So far, far beyond the Fringe

As the Edinburgh International Festival opens in the next few days, The TESS is proud to announce a new fringe venture, the Edinburgh Educational Arts and Film Festival. Drawing on acts from across the country, and from stars of the Scottish Executive, the Educational Festival hopes to emulate its bigger brother by spending vast amounts of public money on expensive offerings of little interest to most people. Exact details are still being finalised, but early proofs of the programme promise: The National Debate on Education: Cathy Jamieson and Nicol Stephen launch a series of focused discussions on topics arising from last summer's apathy-inducing nationwide deliberations. The Gilded Balloon is the venue for a show that looks likely to generate a great deal of hot air.

Laptop Dancing Express (King's Theatre): blockbuster musical - a high-budget (pound;23 million, to be exact) extravaganza of technological wizardry also tackles some difficult moral issues. Such as, how can it be possible to spend all that money on national ICT training when most primary teachers still don't know a hard drive from a floppy? Roy Jobson, director of education in the host city, begs to differ with the catchy, show-stopping number, Be Smart, Get a Smart Card!

Les Miserables (Usher Hall): hundreds of mature teacher-trainees rise up against the oppressive forces of Scottish Executive domination and demand decent pay. Stirring final scene as 40 technical students hoist the First Minister aloft a bench-vice and, in a song specially written for this Edinburgh version, urge that he "honour all his promises, lest retribution fall".

Waiting For Holyrood (Assembly Buildings, The Mound): Samuel Becket's famous play is given tartan trousers. David Steel and Tommy Sheridan star as two disconsolate tramps waiting for a mysterious new Parliament building. But it never arrives. " I think it'll be well worth waiting for," David urges Tommy. "I got the free canteen facilities through on the nod, but I don't think they're going to approve the sun-bed lounge. Not unless we disguise it as a recreational gymnasium ..."

Macbeth (The Pleasance): Gordon Jeyes, general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, stars in this reworking of Shakespeare's darkest tragedy, which warns against the eternal dangers of vaulting ambition. Judith Gillespie is outstanding on the blasted heath...

Film Festival, The Goodtime Girl (Rose Street Rendezvous, one night only): Wendy Alexander hosts a one-woman show, and explains that her new prerogative of power without responsibility is much better than power with responsibility. Finishes at 9pm sharp, as Ms Alexander is guest of honour at a CBI dinner.

Menage a Trois (Moray Place): French theatre makes a welcome return, as David Eaglesham of the SSTA and Ronnie Smith of the EIS negotiate the potential marriage of their respective organisations. If only they could get rid of "Tiresome Tino".

Tomorrow Never Comes (travelling show): a remake of the 1977 film that starred Susan George and Oliver Reed, with their parts being taken by the Minister for Education and her deputy. Cath'n'Nic introduce selected audiences to a Scottish Executive-sponsored film that explains the benefits of getting the private sector to pay for your new school buildings - and the even greater benefits of not being around 30 years later when the real costs become apparent.

Look Back in Anger (The Fleamarket): a welcome return for this 60s classic set-piece. Teachers who opted-out of the Superannuation Scheme in the early 90s get very angry indeed as they realise the implications for final pensionable salaries now that their investments have gone seriously awry.

National Debate: Late Night Perrier Extra (Gilded Balloon): co-comperes Nicol and Cathy resort to desperate measures in a bid to drum up interest. Tourists in or around the Cowgate are advised to take precautions to avoid the "shepherd's-crook" method of filling the auditorium.

Tickets for all events available from The TES Scotland. Or maybe not.

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