The Story Behind ‘Even in Edinburgh/Glasgow’

On the 13th and 20th of August at 11.30am, Ishbel McFarlane‘s Fringe show for 2011, Even in Edinburgh/Glasgow will begin on platform 13 at Waverley Station, and 98 minutes of poetry later it will end in Glasgow Central station.

With the Edinburgh Festival Fringe bigger than ever, it is remarkable that so few of the 2,542 shows will take any of this artistic power-house outside the capital. The biggest arts festival in the world happens in its 117th smallest country, and yet remains confined to a single city.

This was one of the ideas at the heart of Ishbel McFarlane’s Fringe show for 2011:

‘I have been coming to the Fringe since I was a year old. My parents were passionate about making the most of the festival and, though we’re from further north, they would come across to Edinburgh after work almost every night of August.

‘As I grew up to find that most of the rest of Scotland hardly encountered the Fringe at all, I was shocked. But rather than bemoan the situation or scold the population, I decided to drag the Fringe to Glasgow.’

Ms McFarlane set about making contact with ScotRail in order that she might perform a show on the journey between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

‘I had long wanted to do a show about the difference between Edinburgh and Glasgow, especially as I moved to Glasgow from Edinburgh in 2009. There are so many wonderful poems about the two cities, and so many presumptions and prejudices too. The journey itself seemed like a natural place to examine the interaction between the cities’ literature and self-image. They’re only an hour apart on the train, and yet we think about the gap like traversing an ocean.’

Audience members will meet under the departure boards at Waverley Station at 11.30am, with the show beginning on the platform. Performer and audience will then board the train to Glasgow Central, travelling along ScotRail’s ‘semi-fast’ service via the Shotts line. Anyone on board the train is free to join the audience and come and go as they please. The show costs only the price of the train ticket.

As well as the as the connection with ScotRail, Even in Edinburgh/Glasgow is produced in association with the Scottish Poetry Library and the bookshop, Blackwell’s, who will both stock the poetry books which Ms McFarlane will use.

‘It would be great if this show could start folk thinking, that they could go and read Liz Lochhead, Edwin Morgan, Norman McCaig, and work out for themselves where they exist on the spectrum: Edinburgh or Glasgow, or maybe, shockingly, they might be both.’


Saturday 13th or Saturday 20th August 2011

 11.30am: audience and performer meet under the Waverley departure boards

11.52am: they board the train

 11.56am: the train leaves Waverley

1.08pm: the train arrives in Glasgow Central

Audience can then come back to Edinburgh on the next train, or you can have lunch and a wander in the calm environs of a beautiful city not hosting the world’s largest arts festival.

NB: You do not need to buy a ticket for the performance, only for the train journey (it’s on on Saturdays so you can get an off-peak day return). Just turn up on the day with your train ticket, your rail card and your preconceptions.


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