Deadly Dialogues C Venue 34 until August 28th

Deadly Dialogues

Rating: ★★★☆☆


Deadly Dialogues starts quietly and simply with a single figure in the praying area of a mosque, ‘a small mosque in a local community anywhere’. However it is soon apparent that this play, dealing with the current turbulent state of Islam, is a complex presentation of the many underlying and conflicting issues of Islam that dominate much of our news and societal discussions outside the theatre and contrasts with the early beginnings of Islam as a religion that promotes peace. The dialogue flows rapidly like a turbulent river in full spate, buffeting the audience around as the flow and counter flow of characters and ideas bounce to and fro. The journeys of the four protagonists, Zulfi, Bacchus, Zenobia and Sayidaa, are interwoven in an entangled  set of threads complicated as they morph temporarily into different characters along the way. The audience are challenged to unravel these threads despite the unrelenting pace. The danger is that for many only a general view is likely to emerge by the end. This is a pity as there is a lot of material to ponder: radicalisation and its multifaceted effects, conflicts between imams, the fates of those from suburban British backgrounds sent as jihadists to conflicts round the world, and the position of women in Islamic culture.

This production has many strengths and showed cohesion in its different components. The actors delivered the flowing poetic dialogue smoothly and interacted seamlessly. The lines buzzed with imagery. The difficulties of discovering our identities without being unknowingly moulded in our thinking were imaginatively covered, particularly the idea of an imaginary teleshopping channel that would enable buyers to create their dream by purchase of objects that fulfilled it

Credit should be given to the director Jessica Lazar and to Yvan Karlsson for their use of stage movement; the way actors moved and utilised the stage was integral in creating the various scenes and made a significant contribution to engaging the audience and heightening the drama.

 There was also intelligent use of the set with the four white drapes at the corner of the tile-lined square white stage, the use of drapes providing imagery that matched the words. As a portrayal of the current interactions between Islam and society outside Islam it succeeded. How widely the play delivers the messages its talented author, Nazish Khan intended remains to be seen. 


Bruce Ward 24th August 2017

Studio News from Kenneth Johnstone


Please note that the council have appointed Joyce Campbell, Jane Ward and myself, Kenneth Johnstone to oversee the studio. Jane as a council member will be SAC council coordinator and we will have regular meetings, organise activities and generally look after the studio.


You will notice that there is an exhibition In the Club of mosaics made in our studio as part of a series of wonderful workshops organised last year by our own Joyce Campbell. They were designed as small tables to sit outside in the Geddes Garden but for now will be on display in the Club Room.

There were many workshops last year in pottery, plaster casting, book sculpture, wood carving and textile painting/printing, as well as ones exploring the many different aspects of painting. There are many more planned and please let us know if there are any that you would like to see take place (see below).

We have had many new members joining the Club after taking part in workshops. Please encourage your friends to come along to these regular activities, stay for lunch, meet some marvellous people and eat delicious food! We are in the process of creating a wall of shelves around the west fireplace in the studio for essential storage. All materials will be contained in bespoke containers with each workshop leader having his or her own designated storage
area. This will leave the whole studio free for creative arrangements of the space. This, combined with the pull down screen in the rejuvenated John Calder Reading Room will give
us a 2nd floor to be proud of, with spaces for reading, chilling out, illustrated talks, discussions and coordinated multi art events using both rooms. What a selling point for our Club!

This is mainly thanks to Marilyn and her positive vision, and we must especially thank Maureen and Charles Clark for their fundraising support as a part of the 2022 group, which has raised £3,150 which will pay for all the studio improvements.


In the studio in August, Life Drawing will continue as will the Tuesday Creative Crafts Group as long as it doesn’t interfere with the marvelous looking Fringe programme.


On Wednesday 19th of July a very special short film will be shown on the subject ‘A Poet a Potter and a Painter’, featuring Paul Tebble (potter) Anne Gilchrist (painter) and the poetry of the late Elizabeth Burns. There will be a discussion afterwards. You must see this! These multi arts events represent the ethos of the Scottish Arts Club!

On the Saturday July 28th there will be an illustrated talk by mself on understanding modern sculpture.

On Tuesday 11th August we present a wonderful Sculpture Exhibition in our studio featuring the work of Teresa Hunyadi, with a preview at 6pm when you can meet the artist. The exhibition finishes on August 23rd.


An Artist member asked me if anyone had shown interest in his paintings on display in the Club room, I replied "I have good news and bad news," "The good news is that a gentleman enquired about your work and wondered if it would appreciate in value after your death. When I told him it would, he bought all 15 of your paintings." "That's wonderful," the artist exclaimed. "What's the bad news? “The gentleman was your doctor!”



This is a lovely portrait of the model Stuart drawn in the Life class by Malcolm Rider It is a beautiful linear drawing with great character. Well done Malcolm!


If you have any comments, queries, suggestions or friends who are interested in coming to one of our workshops, let the Club know and/or email me on The studio group will consider any suggestions and get back to you

Keep Drawing,

Kenneth Johnstone

Voyage to the Unknown - Syrian Evening

In the weeks before it happened, there was an air of vagueness about this event. Was it a talk? Was it a culinary experience? Was it a musical evening?  So, after being chivvied by a personal plea and an email, I, along with a flood of late taker- uppers arrived with an open mind, and no idea what to expect.

My questions were quickly answered as I entered a packed Club room. Madame President had half a dozen toddlers clinging to her, there were perhaps 40 members, groups of Syrian ladies of all ages, some in national dress and about 20 men. During the evening, I found out that they came from an area spread over a vast tract of the country: some were from Damascus but some from tiny villages 1000 miles away. The atmosphere was cheerful as the groups surveyed each other and gradually polite exchanges became less stilted and the groups melted into one mass. 

it helped that the big screen in the new reading room was showing ‘Despicable Me’ on the big screen. This was being viewed by perhaps 20 wide eyed children, and there were more children in the studio playing with a tableful of Lego.

The gong announced that the food was ready, and members were served a vast range of colourful dishes, chickpea stews, a range of meats, dips, vine leaves, and lots of vegetables.

It was interesting to see the men of the group serving and describing each dish as they served it, especially as it had been cooked by the women, who stayed upstairs with the children.  Idris, who has been in Scotland for 20 years and has been helping people settle here, moved from table to table explaining in detail the food and telling the stories of those who were there. 

Everyone who had been eating then went upstairs for coffee and to share biscuits and cakes, and the women and children came down to finish off what was left. This seemed odd, but we were assured that is was perfectly acceptable. It worked well for us as it would have been impossible for the whole party to be in the dining room at the same time. Upstairs in the Clubroom, the music began: so different from Western music. 

The idea of the evening was for this group of displaced people to be able to offer something to us. They had thought of bringing film footage of their harrowing journeys to get to Scotland, but decided instead to give the best of what they could bring – their food, their cooking, and their music.

It was a happy event yet with an underlying feeling that what they had seen and experienced was being left unspoken. This was illustrated quite potently in a short exchange with the musician.  I said that his eyes looked sad when he was playing.  ‘Yes’ he said. ’Only a year ago, I played the music I played tonight in my village, to my parents and family. Today I am here and they are far away. I don’t even know what is happening to them’.

I didn’t know what to say.


PS from organisers. £10 of the ticket price was given to the families to pay for the food and to help them buy essentials. They are being welcomed to Edinburgh and have a certain amount of support, but as one of those attending explained, they have been invited to official receptions and parties organised by the city, but this was the first time they felt they were meeting ‘real’ people.

We made no money from the event, but the hope is that we made some new friends and even new members. There was a musician, an artist and a film-maker amongst them and we are looking at ways of making it possible for them to join.

The Scottish Arte del Vino Club

Expertly organised and managed by Debbie Hayes; led by Niamh from Edinburgh’s Appellation Wines; and orchestrated by Kevin and Colin, 28 Members and Guests enjoyed a tutored-tasting of six Italian wines, accompanied by a range of antipasti which, of course, were only for starters.

Just when it seemed that life couldn’t get any better, Steve the Chef produced his ‘rustic two course Italian dinner’ with salad, olives, Aberdeen Angus and Wild Boar lasagne and, for us non meat-eaters, delicious arancini and vegetables, followed by melt-in-the-mouth panna cotta (bedecked with our own SAC-grown mint).  The accompanying moist and herby focaccia reminded us that, in Steve, we not only have a first-class chef but also a baker of distinction as well.

Back to the Clubroom for pots of coffee and tea (and home-baked biscuits) and happy reflection on, without a doubt, the best value-for-money £30 I have spent in ages.

There is the promise of more wine tastings to come and, as far as I am concerned, the sooner the better.

Brian Blundell.

Harmonious Clubroom

Let's Make Music on 9th June 2017

Together with some 30 other Members and Guests I thoroughly enjoyed the second session of the ‘Let’s Make Music’ series in the Club-Room on Friday night.  Thanks to Issy Baxter, we were treated to a programme of (mainly) Scottish folk-music from Issy and her three friends, the talented musicians who comprise ‘GOG’ (pictured).  We also welcomed back the very entertaining Barber Shop quartet ‘Strop’ whose close-harmony was almost, but not quite, replicated by the audience as they accompanied Issy and GOG in various choruses and refrains.

The quality of the audience participation was not at all hindered by our President winning the first ‘Wee Projects’ draw and immediately re-investing her winnings in voice-lubricant for the assembled company.  Thanks Marilyn!

Brian Blundell

p.s.  not to forget the delicious pies from Jock’s Pie shop in the Grassmarket!