Legendary comedian and promoter Bob Slayer usually has something unusual up his sleeve come Fringe time. Of all the strange stunts he has pulled, however, this must rank near the very top. Starting at 6pm on Monday 8 August, and continuing throughout the Fringe until the job is done, he, fellow organiser Omid Djalili and a host of other Fringe performers will be staging a non-stop, out loud, live streamed reading of… wait for it… the Chilcot Report. All 2.6 million words of it. Be still my beating heart!
Sarcasm aside, there is serious intent behind the idea. Called Iraq Out & Loud, the aim of the event is to bring Fringe performers and an international audience together to reflect upon the conflict and the role the UK has played in the Middle East.
Already lined-up to help out with the mammoth challenge are Ian Rankin, Tommy Sheppard (MP and founder of the Stand), Stewart Lee, Reginald D Hunter, Arthur Smith, Francesca Martinez, Sean Walsh, Jo Caulfield, Simon Munnery, Tony Law, Ed Gamble, Stephen Frost, Michael Legge, Howard Read, Andy Askins, and Andy Smart.
“I was on my holidays when the Chilcot Report was published, so this is my best chance to get to read at least some of it. It’s either that or wait for the film,” said Rankin. Meanwhile, Tommy Sheppard said he was: “delighted to do my part in drawing attention to this damning indictment of Tony Blair’s government – pretty much every British military intervention he sanctioned made a bad situation worse.”
The reading will take place in a garden shed beside Bob’s Blundabus on South College Street, with two readers per hour. Four seats will be available per hour, with tickets going on sale on Monday 25 July. Others will be able to watch the reading being live streamed. At an estimated rate of 120 words per minute it is predicted to take over two weeks to complete.
Potential readers can sign up to take part themselves via iraqoutloud.com. Volunteers for the graveyard shifts are particularly appreciated.
A Gofundme appeal has been set up to cover out of pocket costs for staging the reading. Any additional money raised will be donated to the International Rescue Committee, which provides aid to refugees and victims of armed conflict around the world.