Watch Me Move: The Animation Show
Spank's Edinburgh Diary, Saturday 20/08/2011

Edinburgh Festival 2011

One day, it'll be a paperless Festival. Ha!

I've usually got more programmes than this for the photo. Venues like the Traverse Theatre used to post me a copy of their festival programme: but not this year, apparently. So we're just down to the big three - the International Festival, the Fringe and the Book Festival.

Regular readers know that we can get along just fine with that. (And as for you irregular readers, can I interest you in a couple of books?)

So, what's changed since last year? Well, Edinburgh still doesn't have a tram system, so we'll have to put discussion of that aside for a festival or two. The big news on the Fringe front is that after years of promises and threats, the Assembly Rooms on George Street have finally closed for that major rebuilding work that's been on the cards for yonks, forcing the Assembly to decamp to the already cluttered environs of George Square. I never had the love for the Assembly that some people do: I was calling it the Virgin Megastore of the Fringe as far back as 1999, and I still stand by that, even though it amuses me that the Assembly brand subsequently managed to outlive that of the Virgin Megastore.

But the most interesting bit of the story involves the post-reconstruction fate of the Assembly Rooms, once they've gutted the building and stuck a branch of Jamie's Italian in the front. Because the Assembly organisation had assumed they'd be running whatever venues remained inside the building, and it turns out they won't. Instead, the venues will be run by Salt 'n' Sauce Promotions, the crew who've turned the Stand Comedy Club into a whole new tier of venues for the comedy side of the Fringe. The Stand's rise has been one of the most satisfying success stories of the last decade in Edinburgh, and it'll be interesting to see how they cope with this new challenge.

Elsewhere in Festivalland, the Book Festival carries on in its usual reliable fashion, and the International Festival continues its series of themed events with an exotic Asian flavour to their 2011 programme. Meanwhile, the Edinburgh International Film Festival has had a fantastically confused year, with ambitious initial plans getting messily discarded at a late stage, resulting in a festival that doesn't seem to know what the hell it is any more. (Those of you looking for backstory are directed to David Cairns' collection of interviews with former EIFF directors: the fabulously indiscreet Shane Danielsen is particularly worth reading.)

Currently, the Film Festival is trying to undo the bad will generated by last June's effort, and is backpedalling like crazy. They've already reinstated a prize they'd cancelled this year: could the next change be a move of the EIFF back to August, when decent people like us can attend it? A newly rescheduled Film Festival for 2012 would be amusing, not least because it would coincide with my traditional one-year-in-three absence from Edinburgh. But let's not worry about that for now: let's sort out Edinburgh 2011 first.

Your posse this year consists of Anne, The Belated Birthday Girl, Charmian, Diane, Eve, Lesley, Nick, Paula, Rhian, Sean, Stephen, Tomas and me. Most of us have been doing this stuff for years, but we have a couple of newcomers along that we'll be observing from a distance in the manner of a scientific experiment. And you can observe all of us, as we give you our daily reports of the highs and lows of the best arts festival on the chuffing planet, and start to lose it part way through Thursday as we usually do. Watch this space.

  • Saturday August 20th - "There is no greater oxymoron than 'circus skills'. Well, maybe 'Channel 5 News'." (Mark Thomas)
  • Sunday August 21st - "Playing the trumpet in a recession? Is that even a job any more?" (Bruce Devlin)
  • Monday August 22nd - "The internet turns us all into teenagers. 'This band's great.' 'No, this band sucks.' 'Well, I hope you die of AIDS." (Dave Williams)
  • Tuesday August 23rd - "I'm not Jewish, I just like the look." (John Oliver)
  • Wednesday August 24th - "I don't want to use a technical term, but most of the books you write seem to be about nutters." (Ruth Wishart, to Jon Ronson)
  • Thursday August 25th - "My dad's like a talking version of the Daily Mail. Not all of it, obviously, otherwise we'd rent him out to blind people." (Simon Munnery)
  • Friday August 26th - "He's a fucking millionaire. No vowels. How does that work?" (Phill Jupitus, on Eddie Izzard)
  • Saturday August 27th - "I think we've had quite enough monkey business for the moment." (Central Park zookeeper)
  • Spank's Pals' Postscript (#1 of 2) - post-match analysis from Nick, Tom and The BBG
  • Spank's Pals' Postscript (#2 of 2) - and more of that sort of thing from Diane, Stephen and Charmian


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