance, mentoring and funds to help realise them. The second layer is to make contact with existing Palestinian artists and companies who may already be travelling in Europe and to try to arrange tour extensions to take them to Edinburgh. The third and final layer is the creation of a bespoke show; a one off project for 2015, which will include writers, performers and musicians from all over the Levant region and will form a centrepiece of this mini program.

Chewing over next steps, my colleague Graham Eatough noted, ‘You can’t predict what another artist wants to do. All you can do is offer a genuine invitation and see what comes in. It’s all about the invitation.’ Selma Dimitreivich of Greyscale asked if I knew for a fact that Palestinian artists wanted to come to the fringe? Perhaps they didn’t know about it? Perhaps they would prefer to go to Avignon? I couldn’t assume that our love and knowledge of Edinburgh was widely shared.

The fringe is a very special festival. It’s an anarchic space where one woman with a microphone might be all that’s needed to make a play. A show might be a set of instructions in a box. It might be a walk through Edinburgh with headphones on. It might be a two people in a garden shed playing heavy metal. No other festival is quite like The Fringe in terms of the sheer range of possibility. So in order to issue a proper invitation and to stimulate ideas we need to convey that possibility.

To make our invitation as genuine and appealing as possible we want to make a short video: something that can be shared on Facebook and Twitter; something which will give a sense of what the fringe means to us… to you. To make this video we will need footage. So we are putting out a call to you.

We want the stories of your favourite ‘fringe moments’: the shows you saw on tiny stages, the conversation you had in a bar that led to your theatre company starting, the play that blew your student mind. Go to the place where the moment happened and, using your phone or your ipad, film yourself. Tell us who you are and tell us, briefly about your Fringe Moment.

There’s only a week of the fringe left. Time is tight. We can edit the film after the fringe but we need to footage filmed now. There’s no time to lose. So please, get to it, and tell your friends to get to it as well. Let’s all capture the magic of Edinburgh and offer a genuine invitation to the unheard voices. Be creative! Whatever your answer is – film it and send it a Dropbox or similar link to:

welcometothefringe@gmail.com

This year we want to focus on Palestine but if the Welcome To The Fringe model works in 2015 Then in future years we can open it up to focus on other communities who are politically and structurally excluded. The Edinburgh Fringe has shaped so many artists and companies. It has changed all of us who participate in it. This is a chance for all of us to recognise that privilege and to extend it to others. Please, contribute to the fund, email with offers of practical help, and urgently – send in your ‘fringe moment’ now.

Thanks!

David Greig

Aug 2 14

Welcome To The Fringe

by admin

WELCOME TO THE FRINGE

‘Let me show you the theatre,’ said Raeda. She led us up a steep potholed street. One side was lined with concrete houses, the other side was open to the valley. On the valley floor were olive trees, on the other side, Jerusalem. Raeda pointed to a low concrete building that looked like a suburban garage. ‘Our theatre’, she said. ‘We made it ourselves.’ The theatre looked like a garage because it was a garage. It belonged to Raeda’s father. Raeda had pestered him ‘til he realised he had no choice but to give them the keys and so, she and Marina and their colleagues had converted the garage it into a very basic theatre in which they had, until recently, performed plays for children. ‘Here are the bullet holes.’ Raeda said, pointing at the wall. Fist sized punctuation marks dotted the front of the building. The Mediterranean evening light softened the concrete. ‘They fire most nights.’ She gestured over to the other side of the valley.

We were in the Palestinian municipality of Beit Jala. The hill top neigbourhood opposite was an illegal settlement on occupied land but the Israeli authorities had knitted it, and the roads that service it, into the infrastructure of West Jerusalem. It’s now effectively a suburb. ‘One night they fired artillery from a tank.’ She said. ‘That’s when we stopped performing. We had to lead the children out of the theatre, all holding hands like a snake, we led them out and up the hill to safety.’

Most nights young Palestinian boys would hide nearby and fire old rifles at the settlement. The settlers and soldiers on the other side would return fire a hundredfold. Right now it was quiet. I stood and looked out over the valley. ‘They’re watching you.’ Marina said. I felt the skin prickle on the back of my neck. She led me back into the theatre. ‘Will they fire tonight?’ I asked. ‘I don’t know.’ she said, ‘Come on, let’s watch the show.’ She smiled. And so we all filed into the empty garage.

I was in Palestine on a trip to the West Bank to work with young writers, on behalf of the Royal Court. Most of the writers we were working with had never seen a play. The show began in candlelight – the electricity was out. It was a one man re-telling of a classic Palestinian folk tale. The writers watched, rapt. My palms were wet with sweat throughout. I’ve never watched a show feeling that sort of fear before. I didn’t want to be shot at.

This was in 2oo1. Later, I spent a month in Ramallah with Rufus Norris, now of the National Theatre, devising a ‘comedy about the intifada’ for Al Kasabah theatre. ‘Not About Pomegranates’ it was called. Our show was about a fruit farmer trying to get his harvest over a checkpoint. Pomegranate is slang for a grenade. This was before things got really bad in Palestine. There was still a deal of hope in the air about the ‘peace process’. While we were there the Al Aqsa brigades detonated a suicide bomb in Tel Aviv and the Israelis responded with an F16 strike on Ramallah. After the first bomb fell I lay in bed in our little house next to the broadcasting mast and I listened for the next bang. ‘If you hear a bang, that’s good,’ said Kamel, one of our actors, the next day. ‘that means it hasn’t hit you.’

Our female lead, Manar, had to travel in every day from Nablus. 20 minutes if there were no checkpoints. There were never no checkpoints. Most days she didn’t make rehearsal. One day when we had coffee together in the green room. Her bus had been shot at from a settlement as she was on her way in. The driver had swerved over the road to present a more difficult target. ‘I suppose you must get used to it, the fear.’ I asked. ‘When it’s every day, like this.’ ‘No,’ she said. You never get used to it.’

We did our show, in the end. We managed 17 performances before it was shut down. A lot of shows had to be cancelled because of checkpoint closures and fear of attacks. In the end, though, it stopped because it ran out of audience. There wasn’t really much appetite for a comedy about the intifada once the F16 attacks and the suicide bombs started.

That was my first glimpse of what conditions are like for Palestinian theatre makers. That was in 2o01. Now it’s worse. The optimism of Oslo and the ‘Palestinian State’ has long curdled into bleak despair. There have been bloody invasions in Ramallah and Gaza. Houses, offices, roads and theatres have been bombed and destroyed. Thousands of people have keen killed. The Separation Wall has been built. For a Palestinian theatre maker there is no infrastructure, no ‘community’, no ‘circuit’, none of the things which a maker in any other country could expect. Raeda and Marina and their Al Harah theatre company are not able to tour their work to the Edinburgh Festival. They are not able to tour their work to Jerusalem, half an hours drive away (if they were allowed to drive on a settler road. They’re not allowed to drive along the settler road.)

Governments fund art to come to the Edinburgh Fringe for a reason: they want to project a benign image of their country abroad. The Scottish Government does this with its ‘Made In Scotland’ fund. Without that money there would be many fewer Scottish plays on at the festival. But the Scottish government wants to project a diverse and benign Scottishness and culture is a very good way to do that. The British Government use the British Council for the same reason. Culture makes you look good. Israel is no different. Israel funds plays to come to Edinburgh in part because the Israeli government want to create a benign impression of Israel. They want Israel to seem normal. And that would be fine but the problem is, Israel is not normal. Israel is a country undertaking a military occupation and blockade of the Palestinian territories. Israel is building fortified settlements on stolen land all through the West Bank.

Under Israeli authority some people can make theatre and dance just as they please, but others cannot. The theatre and dance made by Palestinians is disrupted and impeded both directly and indirectly. Audiences are impeded from seeing it. Artists are impeded from making it. It’s making is disrupted by red tape, violence and travel restrictions. Even in East Jerusalem Palestinian theatre is subject to sudden and inexplicable closure by the authorities. Conditions for theatre making in the West Bank are very difficult indeed. In Gaza, theatre making is impossible.

Palestinians don’t get state funding to come to the Edinburgh fringe.

Palestinian Theatre makers are stopped from working with their colleagues in other parts of Palestine. They are stopped from working with colleagues in Israel itself. And they are stopped from working with international theatre makers. The Royal Court has continued it’s amazing work to support Palestinian theatre makers, encouraging plays to be written and performed. In 2013 and 2014 the four writers they were working with from Gaza were refused permission to leave Gaza by the Israelis. Not to travel to Edinburgh but to travel to to Ramallah for a writers’ workshop. The Royal Court were told Palestinians could only leave Gaza for ‘humanitarian reasons’. Culture is, apparently, not ‘humanitarian’.

So, this is the context in which Palestinian artists have asked international artists to participate in a boycott of Israeli government funded work. It’s against this backdrop that we must weigh accusations of censorship. Whose voice is really being silenced at the moment? Whose plays are we not seeing?

The Cultural Boycott of Israel is a last resort. The theatre makers of Palestine don’t ask that we turn our back on Israeli paintings, or refuse to read Israeli novels. Nor do they ask us not to program Israeli plays. They simply ask that we do not co-operate with the Israeli government. That we do not allow the Israeli state to normalise The Occupation with art. It’s not ok to pretend that everything’s ok.

It would not have been easy for Incubator to come to Edinburgh without Israeli Government funding but it would have been possible. There are Israeli theatre makers who refuse to take government funding. Almost all the other shows which are performing here at the Edinburgh fringe have made their way here without state funding of any sort. Had Underbelly & Incubator managed to arrange their trip to Edinburgh under the same conditions as most other shows they would, and should, have been welcomed by as having made a brave an important stand for justice. That is the background to why I, and other Scottish artists, signed a letter asking Underbelly not to program the show.

But Underbelly programmed the show and Incubator came. There was a noisy protest and the show was shut down. I was not part of the demonstration. For me, the pro – Palestinian point is best made in writing. My anxieties about this affair, and my own part in it, go deeper, though, than a dislike of megaphones. I support the cultural boycott and I am in solidarity with my colleagues in Palestine, but seeing a show shut down sits badly with me. I feel absolutely no pleasure upon hearing about it. I adore the Edinburgh fringe and one of the things I adore about it is that it is a vast and welcoming festival where everyone can find a place. But this is the problem. Palestinians simply can’t find a place. There is no proportionality. There is no equality of access to stages.

It dispirits me knowing that my Palestinian theatre making friends are unable to come here and, it dispirits me to think that Israeli theatre makers who are brave enough to reject their government’s sponsorship, might be unable to come here as well.

In the light of all this, I felt the need to do something positive. I spoke with friends and the beginning of a plan has emerged. I would like to announce here the establishing of a Kickstarter project to raise £10,000 towards a ‘Welcome To The Fringe’ Fund. The purpose of the fund would be to give grants to Palestinian theatre makers to come to the Edinburgh fringe. It would also help Israeli artists who take a stand and reject state sponsorship. I want to form a network of artists and friends in Edinburgh who can give those artists help in kind, mentoring, venue space and guidance. The network is as important as the money. If we can raise £10,000 to start with we can begin the process of setting this project fully in train, properly constituting, raising more money, and having grants available for next year’s festival.

In time, if the fund is successful, it may be possible to widen it to theatre makers from other countries who face state violence and oppression as they try to make their work.

If you would like to hear free Palestinian voices at The Fringe, please consider donating to this kickstarter project. If you would like to support Israeli artists who reject state funds please consider donating. If you are interested in helping with the ‘Welcome To The Fringe’ project by offering skills, networks, mentoring, or gifts in kind, please email this address with your details. If you would be willing to help with getting this fund off the ground and working on it please get in touch. And if you are a promoter or a venue who feels you could offer a free slot to a show from Palestine under this scheme. Please, please, please, contact me as soon as possible and let me know.

The Edinburgh Fringe is my favourite place in the world. It is a place of welcome and refuge. I don’t want it to become a show-place where the regimes of the world come to whitewash violence with art. I want it to be a place where politics and truth can be spoken in the open. I want it to be a place where the unheard are finally heard. I hope you feel able to support me in this.

David Greig

Welcome To The Fringe kickstarter details are here: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/307277511/welcome-to-the-fringe

 

If you would like to help, contact me here:

welcometothefringe@gmail.com

N.B. (1)

Starting this fund is urgent. The momentum of the festival is vital to its success. At the moment the project is being managed by me but as soon as humanly possible I want to formalise the fund as a charity and a trust. I would also be seeking partner organisations to help administer the fund and to co-ordinate the network.

N.B. (2)

I am aware that there is a constant problem of faux proportionality – linkage – in the arts in regard to Palestine. This means Palestinian artists are only heard when ‘paired’ up. It’s vital that Palestinians can be heard on their own terms. I want to work closely with Palestinian theatre makers in developing this idea to avoid falling into the easy traps which end up further silencing Palestinian voices. 

David Greig