andrewcferguson

writer, performer, musician, wine drinker

Tag Archives: rls

11 Reasons why you should go to Stevenson Unbound

1. It’s in the back room of an Edinburgh pub, centrally located, with good transport links and disabled access. There will be lashings of lemonade readily available, as well as something stronger (in fact, you’re encouraged to drink more, because that way I get my deposit back).

 
2. It’s Robert Louis Stevenson’s 164th birthday – sort of. RLS Day is on Thursday 13th, but it’s chock full of events already (some, or all of which you should really go to see!) but I’ve moved this event to Saturday 15th, when you might not be at work.

 
3. It’s in the afternoon – 2 till 5 – so if it’s a rubbish day weather wise and you just want a quiet night in, you still can do that.

 
4. It features readings of Thrawn Janet and Markheim, two of RLS’s best supernatural short stories. He wrote a whole load of other stuff beyond Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Treasure Island, and Kidnapped, and these two chillers are up there with any of them.

 
5. This isn’t just any old pub. This is the White Horse, 266 Canongate, which is the kind of place RLS himself might well have frequented in his velvet-jacketed yoof. The back room is regularly used for Free Fringe events and is a great wee performance space.

 
6. The combination of RLS’s words, the low light, and stereo sound effects throughout will make this event something special. It’s the culmination of two years or so of my experimenting with music and sound in my spoken word shows, and with the help of my esteemed sound engineer, Harky, it’ll be unlike anything else you’ve been to.

 
7. Halstead Bernard is taking part. Need I say more?

 
8. The payment is an honesty bucket system – suggested payment if you’re fully waged is a fiver, but if you’re unwaged, or a student, or just staying for one segment, less is fine.

 
9. It’s in three parts. There will be decent breaks between the three for you to get a drink, come late, or leave early. Although I’m hoping you’ll stay for the whole thing, obvs.

 
10. I have a fuzz box (technically, a squarer pedal, assembled by the Redoubtable Mrs F, which is one of the reasons she became Mrs F) and, in the last segment, I’m gonna use it.

 
11. It’s on November 15th. Come on, what else are you going to do on the afternoon of November 15th – your Christmas shopping? I don’t think so!

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No self-imposed pressure then!

Just two days left for me to finalise both Markheim and Hyde’s Last Words, two audio files that I promised to let loose on the unsuspecting world on August 28th (for no better reason than it’s divisible by 14). The latter, being my own work, is just about there – I faffed about yesterday adding a bit of guitar to the end of it, inevitably getting a (very short) lead part down first take, and then agonising over the simplest rhythm part you will ever have heard. Subject to that being fixed out, it’s done.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Markheim is a bit trickier. Firstly, it’s quite long. Secondly, it’s set in London, so I have the choice of either going for the accent, or, er, not. Mind you, I did hear once that the morningside accent we hear nowadays is the product of nineteenth century Scots trying to ape their posh London counterparts, so maybe it should all be a bit Miss Jean Brodie.

Thirdly, though, there are the sound effects. Boy, are there sound effects you could put in Markheim: RLS uses the background noises in the shop after the murder extensively, and just how much I follow that will be partly down to how much time I have. I might even just put up a beta version on Wednesday, but I’d rather it was the final one.

Either way, it’ll be mid evening at the earliest I suspect. In the meantime, the links above will take you to the trailer versions.

Start all the Clocks

I’ve been thinking about what Robert Louis Stevenson story I should release on my Soundcloud site this August, as part of my Virtual Fringe, for some time. I think now I’ve decided on Markheim, a tale he wrote for the Christmas 1884 edition of the Pall Mall Gazette, but which was too short word length wise for it, and eventually appeared in the 1885 Unwin’s Christmas Annual (even RLS had to scratch about for markets, dear fellow scribblers!)

Other candidates for this year’s story included The Tale of Tod Lapraik, which was in Scots, but to me is not that strong a story – more two stories jammed together. Olalla intrigues me, partly because of its Spanish setting, but partly also because it’s a vampire story that prefigures Dracula (though not the first, of course: Mary Shelley and Sheridan Le Fanu got there before him). However, it’s quite long. The Bodysnatcher would be another obvious choice – on the plus side, RLS knew his Burke and Hare, and I really like the opening scene with the old drunk and the famous doctor; on the minus side, it’s perhaps too well known.

So Markheim it is then: a fine psychological study which owes a lot to Crime and Punishment – although RLS slips in a supernatural element for good measure. Thanks to Russell Gray for the suggestion.

I’ve started collecting sound effects for it: the opening scene contains a lot of clocks. So if I come round your house and show an unnatural interest in how your clock ticks, now you know why…

I also plan to release at the same time a version of Hyde’s Last Words, one of my own bits of RLS-related work.

Virtual Fringe 2013: beautiful plumage!

August is a strange time of year for indigenous Edinburgh performers. Their normal habitats are invaded by bright-coloured, exotic species from England and elsewhere, squawking and preening in huge numbers, making it hard to catch the amount of audience attention the natives need to keep going through such lean times.

There are two survival methods. One is to burrow underground (the Cowgate, for example) and see out the month living off the reflected glory of these noisy incomers; the other is to dust down one’s own feathers, spread one’s wings, and squawk with the best of them.

In common with last year, I intend to do a bit of both. I have the (still press-embargoed) Bloc show (or is it a Bloc show?) on 14th August; I’m also planning to record another audio version of an RLS short story for release in August (see the RLS page).

Other than that, I intend mainly to go to, and enjoy, a variety of Fringe and Book Festival events. So far I’ve signed up to an eclectic mix, bearing in mind these may not all be my first choices, since I’m going with others and we’ve had to find that interlocking bit of our Venn Diagram of tastes that means we’ll both enjoy it:

7th August: Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells for Two, at the Cowbarn, Underbelly;

9th August: Henning Wehn’s Authentic German Christmas Do, at the Caves;

11th August: Oliver James – Is the Office a Malicious Place? Book Festival

11th August: Jesse Norman – Edmund Burke: A Hero of our Time; Book Festival

I might go to other stuff. I might write reviews, particularly of the shows which are not just a one-off. If so, they’ll be collected on the Virtual Fringe page.

In the autumn, I will be seen swooping and cawing in the Edinburgh skies as the sun sets. Updates on what I’ve planned for then soon.