22 August 2016

EIF 2016 - Anything That Gives Off Light

Funny that I mentioned Scottish-ness in yesterday's post for Songlines, because today we went to a show all about the idea of Scottish-ness. What is it? What even counts as Scotland? Are the Highlands, in fact, the purest form of this elusive, anguished, political, kilt-and-tartan-ed up idea of Scotland?

Well, I dunno. I'm not from here. But this question is what Anything That Gives Off Light orbits around and around for its entire two hours.

Our jury left the show with positive reactions. They found it funny and entertaining, with a political edge that reminded some of them of The Destroyed Room. Without delving into thorny problem of national identity, they found the show itself creative. The show used a minimal of props and a single setting to represent a bar, a caravan, a house in Virginia, and a croft house in quick succession. Imaginative, but also confusing to some of our jury.

After the show, we also scored a chat with the cast and two of the play's writers. The play was a collaboration between the National Theatre of Scotland and the experimental American company The TEAM (Theatre of the Emerging American Moment). The two Scots in the play were played by Scottish actors (one with the same name as his character), and same goes for the American woman. In the sense that she's also played by a real American, not in the sense that she's also, somehow, a Scottish man. Just to clear that up.

In the middle: Brian Ferguson, Sandy Grierson, Rachel Chavkin, Jessica Almasy

And what else? Two of our young jurors - Daisy and Lily - were on BBC radio today to speak about this project. Lily heroically woke up at 6am so she could rehearse and play her violin with the house band, which is pretty amazing for a Monday. Thanks to both of them!

To follow our adventures during the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival, check out more at our Instagram @JuryassicPark.

21 August 2016

EIF 2016 - Songlines

Can you believe it? Church on a Sunday? School's started already in Scotland, and here we are, asking students to come to church on a weekend. Well that's just what we have to do for Songlines, the EIF's city-wide singing event.

Something about sitting in church naturally induces an attack of the giggles, I'm afraid, which only got worse when a few of the jury using their Snapchat filters to film the poor soloist standing in front of the crowd. But the Edinburgh Gay Men's Chorus came on with their arrangement of Conchita Wurst's "Rise Like a Phoenix", which won us over (see the version they performed for the Orlando vigil here). Follow that with "Wild Mountain Thyme", and most couldn't help but join in. Even I, Chinese-Canadian from Montreal that I am, left that church feeling fifty-percent more Scottish.

To follow our adventures during the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival, check out more at our Instagram @JuryassicPark.

20 August 2016

EIF 2016 - Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs

Tonight's menu - showbiz anecdotes and sappy songs, from Scottish native Alan Cumming! Luckily, Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs is performed right in the Hub, where our youth jury meet everyday before walking to the venues. This night's transit time took thirty seconds and traversed one single corridor, which left plenty of time for playing (more) Cards Against Humanity.

And how to describe the man himself? He was funny, charismatic, had great biceps (according to a few jury members) and performed a range of songs from a traditional Glaswegian ballad to Avril Lavigne. He punctuated the singing with a few personal stories. Our favorite was the one about removing a tattoo of an ex-lover's name on his groin, which relies so much on delivery, and is totally sweet and hilarious all at once. A few of the jury tried to hang around Dunnard bar in the Hub in order to sneak into the after-show party, but we were all asked to leave because most of them aren't eighteen yet. Another time!

To follow our adventures during the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival, check out more at our Instagram @JuryassicPark.

19 August 2016

EIF 2016 - Scottish Ballet

Tonight - the Scottish Ballet!

We got a post-show talk with the chief executive/artistic director Christopher Hampson, who sat us all down on the floor backstage and took some questions. Aside from the usual ones about how he selected the double bill, which one is his favorite, etc. etc. we all wanted to know: "how did that ballerina get all the sellotape off?"

A little explanation: there is a bit in the first set, MC-14, where one dancer slowly tapes all another dancer's limbs to each other to stop him from moving. It was striking, powerful, and all that jazz, but we were fascinated by how quickly he removed the massive amount of tape from his bare skin. It was layered on half a mummy thick, by my estimation. And the secret, according to Christoper Hampson, is to use the cheapest brand available, because it's less sticky than the name brands. A bit of fun showbiz trivia for the ballet fans.

And also - today we have a special treat: a special jury-written review for the night's performance. Take it away, Daisy:

Review writer Daisy Lewis
"At this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, Scottish Ballet has presented a sensational performance of two halves. The first is the disturbing yet brilliant, MC 14/22 (ceci est mon corps) and the latter, Emergence - a ballet inspired by swarm intelligence in insects. 

With twelve dancers to represent the apostles, MC 14 is a work dripping with biblical symbolism. The performers are never in between brutish or vulnerable. The effect being a piece of powerful commentary on masculinity. Performed at times with cult-like synchronicity, Angelin Preljoçaj’s choreography is stunning.

A stark set of neon blue lights and cold, surgical tables gives a seedy, basement feel. Lain out like cadavers, six of the men ready for the mortuary are beaten and dominated by the other six, a violent display of human capabilities. In one scene the performers launch themselves into the arms of the others repeatedly, like a beautiful, rotating, suicidal mechanism. The music is alien and pounding or hauntingly not there at all, drawing all attention to the sounds of the body’s movements.

Emergence is a piece of thirty seven performers, often all on stage at once absorbing the audience in the visuals.  Myriad female dancers enter the stage en pointe and their lighting speed creates the illusion of a mass of scuttling critters. Whispered counts rise in volume, emulating the buzzes of flying swarms. They stop being human, convincingly consumed by the hive setting. Choreographed by Crystal Pite, everything about this performance is astonishing and just as impressive as the first one. A complete must-see!" 
- Daisy

To follow our adventures during the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival, check out more at our Instagram @JuryassicPark.

18 August 2016

EIF 2016 - Belioz's Romeo et Juliette

Tonight's show - Berlioz's Romeo et Juliette! Before heading off to Usher Hall, we had time for a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity, which is becoming the default icebreaker/warm-up game before we head off to the night's show.

We made so much noise that Sally Hobson, head of Creative Learning sitting nearby, dropped in to also play a few rounds. See her shocked face below. But Sally did also award me a black card for my answer "Miley Cyrus at age 55" (I've forgotten what the actual question was, sorry), so I'm all for her joining in more often.

And one last thing - tragedy upon tragedies. One of our jury members, Harry, either dropped or fumbled open the end of our megaphone. After a titanic struggle we fixed it back on, only to discover the batteries are dead. And in a freak fumble, one of us took out the battery pack, only to drop it on the ground. Much lamenting and gnashing of teeth, etc. but what's done is done. This was the megaphone we had used to announce the presence of the jury before entering the venues, so future shows will be much more quiet, I'm afraid.

To follow our adventures during the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival, check out more at our Instagram @JuryassicPark.

17 August 2016


And straight on the heels of yesterday's Sigur Ros, another contemporary music concert with eye-popping visuals. It's almost too much work on our eyeballs. Everyone agreed that the visuals were amazing, but the political messages were a lot to take in for a single two-hour show. Some of the jury thought that the black face-covering was a statement about identity, and that Anohni was channeling the identities of the faces lip-syncing on the projection behind her.

But mostly we were tired, and cold, and waiting around for taxis. But not too cold that Emma, Lily and Daisy weren't coerced by Hazel, one of our Mammalian coordinators, into picking up James for a group photo. They only dropped him two or three times, at most. Well done!

To follow our adventures during the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival, check out more at our Instagram @JuryassicPark.

16 August 2016

EIF 2016 - Sigur Ros

 Tonight's show was Sigur Ros! An Icelandic "post-rock" band so intense that my eyes melted off  my face and my ears turned into two Viking boats that sailed away on their remains. Kidding. But notice that there are no photos from after the concert today, mainly because we didn't do the normal post-concert meet-and-greet, but also because I turned around to discover our jury had been zapped into little piles of volcanic ash by the strobe lights. 

A few quotes I managed to gather from the ashy remains:
"Crazy." - James
 "Ten minutes were way too long for a song. And also it was kind of the same all the time, so I didn't enjoy it." - Cerys

"I thought the animations were GORGEOUS [...]I had no idea you could play guitar with a bow. [...] I don't know if I could name any memorable moments, because I didn't know what any of it was." - Olivia

"I can't see anything. I mean I can. But I can't." - Daisy 

"My eyes are still f*cked up."
- James again

A video posted by EIF Young People's Jury (@juryassicpark) on

To follow our adventures during the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival, check out more at our Instagram @JuryassicPark.

15 August 2016

EIF 2016 - Magdalena Kožená and Malcolm Martineau

And yet another in a string of matinee performances - today's show: a piano and voice recital from Magdalena Kožená and Malcolm Martineau. The venue and its acoustics were fabulous, but there was more friction between our youth jury and the habitual Queen's Hall audience members than we've encountered before.
*Judgey glares* & *slow clapping*

More squad shots: Daisy, Pattydactyl, Marcarasaurus Top, and Harry with air guitar

To follow our adventures during the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival, check out more at our Instagram @JuryassicPark.