+3 Interview: Becoming Scheherazade

“It’s a personal story as much as a theatrical one.”

WHO: Kamaal Hussain, Writer/Director/Performer

WHAT: “The Thief of Baghdad presents Becoming Scheherazade. Magic and reality collide as one British Arab navigates the voyages of Sindbad and tries to make sense of his own family’s relationship to their migration from Iraq to the UK. ‘One wants to tell a story, like Scheherazade, in order not to die. It’s one of the oldest urges of mankind. It’s a way of stalling death’ (Carlos Fuentes).”

WHERE: Summerhall (Venue 26) 

WHEN: 15:00 (50 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

No, but the last time I performed there was in 1995! I’ve been coming the Fringe regularly as a punter for years, but haven’t brought a show in over 20 years!

Tell us about your show.

Becoming Scheherazade is an examination of my family’s migration to the UK from Iraq, all beautifully interwoven with the stories of Sinbad from the Arabian Nights.

It really looks at the human story of migration, and challenges the assumptions made about Arabs in the UK.

As it’s a personal story as much as a theatrical one, it’s written by me, and has been fomenting in my mind over the last couple of years.

After the Fringe, I hope to tour.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

I saw Every Brilliant Thing a couple of years ago, which was marvelous. The Jurassic Parks is fun too!


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+3 Interview: If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming

“I created this show while studying in New York City and the city is infused into every part of this work. “

WHO: Julia Croft

WHAT: “A rich contemporary performance collage of film scripts, pop songs, advertisements, elaborate costumes and dance all stretched, teased, shattered, and reassembled to challenge the treatment of women’s bodies as spectacle in popular culture. If there’s not dancing… uncovers the collective fantasies underneath these bodies, intervenes and explodes them into feminist confetti.”

WHERE: Summerhall – Anatomy Lecture Theatre

WHEN: 12:05 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Yes. First time. Anticipating a trial by fire. And some great whiskey [sic].

Tell us about your show.

If There’s Not Dancing At The Revolution, I’m Not Coming is a rich, contemporary performance collage of film scripts, pop songs, elaborate costumes, dance and live art, all stretched, teased shattered and reassembled in order to challenge the treatment of women’s bodies in popular culture. It is a wild, anarchic and poetic collision of popular culture texts combined to uncover the collective fantasies underneath female bodies. It unapologetically intervenes and explodes these fantasies into feminist confetti.

I created it because I am angry. It was created as a response to powerful men feel who so much ownership over a woman’s body that pulling a women’s ponytail is “just joking around” and the idea that this does not happen in a vacuum. These actions come out of a cultural context. How we look at women and violence towards women are not unrelated things; they are part of a spectrum. This is about how we look and how our looking is a political act.

I created this show while studying in New York City and the city is infused into every part of this work. I have performed in in 3 seasons in New Zealand, all of which have sold out. Post fringe I am travelling to Mexico to create a new work in collaboration with a Mexican artist. Dancing will tour to Australia early next year and hopefully return to the UK/Europe after that.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

There is a great contingent of shows coming all the way from New Zealand, and my lord I mean ALL the way. Torum Heng’s one woman show, Keep out of my box at the Gilded balloon. She is a brilliant boss lady comedian. Tim Carlson performing his solo One Day Moko about homelessness in New Zealand, also at the Gilded balloon. Arthur Meek performing his solo Hilary Clinton/Young Lover at Summerhall. Come see what theatre looks like at the bottom of the world.


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‘The Lives of the High-Rise Saints’ (Summerhall: 10 – 12 Oct ’13)

 agata-spektakl-sma.preview

Image by pawlowicz.art.pl

“Anyone who has worked on a DIY project will know that there are always bits left over, and this is the starting point of Ameijko’s work. God’s work took six days and on the seventh day he rested – but on the seventh day the flotsam and jetsam from creation gathered together in a tower block.”

Editorial Rating: Unrated 

The Lives of The High-Rise Saints brings a wide range of disciplines to the Summerhall stage. This one woman puppetry show from Agata Kucinska reaches into the reject pile of society to examine the inner strength that people can find to get through their lives.

Many of the visuals are slightly twisted away from the norm, and the inventiveness behind the design is a delight to see. The performance is a technical tour de force that uses everything from very small rod puppets through to larger human-arm puppets, and even Kucinska donning a mask and puppet limbs to physically take on one of the roles herself.

The story itself, adapted from the work of the same name by Poland’s Lidla Amejko, is both dark and challenging. Anyone who has worked on a DIY project will know that there are always bits left over, and this is the starting point of Ameijko’s work. God’s work took six days and on the seventh day he rested – but on the seventh day the flotsam and jetsam from creation gathered together in a tower block. Trusting only in themselves, they scrape out a living at the fringe of society, a motley band of wastrels, tortured souls, and dubious morals, sharing the tales of their lives with each other and the audience.

On the surface there is little to love about these characters. Rejected by the rest of the world, it is very easy to gloss over them on stage and write them off, but this slow burn of characterisation through individual vignettes is countered by the love and energy Kucinska brings to the stage. You approach each character with trepidation and an almost grotesque curiosity before slowly being pulled into their world.

It’s backed with an inventive live sound-scape that mixes foley effects and music to highlight the sadness of this world. This contrasts well with the small moments of joy each character has to look for to break the monotony of their life with brief bursts of joy and satisfaction.

You need to make that journey to appreciate the small moments that make their lives bearable, but the experience and repetition as the script moves through the roll call left me with a sense of exploitation and horror. This is not an easy performance to watch, but it is layered, thoughtful, and has much to say.

Technically Kucinska has mastered the many facets of puppetry used throughout the show, but with the grotesque nature of the characterisation it becomes hard to connect with the characters. This is not aided by the tone, which is almost oppressive in its darkness; while this accurately reflects the world the characters inhabit, it inhibits investment in their plight and results in the show failing to realise its potential to truly captivate the audience’s attention. Dark can work if enough empathy can be created, but the various elements of the show never quite clicked together, resulting in a somewhat disjointed experience.

Everyone in life is dealt some rubbish cards and the occupants of the tower block know just how weak their cards are but they make the best of the trying circumstances and show a great resilience of spirit in the face of depression and hostility. There is a lesson in there for all of us.

Three to See: Summerhall: September ’13

This September Edinburgh49‘s Three to See events at Summerhall are:

Only Wolves and Lions (18:30 – 12 & 14, 14:30 – 15 September, Summerhall)

“Only Wolves And Lions takes a fresh look at human behaviour in the pursuit of happiness. After food clothes and shelter, what do we need? Exploring ideas surrounding community, isolation and the meaning of the word crisis, Leo Kay and Unai Lopez de Armentia invite you to cook, eat and speak together”

Images Were Introduced (11:00-18:00 – Daily until 27 September, Summerhall)

“Michael Nyman’s first ever exhibition in Scotland will consist of a major installation in Summerhall’s Upper Church Gallery (off Hope Street Terrace) showing simultaneously the video film-maker, photographer and composer’s ten (10!) remakes of the famous vintage film “Man with a Movie Camera” by the Russian film-maker Dziga Vertov and his wife Yelizaveta Svilova (who edited the film).”

Neu! Reekie! 39 (19:00, 27 September, Summerhall)

“Brought to you my Michael Pedersen and Kevin Williamson Neu! Reekie! is a delicious feast of spoken word, music, animation and film fusion.”