Susan Morrison and Ian Harrower on Previously... Scotland's History Festival 2013
The festival aims to ‘take history off the tourist tea towel’
This article is from 2013.
‘History is just gossip that’s fermented longer,’ says comedian Susan Morrison, one of the co-directors of Previously …, which describes itself as Scotland’s History Festival. ‘For too long Scottish history has had a bit of a brand-image problem – it’s been dominated by Bonnie Prince Charlie, William Wallace and a woman who got famous for having her head cut off. Previously … exists to take history off the tea towel for tourists and re-connect Scotland’s people with their fabulous stories.’
The ‘Scotland’ part is slightly misleading at the moment, given that the festival has only ever been held in Edinburgh for each of its three years, but Morrison’s colleague, festival co-founder Ian Harrower, points out that they’ve gone from a ‘standing start’ to 6000 visitors in 2012. They’re aiming for 10,000 this year, and hoping to multiply that as they roll out to other Scottish locations in the future. They already have a handful of events in Glasgow and one in Stirling this year, and are helping launch Andrew Carnegie Day in Dunfermline, while the core programme visits Edinburgh venues including the Voodoo Rooms and the Stand Comedy Club, and takes in theatre, music and spoken word. ‘History didn’t get made in lecture theatres,’ says Morrison, ‘so why do we keep it there?’
‘Our themes this year are Radical Scotland and Scotland at Work,’ says Harrower, ‘but to be honest there are just so many wonderful and interesting places to go. Scotland drips history, so the programme provides a snapshot of what everyone in our community has been working on. Not surprisingly, this year people wanted to reflect on our current political debate, while there’s a strong emphasis on the neglected women of Scottish history who have been scandalously edited out of the national narrative.’
Various venues, Edinburgh, Wed 13–Sat 30 Nov.