Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Edinburgh, Unplugged

We arrived in Edinburgh in the midst of a revolt: an artistic revolt! Dancers, musicians, jugglers, mimes, comedians, wanna-bes, buskers, they all converge on this beautiful Scottish city as two festivals were revving up: the Edinburgh International Festival of the Arts, and this other, kooky and wildly enthusiastic thing called "The Fringe."

What wonderful delirium comes over this city during the entire month of August!

The original festival, the Edinburgh International Arts Festival, is dedicated to serious opera, symphony, and drama... And the other, the Fringe, is exactly what it says: a wacky diversion of comedy, street musicians, experimental theatre, and/or any combination of the above. Except instead of being tucked away in some suburb or obscure side streets, the Fringe is front and center, smack dab in the heart of the Royal Mile.

Set into the middle of all of this the internationally renowned Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo, and you've got a city that is simply buzzing with artistic activity. And not for a weekend, or even a week. It is for the entire month!

Where else can you see guys balancing on ladders (on cobblestone streets, no less!), juggling kitchen knives? Where else to see a woman posing as a gold statue, holding – a gas mask?

And buskers reign over the cobblestone walkways. On at least two different occasions, I ran across guitar players who were doing things I've never come across before – techniques for playing, novel approaches to tuning – but more on this later.

It has been said that a city isn't healthy unless its artistic life is flourishing. And if such is the case, Edinburgh is indeed the picture of a robust community.

We have three days left overseas. Three precious days. And if we are going to be anywhere to close off this remarkable trip, it would be in a city where art and joy and music and dance and spectacle are in full swing.

We ended the Folk Choir's Spring Tour in Edinburgh, and partly for that reason wanted to come full circle, back to where we said good bye to our musicians, at the end of our travels. But it was equally a draw to know that this extraordinary celebration was taking place.

So now, we have a simple and joyful task before us as our pilgrimage concludes: Jump into the arts! Plunge into the Fringe!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:High Street, Edinburgh, Scotland

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