Festival Diary: Surprise link between Edinburgh International Festival and Gilded Balloon

Hungarian father and son make separate appearances
Iván Fischer. Picture: Daniel NemethIván Fischer. Picture: Daniel Nemeth
Iván Fischer. Picture: Daniel Nemeth

There are many surprising connections to be found in Edinburgh this month, but the one that links Fringe mainstay Gilded Balloon with the Edinburgh International Festival is the most remarkable discovery this month so far.

Iván Fischer, founder and conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, is one of the biggest names in Nicola Benedetti’s inaugural EIF programme.

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As if this week’s festival residency was not enough to be doing, Fischer has been drumming up interest in his son’s Fringe debut.

Daniel Fischer's Fringe show Living With Skeletons is being staged at Gilded Balloon's Patter Hoose.Daniel Fischer's Fringe show Living With Skeletons is being staged at Gilded Balloon's Patter Hoose.
Daniel Fischer's Fringe show Living With Skeletons is being staged at Gilded Balloon's Patter Hoose.

Actor, writer and composer Daniel Fischer, is in Edinburgh with his own Hungarian theatre company, Fishhook, which is staging Living With Skeletons at the Gilded Balloon’s Patter Hoose on Chambers Street.

The show, which Fischer has written and is starring in, is intriguingly described as “a mind-bending, folk-musical rabbit hole that takes a curious dive into living beings' intrinsic fear of the end.”

If you think you see Nicola Benedetti dashing in or out of the Patter House you’ll know why.

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The Fischersy will find another “mind-bending, folk-musical rabbit hole” around the block from the Patter Hoose in the Captain’s Bar, one of several great year-round music pubs that take on a whole new life when the festivals come around.

The vibe in the South College Street bar, a welcome refuge from the mega pop-ups nearby, can alternate from a packed jamming session and rousing singalong to a hushed gathering to hear from a solo performer.

It was probably the last venue in town I’d expected to hear a cover of the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive – but a fitting refrain for how to survive Edinburgh’s month-long festival spree.

There’s so much going on in Edinburgh at the moment that it is easy to make a simple mistake like turning up at the wrong venue.

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But Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has taken things to a whole new level.

He has been preparing for his appearances at the book and film festivals this month by going to the gym.

He told his Twitter followers: “The neighbour came out and said “you moved house last week.”

“I’m taking this as an indication that I’m engrossed in my current book rather than that I’m going nuts.”

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Let’s hope he turns up at Edinburgh College of Art and the Everyman rather than Charlotte Square and the Filmhouse this month.

I’m a firm believer that Edinburgh’s politicians should experience as much of the citys’ festivals as possible.

I was momentarily excited when I noticed that there was a Ben Macpherson performing at PBH’s Free Fringe this year, before realising that it wasn’t the Leith MSP, who is often to be found at the city’s cultural events.

When I ran into the politician I couldn’t wait to tell him about his Fringe-performing namesake, only to hear he had already been along to support him at last year’s festival.

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This rather strange circle was squared when the Nottingham-based writer and comedian turned up to pitch his family-friendly poetry show Serious Nonsense for Terribly Grown-Up People, which by the sounds of it might just appeal to a few politicians.

He told me it’s been several years since Macpherson first heard of his political namesake – when was contacted on Twitter and “asked to weigh in on a housing issue in Leith.”

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