Take a short online tour of Leith Theatre!

Here’s a great chance to tour one of Scotland’s at-risk theatres from your own home. Join a LIVE Facebook tour of Leith Theatre.

The Theatre describes the event as follows:

“2020 saw 100 years since Leith became part of the City of Edinburgh; prior to that it was a separate burgh. Since we were not able to open in person during 2020 we are celebrating them this year.

Our talks programme explores the rich heritage of Leith and its unique identity. We were not able to run the talk so instead we are bringing you this short virtual tour of this gem of a theatre.

Leith Theatre was built as a gift to the people of Leith following the amalgamation with Edinburgh in 1920. As well as sharing the theatre’s history and story of how a local action group took on the challenge of saving the building form private development, our speakers will share the journey of getting the venue back on its feet and the doors open, and look to how it’s surviving Covid closure and to the future.

Lynn Morrison leads the tour- she has been in post as Exec Director of Leith Theatre since November 2018. Anna Higham is Funding and Finance Manager at Leith Theatre and has been a key part of the senior management team at the Theatre since August 2017.

Join Lynn on this short tour on Facebook by clicking here

MY LIGHT SHINES ON embodies the spirit of the Edinburgh Festivals – and there’s more

For the first time in 73 years, Edinburgh – the Festival City- is quiet this August. This would have been the opening weekend of the 2020 Edinburgh International Festival season. But of course, it’s not a normal year. With the necessity for safety impacting the necessity for artistic expression, the creative forces behind the Festival have specially commissioned MY LIGHT SHINES ON, a film full of brand new work from artists across genres, featuring famous faces from festivals across the years and exclusive collaborations with other Edinburgh August festivals. The film is available, free to watch, on the Festival’s YouTube channel throughout August.  You can also find the film at the foot of this blog entry (while it remains available to view).

This unique broadcast launches a series of new recorded activity, also available on the Festival’s YouTube channel from tonight, and then throughout August.

As a part of the MY LIGHT SHINES ON Online Festival, Scotland’s major national artistic companies have been commissioned to create extraordinary works that audiences can enjoy from their own homes. In celebration of our Festival City, they bring light and life to sites that must stay empty this year with unique filmed performances and insights from artists. New shows will be added daily so do check back at the festival’s YouTube channel regularly.

Enjoy these lovingly created lights that still shine despite our current circumstances, helping us to find our way back to performances everyone can enjoy – and which remind us of why the arts are such a beloved and vital part of our culture.

Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2019

Congratulations to the nominees and winners of the 39th year of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards now sponsored by TV channel Dave.

Best Comedy Show was won by Jordan Brookes for his show I’VE GOT NOTHING.

Best Newcomer was won by Catherine Cohen for her show THE TWIST…? SHE’S GORGEOUS.

The Panel Award went to Jessica Brough, Founder of Fringe of Colour.

Well done to all the nominees who made up very talented shortlists.

How amazing to think that next year will be the Award’s 40th anniversary.

I was very privileged to be a judge on these Awards, then sponsored by Perrier, in 1985. That year’s winner were a brilliant group called Complicité. And look what happened to them!

Find out more about Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards at their website here

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Review: TEACH

IN BRIEF Passion plus experience equals a lesson to remember.

A burly, smiling man welcomes you into the auditorium. This warm and engaging host is Matthew Roberts, the writer and performer of TEACH, a 50-minute reality check of the embattled world of UK education, infused with research, poetry and inspiration. Matthew takes us on a passionate and deeply personal journey through the highs and lows of his 16 years of teaching experience, at times starkly illustrating the price he has paid for doing a job he loves.

He wisely structures the show into chapters, using as chapter opening points statistical quotes from a research book entitled “How To Survive In Teaching”, the pointed title of which underlines the stress and pressure teachers have to find a way to endure each day, as well as supporting his own experience sounding more widely representative. Under threat from all sides, colleagues, the system, pupils, it’s a wonder anyone actually teaches in the UK. But Roberts highlights the motivator that keeps many fuelled long after they have run out of other resources – belief in the power of teaching to improve young lives and the desire to build a better, more well-educated and informed society.

During the show, the audience are presented with an interactive vote three times – should Roberts stay or leave teaching? This is a changing tally and cleverly asks the audience to make the difficult decision he himself must have faced on a regular basis.

Roberts takes us through his journey from that first teacher who inspired him with her vision, through teaching in China, to returning to teach in the UK and the many sacrifices he had to make along the way – money, a relationship, family events, his own wellbeing.  He talks about how a pupil “just trying” was enough to spark his teaching drive, of his deep concern for those in his remit, of harassment from staff and pupils, violence and murder, and of witnessing “a bottomless pit of need”. His daily struggle to reconcile his values and ethics against the cost- and corner-cutting of his colleagues is both alarming and affecting.

Roberts is an engaging and sincere presence, who interacts with us directly, not only through the three votes we have to make during the show, but also in his earnest reminder that each of us is a teacher, by the things we do and the way we do them. People learn from others’ behaviour and so he implores us to be the best teachers we can be in life; a good lesson to take away from any show.

His passion shines through in every word of this tightly-constructed and directed (by Helen Tennison) show, and it finds traction in his audience, who respond to the show as warmly and enthusiastically as he has presented it. It’s a must-see, not only for teachers, but for anyone who wants our society to be better. TEACH is an essential lesson in humanity. See it and learn.

TEACH plays at The Space at the Surgeon’s Hall, 4.05pm daily to Aug 24 (not 11). Tickets and information here

Note: All Edinburgh shows were seen in preview and therefore it didn’t feel appropriate or fair to star-rate them