Edinburgh academics debut at the Fringe

Research leaders from three of Heriot-Watt's academic Schools have headlined at an innovative show called the 'Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas' at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Performed at the Spiegeltent

Organised by the Beltane Network together with Heriot-Watt Engage, FairPley productions, and the Edinburgh University Students' Association, the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas was hosted at prominent Festival venue, 'The Famous Spiegeltent', on George Street, Edinburgh and skilfully compered by Scottish stand-up comedian, Susan Morrison.

Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas

The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas brought together an eclectic mix of topics aiming to deliberately challenge presumptions and draw the public into lively and provocative debates on various issues reflected in the research areas of the speakers. Two academics from Heriot-Watt University led debates on the financial crisis and monetary policies (Dr Tim Johnson, School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences; and Professor David Cobham, School of Management and Languages). Others tackled urban development and social equality in their controversially titled shows, 'Demolish Morningside!' (Dr Peter Matthews, School of the Built Environment) and 'Send the Deaf to Orkney' (Prof Graham Turner, School of Management and Languages).

Audience feedback

Reaching consensus at the debates was neither achieved nor expected, but all agreed that the discussions were highly entertaining and thought-provoking. Audience feedback included "I don't really agree with all what was said but it was very stimulating"; "I was really interested to hear people talking about issues I've kind of seen on the ground myself"; and "To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement! Funny and enlightening at the same time. More academics should attempt the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas!"

To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement! Funny and enlightening at the same time. More academics should attempt the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas
Audience member

Of all the 21 academic-led events at the 'Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas', those delivered by Heriot-Watt academics were among the best attended, with 'Send the Deaf to Orkney' being the top-seller which was widely reported upon in the media. Commenting on their experiences of participating in the 'Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas', Early Stage Researchers, Dr Tim Johnson said " At least two thirds of my hour was spent responding to questions from the floor. I think it was a really interesting way to help people understand what academics do, though it is a bit frightening since you have little control of the event" and Dr Peter Matthews said "What was really impressive for me was the depth of this discussion...the audience members were very good at providing critical insights. I can't tell you how nervous I was beforehand.. but all in all, I'm very glad I did it".

Participation of Heriot-Watt academic staff in The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was facilitated by the University's public engagement initiative, Heriot-Watt Engage.

For further details of public engagement opportunities for the academic community at Heriot-Watt University, contact hwengage@hw.ac.uk