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A few of my favourite Edinburgh things: Director Ed Stambollouian

Work, rest and play, we find out where Ed prefers to spend his time every August

Ed Stambollouian
© Roddy Peters

Ed Stambollouian (Associate Director, Trafalgar Transformed's Macbeth, The Hothouse, The Pride) directs the world premiere of award-winning playwright Rob Hayes' new play, Awkward Conversations with Animals I've F*cked at the Edinburgh Fringe this August.

We caught up with Ed to find out a few of his favourite Edinburgh things...

Venue to perform/work in?

We're taking Awkward Conversations with Animals I've F*cked to Underbelly this year. It's my first year working with the venue and so far they've been fantastic. It's a real treat to be part of such a buzzing company and to rub shoulders with some brilliant theatre makers. It feels like the anarchic, playful and slightly naughty venue.

Venue to see something in?

Probably Summerhall. Great spaces, interesting surprises. But I'll go anywhere to see a show I'm excited about. There's something joyous about escaping on a bus outside of the city centre to catch a show. A few years ago I saw Theatre du Soleil's Les Naufrages du Fol Espoir at the Lowland Hall in Ingliston as part of the International Festival. It gave my brain and soul a break from the madness of fringe, flyers and drink!

Artist/Company/Act that you see every year?

In the last few years I've acquired a few new favourites. The Pajama Men can do no wrong. Anything produced by Fuel is worth a watch. Les Enfants Terribles are constantly inventive and good fun. A trip to the Traverse is never wasted. Alex Horne's hilarious Horne Section is a guaranteed good night, as is a step into the darkness of the Hotdub Time Machine

Place to eat?

Mosque Kitchen, Nicholson Square is one of dozens. It's just one of those places you stumble upon and find yourself eating remarkable food that should by rights be more expensive than it is. You also can't go wrong with a bacon, brie and cranberry number from the infamous Elephant and Bagel.

Place to drink?

A good friend dragged me away from the hubbub of the fringe and into a quieter bar called Under The Stairs. It's on Merchant Street, just off George IV Bridge. It can get busy but it's got a relaxed atmosphere and some interesting beers (if you're tired of Tennents…). Great place to sit and unwind after a day of flyering disinterested tourists.

Place to hang out?

Cooking together and inviting people round offers a lovely respite from the melee outside. Even when there're seven to a bed and people sleeping in the kitchen, your company flat is a safe haven. But I do like bumping into people around Bristo Square and Pleasance Dome, then letting the night take me to unexpected places.

Memory of the Fringe?

If you have any memories of your time at the fringe you're not trying hard enough!

A few years back I launched an Edinburgh iPhone app called Theatre Ninjas. Alongside the app we ran a series of free events from the Underbelly's Cow Café. One night we coerced beatboxer Shlomo into doing a gig. Halfway through his set the lads from close vocal harmony group Soweto Entsha walked by and he invited them up on stage for an impromptu collaboration.

The result was epic and the small café was flooded with people being drawn in from the street outside. I think there are still videos of it online…happy times.

Show that you've seen at the Fringe?

On the last day of the 2010 fringe, at the end of a long and exhausting month, I went to go and see La Clique's Smoke and Mirrors in the Spiegel Tent. Not sure if it was down to my fractured emotional state but it hit me right between the eyes. I was stunned by the magic, delighted by the comedy, and moved to tears by a bearded lady with a hypnotic singing voice. It all culminated in Australian cabaret star Sean Hape (aka iOTA) singing a heartbreaking ballad, dressed as an old aged rabbit, at a funeral, in the snow…


Awkward Conversations With Animals I've F*cked has two London previews at Camden People's Theatre on 22 and 23 July at 9pm