Monthly Archives: August 2013

After #EdFringe

My last show finished this time last week. Well, actually, technically, it *started* this time last week and it ended in about an hour’s time last week. I can’t quite remember where I left you at the last blog post, but I assume it was sometime around Tuesday? Ok, I just cheated and checked. It was definitely Tuesday.

Wednesday was more packing up with Underbelly and then a staff party in the evening, which ended with me and two of my workmates walking home through the beautiful Edinburgh Meadows together. One of them was from Manchester, which inspired me to sing Oasis songs at the top of my lungs all the way home. I’m sure she was pleased. Though, to be fair, she was egging me on by calling out suggestions of which songs to sing next and asking things like, ‘What was that song about the bun in the oven?’ (FYI, it was ‘She’s Electric’, which I remembered at 3am after many free drinks and I think I should get many life bonus points for not only remembering the name of the song, but also most of the remaining lyrics. My friend disagreed as she felt I lost many points for not remembering the opening lines to ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, forcing her to look them up on her phone. I only needed a little prompt though and then I remembered EVERYTHING. Definite life bonus points)

I dragged myself out of bed at 7am the next morning to get to the train station at 9am for a 9:30am train. I was well-impressed with myself, getting on board, organising my many bags, settling in my seat, getting out my book (‘Them’ by Jon Ronson) and iPod (‘The Unthanks’ extensive collection – I thought it was appropriate considering I was travelling through Northumbria). I even popped out to Caffe Nero and got myself a drink before the train started. In other words, I thought I was all over it. ‘It’ being ‘train travel from Edinburgh to London.’ Sure I felt a little melancholy about the end of the fringe, about the fact that I hadn’t managed to climb Arthur’s Seat on this visit, about going back to London with no job in sight, but it didn’t last very long, because I was soon fast asleep.

I woke up just outside of Doncaster around midday, so approximately an hour and a half before I was supposed to arrive at London. I didn’t quite know what I was going to do with myself once I got into London. I had already decided to brave the tube with all my luggage, because the taxi was just going to be too expensive. But apart from that, what does one do when one arrives back to London with no job and no creative projects on the horizon? I thought to myself idly that it would be kind of nice if this train journey was longer so I didn’t have to deal with all that empty afternoon space in London. But, *sigh*, I thought, I have never once been delayed on a British train. Guess there’s no chance of that happening.

Of course, you shouldn’t think things like that because it will only encourage the gods/alien beings/12ft lizards in charge of the world to SCREW YOU OVER. Because they are sick, sick bastards who take joy in your pain. Approximately 10 minutes after my idle and generally warm thoughts towards the British rail system, my train ground to a halt at a level crossing just outside of Doncaster. It sat there for half an hour, as our sad-sounding train conductor updated us with the fact that she had no updates (do they go through training to sound sad like that? ‘And this is the tone of voice you should use when the train has stopped and you don’t know why and your passengers are attempting to open the emergency exits and walk the remaining 20 metres into Doncaster’). There were 3 large semi-trailers parked in front of the closed gates at the level crossing and I couldn’t figure out if they were happier or more frustrated for not getting the ‘updates-with-no-updates’ that we were privy to in the train. I stared at the man in the first semi-trailer. He stared back. Neither of us gave anything away.

About 40 minutes later, we limped into Doncaster, now happy in the knowledge that overhead lines had been pulled down somewhere near Retford (where is bloody Retford?) and that it would take ‘a very long time’ to get to London today. They offered to take us back to Newcastle ‘or further North’, if we preferred, or we could all get on a different train to King’s Cross that would not be going past Retford and therefore should be able to get to London. Of course, everyone chose the second option. So, our pretty much full train smushed onto another pretty much full train and started the slow, slow procession to London. Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t get a seat, so I piled up all my luggage in the space between two carriages and stood next to it. An hour and a half of standing later and I gave up and sat down on my luggage, even though it was highly uncomfortable and I was possibly breaking various precious things stowed in my bags. But, the train, my hang-over and the relentlessly chipper ex-Edinburgh student sitting next to me were all slowly wearing me down (seriously, woman, not everything that you say needs to be punctuated with a giggle! You don’t need to tell us all about what you bought at the cafe! You don’t need to tell us how your mother told you to get the 9am train! You don’t need to talk to that child – she has headphones on! She doesn’t care! None of us care! Be quiet! QUIET I SAY!)

At 5pm, we finally got off at King’s Cross and were handed a leaflet about how East Coast trains were going to make it up to us, which placated me slightly. Of course it was now peak hour and I decided that attempting the tube was madness and what I needed instead was a mini-cab. But I couldn’t locate one. So, I went across the road to St. Pancras, swearing under my breath at all the pedestrians who failed to get out of my way (Seriously, people, I have two large bags balanced on a tiny gardening trolley. I have a backpack and another bag hanging over my arm. I am bent over like a go-kart racer. Who do you think is in an easier position to change direction? NO, NOT ME YOU DICKHEAD, THE ANSWER IS YOU, NOW MOVE YOUR ARSE BEFORE I RUN YOU OVER). I couldn’t find any min-cab services there either. I used the computer information point which helpfully told me the difference between the very expensive black cabs and the mini-cabs, but failed to offer the number of a mini-cab company. It’s times like these that I really think I should bite the bullet and get a smartphone. But, that not exactly being an option at that particular moment, I pushed my luggage to the manned information point and asked for a mini-cab number. The woman said they had no mini-cab numbers. My mouth dropped. I asked for clarification. She said that this station only provided black cabs so no mini-cabs should be working around the station at all and therefore they could not give me a mini-cab number. I was furious. I said, in my angriest and most sarcastic tone, ‘Well, thank you so much,’ pausing for dramatic effect (and to swivel all of my luggage around), but because this woman was in conversation with her colleague, she didn’t pick up on the sarcasm and she said, genuinely, ‘Not a problem at all.’ Which also meant she missed the furious, hissed end of my sentence – ‘YOU HAVE BEEN SO FUCKING USEFUL.’

At this point, I was shaking from exhaustion, hunger and sheer fury. I refused to use a black cab as it was peak hour and I wasn’t about to get caught in traffic with the metre running. But, I had no way of getting a mini-cab number. I saw a phone booth and moved to it hopefully, thinking they may have a cab company listed on the booth, or at least a directory assistance number. They did! I dialled it on my mobile phone and was promptly told I could not access that number from my Orange phone. The pay phone was a BT phone. If I was going to get directory assistance, I was only going to get it from an approved Orange source. Except, I had no way of finding out what that approved directory assistance Orange number was. CAPITALISM AND PRIVATISATION GONE MAD, PEOPLE! GONE MAD!

It had, by this time, gotten all too much and I collapsed in a crying heap near the trolleys. Of course, most people ignored me, which made me even more miserable and then led me to decide that all London people were shits and that I didn’t need their assistance anyway and they should all just bugger off. I decided to message some friends for help with a number for a mini-cab company, at which point a Londoner (well, ‘a person’, I can’t be certain they were from London) asked if I was ok. But I had so set myself against humanity that I merely muttered I was fine and refused to look up. I could tell by the way her feet were pointing that she stared at me for a good few minutes before going about her business, but I had no intention of allowing her to help me. Everyone else had been useless all day, I refused to believe she wasn’t also going to be useless. And annoying. And I didn’t want to use my last shreds of sanity and energy to explain everything to a useless, annoying stranger. So I ignored the probably nice, kind, helpful stranger and possibly made her very upset and confused just so I could continue thinking that all of humanity sucked arse. Oh well.

My lovely friends soon sent many messages with many mini-cab numbers and I rang one and they promised to get me a mini-cab within half an hour. I asked where the cab would arrive, as there are at least 3 entrances to St. Pancras station and the woman told me that she would get the driver to call me when he was near. I took a punt and stood outside one of the entrances that seemed most likely. 40 minutes later, getting worked up and exhausted again, I still hadn’t heard from the cab driver and tried to call them back. I got through to an automated message saying that my cab was very close and I should look for a particular make of car and licence number. That calmed me for a few minutes until I got a message telling me my cab had arrived, giving me the licence number and a description for a car that I couldn’t see ANYWHERE. So I then got worked up again, especially since the cab driver hadn’t called me and he was supposed to do so. Just as I was reaching a fever-pitch of worked-up-ed-ness, the cab driver called. He sounded a little annoyed. He told me he was there. At the entrance. At which point I pretty much lost my shit. I told him, voice quaking from fury and held back tears, that there was more than one entrance and he needed to tell me which entrance he was at. He told me he was at the main one, where all the cabs come. I snapped that the cabs come to many of the entrances and he had to tell me which street he was on. He told me he was on the ‘main street’. I told him he had to give me a name. He told me he would call me back. At which point I attempted to run through St. Pancras with all my bags (and all the pedestrians) to all the other entrances in order to find the cab before he got annoyed and drove away (I was convinced he was going to abandon me – I don’t know why). Of course, in my panic, I missed his 3 calls back to me, even though I was holding my phone in my hand. He finally got through on the 4th attempt and sounded about annoyed as I felt – ‘I tried to call you 3 times! I am on St. Pancras St’. I knew, because at this point I had walked out one of the entrances and finally seen him. I was annoyed, he was annoyed, it wasn’t a great start to the cab-customer relationship. But, we packed my things into the boot of the car and I got in the back seat and we started our slow process towards Clapham Common. It took an hour. I slept on the back seat whilst the cab driver listened to the debate on whether or not the UK should participate in air strikes against Syria and by the end of the drive we managed to be civil to each other.

Finally home, I dumped my things, said a cursory hello to my housemate and then headed out immediately for food. After a huge pizza, some olives and garlic bread, I began to feel more normal. Hell, I even started to relax a little. I fell asleep at 10pm and didn’t get out of bed until 9:30am yesterday.

Yesterday was lazy, but also a little unsettling. I had no job, I had no show to work on. I felt I should really take one day off before getting my life in order, but I didn’t really know what to do with myself during that day. I packed away all my clothes and then decided to go out to vote. And then, because I had nothing else to do and the weather was nice, I walked home from Australia House. Which took 2 hours. At least I built up a good appetite for my enormous Indian meal that night.

This morning, I have woken up with a horrible cold, which I am not at all surprised by. I tend to always get sick the minute I stop doing something. And this at least solves the problem of what to do with myself over the next two days. Bed rest. Books. Some TV. That’s it. The sun outside is glorious, but it is gloriously bright and giving me a glorious headache, so… the curtains are drawn and I am doing nothing that involves getting out of bed. I have drunk a green smoothie and taken many nurofen and now I will just lie back and close my eyes and wait for it all to go away.

After #EdFringe is nowhere near as fun as #EdFringe.

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An Exhaustive List of Everything (EVERYTHING) I Saw at #EdFringe in No Particular Order (Except the Order that I Remember Them In)

1. All the Men We’ve Never Slept With (Sugar & Vice)

2. Squidboy

3. Red Bastard

4. Confessions of a Sex Addict

5. The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer

6. All Roads Lead to Rome

7. Beats by Kieran Hurley

8. The Bloody Ballad (not to be confused with…)

9. The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project (Northern Stages)

10. Peep (Lobsters)

11. Circa: Wunderkammer

12. The Bread and the Beer

13. Breaker

14. The Mushroom Cure

15. Cape Wrath (Northern Stages/Third Angel)

16. Under Milk Wood

17. It’s Dark Outside

18. There Has Possibly Been an Incident (Northern Stages)

19. What I Heard About the World (Northern Stages/Third Angel/mala vaodora)

20. Shylock

21. Credible Likeable Superstar Rolemodel

22. Dark Vanilla Jungle

23. That is All You Need to Know

24. Fleabag

25. Hunt & Darton Cafe (the only thing I went to more than once. I went to it 5 times in fact, because they gave me a loyalty card and I wanted to see what happened when I got 5 stamps. Well, what happens is that you get a Loyalty badge. Amazing.)

26. Lockerbie: Lost Voices

27. Major Tom

28. Monkey Poet

29. Be Careful What You Wish For

30. Bec Hill: Bec by Popular Demand

31. Bec and Tom’s Awesome Laundry

32. Wild Thing, I Love You (Forest Fringe)

33. Sappho… in 9 Fragments

34. She Was Probably Not a Robot

35. Stuart: A Life Backwards

36. Jem Rolls (spoken word)

37. I’m Sorry I Forgot to Haiku

38. Popaganda

39. Alfie Brown: The Revolting Youth

40. Andrew Maxwell: Banana Kingdom

41. Benny Davis: The Human Jukebox

42. My Name is Sue

43. Kate Smurthwaite: The News at Kate

44. Calum Lykan’s ‘Bold & Brave: Traditional Tales from Scotland’

45. Social Animals

46. Playhouse Creatures

47. Awkward Hawk

48. Dave Callan: The Psychology of Laughter

49. Hedluv & Passman: Two Cornish Rappers and a Casiotone Two: This Time its Similar

50. Luke Toulson – I Don’t Know How I Feel About My Kids

51. The Noise Next Door: Soundhouse

52. Rob Auton: The Sky Show

53. So You Think You’re Funny – heats

54. Death and Gardening

55. The Awake Project

56. Adam Strauss – The Sordid Sex Life of the Montane Vole

57. Stand by for the Tape Play Back (Forest Fringe)

58. A Cure for Ageing (Forest Fringe)

59. Purge (Forest Fringe)

60. Nothing to Declare (Forest Fringe)

61. Edinburgh Comedy All-Stars (well, I worked at it, so I *sort of* saw it)

62. Jason Byrne’s Special Eye (as above)

63. Hot Dub Time Machine (as above a hundred times over)

64. Metamorphosis (actually technically the International Fringe, but I didn’t pay for the ticket, so we’ll just pretend it was the fringe as well)

Plus a whole heap of street performances, flyerers doing excerpts from their shows and things I can’t otherwise remember.

Which means I saw, on average, about 3 shows per day at the fringe? Which I think is not doing too badly. Sure, I could probably have squeezed in another show per night, but I’m guessing my bank account and body wouldn’t have allowed it. As there were 2800 shows at the fringe this year, I saw less than 10%. I’m thinking about 2.5% of the Fringe? No, even less than that. Let’s say 2% of the fringe. Oh well. I tried.

Based on the numbers (and taking out Underbelly, as I worked for them so I got into their shows for free, meaning I saw more of their shows because when presented with a choice between a good show at Pleasance and an equally good, but free, show at Underbelly, I always chose the free one), my favourite venues/programmers were clearly Northern Stages (a Newcastle based theatre company) and Forest Fringe (a side program that supports more experimental work). This is interesting to me. Northern Stages, in particular, seemed to have a very political bent to much of their work and the stuff I saw at Forest Fringe was often very provoking as well. I find this interesting as I am not certain that the work I make myself is necessarily as political or provoking as the work I’m clearly drawn to.

I do feel like writers need to say *something*; that one of the key aspects of being a significant writer (that is the difference between someone who is merely able to string words together in an elegant way and someone who is actually SAYING something with those elegant words) is insight. These days I feel I more convinced of my ability to string words together in an elegant way than of those strung together words to say anything worth listening to. That said, a few years ago I was not convinced of my stringing together ability at all, so perhaps the insight will come with time. Time and confidence. ‘Something to say’ often comes with age, I suppose – you see and experience as much as you can and then you spit out your judgement on the world. Of course, many successful writers have been the bright young things, the people who tear apart the world the minute they are released into it, but to do that you’ve got to have a kind of youthful confidence (arrogance?) that I never had at the age of 20. Passing defiant judgement on the world has never been my strong point. Seeing both sides of an argument is much more my style. Along with holding my tongue and hoping not to get in trouble or make people dislike me. Where or where oh where did I get these useless, subservient personality traits from?

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End of #EdFringe

Oh, yeah, so you know that thing I was doing? Oh, yeah, it totally ended. It, like, totally ended like DAYS ago. And it has been, like, LITERALLY, days since I wrote last and there is way too much to catch you up on, but, oh, I guess I’ll try anyway, I suppose.

I don’t even remember. It was 10 days ago that I last wrote to you. 10 days! That was forever ago! Oh, god, I’m losing the last days of my twenties again because I can’t even remember anything at all (maybe its the Rose I’m drinking).

Sunday 18th 

I must have gone to work that night. I must have seen some shows. I don’t remember what they were. I think this was possibly the day I completely freaked out, realising that the fringe was ending in a week and I still had approximately 2580 shows to see. So, I sat down and booked 10 of them. Oh! I remember! I saw a play on a mini-bus! That was fun. It was written & performed by a man I once asked to mentor me (he said yes, but the funding body said no, so that all went down the drain), but I had never met him, nor seen any of his plays (possibly a strange choice of mentor, but let’s just leave that aside). Anyway, it was lovely, lots of fun and I was surprised how different he was able to make the space in the mini-bus considering there were very few places he could tell his story from. But, he came in and out of doors, got us to unfold maps, making the space smaller, sat at the front like a bus driver and it was all very entertaining and interesting. I had dinner that night with a mutual friend who I was putting up on my spare mattress for a few nights and then headed to work.

Monday 19th 

I don’t remember what the show was like. I think it was good. I don’t know. I saw some more shows that afternoon. Yes, actually, yes I did! I saw 4 shows in one afternoon! I was going to see 5 but decided against it. I know 4 isn’t much considering I had done that previously, but it seemed like a lot after a weekend of working until 5am. I also then went out for dinner with the mutual friend and then on to a staff party. I didn’t get home until 2am which possibly explains…

Tuesday 20th

I got up at a reasonable hour and headed out to flyer. But, when I got to the Royal Mile I realised/decided that I had absolutely no desire to flyer, nor any energy (the alcohol from the night before had sucked it all out of me) and what I would like to do instead, please, was sit in an internet cafe and look at all the people who had won awards for the Edinburgh Fringe. Not in a depressive way – just in an interested way. Possibly a little in a depressive way. I was hung-over. I eventually convinced myself to go flyers, but I handed out about 10 and then watched the street performers instead. I fully expected (and hoped) to have no audience. But, then 3 people turned up and I am nothing if not a professional, so I did the show. They seemed to really enjoy it and I still ended up with 17 pounds in the buckets which is pretty good for an audience of 3. That night I went on a date. Because apparently that is what people do. They meet nice people who invite them on dates and then the other person doesn’t completely freak out but says yes and then you have a nice date. That is what normal, grown-up people do. And I am nothing if not a normal, grown-up human being.

I did neglect to tell you that I think the only possible reason I was able to go on this date was because he was moving to Malaysia 6 days later. No pressure! No possibility or threat of any serious commitment whatsoever! Yes, that is the date for me!

So, not entirely normal and grown-up, but let’s just be grateful for the baby steps, shall we?

Wednesday 21st

I don’t know what happened Wednesday to be honest with you. I think I probably saw some shows at the Forest Fringe, which is one of the more exciting programs at the Edinburgh Fringe (and all free too, so you can’t go wrong with that!) I think I also went back to the Hunt and Darton cafe, because I was determined to get my 5 pineapple stamps and be rewarded with my ‘loyal’ badge (its a long story – the Hunt and Darton cafe is a pop-up performance art cafe. So everything is slightly kooky. And wonderful, of course). I saw more shows in the evening, of course. I think it was mainly free comedy shows, though, so that makes a difference.

Thursday 22nd 

Oh god, oh god, I don’t know, I don’t know. Maybe the show wasn’t good on Thursday? I can’t remember anymore. Some days shows and audiences were good, other days they weren’t so much. I had a group of lovely young-ish girls come in (actually, it might have been Thursday) and they just loved the show and I thought, damn! Perhaps I have completely missed my demographic! The people I should have been flyering was exclusively 15 – 20 year old women! I had two similarly aged girls come and see the show on Saturday as well and they had a similar positive reaction, only adding more fuel to the theory.

Friday 23rd

The thing I can tell you about the show on Friday is that it was the second-last one. No, no, that’s not fair. It was a lovely show with a lovely large audience. But it was also the second-last one. Which is pretty much all I was focusing on at the time. I went out for coffee with my friend and her boyfriend and her mother afterwards (they had all, bless them, come to see the show that day) and that was lovely. I saw more shows that afternoon. Because that’s pretty much all I did in the last week. Nothing exciting, no terrible emotional breakdowns or amazing reviews, just get up, flyer, do show, see other shows, eat a bit, go to bed. I really got into a mechanical rhythm of it all. Don’t get me wrong – I was loving it (at least, I was loving the afternoon), but all the days have kind of melded into one now.

Saturday 24th

THE LAST DAY THE LAST DAY THE LAST DAY. You must think I was hating everything because I am/was so delighted to finish. It’s not that at all. Of all the solo shows I’ve done this was the most satisfying. The people who came and saw it were, on the whole, people who didn’t know me. People who had taken a chance because of a review, a flyer, a blurb in the fringe guide. And I was, on the whole, able to entertain and move them. I think one of the things that I have been most conscious about over the last few years is that my audience tended to be my friends and family, or if not MY friends and family, at least the other people involved’s friends and family. I’m not saying I’m ungrateful for their support, I’m just saying it kind of felt like an extended, more complex and more expensive version of the plays I used to put on for my parents in our living room. There was also a slightly evil, slightly hidden thought that the only reason people were laughing or enjoying the shows I had put on previously were because they knew me and liked/loved me already and were seeing the shows through that bias. So, the point is, to be able to put something on in Edinburgh, get audiences in that were mostly strangers, have them enjoy it – that was a major confidence boost.

That said, though, it was also bloody exhausting. Especially doing it on my own. It wasn’t nearly as terrifying and disheartening as I had been told it would be (probably because I was part of the free fringe and probably also because I wasn’t expecting to become a star or an overnight success), but it was bloody exhausting. Even though I knew I was going to be very sad when it all ended, I was also very much looking forward to it all ending and spending a few days curled up in bed with some books, DVD’s and excellent (terrible) food.

That afternoon I packed up all my stuff and said good-bye to the staff of La Tasca for the last time. I took a taxi back to my apartment and then headed to the Hunt and Darton cafe again (one stamp away from becoming loyal!) for some celebratory crumpets. They came with a tray of spreads so extensive I was forced to cut the the crumpets into tiny pieces just so I could try a little of everything. It was very much worth it. It was also one of the funnest times I’d had at the cafe – it was ‘community’ themed so we all had to sit at long tables, meaning I had to chat to the lovely ladies next to me; Hunt and Darton now knew my name and welcomed me back very warmly; and the guest waiter was particularly amusing (he held a community raffle in which you could win tinned mince meat, tinned haggis or banana custard and had mini-Jaws performances on the tables and sold ‘smells’ as part of the cafe menu. It was hilarious).

That night was work, but knowing I didn’t have to get up and flyer in the morning made it all the more bearable.

Sunday 25th 

I knew intellectually that I didn’t have to get up and flyer but my body was so used to waking up at 9:30am that I woke up anyway feeling very anxious and guilty for still being in bed. I eventually calmed myself enough to go back to sleep, but it wasn’t easy. Then there was a glorious afternoon of shows and one last visit to the Hunt and Darton cafe, where it was Christmas! Because it was the last day! I had a three-tiered roast dinner sandwich and got to wear a sign on my head saying ‘Baby Jesus’. We had entertainment from the hilariously bizarre Catherine Bennett (a performance project by artist Bryony Kimmings), who taught us a song and dance routine and I fell in love with a bearded man dressed in 1970s clothes who held my hand as we danced. No, I don’t know his name or who he was. I still love him. That night was my last Hot Dub Time Machine shift. I had become known as a hard-arse (can you believe it? ) from the managers because I had accidentally bullied the head of production manager out of the front area of the venue – I didn’t recognise him! No-one said anything until I had completely shooed him away from the front door! – but they all (including him) found it very amusing. I also gained a reputation for being the fastest/best wrist-stamper, which is not a skill I had ever thought of coveting, but now that it has been recognised in me I will wear the badge with pride. Now, if only I could work out how to make large sums of money with this skill.

Monday 26th

I had expected to be working on Monday, helping with the get-out etc. But it turned out there were still shows going on, so I had a lazy lie-in, got up around 1:30pm, headed to a show, then read in the sun, had lunch with a friend, went to another show and then drank ciders all evening with another friend. It was a very aimless, lazy, lovely day, though also a little melancholy, because suddenly the streets of Edinburgh were empty. Disconcertingly, surprisingly, immediately empty. Apparently everyone else at the festival couldn’t wait to get away. I had wanted to hang around for a few days after, take a break before heading back to London, not rush away from the festival quite so quickly, but now, feeling abandoned by every other festival-goer and participant, I felt that I had possibly made the wrong choice. That night I saw a show at midnight, just to really drag out the fringe as long as possible, and then, at 1:20am on Tuesday the 27th of August, I finally had to admit that it was all, all over.

Tuesday 27th

Today we have been packing up Underbelly. It’s not a very exciting job, it’s not a very happy job, but someone has to do it. Tomorrow night is the staff party and, really, I should have been asleep half an hour ago. But, hey, I love you guys so much I though I should update you all before I forgot absolutely everything about everything. Also, I lost 10 pounds on the way to get a deep-fried Mars bar tonight, so that has totally ruined my mood and all I really wanted to write about tonight was that. Not that I had much mood to ruin before that, but still. How do you lose 10 pounds? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. The chip shop man saw how upset I was and he gave me a 50p discount on my friend Mars bar, which was pretty nice. Though, I have to say that after however many years of trying to buy a deep-fried Mars bar, it wasn’t all that tasty or great. It was, actually, kind of gross. Even if it was 50p cheaper than normal. Boo.

And that is the end of my Edinburgh Fringe – a disappointing deep-fried Mars Bar and a lost 10 pound note.

No, no, of course it isn’t. This is just the weird hang-over, morning after the night before. My Edinburgh Fringe really ended yesterday evening, in the front row of at a midnight show, giggling with two friends after many ciders in the sun. That was the end of Edinburgh and that is how I will choose to remember it, because, goddamn, if I didn’t have an amazing, amazing time. Thanks Edinburgh, thanks for all the wonderful memories and confidence and challenges and lessons and inspirations and let’s all do it again next year, ok?

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Too Much Happening Too Much Happening

There’s too much happening, too much happening and there is no time NO TIME to blog. It has been over a week and I can’t even believe it has been over a week. All the days blend into one. Into one continuous day of theatre and flyering and sleeping and dancing and eating and walking. Oh the walking. I have many other things to do tonight – I was going to see another show, but then I decided I wasn’t because I’ve become totally obsessed with ‘Orange is the New Black’ (why couldn’t I have gotten obsessed when I had finished the fringe??) and also I’m working tonight and I just don’t feel like rushing out and seeing another show right now. Plus, I saw a great show this afternoon and I feel like I’m kind of done for the day. You know?

Ok, so quick round up and then I have to start getting ready for work/watch another episode of ‘Orange is the New Black’.

Total and Utter Humiliation Day

So, last Friday I was given a slot on the Royal Mile to perform an excerpt from my show. But, it being loud on the Royal Mile and my show being wordy and talky, I thought I would come up with a new idea of what to perform. I talked it over with my producer and director and it all sounded good. But it wasn’t. Oh, no, it wasn’t. It was actually THE WORST THING EVER. EVER. EVER.

No, seriously. Don’t ask for audience participation before you’ve got them on side! Don’t ask for audience participation when the rest of the audience can’t hear the participants talking. Don’t get children to participate in something just because they’re the only ones that will say yes. Don’t do it! Don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t.

Luckily my director was on hand to take me out for a cheeky cider or two and things were pretty much forgotten. Kind of not really.

Total and Utter Misery Day

Well, it was always going to happen. You couldn’t expect me to stay chipper every day of the Fringe. My producer left, my director left, I had two nights of 4 and a half hours sleep and a few 3 star reviews (yeah, haven’t been sharing those ones on Facebook!) and suddenly everything was looking pretty dire. Pre-tty di-re. Luckily I had the piece of mind to contact a variety of my friends around the fringe and ask for immediate hand-holding or hugging time. After hot chocolates, noodles, a bit of crying and a lot of talking, I started to feel a lot better.

4 Star Day!

I woke up on Sunday not entirely refreshed (I’d only had 4 hours sleep again) but at least feeling a bit more bright. It didn’t hurt that a 4 star review came out that day which said some lovely things. Flyering became so much easier. Of course, I also realised halfway through flyering that I had left my costume at home and to go get it, thereby losing most of my flyering time, but I still managed a nice audience. Also, my Dad and brother arrived that night and after much wandering around Scottish streets (how can one street have 3 different names?? On the exact same corner?? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE SCOTLAND?) I found them and had a lovely catch-up. That night I took my first foray into the proper real Edinburgh Festival (the International one that the fringe popped up around) which was… very educational. Ok, so I slept through a good 20 minutes of it. But I had averaged 4 hours sleep the three nights before. And I really liked what I saw. I just… decided not to see all of it.

I Don’t Have a Name for Monday

Monday was… Monday. I don’t know. All the days roll into one. I had 8 hours sleep. It was amazing. Oh, yeah! I was hanging out with my brother and Dad, which was fun. We did the typical fringe thing, opening up our guides seeing what was on sometime soon and then going and seeing it. We saw Shylock and… something else. Which I can’t remember. What was it? Eek. Oh, yeah. Dad and I saw comedy. There were jokes about sex and penises and vaginas. It was awkward! Hooray!

Degustation Night

I had a fabulous audience for Tuesday, which included (amongst others), my brother, my Dad and my friends. Yay for unconditional love! That afternoon we took some more punts on some more shows (some of which I may have almost fallen asleep in. Again, not an indictment on the quality of the work. Sometimes things are just tiring you know? And you’re sitting down and it’s dark, and the words are sweeping over you like a rhythm, like the ones on trains or buses and its just ba-boom ba-boom ba-boom… zzzzzzz….. ). One was terrible. TERRIBLE. I won’t tell you which. But I will tell you it had gotten 4 stars from someone! 4 STARS!!! Which is the most ridiculous thing ever and should be a lesson to you all about how shit and pointless reviews are (except for the ones that say nice things about me. Obvs.)

That night Dad took us out for a ridiculously amazing degustation menu (where you get loads of little gourmet courses) plus matching wine. Chris and I also campaigned (successfully) for the cheese platter to end. BEST DECISION EVER. Seriously, if you ever, ever want to spoil me completely and utterly (and who wouldn’t, let’s face it, I’m a doll) go out and get the bestest wine and a selection of the most amazing cheeses (little tip. Don’t buy it from Sainsbury’s) and bring it over to my house. That’s all I need. And also, if you do this, then I don’t think I’ll ever be able to refuse you anything ever again.

Podcast Day

I was left alone again on Wednesday, which made me a little melancholy (Dad had to get home to Australia, Chris back to Oxford), but Chris and I managed to see one more show together and then get a delicious baked potato, so, hey, life isn’t too bad. That afternoon I had a delightful podcast interview with Three Weeks and comedian Luke Toulson which made me feel ever-so-special, even when I listened back to myself the next day and realised I had been speaking at a rate of knots for the entire interview. Do I speak like that all the time? I hope not. That must be anxiety inducing in you guys.

Anyways, after the podcast I was heading off to see a show (as you do) and I heard this man on his mobile saying over and over, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t call earlier.’ Clearly the person on the other end of the line had bad reception (or was really pissed off) because he kept repeating it. It was kind of funny. I was in a good mood (because I was feeling special) so I smiled and as I did so, I happened to catch the eye of a middle aged man walking just ahead of me who had turned around. He turned to me fully and said, ‘Did you hear that?’ Thinking he was also amused by the odd repetition of the phrase, I smiled and said I had. The man said, ‘I don’t get it, I just don’t get it.’ At which point I stopped, thinking he was going to say something else. He did. He said he didn’t know why everyone was talking about him. Suddenly this didn’t seem to be making sense anymore. The man said, ‘Tony. That’s me. He said my name. Why did he say my name?’ I smiled a little cautiously and explained that the man hadn’t said Tony, what he said was ‘I’m sorry I didn’t call earlier.’ To which Tony replied, ‘No, no, wait. You said you heard it. You said you heard him say ‘I’m blaming Tony.’ So how could he have said all that and also, ‘I’m blaming Tony?’ He then started getting very worked up and saying that the same thing had been happening to him all the time, lots of people talking about him violently and aggressively all over the place. Realising what I had gotten myself into, I told him very gently that I was sorry he felt that way, but that the man hadn’t said what Tony thought he had said and that, furthermore, I had to get going because I was seeing a play. And I walked away.

I got to the venue and stood outside. A few minutes later I was aware that the man had followed me there. He saw me, approached and said, ‘I was talking to you. I was trying to explain something to you.’ I told him that I had to go to this show and that he should please leave me alone. I moved into the line for the show. He followed. He got right in my face (backed me into a wall) and started telling me that I was a little bitch, I was fucking rude and he was just fucking trying to tell me something. At which point I yelled out for help (please keep in mind I was surrounded, literally surrounded by people – I was standing in a fucking line) and no one did. So I called the police. Which I told the man loudly as I was on the phone. And, of course, as soon as I had done that, he walked away. Thereby making me feel even more ridiculous for the fact that I had yelled, that I had called the police, that I was now shaking and on the verge of tears and that no-one had helped. In all fairness, two people did ask if I was ok afterwards and chatted to me and calmed me down. But, still. To be so alone in a situation when you are surrounded by people is so strange. I also felt pretty shit that I had called the police on someone so obviously suffering from a mental health disorder. But I’m not sure how you are supposed to deal with that situation if you are not a trained doctor and/or social worker. It’s shit. He obviously needed help. And my only resource was to try and get him locked up? Even after the show I was pretty shaken and unhappy, so I called up my friend again and headed out to the New Town for drinks and dinner. Thank goodness for friends.

I Also Don’t Have a Name for Thursday

I don’t remember what happened Thursday. It was a day. A day in which things happened. And this is why I am attempting to blog EVERY DAY FOR THE LAST YEAR OF MY TWENTIES. Because memories die people! They die! And then it’s like you never even lived! That day never existed! I JUST LOST ONE OF THE LAST DAYS OF MY TWENTIES! I HAVE EVEN LESS TWENTIES THAN I DID BEFORE! I HAVE DEPRIVE MYSELF OF MY TWENTIES!

Ahem.

I did the show. I must have seen some other shows. I think there were people in them. Oh, yes, I saw all this performance poetry and word art stuff at the Free Fringe. Like, 4 shows in a row. It was my spoken word free fringe day. And then I went to work. Thank god. Got  the day back.

Yesterday

Yesterday was Friday. It was a good day. It is disturbing how quickly your body can get used to only 4 hours sleep. I am going to get so much done when I get back to London.

Today

Today was today. I don’t know, what do you want from me? A guy answered his mobile phone during my show. DURING MY SHOW. It’s not just that he didn’t switch it off. It’s not just that it rang. HE ANSWERED IT. I also bought 15 pounds worth of tights and socks at Primark. I don’t like to do things by halves. And now I must go to work. Like, right now. Like, I should have been dressed already. And yet I’m still typing. WHY AM I STILL TYPING.

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More Fringe!

I just checked the dates again and, goddamn it, if 4 days hasn’t already gone past again. I thought I was going to be really good with my blogging. Well, actually, that’s not true, I’m amazed I’m finding anytime to blog at all, but I mean, when I finished the last post I had sworn to write another post pretty quickly afterwards and hadn’t realised so many days had gone past already.

Excuse me one second I just have to check where I left you. Ok, Sunday. It was Sunday. 4 more days! 4 more days!

MONDAY

Actually, I’m going to give you a little background from Sunday evening – after a delicious snooze, I headed out to see an Irish friend in ‘So You Think You’re Funny’, which is a stand-up comedy competition. It was good fun – the emcee found out I was Australian and then he found out I was in a show and so then he let me plug it (twice), which made me feel ever-so-special. My friend was also very funny (though she didn’t win, unfortunately) and it was a lovely night. I caught up with her afterwards as well, which was crazy and lovely and nice. Ah, Cork. Sure, boy, you can’t get away from it.

So, Monday dawned and my Irish friend and her husband both turned up at my show along with, randomly enough, a family with two little boys. When I say ‘little’, I mean a 12 year old and a 10 year old. So, not really my target audience. And I have to say, I was a little worried. Not only that they may not enjoy it, or may not stay focused the whole way through, but that their parents would get annoyed at me for showing their children a dirty magazine and talking about penises (not that I would just do that to random boys, you understand, it’s in my show. I swear. And it all has a context. An important plot-driven context! Oh, lordy, why do all my blog posts about #EdFringe seem to skate too close to jokes about child abuse? IT IS NOT FUNNY).

Anyway, the show actually went very well – the mother loved the show, laughed a lot and I delivered a lot of my lines to the two boys, which entertained them as well as their mother. At one point I gave my popcorn (another prop) to one of the boys and we did a whole back and forth through my speech (I eat popcorn during it), where he’d come up and give me more popcorn and then take it back to his seat. It was all very hilarious and sweet. That evening I saw… I think 3 or 4 more shows? It all rolls into one, to be honest with you. You can go check my Twitter feed and see what I posted about that day – I’ve been blathering about how much I like all the artists that I like on Twitter so they can use me in their promotional material and retweet me and make me feel special (I’m all about feeling special). And, you know, so they can fill up that empty place in their souls that apparently all artists have, if we are to believe popular culture. At the end of #EdFringe I’m going to write you up a list of all the things that I saw during the month and its going to impress and amaze you and also be a record for the ages.

I also wore my beautiful 1970s Maria von Trapp dress and made my friend run through the streets with me with our arms out-stretched whilst singing about hills and music. It was ever so much fun.

TUESDAY

Well Tuesday was pretty much the same as Monday. Are you sensing a pattern at all? We got up at a reasonable hour, headed out, handed out as many flyers as possible (on a side note, we are almost halfway through our 3 boxes of flyers ALREADY. And it’s not even been a week or flyering yet! Either I have to be more discerning with my flyers, or word of mouth needs to start getting around via reviews – WHERE ARE THE REVIEWS – or I’m going to have to print more flyers. Luckily, I still have a pile of flyers left over from Brighton, so I can just change the info on those and hand them out if needs be. If anyone remembers me complaining about the fact that my producer told me I needed 10000 flyers and I didn’t think I would speak to that many people, well, consider that I have personally handed out around 2500 flyers and tried to give them to even more people than that) and then I did the show.

Oh and it was tough show. I don’t think its very fashionable to say that. Looking at everyone’s #EdFringe feeds up here on Twitter it does not seem to be a good idea to bad mouth the audience. Everyone’s audiences are always warm, attentive and very, very happy to be there. VERY HAPPY. In no way did we have to lock the doors to keep them watching the performance. Not at all. We swear. Nobody fell asleep. They didn’t even yawn. They sat in rapt attention the entire time. They laughed at EVERY JOKE. BECAUSE WE ARE SUCH EXCELLENT PERFORMERS AND THIS PLAY IS EXCELLENT AND PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE BUY A TICKET SO I CAN AFFORD TO BUY FOOD WHEN I RETURN TO MY USUAL ABODE.

Oh, artists. Amusement.

But, well, you should know by now that I tell you all the things that you don’t want to hear and that I’m not supposed to say (the wax lady took too much hair off my pubes! My inner thighs chafed so much yesterday I started bleeding! My inability to find a boyfriend leads to a deep and shameful sense of emptiness that, as a feminist, I am deeply unhappy about and leads me to make more and more jokes about it and talk about it ad nauseum to try and stop the rising sense of panic and anxiety!) so, let me just say – oh, it was a tough audience. So tough. So so so so tough. Apparently four ladies, two of them on their own, two of them together, is the hardest audience to win over. For one thing, they seem very self-conscious about laughing.

Anyways, I got through the show and a couple of the ladies afterwards thanked me and told me they had really enjoyed it, asked questions about where I had gotten the inspiration etc. It was very nice, though I wasn’t certain if they were just trying to make me feel better because they had been so bored throughout. But, the thing I do have to remember is that not everyone laughs as uproariously as I do in the theatre. And I think a show where the audience is not in the dark, where everyone can see everyone else, is that little bit harder. Maybe I’m making excuses. Maybe I’m just crap. I’m not sure. I don’t think I’m crap. I actually, genuinely don’t think I’m crap (as a side note, my evil thoughts – the ones that have caused me so much trouble over the years – tend to jump in at this point and tell me that, actually, actually, I have now reached an unacceptable level of self-confidence, one which allows me to feel good about myself most of the time and considers most things I say and do important, or at least, not-terrible. This unacceptable level of self-confidence, my evil thoughts tell me, is blinding me to the fact that I am ACTUALLY THE WORST PERFORMER WITH THE WORST SHOW OF THE ENTIRE EDINBURGH FRINGE. If only you hadn’t had therapy, whisper the evil thoughts, then you would be able to understand the truth. This is why I don’t let my evil thoughts onto Twitter, as it would ruin my entire social media campaign for the show).

If nothing else, #EdFringe is an excellent way of getting used to every possible audience and every possible audience reaction. As a performer, I did that a few years ago when I was in a theatre education group, but I’ve never really done it with something that I’ve written and created before. Something that means a lot to me. I think it’s probably pretty healthy. If you can get through #EdFringe still thinking you are a worthwhile performer with a worthwhile show I don’t think there is much else the world can throw at you to shake your confidence.

That night we headed out for drinks after our day of theatre and had a grand old time talking and laughing and building plastic cup towers. I wore my Maria von Trapp dress again and we came up with a show idea for next year’s fringe – one-woman Sound of Music. And I am only half-joking. I think that could possibly be AMAZING. I mean, I’d need to learn how to use a loop pedal, I think, to really make it excellent, but these are small details.

IF ANY OF YOU STEAL THIS IDEA I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN AND… AND… DEMAND ROYALTIES.

WEDNESDAY

All that said about how healthy it is for a performer to go to tough shows, when I got to the venue on Wednesday and it seemed like there were only going to be 4 people in the audience I started to panic. Again. No, I thought to myself. No, no, no, no, no. I do not want to do another hour show to only 4 people. I do not want to do it. I do not, I do not, I do not. Even though I know I can do it and the world will not collapse if I do do it, I still do not want to do it.

Luckily, my producer and director were on hand. They told me to calm down, get some water, take a moment. They also reminded me that there was absolutely nothing riding on the show. So, if I decided I really, truly didn’t want to do the show, then I didn’t have to. No-one had bought tickets, no venue or investor had money in the show. I could simply walk away. That was a nice thought. A very, very nice thought. So, I took my water, I headed to my corridor, and I waited. I calmed down. My producer gave me the thumbs up for the start of the show and I headed out onto stage. Suddenly, from nowhere, there were 40 people in my audience. I had no idea where or how or why they had all arrived. But there they all were. Waiting for me to start. Oh good Lord.

They were wonderful. Apparently, we (my producer or myself) had given one girl (one!) a flyer the day before and she had taken it back to her ENTIRE ENGLISH LANGUAGE CLASS and said, ‘hey! This looks good!’ And all of them had said, ‘Yes! It does look good!’ and they had ALL COME EN MASSE. So, the lesson here, people, is that English language classes are an untapped GOLDMINE of Edinburgh Fringe audiences. Even if one of them paid me with Jersey money. A one pound ‘note’! Like this:

My director, who is Swedish, said to my producer, who is English – ‘Its got your Queen on it! They must accept it here!’ To which I replied, ‘My Australian money has their queen on it and they certainly don’t accept it here’. Anyways, I finished the show feeling fabulous. And also like THE BEST PERFORMER WITH THE BEST SHOW IN THE ENTIRETY OF THE EDINBURGH FRINGE. I topped off the feeling with an Aperol Spritz in the sun with my producer, director and director’s friend. Oh, joy. 

I pushed on through seeing 3 shows yesterday, two of which were excellent, one of which I almost fell asleep in for a good 40 minutes of. I’m not going to say what it was, because I know how much work goes into these shows and how hard it is up here anyway and the last thing anyone wants is some snide comment on some blog somewhere just to really throw salt in the wound of the masses of debt and the empty houses (not that I’m saying these people are going to get that, but just in case). By the end of the third show (finished at 10:25pm) I was pretty exhausted. I invest pretty heavily in every show I see. I don’t mean monetarily (though I do that too), but emotionally. If it’s funny, I cackle. If it’s icky, I scrunch up my face and tense my muscles. If it’s sad, I bawl. If it’s scary, I jump out of my seat and scream (no, really, I did it last night. But, in my defence, they threw a snake head at me! What was I supposed to do??) But, after the emotional drama of attempting to get people to see my show, doing my show and then adding approximately 3 – 4 shows a day on top of that, all of which have characters and stories I need to care about and invest in, well, it all leaves you feeling a little drained. My director and I decided on an early night & went home to watch Erin Brockovich on Netflix. We got through 20 minutes before calling quits. So rock and roll.

THURSDAY

That was today! We had a delightful sleep in (8 hours sleep? What is this?) before heading down to the half-price hut again to do some flyering. There was a lovely long line of people waiting for half-price tickets who I attacked with my counter offer of a ‘pay-what-you-want’ show! Oh, yes, were they ever interested! Comedy! Love! FREE-NESS! I gave out many flyers. As I was flyering one couple, the lady in front turned around and I realised it was my audience member from a day or two ago (the tough crowd) – she told me how wonderful she thought the show had been. Then she told the people I was flyering how wonderful it was. Then she said she had been telling everyone she knew about it too. Oh, I wanted to wrap her up and take her with me. Just put her in a corner of my room and have her say nice things to me whenever I was feeling a little sad.

The audience was a good 9 people (including a reviewer), which would have pleased me a day or two ago, but now everything will be compared to THE DAY THE ENTIRE ENGLISH LANGUAGE CLASS CAME TO SEE MY SHOW, so all will be found wanting. My audience today were all very attentive, but laughed not so much. Or, laughed a lot in some places and not at all in others. And I suppose you can’t please all of the people all of the time. What you really need to make sure is that you have enough of the people in at one time so that you can please some of them sometimes and then please the others the other times and then it seems like your pleasing everyone all the time because there is just constant chuckling all the way through. It wasn’t the worst show, it wasn’t the best show (it certainly wasn’t the day before’s show – why do reviewers always come on the days after the excellent days?) but it did leave me feeling… I don’t know. Two of my audience members spent a lot of time fighting back yawns, fighting their drooping eyelids (which only seemed fair enough considering my similar reaction to the unnamed show the day before – PERFORMANCE KARMA). Which is fine, but… Well, it was the evil thoughts again. They jumped in and starting playing havoc with my brain. What exactly was I trying to achieve here? In #EdFringe? With this show? What was the point of this show? This production? Was it to make money? That wasn’t happening. Was it to entertain people? It didn’t always seem to be doing that. Was there a message? Not that I could really think of. Was this show going to launch my career in the arts? Well, no, because no-one important was really coming to see it. So, what exactly was the point? And if it wasn’t really entertaining people and if there was no reason to really put it on, was the only reason that I was here was for my own vanity? To feel good about myself even if everything else in my life/career was going to shit (ok, that’s not fair – ah, ‘less than stellar’). The good shows – the ones you feel amazing after – is that because you’ve given the audience a good time, or…. because they’ve given YOU a good time? Was this show for me or them?

I don’t rightly know what my answer to that question is. It certainly upset and worried me enough to ruin my afternoon, however. Well, not ruin it so much as, just… turn it introspective. I needed the afternoon off anyway to do some preparation for tomorrow (I’m performing on the Royal Mile – wish me luck) and also because I could not, could not, invest in any more characters or storylines or performers this afternoon. I had to be quiet. I had to not use my brain or my heart. I needed to eat peanut butter fudge biscuits and stare at Twitter and be a slob. It was delightful. I ripped up a bag of white paper (snow) for 20 minutes and felt ridiculously satisfied.

Anyway, please don’t worry about me. I’m not upset or depressed (really, I’m not). I’m just… confused. This is apparently what I want to do with my life. It’s what I’ve fought for since I was a little girl. And, I think, being here, amongst so many performers, so much theatre, so many different styles and shows (many of them excellent, exciting pieces of work), I’m becoming more and more aware of the fact that I’m not really entirely sure why I wanted it so badly for so long. Because I don’t actually know what I’m contributing. I don’t know why it should be my voice over somebody else’s. I don’t know why the stories I’m telling are of more worth or value. Another performer told me today that we do it ‘because we love it’. And that we shouldn’t expect to get anything more out of it than someone else with a ‘normal’ job that they love (say, accounting), gets out of their job. However, I beg to differ. I don’t think people ‘love’ accounting in the way that we ‘love’ performing. More and more I think that very few people actually ‘love’ their jobs in the way that we performers are told we need to ‘love’ our jobs. And that cuts both ways, of course, not many accountants have to deal with the lows and insecurity that an artist has to deal with. But, the point is… What is the point? The point is, people choose their jobs for all sorts of reasons. And is choosing your job for love not just an incredibly selfish thing to do? Are other people as selfish as we are? Do they choose their jobs for other selfish reasons? Money or prestige or power? Do they choose them because of the way they make them feel on the good days? Perhaps they do. Maybe there are very few people out there who actually choose their jobs for the good they can achieve in them. Perhaps everyone chooses their job for some selfish reason and I should just get over it. But, over the past week or so I really have been left with the feeling that I am fighting extremely hard for something that I’m not entirely sure is deserved or warranted – not because I’m not a decent performer (I’m a decent performer, I’m a decent writer), but because I don’t know how I could possibly contribute in a way that a hundred billion other performers are doing just as well, if not better than I am. But, if that’s the case, where is the place or industry or niche that I can contribute to in a meaningful way? Where is the gap that is just crying out to be filled by a person such as myself?

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

 

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Filed under Edinburgh, Theatre

And it goes on and on and on…

My last post is dated the 31st of July. Today is the 4th of August. That means I have 5 days to fill you in about. 5 days. 5 days. I know I did something in those days, but the order is a little hazy. Which is only slightly to do with sleep deprivation. But I must record every last day of my 20’s! Even if I’m not doing new things! Even if it is ridiculous and repetitive! It is an act of… art! I think! Possibly! A long-form art project! Perhaps someone could give me money for it? Yes, yes, give me all the monies. Please, thank you.

Apologies. I have given myself the afternoon off from plays and fringe and flyering and etc. and apparently that gives me full licence to do and feel whatever the hell I like. In particular, let all the crazy out onto the blog and stop it wreaking havoc in my head and gut. Yes? Yes.

Sometimes I do really like writing when sleep deprived. And drunk. Drunk-writing is good too. Everything sounds good then.

Um. Yes. Edinburgh Fringe. The 1st of August. GO.

AUGUST 1st

I saw more shows. Is that boring to you yet? Sorry, but its the truth. I went to a friend’s children’s show about doing the laundry which was delightfully diverting, though I did feel like I should have stolen a child on the way in just to really enhance my experience. That’s a legitimate reason for child abduction, right? To properly enjoy children’s theatre? I would also have read them some Harry Potter afterwards. No one would prosecute me for that?

Ha. Jokes (Please don’t investigate me, UK police).

That afternoon my producer and I started flyering, which (I may have mentioned) I was dreading. But people were, on the whole, very kind, very happy to take flyers and some even stopped and spoke to me about the show. I was utterly delighted. I don’t know what I thought would happen – perhaps people spitting in my face for making jokes about child abduction – but like most things in my life, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. After a short break flyering I headed to ‘Red Bastard’, which I had gotten comp tickets for. It was amazing and I admitted far too many honest things about… things than I shouldn’t have spoken about in front of a group full of strangers (I’m not even willing to commit the same things to the blog! Not even going to give you a hint of them! You must realise how serious these things were, then, considering what I commit to this blog. At least what was heard verbatim in a theatre show has deniability. This blog does not).

Anyways. After more cheese and carbs (the only required food groups at #EdFringe), I went out and saw my housemates perform their cabaret show Sugar and Vice. I had seen it at Brighton Fringe, but it was just as good the second time around. Especially when some guy admitted that the reason he hadn’t been able to have sex with a girl he liked was because he set fire to his apartment when arranging a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. Fun times!

The best thing about #EdFringe (too much Twitter, sorry), however, is all the new people you meet. So my producer and I hung out with a friend of my housemate’s all night, who turned out to know some family friends of mine from Berry (weird) and she was wonderful. We were then joined by some lovely Scottish men – it was uncertain whether or not they were trying to make fun of us, pick us up or just wanted to chat. Either way, they were fun. One of them is the sound guy for a Scottish folk music centre (!!!!!!!) who obviously very quickly became my favourite person I have ever met at a thing ever. Especially when he gave me his number and told me to message him if I wanted to get in for free (ok, now it sounds like he was trying to pick me up. But, I swear it was much more confusing and less obvious than all that #BlurredLines, am I right, #RobinThicke? #HighFive. WOAH. Hashtag overload, Jen. #GetoffTwitter)

AUGUST 2nd

We did some *serious* flyering on Friday after a nice little sleep-in (oh those late nights chatting to new friends). More free tickets to various shows and then I had my first shift at Underbelly for Hot Dub Time Machine. I was mildly distressed to realise that my first shift came the night before my opening show, but I had agreed to this and I thought that with an afternoon nap, I should be able to do it. The shift itself was fantastic. Hot Dub Time Machine is a long dance party, where they play the biggest hit from each year from 1954 onwards to the present day. There are also fabulous videos that show the video clips for the songs or teach you the dance moves for each song. Every song that comes on, you’re like, ‘I LOVE this song! This is my FAVOURITE song!’ Until the next song comes on and then you’re all, ‘oh, wait, no THIS is my favourite song!’ None of them are played all the way through and the highlight is when hundreds of red balloons are dumped on the audience in the middle of ’99 Red Balloons’. Best. Party. Ever.

I was on the smoking area door with a lovely Scottish security guard/paramedic named Andrew whose accent and height meant it was difficult to hear a lot of what he was saying (most of it went straight over my head. Literally. Gettit?) He was great fun though and did bad dancing with me and one of the other FOH girls, which not only amused us but got us many fans from the punters. Turns out girls love tall Scottish security guards who dance and guys love girls who check their entry stamps with a smile and some air guitar.

We finished work at 4:45am and I headed straight home and collapsed into bed. Technically it was now…

AUGUST 3rd

Opening day! Opening show! I was terrified! I was exhausted! I walked to the venue with my producer and had an extremely depressing conversation with her about the fact that I had no idea what I was doing with this whole ‘theatre’ thing and nobody paid me money for anything and nobody wanted my plays in their seasons and no-one wanted to give me money and I had no idea how to make it sustainable and was I even happy doing this stuff at all and I had no other skills so I had no other options and besides all that was the work any good because, after all, nobody seemed to want to pay me money or collaborate with me (not even my friends seemed to want to collaborate) and woe is me, everything was just bad bad bad and to top it all off I had put myself in the freakin’ Edinburgh Fringe, paying so much money to go and stand in a venue where there would be no people and perform an hour-long show to a load of unappreciative empty chairs who wouldn’t get all my Richard Curtis jokes.

 

But the strangest thing happened around midday. People started heading to the venue. They were clutching my flyers and looking expectantly towards me. Could they go inside yet? Was the show on yet? Oh good God, this was possibly worse than the other possibility.

You see, I have done a lot of solo shows, but in the end most of the people that have seen those solo shows are my friends and family. Over and over again. Not that I’m complaining about that. They’re extremely supportive and lovely. But the fact of the matter is that my audiences are usually made up in large part by people who already know me, plus maybe a couple of their friends and then a few random people who have wandered in off the street (how did you find me random people? How? Why? The miracles of the world).

So, as I started my very first #EdFringe show, I stared into a sea of faces I had never seen before in my entire life and pondered the possibilities of my first real great test of my abilities as a performer and writer. Would they like me? Would they get me? Would they care?

All I can say is that it was a wonderful, wonderful show. The audience was so warm, so genuinely encouraging. Just 13 people, but it was such a perfect size that I wouldn’t have wanted any more. After the incredibly depressing talk on the way to the show, the walk home was full-to-bursting with the happiest, warmest feelings I have ever experienced in my life. I knew I had 20 more shows to go, but having the first show go so well made me feel so much happier and more confident. Suddenly the whole festival seemed achievable and worth it.

After a nap that evening I went in for my second Hot Dub Time Machine shift. This time I got to spend half of the shift inside the actual dance hall, watching the videos, singing along to the songs, dancing as much as I could whilst still retaining a sense of dignity and responsibility for those dancing on the ground. There were about double the amount of people as the night before and I spent a lot of time pulling punters off their friends’ shoulders, which was strangely… I don’t know. They listened to me is all. People don’t always listen to me when I tell them they can’t do something. It was kind of thrilling (oh dear, this is how despots get their start, isn’t it?) as well as being completely unexpected. I am glad they listened to me. I didn’t really have much of a back-up plan if they had said no and stayed on their friends’ shoulders. They just made sad faces, which is surprisingly easy to ignore. Jenny the Fun Killer! (no, that’s not fair. Jenny the FOH Officer Who Really Truly Cares About the Health and Safety of Her Patrons. That’s fair).

Seeing the show on the inside was incredible. It really is such a good party and I have been recommending it to everyone I talk to. The videos are great, the music is so well chosen and the DJ (an Australian, of course), is so lovely and charming and charismatic. I have some very strange favourite moments of the set, including the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song (which I wasn’t even a fan of when it was on TV), Bittersweet Symphony and, for whatever reason, The Killers’ Mr. Brightside, which had such an emotional impact on me last night that I had to listen to it on repeat for the last hour this afternoon. I’m still uncertain of the reasons behind my sudden attachment to this song. No doubt I’ll work it out in a few months. Or maybe not.

We finished earlier whilst doing twice as much work and it was now…

AUGUST 4th

Today today! It was much harder waking up this morning than yesterday. I kept telling myself that I would wake up along the way to the venue. But on the inside I was secretly kind of hoping no one would turn up to the show and we could cancel it. Part of me was also going, ‘oh, wouldn’t it be nice if I had only booked one show for the #EdFringe and yesterday was it and now I just had the whole festival ahead of me to enjoy and meet nice people and see good shows?’ Of course if I had done that I wouldn’t have been satisfied as I would have had no reviewers and none of my friends would have seen it.

And of course, I wouldn’t have actually been happy if no-one turned up. So, it was with relief I heard from my producer that I had an audience of 4 women. It was a very different show, not only because I was exhausted. I managed to get through it though, which was the main thing. I then found out one of my audience members was a reviewer. So, yay, kind of, because we wanted reviewers, except I was not at all certain of the quality of my performance. Which was a real shame considering how happy I had been the day before. All we can do now is wait. And hope it’s not an absolute massacre.

I came home and had a snooze this afternoon and have been sitting in bed being very lazy, which I feel I deserve. Lots of bonnet drama watching and writing and reading and social media-ing. Just what I needed on a Sunday afternoon. I don’t have to work tonight, so I’m taking the opportunity to catch up on sleep (and blogging) and see another show or two. Catch you later dudes!

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