EN4’s Christmas Show Selections

It’s that time of year when it becomes too cold to think… about anything other than something hot to drink.

With all the coldness enveloping Scotland this winter, it’s time to look forward to the almost overwhelming number of Christmas shows that are descending upon us this festive season. 

Christmas Cabaret – 8th/15th/22nd Dec 

Christmas Cabaret

Christmas Cabaret

Many Fringe shows cannot resist the allure of Edinburgh, even after the festival – one such show is getting ready to return to the capital this winter for a Christmas Cabaret. Join Bruce Devlin for the next three Saturdays at what will surely be a fast-paced evening of entertainment. Hosted at the Stand Comedy club in York Place, the cabaret is set to delight and excite adults and teens alike. With full-on merry cheer to get you ready for the holiday season, it boasts an impressive line-up of singers, comics and cabaret performers. 

‘A ‘best of’ hour featuring a selection of the biggest and best…’ (Fringe Review 2017).

Tickets – £6 or £5 Concession 

 

Bugle Boys Christmas Crackers – 11th to 30th Dec 

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The famous Bugle Boys

If you’re a fan of American Drag queens, then going to see the Bugle Boys at the Assembly Roxy will obviously be the first show you see this Christmas. 

Another fan favourite from this year’s Fringe festival, the trio have certainly brought back their talent. The show, along with some laughs and antics, will feature the queens singing – not lip-syncing – some of the most iconic Christmas tunes. Dressed in faux military wear  and ready to blow the crowd away, Ewan James Armstrong, Martin MacLennan and Tom Harlow light up the stage alongside their long-suffering pianist Chris Gorman.  

Tickets  – £5 to £15 

 

MagicFest Christmas Show – 27th to 30th Dec 

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A festive dystopian adventure with the miracle of Christmas future

If you’re looking for something that stretches your mind, then why not head down to the Traverse theatre this season for a wonderful magic show full of surprises. The perfect match-up of Scottish magician-scientist hybrid Kevin Quantum, and Swedish high-tech wizard Charlie Caper sees the duo impress audiences with their combination of magic and science. 

In the “Miracle of Christmas Future” the audience gets to see how magic, robots and humans come together to create a vision of the future of Christmas. The show combines classic sleight-of-hand with state-of-the-art technology to create an immersive and mesmerising experience that is not soon forgotten. Incredible illusions are sure to challenge your knowledge of the impossible. 

This event is clearly made for magic enthusiasts, sci-fi fans and people who are after something more interesting than your average Christmas miracle

Tickets – £22 adult, £20 concession, £15 child 

With so many amazing Christmas events taking place around Edinburgh, it’s sure to be a Christmas Cracker of a festive season.

Scottish Storytelling Festival: It’s time for a story

It’s time for a story. The 30th annual Storytelling Festival comes to Edinburgh for the end of October to celebrate the diversity and tradition of storytelling over ten days under the blanket theme of Growing Stories.

This time of year is the perfect opportunity to place emphasis on stories while families are drawn into the warmth of the fire as the days grow colder. As summer fades and autumn strips the trees bare of their beauty you feel a sudden desire to take up a good book with a mug of hot chocolate to satisfy the internal chill you feel during this seasonal change.

They say that ‘stories are like gardens’: they grow and blossom with each passing generation. This idea weaves through the festival under the theme of Growing Stories. It also provides a perfect platform to feed the creativity and imagination of storytellers and spread it across Scotland.

Throughout the festival, there will be many creative workshops, daytime events for all the family, and intimate evening readings to feed the mind. I attended the Breathing Space workshop on October 21 for a chance to take part in nature while learning about the Pictish Kingdom of Fife. Storytellers told tales of piracy against the Romans across the east coast, their deep roots entwined with the Celts and the importance and trees and plants in Pictish life. Carvings uncovered across Scotland detail their methods of hunting using dogs and falcons. The Picts eventually combined with the Gaels of Dal Rieta to form the Kingdom of Alba, now known as Scotland.

Some of the festival’s main events taking place across Edinburgh include:

Transforming Voice – Scottish Storytelling Centre

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Scottish Storytelling Centre. Photo By Ross Hempseed

Several people have defined what it means to use your voice effectively and who have not let theirs be silenced such as Mahatma Gandhi and Rosa Parks, who steadied the winds of controversy to achieve what they truly believed in. They did not use violence to win the battle but instead won the war of the words.

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala Yousafzai.

Led by storyteller Diane Edgecomb, it shows you how to use one’s voice to strengthen relationships and communicate better with others. This interactive and engaging workshop will help the audience become more in tune with their own unique voice.

The event takes place on Wednesday October 24 at 11am and will last five hours.

Tickets – £16.00

Spark 100 – Walking tour departing from Mercat Cross

Edinburgh’s amazing architecture and history have long since been a place to inspire many influential writers and timeless stories. Robert Louis Stevenson was inspired for the character Long John Silver in Treasure Island by a man he met in the Edinburgh Infirmary with a wooden leg.  J.K Rowling famously wrote the first chapters of the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at the Elephant House café in Old Town, Edinburgh and completed the last Harry Potter novel in room 552 of the landmark Balmoral Hotel.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is often celebrated as one of the most influential Scottish novels of the 20th Century. Muriel Spark, the author, was inspired and educated in Edinburgh and her education was a major part in developing both the characters and the setting of the novel. To mark the 100th anniversary of her birth, Spark 100 was organised to guide fans and tourists around places in Edinburgh that were significant to a Scottish hero who paved the way for women in a male-dominated environment.

“How wonderful it feels to be an artist and a woman in the twentieth century.” Muriel Spark

Walking tour takes place on Saturday October 27 at 1:30pm and will last 90 mins

Tickets – £13

With so many wonderful events in and around Edinburgh, it’s no wonder many people are travelling just to delve deep into the fictional lands of stories and mythology only to regret waking up to reality.

 

Paper Review, Tuesday October 23

Join reporters Joanna Hampson and Olivia Otigbah for a review of today’s papers.

Fashion Fighting Against Homelessness

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Shelter Scotland fashion show catwalk. Photo by Ross Hempseed

It may not be the luxurious and high fashion designs that grace the catwalks of Paris and London but the 50th anniversary Shelter Scotland fashion show has a serious message behind the glamour and clothing.

The two-part event was to raise awareness for the charities seemingly insurmountable task of eradicating homelessness in Scotland. Volunteers from Shelter Scotland shops across Edinburgh strutted their stuff down the runway, modelling donated clothes.

Shelter Scotland is committed to helping people who have been affected by homelessness or poverty by providing support, advice and legal representation. Their 50th anniversary is marred by the fact that the fight to end homelessness has gone on for so long. Unfortunately, the most recent statistics show that they face a steep ascent to achieve their goals.

Startling new figures, according to the Scottish Government, show that 34,972 homeless applications were made in Scotland in 2017/2018, a number that has increased for the first time in nine years. The latest figures show that over 137,000 households are on the council waiting list for a home and this number is growing. In Scotland, 1 in 5 people are living in poverty after paying their housing costs. The rise in need for food-banks have also been an unfortunate indicator of the problem of poverty in Scotland.

Tony Foster, Community Shop Manager at Shelter Scotland Morningside, said:

“Our shops help to raise the money we need to continue providing the help and support that is sadly still required by people struggling to find or keep a home in Scotland today. The fashion show will help us to bring in more vital funds to ensure that work continues.”

On the night, the audience were treated to musical from local band, Banjo Lounge 4. The fashion show itself comprised of sections that showcased both designer and affordable clothes that are available throughout the Edinburgh stores. Some of the designer brands included Vivienne Westwood and Alexander Wang.

One audience member was pleasantly surprised:

“I would never have thought that you would find designer clothes in a charity shop. It just shows what you can get for a bargain and it goes to a worthy cause.”

The Fashion show finished with a poignant demonstration of mission statements that Shelter Scotland are committed to as they continue to fight the issue of homelessness in Scotland.

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Shelter Scotland volunteers demonstrating during fashion show. Photo by Ross Hempseed

Second man named in Sailsbury attacks investigation

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A second man has been named for suspected involvement in the Skripal attack.

Investigative Journalism website, Bellingcat, has revealed the name of the second man suspected of carrying out the poisoning in Salisbury in March. Russian military doctor, Alexander Mishkin, is accused of carrying out the assassination attempt on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

He joins Anatoliy Chepiga who was named as the first suspect by Bellingcat last month however Russia denies all claims made by the website. Mishkin was travelling under the alias Alexander Petrov when he travelled to the UK to allegedly carry out the attack. Moreover, Mishkin was revealed to be an agent working for Russian Intelligence, the GRU.

Conservative MP Bob Seely, a member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said: “It is appalling that a medical doctor appears to have been part of a team of GRU operatives”

“Whilst this operation has been a botched embarrassment for the Kremlin from beginning to end, it’s worth remembering that we may not know about the GRU’s successful operations.”

Bellingcat made the discovery after looking over testimonies from people Mishkin knew and a scanned photo of his passport. The journalist working on the story had to dig significantly deeper to uncover Mishkin as he did not leave as much digital evidence to his identity or whereabouts as Chepiga.

Forensic tent at The_Maltings,Salisbury in March credit to Peter Curbishley.jpg

Forensic tent at The Maltings, Salisbury in March. Photo credit to Peter Curbishley.

Russia have officially commented that the two men were in Salisbury as tourists but this has been undermined by mounting evidence suggesting these men were highly-trained government agents. With the revelation of the second suspect, questions have been raised at the relative ease of uncovering intelligence officer’s identities.

 

Meadowbank Centre in funding crisis

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Concerns arise amid council vote.

Councillors are set to decide whom to award the contract for building the new state of art sports centre in Edinburgh. However, questions are raised over where the money for the project will come from.

The Edinburgh City Council Finance Committee is being asked to approve a £39 million contract to build the new centre but the Save Meadowbank campaign has exposed the pitfalls in the council’s plan.

Executive Director of Communities and Families within the Council, Alistair Gaw, submitted a paper to the finance committee for discussion on 11 October with the comment that the capital funding for the project will mainly come from the sale of 300 homes due to be built on one half of the site.

“This is completely inaccurate because his report is based on a previous Council plan which was thrown out by the planning committee when it met in June,” said Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock in an official statement.

Campaigners claim the inaccuracy is due to the council maintaining their plan for the new homes while claiming to have started from a “clean state.” They are committed to preserving the Meadowbank’s green space and have cast doubts over the council’s plans and whether the project will commence.

Save Meadowbank’s representative, Russell McLarty, was particularly critical of the council’s approach to the situation:

“If they had had a more measured approach and looked at different options for the overall development of the site and funding – including borrowing – then they may have come up with something better. However, they are pushing ahead and are constrained by the desire to produce a sports centre – the council seem to have gone about this the wrong way.”

The council, when prompted, refused to comment on the situation.

A report to the council finance committee has warned that the figures may be unreliable and that the council may end up with a funding deficit of £24 million. It outlines a precautionary £7 million that should not be used until more accurate data is received.

 

Fangtastic Halloween Events

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Photo Credit: Ash Pryce

It comes as no surprise that during this time of year things take a turn for the supernatural. With Halloween creeping up on us, Edinburgh gears up for an epic array of events that will test even the unspookable. These are just some of the highlights.

The Séance at Edinburgh Dungeon                                                                       6 Oct – 4 Nov

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The Edinburgh Dungeons. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

Throughout the city, the mention of Burke and Hare raises shivers up the spine as they carried out some of the most horrific and legendary crimes within the history of Scotland. On Halloween 1828, they murdered their last victim Madgy Docherty after a night of drinking and singing. Their fun came to an end that night as lodgers who grew suspicious of Burke and Hare called the police. Just eight years later, high above the city in a crook on Arthur’s Seat, a group of schoolchildren found 17 small coffins all containing miniature dolls thought to be representatives of Burke and Hare’s victims placed as a symbol for their proper burial.

Edinburgh Dungeon now bring a unique and potentially chair clutching experience where a Séance is held to contact the victims, who languish in the afterlife, tormented by the fate that had befallen them and help them reach a state of peace in the next life.

Ticket Price: £14.95

 

Frankomime’s Monster at The Banshee Labyrinth                                      26 Oct – 31 Oct

If you intend to delve thoroughly into the horrors of Halloween then a must see is this adults-only show which features gruesome characterisation and suitable mutilation of some classic horror songs. As part of the Edinburgh Horror Festival and to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein, the show promises to deliver a very unique experience for audiences.

Ticket Price: £5

 

Edinburgh Horror Festival at various locations                                           26 Oct – 31 Oct

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Photo credit to Ash Pryce

It’s like your best nightmare come true: the Edinburgh Horror Festival will take over the city during the Halloween weekend. In the form of a micro convention, stalls, shows and talks will take place at the Banshee Labyrinth and Lauriston Castle.

Look out for Fringe Festival favourite Ash Pryce, who will return to the city for the EHF with another exciting act entitled ‘Psychic Conman Live’. The show will feature Ash flexing his psychic abilities with the audience and diving deep into their minds for answers they may not want to give. Prepare for a spooktakular weekend.

EHF will bring together a stellar array of ghoulish delights as it introduces horror fans to MonsterCon, a special event during Saturday 27th, for a feast of horror films and eerie books. Special guests include Dacre Stroker, a distant descendant of Bram Stroker, who remains the only living person able to produce new official Dracula material. Another star appearance at the event is Gordon Rutter, author of Paranormal Edinburgh and founder of the Edinburgh Forteans, who is well known for his investigations into the supernatural hotspot, the South Bridge vaults.

Tickets: £12 for MonsterCon convention

With such an amazing array of boo-witching entertainment across Edinburgh through October, why not get out to see it all … while you still can.

 

Museum of Childhood

A trip down memory lane.

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The Museum of Childhood, 8th October 2018. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

Initially, looking at the impressive facade of the Museum of Childhood, you might feel overcome with giddy enthusiasm as you prepare to take a trip down memory lane. This is as close as you will come to entering a real-life time machine, and into a work of youthful innocence. The museum’s latest exhibit, entitled Growing Up with Books, showcases some of the oldest and most beloved children’s books throughout history.

The new edition boasts a wonderful collection of early works for children including some well-known titles such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Little Women. All centred around specific themes, many of the books date back hundreds of years. Throughout time,  they have all been loved by generations of children who have grown up to learn important life lessons taught within the pages of their favourite childhood literature.

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Picture of Alice in Wonderland book, 8th October 2018. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

The exhibition is split into themes such as ‘Worlds of Imagination’, in which you find classic fairy-tales. Interestingly, back in the late 19th century, some of these stories were seen as a danger to the growth of children’s minds as they perpetuated worlds which were fictional and unrealistic. However,  for most children, it opened up a whole new world where they could immerse themselves in adventure and explore the impossible.

Since their publications, they continue to be a popular influence in many childhoods; even today books such as Alice in Wonderland, which was first published in 1865 and remains one of the best-selling novels of all time with an excess of 100 million copies sold, are loved worldwide. Other novels from the late 19th century such as ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Pinocchio’ and ‘20,000 Leagues under the Sea’ have all sold over 50 million copies, which shows both the longevity and the relevance of the underlying message of these books, which is to use your imagination.

“Imagination is more important than Knowledge.” Albert Einstein.

Another theme was ‘Worlds of Knowledge’, in which educational children’s books are displayed, highlighting the ongoing importance of books as a learning tool to help children examine the world around them and develop a healthy curiosity. Sadly, nowadays many children look to the internet rather than books to solve simple questions and explore their curiosities, which often undermines the need for books at all. This section of the exhibit proves why it is important for children to be familiar with books, as it showcases books focusing on science, humanities and religion. These give a fascinating insight into children’s learning and how they developed a relationship with these books as learning tools through notes and scripts within their pages.

“The more that you read. The more things that you will know.” Dr Seuess.

Museum Curator Susan Gardner was able to highlight some of the key aspects of the exhibit and how it developed from the back catalogue of over 16,000 books to the 150 that are on display now. These books are a representation of all key themes such as learning, imagination, growth and identity:

Having spent time with the books they speak to you as they do to all children who get lost in the images of dragons and damsels in distress, misty mountains and ancient castles, thunderous giants and promises of gold and adventure. Yet for adults who grew up reading rather than playing video games or surfing the internet, the exhibition offers a gentle reminder of how these books helped shape and define them as adults today.

 

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