St Andrew’s Day
Wha’s like us?
As St Andrew’s Day approaches, Rosalie Doubal previews a celebration of multicultural Scotland, and the best patriotic action in Edinburgh and Glasgow
Around this time of year, a flurry of twee tartan tat begins to take over our streets and schools. Gym halls fill up with tinny, taped ceilidh tunes, canteens are plagued with watery tatties and sloppy neeps, and supermarkets surrender to dusty displays of plastic haggis, and limp saltires. Essentially, we celebrate our patriotism with what amounts to all the furore of a bin-end sale in a Highland gift shop. St Andrew’s Day needs a makeover.
This is where Our Scotland, a huge cross-genre celebration of contemporary multiculturalism, comes in. Best described as a ‘dramatic presentation’, the performance, set to explode all over Edinburgh International Conference Centre on St Andrew’s Day, weaves film, music and dance into a narrative that traces Scotland’s polyglottic history back 2000 years to cultural clashes between the Picts and the Romans.
So far, so traditional, you might think. Yet, Our Scotland, the culmination of Edinburgh City Council’s Making Connections/Celebrating Diversity project aimed at young people, uses Ghanaian vocal troupe Kakasitsi, African/Scottish fusion dancers, Polish, Yiddish and Italian beats and the breaking skills of Scottish B-Boy crew Random Aspects (pictured) to tell its tale.
‘We came up with the project in response to those comments being made about people coming here and taking jobs. We want people to think about migration as a two-way process,’ says organiser Martin Hutchinson. ‘The idea was to challenge perceptions, initiate discussions, and have a lasting effect on everyone who got involved.’
In addition to the professional musicians and dancers, a huge number of local high school pupils and college students have been involved in the dramatic elements of the production, which have been scripted and directed by Theatre Objecktiv’s director, Raymond Raszkowski Ross.
High energy celebrations are also the order of the day in Glasgow, as George Square is converted into a gigantic open air ceilidh hall for Shindig in the Square. Warm yourself up reeling and writhing along to the strapping sounds of Barra’s Vatersay Boys, with support from folk-rockers The Picts and Scottish supergroup Fourgoodmen.
East coasters can get their fair share of sweating and bruising in, too, though – Jig in the Gardens takes over Princes Street Gardens for another humungous outdoor ceilidh, replete with DJs, fiddlers, salsa and ceilidh bands and a chill-out tent if it all gets too much. The Edinburgh party continues on for the whole weekend, with an attempt to break the world record for the biggest ever Dashing White Seargent at 3.30 on Sunday afternoon.
Take to the streets and supermarkets with pride this St Andrew’s Day, for this is not the stale tartan fluff we’re used to, but a fresh, no nonsense, hard hitting celebration.
Our Scotland, EICC, Edinburgh: see www.edinburgh.gov.uk for full details. Shindig in the Square, George Square, Glasgow, from 4pm; Jig in the Gardens, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, from 6pm; all events Fri 30 Nov.