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Features Published 20 August 2015

Edinburgh 2015: Tiny Performances

Baby Joakim offers his unique perspective on a three day trip to the Edinburgh Festival, as curated by his mother Duška Radosavljević. Photo credit: D Matvejevas
Duska Radosavljevic

Here I am in Edinburgh again. Clearly they thought I liked it enough last year and that it must have been good somehow for my development. Well, I wasn’t best pleased with having to sit in the car for hours and hours and hours, I can tell you that. Thank god for iPads and Cbeebies. My thing at the moment is running, climbing and jumping. I like to feed myself on my own, but sometimes, well, often, I run out of patience and it gets very messy, and they get stressed, and I get really frustrated that I can’t tell them what I want. That’s when I have to scream and throw myself on the floor. They call it ‘terrible twos’, but I’m not two yet, I have just turned 20 months.

We had another Airbnb place this time. The best thing was we had it all to ourselves and they let me explore and I found a washing machine – which is also my most favourite thing in the world – so I found these spices and tea bags and jars right next to it and chucked them in of course – which was supercool, and so thrilling I had to shriek with delight.

Here are my top places in Edinburgh I have discovered so far:

  1. The Meadows (again!) – they have extra large playing grounds here in Edinburgh by comparison to what I’ve seen in London, and the ones in the Meadows are truly amazing.
  2. St George Square, especially early in the morning when you can run unhampered around the food-stalls and up and down the steps.
  3. Cafes which have sofas and benches that you can climb on – we sat on a bench in the window of café Turquoise by Zoo Southside which was very good for watching people and buses, and they had a nice tropical smoothie too, and no one came to flyer us.
  4. The hallways of Edinburgh International Conference Centre – this was by far the best indoor place I’ve found – a huge space to run around in even at the busiest times without anyone getting in my way.
  5. Portobello beach.

My mother has been to Edinburgh something like 17 times and she never realised it had a beach! She says she has only been to Leith for a party once and to Musselburgh to see some shows a couple of times. But Leith is a port and Musselburgh is not Edinburgh. The thing about Edinburgh is that you can walk everywhere, so Papa and I walked all the way to Portobello and it was sunny and we had a lot of fun. Well, Papa walked and I travelled in my buggy. Mama was very surprised we did that. She spent the day seeing some shows and catching up with some friends instead, which she very much enjoyed.

I went to see some shows too, but again, they didn’t have very many for 20-month olds – and once again the one at the Botanic Garden was too far for us to get to… Someone recommended Hairy Maclary’s Cat Tales at Assembly so we went to check it out. I have the Hairy Maclary book at home but I haven’t really got into it yet, I’m much more into Shaun the Sheep instead. I think Mama was hoping that maybe this would get me interested. In fact I like dogs. I call them ‘vava’ because in German dogs say ‘vau vau’ and in Serbian they say ‘av av’ and Mama and Papa keep saying this when they play with me and my big white toy dog. I like seeing dogs on the street and sometimes I woof at them, and sometimes I woof at foxes too when I see them on the street, and Mama always corrects me and says ‘that’s not a vava, that’s a fox’.

But this show about Hairy Maclary and his friends also had cats in it. And they all looked like dressed up people, which was very confusing to me. I had to sit there for a while just trying to figure it all out. Mama and Papa said afterwards I did OK considering this was really aimed at much bigger kids – and it went on for a whole hour! I have been to the theatre quite a few times in my life now but never for an hour. I liked the music though and the lights, and I liked watching the other kids, and watching the parents watching the kids to see whether they were enjoying themselves. One other girl was trying to get on the stage. I just got up and danced in front of the stage instead. Well, actually, I jumped up and down every time they sang a song, and I found it really exciting to also throw my jacket up in the air – until Mama and Papa took it away from me. I was just about to throw myself on the floor and scream, but the dogs started to woof at the little girl trying to get on the stage, so I kept quiet instead. Then we left, and then I got to climb down the stairs on my own, which was brilliant. Some funnily dressed people were also trying to get past and Mama said they were dancers from another show. And then we got some crepes and I wanted to eat Papa’s Nutella crepe on my own, and Mama didn’t let me, but I was very good, I didn’t throw any tantrums.

On the morning of our last day we had a show starting at 9.15am. It was already 8.45am by the time we could leave the house. Mama had got a ticket already and was really eager to get to the show at all costs, but Papa said he really didn’t need any stresses on his holidays and how were we ever going to get all the way to the other side of the Meadows on time. Mama said: “We’ll take a taxi, it wouldn’t be Edinburgh if we weren’t stressing to get to a show, it wouldn’t be Edinburgh if we didn’t take at least one cab”. Papa said “No more early morning shows, please”. We hailed a cab and got there with plenty of time to spare.

I don’t have the patience to wait in queues, so I just went towards the door as soon as they opened it, and Mama smiled politely at the other parents and followed me saying “You can’t just jump the queue like that” but I think she was secretly pleased she had the excuse not to wait. The man at the door tore off the ticket and handed our part back to me. He seemed to think I would like that, and I did. Then there were these fantastic big stairs to climb, which was the best bit! The show was called Puzzle and it was a dance piece from Lithuania. It had just arrived to Edinburgh and we were seeing the first performance. The three dancers were all smiley and fresh and beautifully tanned. They obviously haven’t had many sleepless nights and rainy days like everybody else in Edinburgh. They had these colourful foam pieces that they could get in and out of or wear them like costumes. And at times they tried to get us to touch them and to roll them back and forth between us. But the music they had was all very sweet and gentle, and they kept smiling and getting in and out of their foam puzzle pieces, and it was all very slow and safe and a bit boring – really not the kind of music that I could dance my jumping dance to. So I couldn’t wait for it to finish so I could clap and go back down the stairs! Which was great again!

It was finished very quickly, our three day stay in Edinburgh. Papa said we should stay a bit longer next time and Mama was very happy to hear that. It doesn’t look like I’ll have much of a say on whether we come back or not anymore, but I guess there is still a lot more left for me to explore in Edinburgh. Mama says there is this massive hill to climb in the middle of the city called Arthur’s Seat, which she has also never done in 17 years and still does not intend to do. But I would love it I’m sure! So we went back to our Airbnb flat, packed our things, and Mama checked the washing machine for any stray items before we piled into the car for another eight hours of Twirlywoos, naps and naughty snacks. And in the end the sun came out as well to wave us all off on our way.

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Duska Radosavljevic

Duska Radosavljevic is a dramaturg, teacher and scholar. She is the author of Theatre-Making: Interplay Between Text and Performance in the 21st Century (2013) and editor of The Contemporary Ensemble: Interviews with Theatre-Makers (2013). Duska has also contributed to The Stage Newspaper since 1998 as well as a number of academic and online publications in English and in Serbian.

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