Category Archives: Edinburgh

The Theatre Detox

In the past 8 months, I have seen a total of 3 plays. 2 of which I only went to because friends invited me (and I wanted to see the friend, not the play). 1 of which could be more accurately described as a work-in-progress physical-theatre piece, but, hey, ‘play’, is easier.

At the end of the Edinburgh Fringe last year, I was so physically, mentally and emotionally wrung out by ‘The Theatre’ (big, booming English dramatic voice), that I vowed to give up on it entirely. It was a gut reaction and it shocked me in it’s intensity and also in it’s feeling of truth. People didn’t really take me seriously. I had been saying I wanted to be an actor since I was 12 years old. I had been doing amateur theatre since I was 8. My involvement in theatre seemed to be the defining aspect of my personality. But, I said it vehemently over and over, to anyone who would listen, at any time of the day: ‘I don’t think I want to do this anymore.’ On the night after opening, I told my brother, who had, of course, agreed to perform in my show, unpaid, and give up 6 weeks of his time rehearsing and performing. I think I was wearing a towel. I could have made that up. The main point is, it was awkward.

I hated the theatre with all the passion and vindictiveness of a scorned lover. I felt physically gouged by the utter indifference I had managed to elicit from ‘The Industry’ (sarcastic, drawling American voice). I ranted about the artificiality and superficiality of ‘The Business’ and about the trumped up charlatans who ran it or succeeded in it. I lectured about an industry obsessed with youth and beauty and gimmicks and the ‘next-big-thing’; an industry that wanted shock and awe and cheap outrage at the expense of things that were beautiful or delicate or intelligent. I stored up examples of an industry that was irrelevant and so far up it’s own arse it couldn’t see how little it mattered to the rest of humanity. An industry that thought it was dissecting philosophy and religion, but was actually peddling cheap entertainment, that was no longer all that cheap and certainly not that entertaining (hey, I have Netflix now). I rolled my eyes at artists who moaned on social media about not get a living wage. I fumed at my computer and did my best conservative voter imitation and demanded that these freeloaders get a real job and then see what the hell it was like. With a few notable exceptions for some truly decent friends, I hated on absolutely anyone and everyone that had a modicum of success in the ‘Theatre Industry’ over the past 8 months. And that includes your 12 year old niece who just played Dorothy in her primary school’s abridged version of ‘The Wizard of Oz’, where Toto is played by one of the kids from the Infants School wearing a headband with two floppy socks for dog ears.

All in all, it felt safer to avoid theatre for a little while. I didn’t want to become part of a news story which included phrases like ‘unprovoked angry ranting at a mostly elderly matinee audience’, ‘escorted outside’ and ‘public disorder charge’. Besides, I had been hurt by theatre’s complete indifference to me. It felt good to prove to myself exactly how insignificant I was. It felt good to hurt myself more, the way it sometimes feels good to push a bruise and feel that old ache renew itself. I gave up, and nobody cared. Nobody even noticed. I was absolutely nothing.

Being nothing was harder than I expected. Giving up on the defining aspect of your personality (see above paragraph) turns out not to be that easy. What does one do with one’s time now that one doesn’t not need to read the latest script or see the latest director’s latest masterpiece for the good of your theatrical education? What does one think about if it’s not the crafting of your current production? What does one hope for if it’s not for the success of your next project? What does one dream about if it’s not eventually getting a fully-funded tour to actual audiences in actual venues of some kind of project that you’re somehow part of?

Old devils kept tempting me. Friends would tell me I should set something up, put on a show, apply for a thing. Being in Berlin was both a blessing and a curse. No-one in ‘The Industry’ knew me in Berlin and I didn’t know them, so it was easy to avoid everything. I went into hibernation. But, at the same time, theatre was how I made friends. Everywhere I went in the world, it was theatre where I felt most comfortable. Sitting in my lovely Berlin apartment feeling lonely I would want to do a thing with a person. But I wouldn’t know what that thing could be, if it wasn’t theatre, and I didn’t know who that person was, if it wasn’t a theatre person.

Visiting a friend in West Berlin a little while ago, I glimpsed the beautiful art deco facade of the Schaubühne Theatre, all lit up, and I felt (along side of the heavy helping of sour grapes), an older, warmer glow of excitement and anticipation. I went to the theatre’s website to see if they had plays with English subtitles. They did. I found a show about women and history, that was in German and English, not on for a couple of months. I thought I could probably calm myself down sufficiently over the course of a couple of months to see a play.

A. and I sent to see that play last week. I wish I could tell you it was a complete turn around and I’m once again a theatre convert (and OF COURSE artists should have living wages!) but, no, it’s more complicated than that. It was, in so many ways, the worst things about contemporary theatre. A hasty, cobbled together script with nothing to say; gimmicky direction hamstrung by it’s obsession with the latest theatre fad (live filming of the action on stage! Watch theatre through a screen – you’ll feel so much more comfortable!); and set and costume that completely upstaged the actors (the lead actress really did have a very nice hat on). I left the theatre shaking with rage and ranted the whole way home. Don’t feel sorry for A. – he seemed to enjoy it (the ranting, that is, not the play. Lucky for him, his opinion aligned with mine, though perhaps less vehemently).

I am left with two tentative conclusions from this so-called ‘Theatre Detox’ and it’s subsequent breaking:

1) I think I am over the blackest part of my rage at theatre ‘in general’ and am ready to save the worst of my vengeance for specific examples of heinous theatre crimes. That’s not to say I forgive theatre. No, I still find the majority of productions on offer these days boring, derivative and full of themselves. But, I seem to be able to hope again, that somewhere out there, is a production that is genuinely great and wonderful.

2) The living I earn will never be related to theatre. But, in all honesty, I don’t know if I can give it up entirely. I don’t want to do am-dram, and a person of my age doesn’t have the energy for fringe unless they’re getting at least some kind of funding, so I don’t know exactly what I am left with. Something small. The opposite of ambitious. But, I don’t know what that looks like. I don’t know what the point of it is. I don’t know why I have this compulsion. I don’t like it. It feels self-obsessed and self-absorbed and attention-seeking. And, yet, I don’t seem to be able to kick the habit.

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Filed under Berlin, Edinburgh, Theatre

Flyering

It’s the end of Edinburgh (FINALLY), but I’ve been wanting to writing something about this for a while.

There are a lot of grumpy posts about how people handing out flyers can be less annoying. That’s all well and good, however, I think it’s about time that we had a post in which people refusing flyers learn how to be less annoying.

So, without further ado… The Correct Etiquette on Refusing a Flyer.

When someone hands you a flyer with a big hopeful smile on their face:

1) DO NOT lower your face to the ground and run around me.

I know you saw me. You just ran around me. You can’t run around someone you can’t see. You’re just making things embarrassing. And when I say ‘making things embarrassing’, I mean, YOU are being embarrassing. I am embarrassed on your behalf. I am making apologetic faces to the people around me as if you are my very good friend, who we all know is *slightly* strange, but we all put up with it because you, I don’t know, make really good banana bread. Or something.

2) DO NOT look at the flyer, and roll your eyes/sneer/snort/generally act dismissive and derisive.

Yes. perhaps a university production of 7 Brides for 7 Brothers where all the genders are reversed may not be your thing, and yes, maybe it WILL get a ones star review from Lyn Gardner in the Guardian (but I doubt it, because she’s much nicer and more reasonable about bad theatre than most of the people who refuse flyers), but this is still SOMEONE’s baby and just like you wouldn’t ridicule an ugly baby in front of it’s mother (I mean, you’d at least wait until her back is turned and/or she’s in the kitchen heating up the little monster’s milk), don’t sneer at my flyer RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Wait until you round the corner before you and your friends break into the peals of laughter reserved for the self-righteous and the critical who have never tried to put on a show at Edinburgh. Oh, I’m sorry, am I sounding bitter? Well, who’s the genius that decided to book a holiday to Edinburgh during festival time and then didn’t expect to get showered with flyers for improvised student musical versions of Hamlet? Oh, you live here? Well then take all my money for your little city economy and don’t walk through the centre of the city at festival time (I know you locals know how to do it – one told me that was what he does every August).

Ahem. Sorry. Number 3.

3) DO NOT look at the flyer in wide-eyed, open-mouthed terror.

It is not a bomb. It is not a Howler (though we ARE in Edinburgh). It is not a pit-bull terrier cleverly disguised as a flyer that will eat your hand the second you take it out of mine.

4) DO NOT give me excuses as to why you can’t take my flyer.

Especially don’t give me excuses that are’t excuses. ‘Oh, we’ve already got plans tonight.’ Oh yes? Have you heard that the festival goes on for 3 weeks? SO DOES MY SHOW, SO TAKE MY FLYER. Don’t open a can of worms. Don’t offer fancy excuses. Take the flyer or refuse it politely. Do you think it makes me feel better to know that you’ve decided to give your money and attention to another show? That if I had only found you earlier in the day and given you the right kind of pitch and also filled my show with hundreds of people in kilts playing bagpipes and have fireworks at the end that maybe you would have come to my show? No. No, it does not. It makes me resent the fact that I do not own a time machine to go back and time and give you my flyer before you bought your ticket to whatever stupid show you are going to see and also that I even if I HAD a time machine, I did not/do not have the wherewithal to feature the Edinburgh Tattoo in my one-woman show.

5) DO NOT sexually harass me.

Tourists liked my hair curlers. Dirty old men and stag parties liked my… hidden vagina? My covered up boobs? The fact that I was wearing make-up? Who knows. But apparently, this year, I was fair game for horrible men. No, I mean, OBVIOUSLY, I can see where they got confused. Clearly a woman with make-up on and standing alone on a street corner is begging to be the receptacle for all male sexual fantasies, rape jokes and/or bad beer breath. No, no wait, actually, sorry. I wrote that down wrong. I DON’T GET THAT AT ALL.

6) DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT IGNORE ME.

I just spoke to you, bitch! You may not want my flyer, and that is FINE, but, hey, I am a human being, sharing this slowly dying earth with you and the least you could do is look into my eyes and acknowledge MY EXISTENCE AS A HUMAN BEING.

Ahem. Yes, sorry. I think that’s my middle-class white girl privilege coming in contact with something it is not used to experiencing.

So, without further ado, how should you refuse a flyer if you do not want to bring the curses of unemployed actors down upon your shoulders?

It’s really quite simple. Here are the 3 steps:

Look into my eyes.
Smile (genuinely).
And say, ‘no, sorry’ or ‘no, thanks’.

Simple as that.

Or, you know, you could just take the goddamn flyer.

Really, I’ve got hundreds. THOUSANDS.

Just, take it and throw it away around the corner.

But don’t let me see you do it.
BECAUSE I WILL COME FOR YOU.

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Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

They say that ‘three’ is a magic number. A lucky number. Well, if that is so, I expect piles of leprechaun gold to be showered down upon me, rainbow unicorns to start flying out of my arse. My Edinburgh Fringe show, you see, has now been graced with five 3-star reviews. It has had so much mediocre fairy dust showered down upon it that I can only reasonably expect miracles to start occurring in each performance. The blind can see. The lame can walk. A wooden puppet turns into a real boy.
I apologise in advance for this massively self-pitying post, when there are many more dreadful things happening in the world. Gaza. Isis. Robin Williams. But, hey, what can I say. I’m a selfish c**t.
I am going on swings and roundabouts with the reviews. The first one devastated me and resulted in me sobbing for several hours before and after my second show. The second one I expected and so didn’t faze me, not really. It was actually quite nice. So nice, in fact, that several people have asked, ‘exactly why didn’t they give you 4 stars?’ The third was so completely inconsistent in it’s praise/condemnation that it’s barely worth mentioning, except for the fact that I’d secretly hoped it would be 4 and so it destroyed me anew. The final two I checked the star rating of and then didn’t bother to read. I don’t really need any more half-hearted praise.
Everyone says 3-star reviews are a recommendation. But they’re not. Not really. Certainly not up at Edinburgh Fringe, where EVERYONE has a 4 star or 5 star review plastered to their flyers. As a reviewer, when I’m giving 3 stars, it’s usually a bit like saying, ‘yeah, it’s a fine show. If you have any interest in [insert topic of show], you’ll probably enjoy it.’ Or, ‘if you’ve got nothing else to do that night, it’s probably worth paying some money for.’ It’s like one big ‘meh’. And after 5 of them you start thinking, yeah, pretty much all of my audience is watching me and going, ‘meh’.
It’s been happening for years, really. My Year 7 English teacher (the evil Mrs. Clack) had a similar reaction to the first piece of creative writing I ever gave her. She gave me the grade equivalent of 3 stars and wrote, ‘not creative enough’ at the bottom. As the years have gone on, I’ve realised what shit feedback that is and in no way useful for letting me know what she ACTUALLY wanted me to be doing or teaching me to become ‘more’ creative (whatever the hell that means). But, she was at least expressing a general feeling that I should perhaps have taken more seriously at the time. If only I had taken her feedback more fully on board and worked harder at maths and science, or some other kind of subject. If only I had realised then that ‘creativity’ was not the career path for me. If only she had spelled it out more clearly. If only I’d inspired enough strong feeling in her for her to forbid me to ever do anything creative ever again, then, maybe I would have gotten the message. Instead of just, ‘meh.’
I have, by and large, received very little support from people who might have been able to help me develop over the years. Like Mrs. Clack they saw so little potential in me that they dismissed me without even bothering to let me know why. This is the case from arts funding bodies, from development programs, from theatres, from artists a bit further along the path than me. I’ve had to try and make up most of this on my own. I recognise that some of this is due to my own lack of confidence, my inability to ask for support or assistance from people that I admire. But the majority is being rejected for most every opportunity that I apply for (unless it’s something I have to pay for – those are things people are MORE THAN HAPPY for me to be involved in).
The disturbing thing from my perspective is the frequency with which I get 3-star reviews. If you added up all the reviews I have gotten over my lifetime, it evens out at pretty much 3 1/4 stars out of 5. That’s not a ringing endorsement for someone who is trying to make a career out of this. I mean, 3-star reviews are fine, as long as someone, somewhere, thinks that what you are doing is fantastic, game-changing, speaking their language, speaking to their experience or whatever. I don’t really get that reaction. I’m kind of ‘meh’.
There are plenty of artists out there who think that reviews are not important. That would be easier to believe if I was making lots of money and having big audiences. It would be easier to believe if I was being supported by some kind of funding body. But, frankly, I’m not so arrogant to think that if I’m getting shitty reviews, it’s the reviewers fault. I don’t think audiences falling asleep or leaving the show is because they are crap human beings, or not smart enough, or not good enough, or not paying attention enough. It is my fault. I’m not doing my ‘job’. Certainly there have been difficulties with this show – the venue, for one, great, big, huge reason. I do recognise that I haven’t had as much time to work into it as some of the others that I’ve put on. However, the larger, bigger point remains, that if, after how many years of trying, I am still, by and large, inspiring a reaction of, ‘meh’, it must be time to reconsider the path that I’m on.
So, in summary, I am not enjoying this Edinburgh Fringe. When I wrote on the first day that I thought audiences would ruin everything, I didn’t really expect it to be so accurate. I mean, I know it’s not really their fault, but showing it to everyone has made me feel very differently about it and me than I did a few weeks ago. It might, eventually, be a good thing. It’ll be the final nail in the coffin of my so-called ‘career in the arts’.
Unfortunately though, my bro, Chris, says that I’m not allowed to give up theatre before the 24th. Which isn’t that far away, I know. But I am secretly (ok, not so secretly) thinking of deliberately spraining/breaking my ankle so that I don’t have to do any more shows. I know it is only 10 more shows, I know that doesn’t seem like much, but it’s like being a child again and being told you only have to eat 10 more Brussel Sprouts before you can have dessert. Or, just 10 more pages of homework before going outside. Or, just 10 more hours before you can open your Christmas presents. Or, only 10 more days before the school holidays.
It feels like FOREVER.

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Filed under Edinburgh, Theatre

Unanswered Questions from a trip to Edinburgh

I’ve been to Edinburgh enough and written about it enough now that I think its probably useless to attempt to write about all the things that I’ve seen. Because, I’ve pretty much seen them all. That’s right, Edinburgh, I’ve summed you up in approximately 7 trips and/or 2 months. There is nothing more to say about you.

NOTHING.

yes, ok, perhaps that isn’t true.

But I didn’t really feel like writing many words, or any descriptions, or attempting to write some kind of chronology or plot, or using some sort of annoying structure, or even attempting to give the trip some kind of logical meaning or coherence, so I thought this list would be a good way of avoiding that.

1. On the night bus, who has the right to use the phrase, ‘I paid for this seat’? The person sitting in front who wants to lie down, or the man sitting behind who doesn’t want to be squished? Did they not both pay for their seats? Does paying for your seat allow your to squish others with it? Or does paying for your seat protect you from being squished by other seats? Is it the seat you pay for, or the space around the seat? If you paid for your seat and then decided to break it away from the bus and sit it in the aisle for the rest of the journey would that be ok because you ‘paid for this seat’? Difficult.

2. Was the man sitting next to me on the night bus chewing gum? Or was he on drugs? Or both? Did he therefore have a better trip than I did?

3. Why was there random electrically-coloured Australian murals sporadically placed across my olde worlde Scottish hostel? Was it because all of Edinburgh is secretly controlled by Australians? Or at least, the Edinburgh hostel network is secretly controlled by Australians? (well, ok, not so secretly, the accent is hard to miss as soon as any Edinburgh hostel receptionist opens their mouths)

4. Why do the majority of Edinburgh museums involve displays with creepy mannequins?

5. The Scottish Parliament building: why?

6. What is that part of Edinburgh that can be seen from Arthur’s Seat and isn’t the Old Town and isn’t the New Town? (My answer to this question of my friend’s was: ‘….Edinburgh.’)

7. Would the ghost tour to the vaults have been scarier if I had done it at 10pm? Would that have been a better or worse thing?

8. How come I can’t climb up and down things as well as I used to? Is it because I’m an adult and am now only to aware of what will happen if I fall and how painful it will be and how much it will cost to fix? Or is it because I am an adult now and my joints don’t work any more?

Oh, god, now how do I get back?

Oh, god, now how do I get back?

Maybe if I lower myself over the... NO NO, TOO FAR FROM THE GROUND

Maybe if I lower myself over the… NO NO, TOO FAR FROM THE GROUND

Only logical solution. yes, hello, group of Spanish tourists, what exactly are you staring at?

Only logical solution. yes, hello, group of Spanish tourists, what exactly are you staring at?

9. How far exactly did the Romans get?

10. Why was that man dressed as a giant penis at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon sitting in a pub with his mates who were in no way dressed up?

12. How is the heater failing on the Night Bus a warning sign for the brakes failing? Why did National Express think it was a good idea for us to keep driving in a bus where the brakes were failing? Why did we all sit outside the bus in the freezing cold at 4:30am for an hour waiting for a replacement bus, instead of inside the bus, (whose brakes were now no longer threatening, as the bus was stationary)?

13. Is the Elephant Cafe really worth paying 2.5 pounds for tea and another pound for wi-fi?

14. Is the hat I bought very silly or very awesome or a little bit of both?

15. Should I have bought more fudge?

16. Are sandwiches the best food of all? And if so, why do people insist on having other foods? Shouldn’t we all just concentrate on coming up with better and better sandwich fillings and stop wasting time on attempting to make other food stuffs palatable (except for jacket potatoes, of course, which are essentially hot sandwiches in potato form)?

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Everything I Learnt in Edinburgh (Without Really Trying)

I meant to write this post when I was in Edinburgh, but I kind of got swept up in Edinburgh, so I didn’t. And then I meant to write it in September, but then I got lots of work and so I didn’t. And then I thought I wasn’t going to write it at all, but I’ve now been unemployed for a very long time and I’ve decided that instead of sitting around in a state of low-level frustration at my lack of employment, I will combine my writerly forces with my completely empty days and use them for good! For the writing of blog posts!

So, without further ado, things that I learnt in Edinburgh (and haven’t forgotten in the months afterwards).

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT AUDIENCES

1) Audiences can sit through your show not laughing, not smiling and come up to you afterwards and slip a 10 pound note into your bucket and tell all their friends to come and see it. Audiences will laugh all the way through, congratulate you afterwards, say they thought it was great and then say, ‘oh! Sorry, I don’t have any cash,’ and slip away out the back.

2) Audiences like to have other audience members with them. They don’t like to be on their own. Audiences are pack animals. They like to shelter together. Especially when it comes to laughter. They like to shelter together in each other’s laughter. Just so they know that laughter is the right thing to do at this point in time. That said, different audiences will decide that different things are funny. As far as I know, they don’t confer beforehand, or during. But, somehow they all manage to agree that some things are funny and other things are not. And they seem to do it more or less as a unit on the same day. And the next day, the audience will decide something else.

An audience in its natural habitat: an empty room. Found at: http://www.agemanagementmi.com/services/iv-therapy/

An audience in its natural state. Found at: http://www.agemanagementmi.com/services/iv-therapy/

3) Audiences do not always know how to behave in a show. Especially in a show that seems like it is pretending not to be a show – one that is not in a theatre, that does not have tickets, that does not have lights. They will happily walk in and out, correct you if they don’t like what you’ve said, answer a phone call during your show (as long as, you know, they go to the side of the room, I mean that is perfectly ok, right?) Part of me thinks, ‘hells yeah! If you’re not keeping their attention, then they SHOULD walk out!’ And part of me just thinks, ‘Yes, but could you just be quiet and pay attention please just for a little whiles because I have worked so very very hard and it means so very very much to me and if you could just PRETEND to like me for a little while, that might make me feel better.’

4) When audiences are aware that the performer can see them, they will sometimes be unnecessarily encouraging with their faces. It makes you think that they are, I don’t know, just PRETENDING to like you and you really honestly just wish they would quit it. Except that occasionally, occasionally, audiences will HATE YOU WITH THE FIRE OF ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND SUNS FOR NO KNOWN REASON and because they HATE YOU WITH THE FIRE OF ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND SUNS they will have no problem with glaring at you the whole way through and then you kind of wish again that they could just pretend a little bit that they liked you just a tiny tiny bit. Not as much as your mum, maybe, but as much as… your pet gerbil.

I hate you with the fire of Ten Thousand Suns. Found at: http://dashburst.com/10-cats-grumpier-than-grumpy-cat/

I hate you with the fire of One Hundred Thousand Suns. Found at: http://dashburst.com/10-cats-grumpier-than-grumpy-cat/

5) No matter what happens, you generally only have to deal with any given audience for a specific set amount of time. No matter how bad it gets, you know that, eventually, they are going to leave and they will (hopefully) forget all about you (as you will them). This is the case except in a few, rare instances when you happen to flyer them again, or run into them at a food fair, or sit next to them in another, completely unrelated show in one of those weird, uncomfortable coincidences that life sometimes likes to throw at you. This is especially the case if they are your friends. Or you are performing in Edinburgh at fringe time.

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT PERFORMING

1) Sometimes there are bad shows. Sometimes there are good shows. Sometimes you will trick yourself into thinking you can see a pattern in the shows and that you will therefore be able to predict what kind of show is coming next (though, often this is said in hindsight: ‘Oh, well, I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN it would be a bad show today, I had TWO GOOD SHOWS in a row! I was DUE for a bad one’). This is never actually true. Sometimes the bad shows are your fault. Sometimes the bad shows are the audience’s fault. Sometimes the bad shows are the venue’s fault. Sometimes the bad shows are the fault of a butterfly flapping it’s wings too hard off the coast of Argentina. (No, seriously) No matter what, you have to keep on going thinking that the next one is going to be better.

This bastard ruined my second Wednesday show! Found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viceroy_(butterfly)

This bastard ruined my second Wednesday show! Found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viceroy_(butterfly)

2) You are more likely to forget your words at the end of the run, when you’re on auto-pilot, then at the beginning when you are so freaking focused on the words that you are aware if a single ‘and’ or ‘that’ has gotten away from you. At some point during auto-pilot you’ll realise you’re on auto-pilot and then panic because you don’t remember the next lines and you’re not sure if your auto-pilot knows the next lines and then the panic will cause the whole system to shut down and leave you opening and closing your mouth on stage as uselessly as a goldfish gulping for air whilst lying upside down on the breakfast table. This will seem to you like it is happening FOREVER. In reality, it will be a few seconds.

3) Sometimes it is fun to perform and that’s when it goes quickly. Other times it like you are performing whilst your entire body is encased in wet cement and your brain is made of wet wool and your eyes are stuck shut. These are the performances that take the rest of your life to complete.

4) Stage fright is a thing that will pop up at unexpected times for unknown reasons. Also, stage embarrassment, which involves your entire body getting really really hot and your face getting flushed and you stuttering a lot. Stage Fright happens when you cannot face the thought of standing in front of another crowd, in an empty space and making them listen to you for an hour. Stage Embarrassment happens when you’re in the midst of a performance and you’ve just made a joke about Boris Johnson and a woman from the audience yells out that he is her friend and then you want the world to swallow you whole, or at least, you want to bow and walk off stage, except that that would be even more embarrassing.

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT FLYERING

1) There are many different types of flyering. There is the ‘easy’ flyer, which is where you stand in a place lots of people are walking past and you hold out your hand with a flyer and a big smile on your face until someone takes one. There is the slightly more energetic flyer, where you stand in a place lots of people are walking past and you attempt to sell your show in one sentence, with a big smile as those people walk past, as well as hand them a flyer. There is the even more energetic flyer, where you do all the above, but follow along beside them for a while, trying to give them further, (hopefully) tantalising details of your show. There is the ‘hard sell’ flyering, where you go to where a bunch of (presumably) interested fringe-goers are milling and you attempt to convince them, through a small conversation, that you are very charming, that you have a very charming show (for a very charming price) and it would be utterly charming if they could, perhaps, come by and see it sometime. Then there is the ‘gimmick’ flyering, where you flyer in costume; or flyer in drag; or flyer silently; or lie down in the ground in front of people; or you talk loudly and obviously (and HILARIOUSLY) to your co-flyerers about how amazing this particular show is and then hand people flyers as they go past; or give people sweets with their flyer; or give people free tickets with their flyer; or give people discounts with their flyer; or threaten people; or propose to people; or act out your play for people; or become a live artwork with your flyers attached to you etc. etc. etc. etc.

'Hello there friends. Could I interest you in a flyer for my show? Its an all-female production of 'Lord of the Flies' and was very favourably reviewed in the Woolloomoolloo Gazette' Found at: http://www.lolbrary.com/post/9074/planking-level-9999/

‘Hello there friends. Could I interest you in a flyer for my show? Its an all-female production of ‘Lord of the Flies’ and was very favourably reviewed in the Woolloomoolloo Gazette. We’re also doing a 2 for 1 Tuesday deal. Thanks ever so much.’ Found at: http://www.lolbrary.com/post/9074/planking-level-9999/

2) I am good at the slightly energetic flyering and the hard sell flyering. Nothing else. Unless I am hung-over. And then I am only good for easy flyering

3) It is very hard to sum up your play in one sentence. In may take you a week. Or possibly two. Or the whole Edinburgh Fringe run.

4) People like to see stars on your flyer. If they don’t know who you are, they like to see stars. Preferably lots of them. In groups of 4 and 5.

'Oh, I do like to see stars on a flyer.' 'That's the night sky.' 'Is it? Sorry, I get confused at festival time.' Found at: http://spaceinfo.com.au/2011/11/06/what%E2%80%99s-up-night-sky-for-november-2011/

‘Oh, I do like to see stars on a flyer.’ ‘That’s the night sky.’ ‘Is it? Sorry, I get confused at festival time.’ Found at: http://spaceinfo.com.au/2011/11/06/what%E2%80%99s-up-night-sky-for-november-2011/

5) Occasionally you get given a flyer and realise an artist you really want to see is here at the fringe and you had no idea. Occasionally, you pick up a flyer from the ground and its such a good image and such a good blurb that you instantly think, ‘Oh, yes! I will SEE that show! I will PAY MONEY to see that show!’

6) However, most audiences hardly notice your flyers, they hardly even look at your flyers. They will scrunch them up after they’ve gotten two steps away from you. Throw them in the bin. Throw them on the ground. Place them in their back pockets. They will take your flyer from you, glance at it and say, ‘Oh! Yes, I read about this one!’ And you’ll say, ‘Really?’ And they’ll say, ‘Yes! The one about Julie Andrews!’ And you’ll say, ‘No, no my show is about love and romance and…’ And they’ll cut you off impatiently and say, ‘Yes, yes, I know, I read about it. Its about Julie Andrews. It sounds very good.’ And harrumph off, thinking that you’ve insulted them by suggesting that they are too stupid to realise that your show about Julie Andrews (that is in no way related to Julie Andrews) is actually about Julie Andrews. Yeah? Yeah. Audiences hardly look at your flyers.

'I'm telling you, my show is in no way about... Wait, would you see a show about  Julie Andrews? You would? Then, yes, you're correct. My show is about Julie Andrews.' Found at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-543058/The-nun-switchblade-How-Julie-Andrews-bleak-childhood-ruthless--truth-lesbian-clinch.html

‘I’m telling you, my show is in no way about… Wait, would you see a show about Julie Andrews? You would? Then, actually, yes, you’re correct. My show IS about Julie Andrews.’ Found at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-543058/The-nun-switchblade-How-Julie-Andrews-bleak-childhood-ruthless–truth-lesbian-clinch.html

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT OTHER ARTISTS

1) People will solemnly swear to you that they will come to your show. They won’t.

2) You will solemnly swear to people that you will come to their show. You won’t.

'I swear on my unborn child's life that I will come to see your one-woman live art pieces inspired by the comedy of Laurel & Hardy' Found at: http://www.themarriagecoaches.net/2012/01/18/praying-for-your-marriage/

‘I swear on my unborn child’s life that I will come to see your one-woman live art piece inspired by the comedy of Laurel & Hardy’ Found at: http://www.themarriagecoaches.net/2012/01/18/praying-for-your-marriage/

3) It is possible to live in a tiny little bubble at the Edinburgh Fringe, hearing only about certain artists and shows. Then, some day near the end of the festival one of your friends will mention a whole bunch of other shows that existed in their bubble and your world will explode because they haven’t heard about any of your artists and you haven’t heard about any of theirs. Its like your living in parallel universes.

4) ‘EVERYONE’S SHOW IS DOING FABULOUSLY! EVERYONE’S SHOW IS JUST FANTASTIC! EVERYONE’S SHOW HAS JUST HAD THE MOST AMAZING REVIEW! EVERYONE’S SHOW HAS JUST HAD THE MOST AMAZING PRODUCER COME AND SEE IT! EVERYONE’S SHOW HAS JUST BEEN BOOKED FOR ANOTHER SEASON! EVERYONE’S SHOW HAS JUST BEEN NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD! EVERYONE’S SHOW MAY NOT BE SELLING OUT, BUT EVERYONE IS VERY VERY VERY HAPPY TO BE HERE AND ALL THE AUDIENCES ARE WONDERFUL AND PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE COME SEE MY SHOW, IT WILL NOT IN ANYWAY BE A WASTE OF MONEY!’

'I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE BEING HAPPIER WITH A DECISION THAN I AM WITH THE DECISION TO BE RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW WITH YOU AT THE EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL' Found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/6982747619/

‘I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE BEING HAPPIER WITH A DECISION THAN I AM WITH THE DECISION TO BE RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW WITH YOU AT THE EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL’ Found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/6982747619/

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT REVIEWS

1) Somewhere out there is the person who is going to be totally on board with your show, love every minute, get every subtle message and give your show a great review. Somewhere out there is the person who will think your idea is stupid from the start, hate every tiny little miniscule second, accidentally-on-purpose miss the final point and write a damning review.

2) Once a review is out in the world, there is little you can do to change it. This is frustrating. Reviewers like to say they are ‘starting a conversation’. Except that the artist as no right of reply. I don’t mean to criticise reviewers (I know a lot of lovely reviewers). But an artist who writes back to their bad review is just ridiculous. You’re just going to have to suck it up, good or bad and keep on keeping on (though anonymously commenting on a review and ‘correcting’ a ‘misinterpretation’… well, I mean, that might be something worth considering…)

3) Though it is hard to believe, shows that you think are terrible are going to get better reviews than you. Those lines of 4 & 5 stars are going to trick you into paying money for something crappy. It will enrage you. You will scream to the gods, ‘Why? WHY? WHY DO YOU SO HATE ME AND SO LOVE THEM? WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS? AND ON TOP OF ALL THAT, WHY DID YOU TRICK ME INTO WASTING 10 POUNDS ON THAT PIECE OF CRAP THAT I COULD HAVE MORE HAPPILY USED FOR THE NEXT 3 MORNINGS’ WORTH OF CHEESE TWISTS??’ All you can do is remember point 1 and a) suck it up and b) realise that someone is going to be similarly tricked into seeing your show at some point by a row of 4 stars and they’re going to feel pretty much exactly the same as you do now about this show.

God loves them and hates you evidenced by his giving of your cheese twist money to them via good reviews. Stupid God. Found at: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/flaky-cheese-twists-recipe

God loves them and hates you evidenced by his giving of your cheese twist money to them through (inexplicably) good reviews. Stupid God. Found at: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/flaky-cheese-twists-recipe

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT HEALTH 

1) It is possible to live for a very long time on cheese and bread and not put on weight. As long as you are power-walking across a city several times a day whilst doing so.

2) It is possible to live on only 4 – 5 hours of sleep a night for 4 out of 7 nights a week. It is not nice, but it is possible.

3) Alcohol is not actually very good at the lifting of the spirits and the creation of energy.

4) Depression, anxiety and ‘wanting-to-give-upedness’ is best avoided by enough food, enough sleep and enough friends with whom to have a hot chocolate, a hug and a cry with (when necessary).

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT EDINBURGH

1) It is beautiful.

2) I want to live there.

3) I’m not allowed to live there and it breaks my heart.

4) Even if I was allowed to live there, apparently the festival doesn’t go on all year round and at Christmas time there is a thing they call ‘winter’. Everyone assures me I wouldn’t like it.

5) Please will someone marry me so that I can live there (I’ll give this winter thing a go).

6) Jacket potatoes are awesome. Vegetarian haggis is awesome. Deep-fried Mars Bars not so much.

7) I’m serious about the marriage thing.

8) Get in touch via the comments.

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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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