On November 25 The Red Bus will be back at the Edinburgh Steiner School for another day of atmospheric top-deck storytelling at the Christmas Market. This year the event will feature renowned writers and storytellers Will Sutcliffe, Gillian Arbuthnott, Mike Nicholson, Elizabeth Ezra, David MacPhail and Vixy Rae. It’s a slightly older target audience this time: ages six to 12.
It’s got me thinking of how often we’ve hosted storytellers, puppeteers and musicians. And how much fun it usually turns out to be, not just for the children but the adults who bring them. As for the performers – how often do you get to tread the (cork) boards of an iconic 1962 Routemaster?
For our debut at the Edinburgh fringe in 2009 we almost bit off more than we could chew, staging no fewer than nine separate acts for various ages near the Pavilion Cafe. Somehow it all worked out – the only real snag was when August monsoons turned the Meadows into a swamp. The bus listed like a stricken galleon and had to be towed out.
Highlights have included Celeste’s Circus, devised by and starring Francisca Morton of Faux Theatre. It was a sellout Fringe puppet show – The Red Bus was its first venue, and it went on to draw much bigger audiences at the Traverse, Scottish Storytelling Centre and elsewhere.
“It was a delight to perform Celeste’s Circus on the top deck of the bus to a full house of 25!”, Francisca recalls. “Babies were wide eyed and gently drooling, and I literally had a captive audience.”
Then there was the magical Oona And The Rabbits, written by Clunie and our eldest daughter Stella and narrated by the wonderful Peter Snow on Arthur’s Seat. That also featured our younger daughter Iona in the title role, with cameos for her two black rabbits, the late lamented Daisy and Jo Jo. Never work with animals or children, the saying goes – we just about escaped when Oona, on tiptoes, had to lift the rabbits away from a pack of hungry lurchers as she was about to board.
Free Range Puppeteers. Kidgloves. Mara Menzies. Marion Kenny. Daniel Allison. Big Pete… it’s a long and distinguished list. Come along and help us write the next chapter.