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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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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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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