Starting next week, the historic city of Edinburgh will be taken over by entertainers of all types, performing comedy, dance, theatre and music, entertaining visitors to their massive world-famous festival fringe. Since discerning mathematicians sometimes also enjoy being entertained, I thought I’d write a roundup of the shows maths has non-empty intersection with.
First up, since we haven’t mentioned him in a while, it’s Alan Turing! No, his reanimated corpse isn’t performing edgy stand-up, but theatre company Idle Motion is performing a visual theatre piece entitled That Is All You Need To Know, celebrating the work of Bletchley Park codebreakers. Alan Turing Alan Turing Alan Turing.
As usual, the Edinburgh Skeptics are putting on a fantastic selection of Skeptics on the Fringe talks throughout the month, including speakers on robots, astrology, nanotech, fracking, time travel, and of course maths – by some well-known speakers and friends of the site. Talks are taking place at the Banshee Labyrinth at 7.50pm, and The Jam House at 3.30pm on weekends. Below are my picks!
- Stand-up mathematician Matt Parker, Sunday 4 August, 3.30pm – 4.30pm, The Jam House
- Edinburgh MathsJam co-organiser Ewan Leeming (pictured above), Sunday 11 August, 7.50pm – 8.50pm, Banshee Labyrinth
- Aperiodical roving reporter Colin Beveridge, Thursday 15 August, 7.50pm – 8.50pm, Banshee Labyrinth
- Maths author/legend Simon Singh, Friday 23 August, 3.30pm – 4.30pm, The Jam House
The full lineup is listed at the Skeptics on the Fringe website.
Smashed is a juggling show with a difference – contemporary circus group Gandini Juggling juggle apples, inspired by Isaac Newton and thumbing their nose at gravity. A review in the Edinburgh Festival Guide describes the show as “A fruity mix of maths, movement and mayhem”. The numbers: 9 jugglers, 80 apples, 4 crockery sets.
Another show with some maths content comes in the form of A Panda Suit, Pythagoras and Plenty of Puns – the Edinburgh Reporter describes it as including “an irreverent discussion of the dating lives of Plato and Pythagoras, [and] jokes that relate sex with mathematics”. His first Edinburgh show, Nikhil Tilwalli looks to have some mathematical jokes on his Youtube channel, so it’s maybe worth a look.
Edinburgh Fringe will also be playing host to a run of Bright Club – a comedy night for researchers on varied topics. There isn’t a published list of which speakers are doing which dates, but I know for a fact that at least three mathematicians are doing sets over the month.
Speaking of things I’ll be performing at, I’m also doing a short set as part of maths fan Helen Arney and pro geek Rob Wells’ lunchtime show, Domestic Science. The show is a compendium of home-cooked experiments and comedy, and often features actual home baking. It’s a DIY science party!
And of course, to finish, how could we fail to mention Aperiodichums Matt Parker and Steve Mould, who are performing alongside the aforementioned Helen Arney in Festival of the Spoken Nerd – a comedy science show celebrating the nerdy and delightful, with some distinctly mathematical flavours mixed in.
I’ve probably missed several things here, so if you’ve spotted anything else or know of anything happening with a maths bent, please add it to the comments below, with suitable links. See you at the Fringe!