Two nations may divide, but writers and artists prove tight-lipped

Why aren't there more plays focused on Scottish independence at Edinburgh?

Share

On the Edinburgh Fringe over the last three weeks there have been 2,871 shows. Of these less than a handful have focused on the question of Scottish independence. Indeed one of the very few that did, I’m With the Band, was written by a Welshman, and looked at the impact of Scottish independence on Wales, England and Northern Ireland.

Just three or four plays about independence at the largest arts festival in the world which takes place in the Scottish capital, and at the last Edinburgh Festival before the year of the independence referendum. Well, there can only be one of two reasons for this. Either the people of Scotland are so bored by the whole idea that no self-respecting playwright would risk writing about it; or it might be that the arts world has failed abysmally to address the issue of the moment.

If it’s the former, Alex Salmond might as well resign now. But I don’t think it is. The issue of independence is clearly a live one in Scotland, and should be a live one in the rest of the United Kingdom. And if it isn’t, then our artists should be exploring why it isn’t. Either way, there cannot be any excuse for failing to address the issue. Nor need it just be theatre that addresses it. How many of the best Edinburgh jokes lists that we are seeing contain any about independence? Comedians too appear to dismiss the whole independence debate as lacking in scope. Likewise painters, dancers, musicians. Where are the rock songs on the subject? Why should The Independence Symphony be out of the question?

Only at the Edinburgh Books Festival has the issue properly reared its head. Andrew Marr talking about his book The Battle of Scotland said among other things that he was amazed at how little attention the Scottish referendum on independence was receiving in England. “It is almost funny that the Scottish case is not discussed down south at all. People believe the opinion polls that it is going to be overwhelmingly ‘no’. I doubt that very much.”

But if it’s amazing that it isn’t being discussed in England, how much more amazing is it that it isn’t being explored in Scotland, at the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe. I am one of very many who argue that theatre is crucial to our lives as, among other things, it informs us about the world and the issues that affect us. It is harder to make that argument convincingly when theatre — and yes comedy too — shows such a staggering lack of interest in one of the biggest schisms in the United Kingdom in our lifetimes. Do artists not read the papers or watch the news?

*********

In 50 years’ time, though, there will be probably be plenty of plays about Scottish independence. Or more likely, there will be plenty of Scottish independence musicals. Anniversary theatre, with music, seems to be in vogue. Andrew Lloyd Webber has already announced that, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Profumo scandal, he will be opening a musical about it in December. It will be called Stephen Ward, after a key protagonist in the scandal. But, why have one 50th anniversary musical when you can have two? Suddenly, it emerges that a new musical called Profumo (and not by Lloyd Webber) will have its world premiere next week at the Waterloo East Theatre in London. No doubt, Keeler the opera and Rice Davies the ballet are to come.

************

I love pretty much everything about the Proms, but why do they boast of bringing pop and classical together in revelatory style with a late night Prom that had The Stranglers and Laura Marling performing with a classical orchestra? I attended that late night Prom, and it was fun to see fine performances from both acts, but being told from the stage what a revelatory concept this was did puzzle me. That little known outfit The Beatles had an orchestra in the studio more than once, The Who performed their rock opera Tommy with the London Symphony Orchestra well over 40 years ago. The Proms aren’t being quite as original as they claim.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Network Engineer - London - £70,000

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An excellent opportunity ...

Ashdown Group: Senior Systems Administrator - London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Systems Administra...

Recruitment Genius: Communications and External Affairs Assistant

£24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Communications and External Affairs As...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Support) - £29,000

£29000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Suppor...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A mother and her child  

50 signs that we need to stop spreading the myth of the 'ideal mother'

Victoria Richards
The top ten places where people are most likely to catch an STI have been revealed  

Surveys of people’s sex lives: how do we know what to believe?

Simon Kelner
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness