Getting funky at Adam Smith's Festival of Ideas
There is probably enough raw material to stage an entire festival on the life and times of Adam Smith '“ let alone host one in his honour.
The man who defined political economic thinking and influenced many heads of government is slowly being rescued by his home town.
His legacy has yet to be fully tapped into – but there are many who insist he could do for Kirkcaldy what Robert Burns has done for Ayrshire, and put it firmly on the cultural map.
It may seen an outlandish claim, but, when Craig Thompson, former principal of Adam Smith College, addressed a group of students in China a few years back and asked how many had heard of Burns, a few hands were raised. When he asked about Smith, every hand shot up.
His work is studied and analysed to this day, and he is celebrated everywhere except, perhaps, his home town.
But that too is changing. The pedestal is, at least, on order ...
His former home has been restored, the Adam Smith Global Foundation has established itself, and there are plans to start developing an industry around someone whose bust looks out into the foyer of the theatre that bears his name in Kirkcaldy.
That venue is home to the Festival Of Ideas – an event he would surely have been tempted to attend.
Smith loved to debate and enjoyed the company of his peers.
His own life would make for a remarkable drama.
He was only two months old when his father died, he was kidnapped by gypsies, he possibly had a breakdown at Oxford, had a weird habit of talking to himself and conjuring up imaginary illnesses, and left historians with a giant headache after ordering all his papers to be destroyed by fire after his death.
Amid that slightly haphazard approach to life, Smith still managed to deliver two of the most influential books around – The Wealth of Nations and the The Theory Of Moral Sentiment – and even had a minor planet named in his honour.
If the Festival Of Ideas were around during his time you would surely found him centre stage with David Hume, holding court on the burning issues of the day with a glass of claret in hand, his mother nearby in the wings perhaps.
That spirit is captured in the 2018 line-up of the festival which aims to lay the foundations for future annual events.
For a new(ish) festival – last year was very much a test run – it has struck gold with David Tennant and Sandi Toksvig as its co-headliners.
A former Dr Who and the star of Bake Off, but both are much more than their most famous/popular roles.
Tennant’s question and answer with Arabella Weir, the festival’s artistic director, was an instant sell-out and will cover his breath-taking career far beyond saving the world from the daleks with nothing more than a trusty sonic screwdriver.
Around 3000 people registered their interest to see the show, meaning the theatre could have sold out almost six times over.
And they’re coming from all over.
The Dr Who links made the show’s fans sit up and take notice – they’re coming from as far as Chicago and Yokohama!
To have Tennant on stage is a huge coup. To get him in front of two audiences in the same day is unique.
The Festival of Ideas includes a gala screening of his new film, You, Me And Him.
The red carpet has been booked, and ticket prices include a glass of fizz and strawberries – Smith liked some plonk and was partial to the fruit – and there is the bonus of David introducing the screening with his wife Georgia Moffett who produced it. Another ‘only in Kirkcaldy’ moment...
All of that follows on from the annual Adam Smith Lecture.
It has a long history and a pedigree of great names at the rostrum analysing Smith, the man and his work.
Academics and politicians have all delivered the lecture, and the big names were probably topped by the remarkable appearance of Kofi Annan, former UN general Secretary, in Kirkcaldy, and Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve who served seven US presidents, and who arrived complete with half a dozen bodyguards who were so easy to spot with their green trench coats, droopy ‘taches and earpieces.
For 2018, there is a different approach to give the lecture broader appeal.
Sandi Toksvig isn’t just co-host of the Great British Bake Off or at the helm of BBC’ show QI, she has also founded her own party – the Women’s Equality Party which has fielded its first candidates in elections.
And equality will be her theme as she delivers the 2018 lecture.
But festivals need light and shade, and the Festival Of Ideas is no different with live music from Lights Out By Nine, and a great one-man show from Kieran Hodgson.
Lights Out By Nine are marking 30 years in the business and will bring some funk to the festival with their double bill – a reprise of their Fringe show What The Funk followed by a set of their own music.
And Kieran Hodgson – currently starring in BBC2’s excellent Two Doors Down – brings his acclaimed one-man coming of age show called Lance to the theatre.
But the festival also has a full day of free events for kids – welcome to the Adam’s Family Fun Day!
Every space in the Adam Smith Theatre will be utilised for a host of different events– take your pick from face painting, Gabbi the Clown and balloon modelling to arts and crafts, family films, digital animation workshop, and lots of hands on activities. And there’s more going on too at Kirkcaldy Galleries across the road.
There’s a drop-in coding club plus creative writing with Fife Writes.
And since we know Smith loved his food, the festival also ties in with the Food Festival organised by Kirkcaldy4All and Fife College at the St Brycedale Campus,.
It is bigger than ever and the event will feature Gary Maclean, winner of the BBC’s MasterChef The Professionals 2016. There will also be cookery demonstrations by chef Tom Pratt, from The Waterfront restaurant in Kirkcaldy, and by the college’s award-winning students.
There are also numerous stalls to browse – and sample some outstanding food – as well as four hands-on workshops where children can have fun decorating cupcakes or make healthy pizzas.
D etails for all shows here OnFife