Festival Café at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 16 Aug.
Today's Festival Café with Clare English was a celebration of different cultures, opening with music from the incredible Samba Sene and Diwan followed by a very moving discussion with Australian Ali Kennedy-Scott about the terrible Black Saturday bushfires, which are the subject of her new play. Rather than focussing on the tragedy, Ali spoke about the inspiring people who put their own lives at risk to help their friends and neighbours, and performed an extract from 'The Day the Sky Turned Black.' We were then introduced to Bjartmar Sigurdsson, the Icelandic tenor wowing listeners at the Edinburgh Tattoo, and were enchanted by his beautiful rendition of Italian aria 'Core Ngrato' accompanied by the wonderful Richard Lewis on piano. Director John Collins and actor Mike Iveson told us about the play they've adapted from Hemingway's 'The Sun also Rises,' and their unique production techniques. We were then treated to more music and dancing from Samba Sene and Diwan, which had the entire Festival Café audience clapping along. As always the show seemed to be over all too soon, but it gave a great taste of the different cultures and productions which the Festival attracts to Edinburgh at this time of year.
left: Ali Kennedy-Scott talks to Clare about the difficult, but inspiring, research into the Australian bushfires for her play "The Day The Sky Turned Black"
right: (L-R) Mike Iveson & John Collins (of the Elevator Repair Service) with Icelandic Tenor Bjartmar Sigurdsson on the Festival Café couch with Clare
Day one of our second (and, sadly, last) week of the Festival Café and we have started off with a great show full of an eclectic mix of acts. Theatre group Elevator Repair Service are staging a play based on Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, and director John Collins and actor Mike Iveson told us all about their unusual method of acting. Their show is almost completely sold out but there are still a few tickets left if you're lucky enough to get one! Actress Ali Kennedy-Scott shared with us the inspiration behind her one-woman play "The Day The Sky Turned Black," based on accounts of Black Saturday - a day in February 2009 when bushfires raged across Ali's home country of Australia and killed 173 people. From just the one excerpt, it was easy to see that Ali's play is moving and a fantastic dedication to those affected.
Today's show also included two diverse types of music. The very talented opera singer Bjartmar Sigurdsson, who sat his last exam at the RSAMD only yesterday, performed a moving rendition of an Italian love song. He is singing at the Tattoo show almost every night. Samba Sene and Diwan also wowed the audience with their upbeat Senegalese beats, complete with guitars, glockenspiel, bongo drums and more. It was difficult not to tap your toes and dance along! We've got lots more great guests for you the rest of the week so come on down to the EICC to catch the free show at 1.15pm!
left: Ali Kennedy-Scott performing a very moving extract from her play "The Day The Sky Turned Black"
right: Senegalese Samba Sene bring the EICC to life with their rhythmic African beats
Something really cool has been brought to my attention. Alan Cumming's blog features the one and only Festival Café and I am the one at the side of the stage with a camera stuck to my face. Check it out. Pause it when he pans the camera and BOOM there I am. I wish I'd done a little dance instead. Instant fame and fortune via viral video could have been mine. I will also be featured more prominently on another of his video blogs as I WAS IN THE FRONT ROW OF HIS GIG LAST NIGHT. How I managed to score that, I'll never know. Today's show was another slice of good karma as I was wowed by our guests and their moving, uplifting and downright awesome contributions to today's brief 45 minutes. Remember to keep your ears peeled for tomorrow's show. This is all for now. Over and out.
left: Icelandic Tenor Bjartmar Sigurdsson and his simply outstanding voice.
right: John Collins, director of "The Sun Also Rises" telling Clare the story of his Ernest Hemmingway-inspired show