19 Aug 2010

August - a Cultural Month

Hello lady readers.

Just checking in from the Edinburgh Fringe!. Tragically, my slot on the Poetry Takeaway 'slam' stage on the Royal Mile (due to take place now) has been cancelled due to gross mismanagement (cancellation notification through Twitter? I ask you Tim Clare) so I've taken a moment to fill you in on all my exciting going-ons in Edinburgh, city of arts, theatre and meddlesome twenty-somethings.

I began my tenure in Edinburgh (I'm staying at the Malmaison, no student hovels for me, sharing a bed with a sweaty Tamburlaine from the Cambridge ADC this decade, thank you very much) with a trip to The Kitchin, Edinburgh's only Michelin starred restaurant (can you believe it?) I ate fois gras at least twice, once in my starter and once in my main, and was unable to move by the time the lemon and sorrel tart was effortlessly deposited in front of me by another ninja sommelier. I would heartily recommend the experience, and the food, for anyone of appropriate incomes - don't go if you can only just afford it, it'll be 'a total bum-out', as Melody said when I refused her a second bottle of claret. I could (of course) afford it, it's just important to stall such dependency in one's middling income friends (Melody's landscape gardening company has been hit pretty hard by the recession, and with so many parties to go to on the weekend, she finds it hard to get started at the beginning of the week, and tends to write off all work until Wednesday. It is the Summer after all. Thank god I don't have a job!)

I digress. After stuffing myself silly with bulimic duck, I found myself in a late night stand up session by Dutch rude man Hans Teeuwen . The misogynist gaffaws some of his more risque jokes raised in the baby-testosterone emitting teenagers affront of me belied the complexities of his politics (he's a real defender of free speech and ranted against religion in a eulogy for assassinated Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh - YouTube it I dare you), he is probably a feminist, after all, and made everyone who laughed sound very stupid indeed.

The next day I saw Paper Bird's production Others a play about how bloody easy it is to 'other' other women. For those of you who have just been born, or didn't take a degree in the humanities, 'othering' is a term found in Lacanian, postcolonial and feminist theory predominently. It is a way of designating someone as 'other' from yourself and shoring up your own fragile identity in relation, or against, how you perceive your other. My other, for example, is probably some kind of post-feminist, or, god forbid, one of those women for whom feminism is simply not an option. Yuk. And if this play taught me anything, it's to be extremely careful about who you other, because it's desperately important that women try to achieve solidarity rather than marginalising one another in order to feel good about themselves. The play script was put together from letters written by real women who the play writers/actors had previously designated as others. After having explained the concept of othering to these 'real' women (who obviously had not taken a degree in the humanities) they asked them questions like how they felt about themselves, what are they afraid of etc, in order to find ways to identify with them. It was a moving and inventive piece, I immediately liked the actors (not others) but did feel that too little was made of the texts sent up the real women. At moments it came perilously close to dance theatre, something which I will absolutely not abide, and there were a few too many scenes where they repeated the initial premise of the play (Hello, I'm going to ask you a few questions to find out how to understand you) instead of using proper dialogue, which seemed like wasted space (of course I had grasped the premise in the play's first moments, and didn't need it explained to me, although I am very intelligent...). I would ultimately recommend it.

I think now I must leave this computer. I ran into the delightful Armchair Books on West Port because it was raining and begged to use the computer to find out about the cancelled poetry reading (read his bloody tweet if you want to be shocked by human indifference. Too ill to text me Tim Clare? But have enough energy to recommend the play you saw last night you careerist fuck). Anyway, the bookshop people have just offered me tea but I don't think they mean it. Better leave soon.

More reviews to follow - I'm about to head to Climate Camp! Hunter wellies in tow.