IN RESIGNING as director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this week Hilary Strong has caused a little mischief, as any holder of that post should. She told me she was quitting because, with the advent of a Scottish parliament, the person running a key Edinburgh cultural institution should be Scottish. "I'm English and it's time to go back where I belong," she says. I suspect she won't be getting any thanks for that statement from Brian McMaster, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, Timothy Clifford, director of the National Galleries of Scotland, or Mark Jones, director of the National Museums of Scotland. None of them is Scottish; and the last thing they want is a debate on Scotland's cultural leaders.
To her credit Hilary Strong has accomplished one small victory for common sense. This year for the first time a daily diary published at the festival will incorporate main festival and fringe events. But, despite Ms Strong's urgings, you will still not be able to buy tickets for main festival and fringe events at a common box office. For people arriving in Edinburgh this is just nonsense. The main festival may be territorial about its product, but the punters in Edinburgh in August just enjoy seeing shows. Very often they don't know and don't care to which particular festival the shows belong.
THE NEW Year Honours List again found no place for Vanessa Redgrave. It's not just that her career over 40 years should have made her a dame by now; it's also that last year she was responsible, though insufficiently credited, for wresting Tennessee Williams's first play from the Williams estate and bringing it to the National for its world premiere. Surely it couldn't be that the Blair government is wary of honouring a brilliant actress who happens to have had ultra-left affiliations?
"APART FROM that, what did you think of the show?" part 3: At the new Sadler's Wells up in the second circle they are having alarming premonitions, it seems. Geoffrey Walker of London writes in to say: "A single staircase particularly of these dimensions is insufficient to move an audience in acceptable time. I have heard many patrons remark that they hope there won't be a fire, as they shuffle for up to 15 minutes to get out."Reuse content