Find the nearest park, put your headphones on, sit back and leave behind the hustle and bustle of the Fringe. Ireland-based creatives Shanna May Breen, Luke Casserly and Sam Hardiman have devised a singular sound performance that allows festivalgoers to hit the pause button and enjoy the beautiful green spaces around Edinburgh.
After purchasing a ticket, one can collect a “listening pack” from the Pleasance Courtyard Info Shed. This is essentially a welcome letter, a packet of wildflower seeds (the miniature meadow mentioned in the title) and a link to a fifty-minute-long soundtrack on Soundcloud. In order to make the most of the experience, audiences will also need headphones, a good internet connection and, above all, a lonesome hour (must be enjoyed solo) of undisturbed access to their phone. Does this really happen nowadays? That for me has been the most challenging part of this production. Whilst a child’s voice in my ear was talking about ants, I found it too hard to resist the temptation to ignore my WhatsApp messages or the work emails crying for attention on my screen.
For those who have more self-discipline than me, it is a lovely concept. It wants to remind us all of the importance of green spaces, whilst offering a concrete opportunity to admire their beauty. Based on extensive research, it is also rich with information about Scotland’s endangered ecosystem.
From a social perspective, it also gives interesting insights on the inequalities within the demographic that has access to gardens and parks. I’d never really thought about this, but people in affordable housing – especially if built decades ago – are less likely to have proper green areas in the neighbourhood.
Including interviews to scientists and environment professionals, mentions of school projects and outside-UK examples of biodiversity, 1000 Miniature Meadows arguably packs too much in to its relatively short running-time. Equally, its formal tone would more suit a documentary than a Fringe show. But these flaws certainly don’t detract from the urgency of the topic treated, and with two thirds of the UK population predicted to be living in cities by 2050, it is an evocative way to look at our urban landscapes and assess whether they are suitably integrated with much needed trees and grassy patches.
Created by: Shanna May Breen and Luke Casserly
Sound Design by: Sam Hardiman
1000 Miniature Meadows played as part of EdFringe 2023.