Three teenagers provide a fresh take on the Edinburgh festival and what it means to the people of Scotland's capital.
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Welcome to Leith, minutes from Princes Street, but some feel it's a million miles from Festival fever.
My friends Ros, Brad and I are determined to prove that Leith is the place to be during the Festival.
We're members of Strange Town Youth Theatre based in Out Of The Blue.
This year, Out Of The Blue is a venue for Leith On The Fringe and Strange Town is performing here.
Time to bring out the big guns. In our corner, we have local boy made good,
Strange Town supporter and world famous author - Irvine Welsh.
He's always been a big fan of Leith.
I used to come to the BB's here years ago
and do my kind of goose-stepping along the sort of floorboards
and saluting the Queen and all that kind of stuff.
But it's much better suited to its purpose now.
Out Of The Blue is a community space run by an educational trust.
It houses artists' studios, rehearsal rooms, performance and exhibition areas.
It is a great place to meet, create, experience, learn and relax.
We spoke to Rob Hoon, its co-ordinator.
What do you think Out Of The Blue offers people in Leith?
We work with groups of people to introduce them to photography
or dance or different creative forms.
But we tend to not do it in isolation.
It fits into everything else that we're doing locally.
On the other hand, there's just things on the programme going on that people come to.
Some of them are artistic, some of them are just initiatives that fire the imagination like the flea market
and arts markets and exhibitions.
Some just come in to use the cafe.
-What are you hoping Leith On The Fringe will achieve?
-Sometimes during the Festival,
you just feel totally detached from the action,
so this is a chance to be a part of the Festival and use it as a platform
for people working away in Edinburgh all year round and a chance for them to reach an international audience.
We decided to ask some locals on Leith Walk what the Festival means to them.
-What are your thoughts about the Edinburgh Festival?
-Mostly the Tattoo. That's all I ever use...
-That's all you get involved in?
-Have you heard of Out Of The Blue?
-At the Drill Hall.
There's a production by Strange Town Youth Theatre called After You've Gone about the two world wars.
-Would you consider coming?
-Yes, I certainly would because it's local. I'll take one of your programmes.
The Edinburgh Festival, there's a little bit too much
to make a rational selection, really. I tend to stay out the way.
It's good for certain people in Edinburgh, but it doesn't benefit Leith very much.
It's the city centre, then it might be down on the shore, so this bit in between gets left out.
Publicans and hoteliers do very well out of it,
but the general person in Edinburgh probably finds it an inconvenience.
By bus, it takes an extra 30 minutes to get through Princes Street.
We make lots of money in the month of August and the month after it
from tourists, from people coming over to buy stuff.
Poor people can rent out their scummy little flats for vast amounts of money to middle-class tourists.
I'd like to see the figures about who actually goes to the Festival.
It's become very expensive.
My 11-year-old daughter wanted to go and see some shows,
but she's got to pay £15 for an hour, my wife's got to pay £15,
so it's £30 for an hour for a kids' show and you don't know what it's like. It's becoming very expensive.
Dear for £15 to go and see a play in the Traverse? I personally don't think so.
-What do you think of the Festival?
-I've never been to one.
I think the Festival's for everyone.
I can't imagine that you'd come here just for the Festival.
There's so much more in Edinburgh other than the Festival.
Get out there, enjoy it, there's plenty of free stuff.
There's a great deal of street art going on and the performers in the street. It's for everybody. Enjoy it.
I'm always slagging off the Edinburgh Festival just because it's like...
I just think somebody needs to be the kind of bad boy sometimes and just sort of...
But I think it's great that it's in the city
and I kind of, you know... I love coming here during the Festival.
I think the city needs it and it gives the place a buzz and an identity.
I would just like to see a lot more things going on outside the Festival.
And that's one of the things that I think is kind of...
It's been neglected in a sense.
If everything goes into the Festival, what happens for the other 48 weeks of the year?
Out Of The Blue is not just a centre for theatre and acrobatics.
It's also home to craft and design workshops like the Precious Metals Workshop run by Ian Nicholson.
I've always lived in this area and the opportunity came to take a workspace in Out Of The Blue.
It's a fantastic unit and it was the right choice for me to move here.
What can your company offer Leith workshop-wise and product-wise?
We run evening classes, one-day workshops.
I push the Precious Metals Workshop
as Edinburgh's leading independent educational resource workshop for jewellers and silversmiths,
so we've always got different classes running.
What are you trying to achieve?
The ultimate goal for the Precious Metals Workshop is to expand with its resources,
so that we can accommodate as many different jewellers, silversmiths, crafters and hobbyists as possible
and get the place up to more of a university grade of tools and equipment.
How do you feel about the Festivals?
I love the Festival. It's sort of the month where Edinburgh lets its hair down.
It's not a good time to try and drive around the city,
but walking around the place, seeing what happens, it's just a lovely, vibrant change.
What can a new project called Leith On The Fringe offer the locals
and will it change people's view?
This room is home to the organisers of Leith On The Fringe and headed by producer Natasha Lee-Walsh.
How did you get involved in organising Leith On The Fringe?
The idea came from a conversation that John and I had in a pub.
-Are we allowed to say that?
About what we could do to get Leith more involved because it's fast becoming a place where things happen.
As you guys know, art and everything is starting to take a hold here
and give people something to do, something to aspire to.
We wanted to make sure Leith takes its place in the Festival and benefits economically and socially.
How do you select the acts performing?
This being Year Minus One, as we fondly like to call it,
we put a call out to a lot of our friends and people that we know who work in the industry
and told them about what we were trying to do.
We specifically wanted it to be more of an aerial and circus venue
because that's an area of the arts that's coming up in Scotland.
What inspired you to use Out Of The Blue as a venue?
It being one of the most established sort of arts complexes here.
The staff work really hard. They've got a fantastic relationship with the community.
They've managed to get lots of things happening. It's a great venue.
It's a huge space with a fantastic roof and it lends itself to aerial,
as well as the community lilt as it's got that following.
It was important that the community take a sense of ownership of it
and they get involved with workshops that we like to offer
and that we get them onside and make them realise it's as much for them as anyone else.
I heard something about the cherry picker breaking?
That just happens. You have to build in contingency. Cherry pickers are a law unto themselves.
It means that the drapes took two days to hang instead of one,
but at least no-one was stuck at the top of one over the weekend!
-Have you got anything else on your to-do list today?
-Quite a lot.
There's still quite a lot to do with making sure that everyone's comfortable when they arrive.
Jessica, our box office manager, is putting together welcome packs for everyone,
so they know where to go shopping, where to go to the pub and to eat.
And we've managed to get a lot of the local traders to sort of put on offers
for the audience, as well as the participants, to make them realise what's on offer here,
to encourage people to spend time and money in Leith.
What are you aiming to achieve by the end of this?
This year, we hope to have got a set of quantifiable results,
so from box office ticket sales and through the offers that the local shops are running,
them keeping a record of that,
we hope to show how much we've increased footfall in Leith by having the venue here
and how many of those people we've encouraged to spend their money with local businesses.
That will help us decide how best to move forward for next year in the areas where we need to work on more
or where we're better spending our marketing budget to make this a resounding success.
-What could get in the way of these results?
-It's where we are.
We're under no illusion that we're in Leith
and we know that because also this year with the closure of the Assembly Rooms on George Street,
everything is so much more centred up around George Square,
so we know we're sort of fighting...
-To get in?
-Yeah, we're fighting against that.
Equally, it works to our advantage because it's a bit of a haven away from all of that
and the programme offers something slightly different.
It offers stuff to do and aerial and circus work.
In fact, I think we're the only Fringe venue that can offer ten metres of height.
I think that makes us unique and we hope that that and the word of mouth thing will get people to come down.
Finally, it is time to find out about our theatre group Strange Town.
We followed them during the read-through, technical rehearsal, first night and last night,
plus we got to interview our director Steve Small.
What is Strange Town aiming to achieve?
Strange Town aims to give children and young people across Edinburgh
an opportunity to be creative,
to make shows, to come together, to meet people from different backgrounds, to have a good time
and to give them an opportunity that we think they need to have.
What's it like having Out Of The Blue rehearsal space for Strange Town?
It's really important to us to be based here.
When Ruth and I set up this second version of Strange Town,
it was to be based in Leith and we like Out Of The Blue.
Can you tell us a bit more about the show?
After You've Gone is a show we've done before. We did it in June.
It's part of our theme which we've been running since January with all the groups about time and the past
and about it being all around us.
It's a collection of stories that are all put together in a period of time
that runs from 1916, the middle of the First World War, to the start of the Second World War.
-How are rehearsals going?
-It's been quite short and we've had some people drop out at the last minute.
And we've had some people come and help us out,
so for some people, it's a real rush
and hopefully, they enjoy it, and other people, they've done it before.
Sometimes it's hard with young actors to explain to them that we need to see what they can do in rehearsals,
not on the night, because we can't risk that they won't pull it out of the bag.
Also, they struggle a lot of the time with reviving stuff. Their kind of initial energy burst has gone.
It's a bit chaotic because we've had to re-cast for the Fringe a bit.
So we're now sorting out all the costumes
and working out if the people who have been newly cast fit the costumes. A wee bit stressed.
I'm feeling quite excited to be taking part in the Fringe.
It's really nice that it's with Strange Town.
It's all my friends and all the lovely people that I like.
It's really different to anything we've done before.
It's really weird sitting down and watching
because it's the first Strange Town show that I've not been in since it started
and it's going to be a bit sad.
It's been re-cast, but with their casting skills, I think it'll go OK.
It's just nerve-wracking because we have to re-block it, etcetera.
The question is, will they have learnt their lines
before they move to Out Of The Blue for the technical rehearsal?
Have there been any production problems or technical hitches?
The nature of the Fringe is that all the venues are trying to get lots of different shows in quickly.
And it's quite tight.
We are sitting waiting to go into our tech. The last show's been out late.
We're just waiting. We're all really excited.
We're just sort of setting up with costumes, getting props checked.
We're then going to go in and go for the opening scene and do sound and light checks.
These are my props. I supplied most of the stuff here.
Cos my parents love old things.
I feel a lot of pressure on the lines. There's a lot of them and mine were recently all changed.
So I hope I don't mess it up. I don't want to ruin it for everyone else. We've all worked really hard
and I don't want to be messing up. So hopefully that goes well.
We were supposed to start at five and it's now quarter to six.
We've only got until seven and we're supposed to squish the whole show into that time.
-How long do you usually have?
-In a perfect world, a whole day.
But it never does. We're not a professional company working in professional conditions.
We normally have three hours.
It's very strange seeing everybody doing this and not being part of it.
You've set your wheelbarrow on the wrong side, OK?
I never set my wheelbarrow.
The previous show finished at five and they had to get their flying stuff out of the way
and their audience out. So we're doing Fringe time, which is no time,
-but that's the same for everybody so it's OK.
-How long have we got?
Our problem is if we top and tail from scene to scene, we have costume changes,
so we have to know if they work.
But there's no point in getting cross or shouting and screaming.
There just isn't any point. Oh...that isn't what we want.
-How was the technical rehearsal?
-It went OK. We needed more time.
It's a very busy venue because it's got a cafe and a lot of noise.
It's quite difficult to see and hear from up in the box. I'm cuing the lighting guy, who's never seen it,
and somebody's operating the back projections, who's never seen it, and I'm cuing, so it's quite scary.
I think it went OK. I would have liked to get through a bit more,
but everything will be all right on the night, won't it?
You've already interviewed me.
-How did it go?
-It went OK, I think.
-Did it? Honestly?
Yeah, I was just a bit confused about everything.
We couldn't hear at the back sometimes, which is a problem.
People who have done the show before feel like they know it,
so they're relaxed and mucking up on lines and cues. They think they know it, but they don't.
It's the first night of After You've Gone and there's quite a lot of people coming in.
Everybody's quite excited. We didn't expect this many people.
Everybody's a bit stressed backstage but when they see how many people there are, hopefully it'll boost...
boost their confidence and it'll be nice and loud and amazing.
-I've never been to this venue before.
-What do you think of it?
Well, I've just got here. Let me think.
All I know about Leith is Easter Road happens to be there.
Home of Hibernian FC.
Often you don't go up the town and a lot of Edinburgh people are disconnected from the festivals.
-So probably having local things is better.
-It's very good where it is.
It's bang in the middle of a very working class area. It isnae one of the posher ends of the town.
You'll get a lot more people from Leith, who wouldn't go up the town.
It's a very welcoming place. This is the first time I've been to a show.
I'm very nervous.
-Why are you nervous?
-Because we've only just really got the tech done.
The cast are unaware that they have a large paying audience waiting to see their first night's performance.
# Rule Britannia Britannia rules the waves
# Britons never, never, never shall be slaves... #
They often talk in their own private language, which they invented to exclude Donald and everybody else.
It's ironic, by the way.
-We mainly just hang aboot, though, eh?
-I go hiking.
-Yes, we go hiking, don't we, Susan?
-We do, Moira.
-Thank God it's over.
Very well acted, eh, historical drama centring around various local families.
And very enjoyable, I thought.
All these young people putting so much effort into that. What a contrast to the streets in England.
-How do you feel after that?
I did this line and totally forgot it. It threw everyone off.
Oh...can't believe I did that!
-Do you know you were half an hour more? It's seven o'clock.
Wow. Seriously? Sorry, I was about to swear there.
-I don't know why it was so long.
-I don't know. Oh, my God.
I learned it so well, but I forgot the line and we had to walk back and there was a big bit of silence.
I was like, "Oh, my God! I'm so sorry!" I messed it up for everyone.
And then I cut off Donald at the end. Great, Alison(!)
-But you've still got two nights.
-True! I'll be perfect tomorrow! I'll be going, "I was amazing!"
I thought it was very, very well done. Very talented young people.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'd come back to another show.
Leith on the Fringe has attracted a number of international acts.
We caught up with Angels Aerials from Germany and were amazed by their Learn To Fly Workshop.
Leith on the Fringe at Out of the Blue is
just the most beautiful venue that could have happened to us.
For performing in the air, it's really high and they've made everything we needed possible.
We have quite weird things that we need - a hook there and a rigging point here.
And they've done it all. And it's beautiful outside.
Performing at the Edinburgh Fringe is basically a dream come true.
It's the last night of After You've Gone and they've almost got a full house. It's really exciting.
A mix of emotions. Everybody's excited on the last night, but getting a wee bit emotional as well.
It's a lot of people's last show. It's the first time I've watched and not been in it. I'll get teary!
It's quite sad. I'm really sad to be leaving the show. We've been with it for eight months now.
Last show. Hopefully a good one.
"Death was instantaneous and without any suffering.
"The Company was caught in a counter attack during which your husband was killed.
"John was a great personal friend of mine and his loss is felt deeply
"by myself and all in the Company."
# God save the King. #
I'm feeling really good. I'm high. Don't do drugs, do theatre!
It was fantastic. I was, like, in tears.
-Why were you in tears?
-Cos it was so sad! I'm in tears again!
A total sense of achievement,
but yeah, it's quite sad that people are leaving, but...I'm sure we'll get over it!
-OK, that's the show over. How are you feeling?
-Do you want more than that?
-Yeah. Relieved or...?
It doesn't hit you until a day later and you think, "I won't see those people again for a while
-"and won't work on that script again." You always think of things you'd have done differently.
But, you know, it's a huge job and they did amazingly well
-and we got massive audiences for the Fringe.
We had 65 on the first day, 86 yesterday and about the same today.
-Your average Fringe audience is three. So that's pretty good.
-That's fantastic, definitely.
No reviews. We don't need reviews.
-No, we've had no reviews, but...
-You've had a positive reception.
-And that's the main thing.
It's quite an interesting space.
It's really set up for trapeze stuff,
so if we do it again, this venue, we'll think about something that fits this a bit better.
It's the last day of Leith on the Fringe. How successful was it?
It's been rather marvellous.
Yeah, we've had quite a few people through the door, lots of comments and lots of compliments.
The high point was our award. Somebody noticed what we were doing and recognised us for it,
which is awesome! And something we weren't expecting.
We were sitting at this very table and Paddy got us in and said, "You have to be here then."
So we came in and got presented with the world! With a little engraving on it.
And it nearly made me cry and think, "It's all been worth it!"
We were so tired and numbers had started to drop off again. "Oh, God! Is no one listening?"
-What would you do differently next year?
We've got to solve the sound issues with the cafe.
There's a lot of hard surfaces in here and you can hear quite well everything that's said in the cafe.
So that's the first thing.
You started with a set of goals. To what extent have you achieved them?
They're pretty much there. We've had great press, great interest.
We've had a lot of exposure and that's reflected in ticket sales and audience feedback.
We've got figures to collate at the end, which will be whether people took up our offers in the programme
to benefit the businesses or not. Then we'll meet them and discuss how to do that better next year.
What does the future hold?
Onwards and upwards, bigger and better.
We've had more publicity. We had one and a half million tweets on Neil Gaiman's Twitter thing
-recommending Hex. I don't know whether that means anything.
-A lot. Neil Gaiman's pretty cool.
Yeah, so I'm told. And we've been hanging out with Irvine Welsh, and he's been amazing, actually.
A really nice guy, really helpful.
Why do you think groups like Strange Town are important?
I think really because if you look at the way things are going,
employment-wise, over the next 20 years,
practically the only thing that is expanding is the entertainment industry,
the cultural industries, if you want to call them that.
And there's so many more opportunities for people to act and write and direct
and film and do all that stuff.
So much more now than there used to be. The media seems to be expanding all the time.
It's something that used to be regarded as a bit kind of poncey and self-indulgent.
It's now the most vocational kind of thing you could probably do.
And even if people don't go on to work in these areas,
the skills are transferable. Inter-personal skills, communication skills,
working with other people and getting to know them.
They're transferable to just about any kind of employment or personal business venture people go into.
The recent Edinburgh Festivals Impact Study showed that the Fringe annually generates £142 million
for the Scottish economy. The study also showed that 89% of Edinburgh respondents
said that the Fringe and other festivals increased local pride.
Choose life! Choose theatre!
Choose the arts.
This programme was made by Grace, Brad and Rosalind of Strange Town Youth Theatre
in conjunction with The LAB at BBC Scotland.
If your school or community group would like to learn about filmmaking and are looking for some pointers,
contact The LAB at BBC Scotland.
And get creative!
Three teenagers provide a fresh take on the Edinburgh festival and what it means to the people of Scotland's capital.
Grace presents Edinburgh Festival Stories in conjunction with Rosalind and Bradley, all members of Strange Town Youth Theatre. Over the course of a month, from a base at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Leith, they filmed various productions. As well as getting backstage insights, they also talked to the people on the streets to see what they thought of the festival, nabbing an interview with Irvine Welsh into the bargain. Edinburgh Festival Stories came through
The L.A.B project (learn @ BBC Scotland), part of BBC Scotland's Learning Department which works with school and community groups around Scotland who want to develop their digital media skills.