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Speedy News #04: Chilcot readings, Fringe feuds, more awards

By | Published on Monday 22 August 2016

Amused Moose Winner

Time for some speedy news updates from across the Festival…

So, the marathon reading of the government’s ‘Chilcot Report’ – in the shed next to Bob Slayer’s BlundaBus – reached its conclusion at 2.45pm on Saturday, after 284 hours and 45 minutes of report reading. Said Slayer in The Guardian: “[The report] wasn’t expected to be read. The establishment didn’t expect anyone to read it. Rather like the Latin bible, it’s not for the public, it’s to be shelved away. And yet it has been read here”. The hour I spent listening to the report – including ten minutes of reading – seemed to consist of a stream of minutes and memos from just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq that basically said the same thing: “this is going to be expensive, we don’t have any money”.

For Londoners at the Fringe hoping for a comedy/tragedy journey home thanks to strikes affecting the Virgin Trains East Coast routes on the final weekend of the Festival – well, bad news. The strikes have been suspended which means – as we go to press – things should be operating as normal. Which I think means you can expect a comedy/tragedy journey home.

Followers of classic Fringe feuds will have enjoyed the piece in The Scotsman this weekend about the Edinburgh Digital Entertainment Festival which has taken over the Assembly Rooms this year. The digital fest is promoted by William Burdett-Coutts of the Assembly venues, whose Fringe operations were based around the Assembly Rooms for years, before Salt n Sauce Promotions and the team behind The Stand won the rights to stage Fringe shows there in 2012. Their stint in the New Town building ended last summer, and they reckon that having the digital festival in the complex instead hasn’t worked, simply helping the Old Town regain its dominance of the Festival. “George Street is now dead a lot of the time, it looks a mess and all the work we’ve done trying to drag people away from the Old Town has gone backwards by five years” said Salt’n’ Sauce director Kenny O’Brien. “They obviously have an axe to grind”, countered Burdett-Coutts. “What we’re doing is extremely valid and the reaction we’ve had has been extraordinary. I’d be the first to admit it has not had the enormous numbers I’d love to have through, but lots of people are very impressed with what we’re doing”. Whether or not Edinburgh’s festival month actually needs something digital, you definitely can’t beat some classic Fringe feuding.

As I think we may have mentioned once or twice, this is our 21st year covering the Edinburgh Festival, and to celebrate we launched a brand new podcast! TW:TALKS will present regular series of podcasts during the year and see us chat to some of favourite people from the worlds of comedy, theatre, cabaret, spoken word, music, musicals and beyond. We kick things off with five interviews with former ThreeWeeks cover stars which we recorded here at the Fringe earlier this month. The first of those interviews – with Mark Thomas – is already online, plus look out for future editions in which we talk to Brendon Burns, Susan Calman, Lucy Porter and Mark Watson. Tune in and sign up at thisweektalks.com

Back to awards now, and The Scotsman has dished out another batch of its Fringe First awards for new plays at the Festival. And the second batch goes to two Traverse shows – ‘Daffodils (A Play With Songs)’ and Mark Thomas’s ‘The Red Shed’; and three Summerhall shows – ‘Faslane’, ‘Us / Them’ and ‘Two Man Show’; plus ‘Fabric’ at Underbelly and ‘Tank’ at the Pleasance.

Comedy awards now, and the Amused Moose Comedy Awards took place at theSpace @ Symposium Hall last weekend. The overall winner was Larry Dean (pictured above) while Neal Portenza was runner up. The other finalists were: Eric Lampaert, Flo & Joan, James Loveridge, John Robertson, Laura Lexx, Pippa Evans, Sleeping Trees and Tom Ballard.

Week Three is the busy week for awards at the Festival of course, so we’ll have some more updates in the TW Daily email bulletin – which you can sign up to at threeweeksedinburgh.com/signup. We will also present our own Editors’ Awards – to the ten things we think made this year’s Festival extra special – on the last Sunday of the Fringe at theSpace @ Symposium Hall.