Entertainment News

  • 3 August 2014, 21:48

Edinburgh Fringe: Referendum Takes Centre Stage

This year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe is shaping up to be the year of the Scottish referendum gag.

The world's biggest arts festival starts today with referendum content prominent amongst the performances.

Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, told Sky News: "The thing about the Fringe is that it's an open-access festival. Anyone who wants to take part in it can and they can tell whatever story they want to tell.

"Of course, in 2014, the referendum is one of the things that the artists and performers are thinking about and are concerned about, so the Fringe is different from last year in the way that it's always different from the year before. That's one of the powerful things about the Fringe."

Of course, Edinburgh's Fringe is by no means dominated by Scottish politics.

Of more than 3,000 shows, around two dozen have a referendum theme.

One of those is a play written by a prominent 'Yes' campaigner Alan Bissett.

His play, The Pure, The Dead And The Brilliant is a tale of Scotland disappearing following a 'No' vote and Great Britain becoming "Greater Britain".

But does Scotland's politics belong on the arts stage?

Mr Bissett told Sky News: "I think everything belongs on the arts stage. Here we are, six weeks before the vote ? it would seem strange if Scottish theatre writers weren't discussing that.

"Also, we can talk about it in a way that politicians don't talk about it and make people think about it in sideways directions."

Bruce Fummey is a comedian from Perthshire who is performing two Fringe shows from differing political perspectives: "Aaah'm Voting No" and "Aaah'm Voting Yes."

Asked for his top five referendum jokes, he replied: "The referendum has presented us with a huge decision and I'm not sure we're ready. We have to make a decision about the constitutional arrangements for a nation, when most of us can't work out the best electricity tariff for our house. People ask: 'Do you realise what it will cost to give more power to the Scottish Parliament?' I say: 'How could I? I am on a card meter!'

"Scotland's claim to independence goes back to the bold statement in the Declaration of Arbroath. 'So long as but 100 of us remain alive, never will we give in to English domination.' If there were only 100 of us left and we were surrounded I'd be tempted to stab someone from my neighbouring town then surrender. Scotland is not an homogeneous unit.

"Scotland has a proud history. We invented the telephone, the television and tarmac roads. We gave the world penicillin. To be fair we gave them VD in the first place, so it's a confused picture.

"Some people say that the union has been a marriage that has worked well and that we should stick together, but if your partner wanted to take all you money and stick dangerous missiles up your Holy Loch, I think you would be entitled to say: 'Let's just be friends'.

"The independence debate revolves around money. English say: 'We subsidise you, and we needed that money for our own hospitals'. Scots claim: 'Yea, but you took our oil, and we needed that for cooking chips'."

 

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