Phil Bolger reports back from the press launch of Iraq Out & Loud…
They say you can find the humour in everything, but even a mix of talented comedians would struggle when faced with reading The Chilcot Report, an inquiry into the Iraq Conflict, out loud in its entirety. “Why would you even want to do this?” you may wonder. Well, maybe its because they simply want to know what its says?
The press launch tonight for Iraq Out & Loud set out to explain what it’s all about. The event is the brainchild of Mr. Bob Slayer, a veteran of the free fringe and active promoter of all things alternative, including his own double decker bus venue.
It’s odd then that on this sunny Edinburgh evening he can be found in his bus conductor’s hat being interviewed by BBC Scotland, The Stage and The Guardian, to name but a few of the country’s media, clamouring for a chat. Not the usual chaotic scenario you’d find him in, granted, but this time he and those working with him are making a point.
Along with fellow organiser Omid Djalili and a host of other Fringe performers and celebrities including Mark Thomas, Ian Rankin, Seann Walsh and Stewart Lee, Slayer will be staging a non-stop, out-loud, live streamed reading of the report, at twelve volumes long it will take over two and a half weeks to complete!
Why will this all be happening, why in a shed in Edinburgh and why next to a bus of all places?
That’s rather the point. The question “why” and the reasons for being involved in the Iraq conflict appear to have remained hidden in plain sight despite 2.6 million words being written about it all. If you were asked to write a report about a needle, then were asked to present it to the public by placing it neatly in a haystack, telling the public there’s nothing to find, you might, at best cause some confusion.
By reading the report straight, no jokes, and in public may mean we’ll all be able to understand a little more of what has been discovered. At the very least we’ll know how long it takes a group of comedians and the general public to read 2.6 million words!
What could have been deemed a crackpot fringe event or just another reactionary political piece is gathering steam and rightly so. A busy launch with the country’s media crammed into a shed sees Mark Thomas reading segments of the report.
Will Iraq Out & Loud change anything to do with the conflict? It seems doubtful. But has it brought the potential smoke and mirrors of modern politics to the forefront on a stage for all to see? Yes, it certainly has. The launch has the feel of something happening, of finally being able to react to something we’ve been told to just accept.
In today’s society it’s a rare thing indeed and one to be respected and encouraged. Who knows where it could lead?
Visit the reading of Iraq Out & Loud at Bob’s Blundabus at Potterrow Underpass
To sign up to read a section of the report please follow the link on the website iraqoutloud.com
Additional money raised after costs will be donated appropriate charities.