Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Fantastic fringe!

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year was superb. It's not just the vast numbers of variable quality pieces on offer (2000+), nor the ability to go from dawn to early morning in a constant stream of theatre, it's the whole vibe of so many people with similar outlooks brought together in one place. The vibe is remarkable.

Ostensibly we were there to support the youngest son with NSFW and his experience is very typical I suppose.

You arrive to a hastily constructed space (in his case an old office block just off the Royal Mile which was very atmospheric and are given a very short space of time to get your technical rehearsal done - 45 minutes at 6.30am in his case.

You open the next day and before your slot (12.55pm for NSFW) you are all out on the streets desperately leafleting away in the hope of getting an audience to see you. Walking down the Royal Mile during festival time is to run the gauntlet of creative, well-meaning, occasionally to pushy or just mad leafleteers. Your pockets swiftly fill up with bits of A6 card. Here's a nice article on the art of leafleting.

Next you hope for a good review, and the earlier the better, to attract more people. Luckily NSFW got 5* from the well-read BroadwayBaby.com in the first week and so numbers were pretty god. This was followed by a 4* and 3* from Edfringe later on. So the numbers were kept bubbling along - you are there for three weeks!

By the last week you are sick to death of leaflets and probably fellow thesps - NSFW's cast seemed remarkably happy together but this is probably unusual. But it's hard work being around actors for a long time and you long for the sanity of a quiet space.

At the end of three weeks you try not to count the cost of what you've just done. Very few productions make a profit. It's the experience (and the exposure) that counts.

And then home, with a bag full of ripe washing and a feeling of achievement that it takes a while to come down from.

If you've never been to the festival as audience, go. If you're an actor or director, it's part of any good actor's training.