Jane Doe (Assembly George Square Studios: 2-28 Aug: 3.00: 60 mins)

“Thought-provoking and sincere”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars: Outstanding

Eleanor Bishop’s Jane Doe is a thought-provoking and sincere piece of theatre looking at the subject of rape culture. The performance is entirely led by trained lawyer and theatre maker Karin McKracken, who up until recently was a specialist educator for the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network. Her ease with and care for the audience are apparent from the get-go as she introduces herself and welcomes each person – we know this is going to be a safe space and some difficult subjects are going to be covered.

The show begins with some innocent musings about being a young girl and all of those exciting yet scary experiences everyone goes through – the first time a boy asks you to dance, that first kiss etc. The narrative is endearing and at times amusing, the atmosphere is relaxed, and a sense of reminiscence about one’s own awkward teenage moments is encouraged: this is very much a show for everyone and anyone, at any time, with any amount of experience.

Soon the show takes on a more serious note, getting straight to the main issue of sexual assault and consent. The main story covers a real-life incident involving Jane Doe, a young girl who goes to a party, has too much to drink and is later sexually assaulted by male comrades of a similar age to herself.

Throughout the performance attitudes and boundaries to his incident are explored. We experience the trial after the assault, where different parts of the official transcript are read out by volunteer members of the audience. This device of audience participation helps reassert the feeling of this show and issue being relatable and necessary to and for everyone. It brings a sense of togetherness and mutual support amongst the audience, which is rare and uplifting.

In addition to the live performance element, there are several interludes of recorded video and audio, including shocking recordings of media coverage of sexual assaults by high profile characters such as Piers Morgan. These act as a great contrast to highlight the different responses and attitudes to the subject matter being discussed, and the difficulty of gaining clarity on the issue.

At one or two points during the performance the audience is given a small breather, where everyone is invited to submit anonymous messages about their thoughts and feelings via an online form. All the messages are then displayed on the screen at the back of the stage, so we can see what other people are feeling. This is another interesting device which helps build unity and support within the room, and allows for a genuine conversation. These sections work well in making the show seem less like a performance and more like an open discussion, which ultimately was the aim. Personally I find the topic of rape culture and sexual assault difficult to talk about, as do most, and I guess this is one of the main issues we have in our society.

Although at times the show is emotionally overwhelming, it is incredible how Karin McKracken takes any awkwardness away with her calm and open personality. She broaches a difficult subject in an honest manner, making us feel completely at ease. This may not be one of the more pleasant and glitzy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, and at times it is frustratingly stringy with the amount of content actually performed, but it’s absolutely an eye-opening experience and an important watch.

outstanding

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Reviewer: Iona Young (Seen 10 August)

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

Meet Our +3 Team #EdFringe ’17 – Iona Young

“I guess what keeps me here now is my friends, the beautiful architecture and a love for all things Scottish.”

Iona is a Journalism Student at Edinburgh’s Napier University who you can usually find roaming around the Grassmarket/Cowgate area, either chatting away to everyone or having a good boogie on the dance floor! Having moved away from Edinburgh for a few years she now appreciates even more what this fantastic city has to offer.

In particular she loves Edinburgh’s live music scene and enjoys getting to know all the great people you meet in and around Edinburgh’s pubs and clubs.



What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, and do you follow it?

Whenever something goes wrong my German grandmother says to me, “Es gibt Schlimmeres.” Directly translated this means “there are worse things.” In other words appreciate what you have, stop complaining and get on with it. I would like to think for the most part I do follow this- although I do like a good moan every now and then.

If space invaders came to burn down Edinburgh, but wanted to leave just one thing standing, what would you ask them to leave? (You can’t say the castle. Not even space invaders could capture Edinburgh castle.)

The Cowgate. Then at least we would still have places to dance.

What first brought you to Edinburgh? What keeps you here?

I grew up in Edinburgh. At 16 I moved to Germany for four years and although this was a great experience I always wanted to come back. I guess what keeps me here now is my friends, the beautiful architecture and a love for all things Scottish.

What’s the first live performance you can remember?

My family always took me to see lots of shows when I was younger but none really come to mind. What I do remember is when my mum and I saw seeing Paolo Nutini when I was 14 – love at first sight!

What’s the best live performance you’ve ever attended?

Spartacus at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. My grandmother took me to see this last Christmas. Usually I find ballets too long and therefore tedious at times but this exciting performance, under the new ballet director Igor Zelensky, took me by surprise.

What are you most excited about seeing at #Edfringe17?

This year I have decided to pick a couple of shows which are completely new. As I don’t really know what to expect I am not ‘most excited’ about any one of them – I just hope at the end of the Fringe I can say I experienced something unique.


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Interview with Lisa Kowalski, producer of Ten Years of Taylor Swift

“Taylor Swift is not only an amazing songwriter with relatable and eloquent lyrics, an incredible singer, but she’s also just such a lovely person.

Lisa Kowalski is a young Scottish singer songwriter and performer – and most of all she is a huge Taylor Swift fan. To coincide with Taylor Swift’s ten year anniversary as a performer Lisa decided to celebrate and to put on an event to bring together all those ‘Swifties’ out there. Well, some of them at any rate.

Lisa’s event ‘Ten Years of Taylor Swift’ was held in Glasgow and Edinburgh and featured a fantastic collection of young, upcoming musicians from around Scotland who each performed their own versions of Taylor Swift classics, from her earlier country tunes to some newer pop princess anthems.

Ten Years of Taylor Swift Show (organised by Lisa Kowalski, January 2017). Our review here.


Why Taylor Swift?

She’s not only an amazing songwriter with relatable and eloquent lyrics, an incredible singer but she’s also just such a lovely person. She’s so kind to her fans and she’s so real. I also just connect with her lyrics and how passionate she is about songwriting. Writing music is my favourite thing to do and she’s really inspired me to be brave and vulnerable when I write my feelings into songs.

How big is the Swiftie community in Scotland?

Taylor sold out the Hydro in minutes, so I would say there’s a fair amount of Swifties! I’ve made lots of friends in Scotland that are her fans and it’s nice to get to talk about her and her music to people without them getting sick of me.

Have you had support from Swifties outside of Scotland?

We had a Swiftie from England fly up to Scotland for the last show which was pretty insane! He also helped us to set up a promotional website for the event which has ended up being really useful.

For this year’s event we had someone from America ask to play and cover all of the plane costs herself! Unfortunately we had all of the acts sorted but it’s pretty insane to have so much talent asking to perform and going to such great lengths to do it.

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You had a fantastic line up of young artists performing in your show. How did you bring the talent together?

All of the acts are people I’ve seen perform at gigs that I’ve also done! I chose these people not only because they’re all absolutely incredible singers and performers but also because I consider them all good friends of mine now! The show really brought us all together and I’m grateful for it.

They’re all so different from each other in the way they sing and perform – some prefer acoustic, others prefer the band. Some have higher voices, others have low. Some have loud voices, others have softer voices. Either way they’re all extremely talented in their own special way and I could never choose a favourite.

Were all of the artists who performed already devoted Swifties before the show?

Not all of them are huge fans but they still managed to take the songs, make them their own and perform them with so much passion. Everyone who performed likes different kinds of music and writes their own amazing songs but they all came together to celebrate one pop/country artist and they did it amazingly.

220px-p1070865_louvre_tc3aate_de_fausta_ma4881_rwkHow did the event in Edinburgh compare to the first event in Glasgow?

Both events were so amazing but the Edinburgh gig was in a smaller venue which I preferred. It made the show more intimate as everyone was much closer and you could see everyone dancing and smiling a lot more clearly which was really nice.

What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you’d known starting out on this journey?

There’s going to be some ups and downs but it’ll be worth it! Working really hard is definitely the key for success but when it pays off you’ll be so relieved and happy that you devoted as much time and energy as you did.

Do you plan to organize more shows in the future?

There’s a lot of factors to consider before we dive into organising another event as it definitely isn’t easy but I would definitely love to! Making other artists and an audience happy made me really happy and I would love to do it all again.

Lisa, you also performed at the show. As an artist do you have anything exciting lined up for 2017?

Within the next month I’ll be releasing my debut EP of original songs! I’m really proud of all the songs on there and I can’t wait for people to hear them in a new way! I’ll be performing at the VAMOS festival this year which is exciting!

If you could ask Taylor Swift one question what would it be??

It’s hard to just choose one question! I would probably ask for advice on making myself known in the music industry and building a loyal fan base.


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Ten Years of Taylor Swift (The Mash House: 14 Jan ’17)

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“A fun and fantastic showcase”

Editorial Rating: 3 Stars

Not being a huge Taylor Swift fan myself I was slightly apprehensive before the show. However, I must admit I was very pleasantly surprised. This gig was set up by 16 year old Lisa Kowalski, who with some help from mum managed to put on an entertaining evening any event organizer would be proud of.  The three hour set – a good length! –  showcased a range of Taylor Swift’s material – from her younger country days to newer pop songs.

Before the show there was an excited buzz around the room and I could immediately tell I was surrounded by some devoted Swifties. There was not much in a way of an introduction before singer Matthew Gibb, together with the backing band, started off the night with his original version of ‘Blank Space’.

Soon it was clear to see that despite their young age these are all very talented singers and musicians including The 45 and Beth Swan. Although the backing band added an extra kick of enthusiasm to the night I was glad that there was an acoustic session in the middle, where you could clearly hear each performer’s voice.

Each act enjoyed great stage presence but there were three performers who really stuck out – Ashleigh Burns, Olivia Dawn Haggerty and Lisa Kowalski herself.

17 year old Ashleigh from Glasgow gave an impressive performance with her versions of ‘Love Story’ and ‘Trouble’. Her strong, soulful voice in combination with a charming presence and confidence on stage made it a great set. Olivia impressed with her beautiful ballad version of ‘All Too Well’ whilst Lisa was not only good at talking to and entertaining the crowd, but vocally she also did well, with a good range and a convincing ‘attack’. Although not pitch perfect at all times these girls have serious energy and potential.

All night everybody’s enthusiasm was so contagious that I couldn’t help bopping along and I even got caught up in the whole sing-along spirit of the night! I can only recommend this particular show if you are a big Taylor Swift fan but I really loved the whole idea behind it – celebrating an artist together with lots of like-minded fans. The whole event was brilliantly organized and you could clearly see the huge effort put in from all parties. It was definitely a fun and fantastic way to showcase young talent from across Scotland.

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Reviewer: Iona Young (Seen 14 January)

Visit the Edinburgh49‘s Other venues archive.

Blackbird (Bedlam: 16-17 Nov ’16)

“Powerful and moving”

Editorial Rating: 3 Stars: Nae Bad

I was quite apprehensive before taking my seat, as to how Edinburgh University Theatre Company would present the strong, emotive themes of trauma, abuse and love in David Harrower’s intense two-hander. With the entire play focusing on one conversation between the two central characters Ray and Una, how well would the actors sustain and communicate this challenging piece?

The plot sees Una (Sophia Dowson-Collins) seek out Ray (Benjamin Aluwihare) to confront him about the sexual relationship they had fifteen years prior – when she was only a 12 year old girl whilst he was a grown man of 40. She wants to face the past but he is at first unwilling to speak to her. As the play progresses they both go through a range of emotions, sometimes screaming at each other and at other times talking calmly about trivial things, creating a dramatic if at times, confusing dynamic.

The script is complex, taking a while to build and reel the audience in before taking a deeper and darker turn. We get to piece together more about the identities and personalities of both characters, and some surprising twists and turns reveal the truth of what happened fifteen years ago and how both characters have dealt with their experiences since. The silent captivation from my fellow audience members throughout told its own story: at times there was perceptible discomfort, and I personally found the whole thing quite awkward and difficult to watch, but only because the performance felt so real.

Although both performers did well I was particularly impressed by Dowson-Collins’s performance: at times there were long streaks where only she would speak – sometimes to Ray but often more like she was speaking to herself. She was captivating and consistent throughout, bringing a great sense or realness to her character. Aluwihare seemed nervous and awkward for the most part and although fitting with Ray’s character, it was difficult to tell how much “acting” came into play.

The set was perfectly suited to the action: it was very simple with just a couple of seats, a table and some office lockers, making the actors do the work to convey the story. In saying that, what didn’t work so well was the use of a plastic sheet hanging behind Una and Ray, from behind which a girl would appear to represent Una becoming a ghost of herself through everything she had experienced. Although I could see what the production was trying to do I felt like this distracted from the dialogue between Una and Ray, and a more creative way of expressing this idea could have been used to greater effect.

All in I was very impressed by the performance. The themes may not be to everyone’s taste, but it was still a fascinating watch.

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Reviewer: Iona Young (Seen 16 November)

Visit the Bedlam archive.

Preview: Underground Live (Teviot Row House, Thursdays 9.00pm)

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Underground Live is a weekly live music night hosted by the Edinburgh University Student’s Association. Every Thursday from 9pm the EUSA present some of Scotland’s, and particularly Edinburgh’s, new musicians in the cozy basement of Teviot Row House.

Band Programmer for the EUSA, Kyle Wilson, sums it up perfectly; “Underground Live is a place for new and upcoming bands to showcase their music. Edinburgh, or in general the east coast, has a lot of talent. And you can come and check it out for free.”

Previous performers, to name a few, are the likes of ‘Indigo Velvet’, ‘Earths’, ‘Universal Thee’ and ‘The Rising Souls’. The series of Underground Live events run up to the 1st of December this year and there are many acts to look forward to such as ‘Teek’, ‘The Boy with the Lion Head’, ‘Delphi’ and ‘Moonlight Zoo’.

To have a look for ourselves we attended the ‘Underground Takeover’ where Underground Live teamed up with Oxjam Edinburgh (part of Oxfam’s music festival). The night featured Edinburgh based band ‘The Factory’ (now named ‘Ignu’) who showed off some of their original pop and folk tunes. Two further acts, that will both be playing at this year’s Oxjam ‘Edinburgh Takeover’ were Michiel Turner and ‘The Micro Band’. Michiel Turner charmed the audience with his unique voice and jazz/soul and folk style. ‘The Micro Band’ brought their positive attitude and catchy tunes on stage and got a few folk up off their seats!

Oxjam ‘Edinburgh Takeover’ Manager Karl Wood was heavily involved in the event and was particularly impressed by the venue; “It’s absolutely brilliant to work with the Underground Live team. They showcase some of Edinburgh’s finest emerging acts in an excellent venue.” And we agree – a small stage makes the event feel intimate, and low comfy seating add to the vibe.

The Underground Live  events are a fantastic way to scout out Edinburgh’s musical talent and not only is it completely free but you can enjoy student prices at the bar even if you are not a student!

For more information take a look at the Facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/UndergroundLiveEdinburgh/?fref=ts

Or for a full list of the upcoming events visit http://www.channel7a.com/venue/teviot-undeground/

Iona Young

+3 Review: Blueswater Presents: Queens of the Blues (SpaceTriplex: 5-27 August: 22.30: 50 minutes)

“A classy, confident and charming performance”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars

Queens of the Blues is a new show presenting a musical history of powerful women who have influenced blues as we know it over the years, presented by Edinburgh band The Blueswater. The two main singers in this show (Nicole Cassandra Smit and Ruth Kroch) are perfect to represent such women: both give a classy, confident and charming performance with just the perfect amount of sass.

The show begins with an a capella song, which each member of the band joining in one after another. There is a large variety of songs including When the Levee Breaks by Memphis Minnie, Better Watch Your Step by Koko Taylor and Ella Fitzgerald’s Cow Cow Boogie.

One particular favourite of mine was the performance of the original version of Hound Dog by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton. And I also had to admire Ruth when she announced she was going to give a solo rendition of the legendary Nina Simone’s Blues for Mama. But with her feisty attitude and powerful, soulful voice she really pulled it off!

The girls really keep the whole show moving, giving explanations about the history of each song and making jokes with the band. The old school blues band (including a two bassists, a guitarist, a drummer, harmonica player and a keyboard player) also all seemed relaxed and it was clear they all enjoyed playing together. At one point there was even a short stint by a trumpet player who surprised the crowd!

The only thing I wish is that we would have had a chance to dance, and given the vigorous foot tapping going on around me I am sure most of the audience would have agreed! The songs became more upbeat as the night went on and although the audience was at some point encouraged to dance the seating was so close together that there was not really enough space.

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Reviewer: Iona Young (Seen 23 August)

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED