It's Been A While, But What Had Changed?
I’ve been rather remiss in posting regular blog updates since even before I went to Edinburgh. I am so sorry about that. I’ve just been very busy with work and, if I’m honest, I had gotten a little bit short of inspiration. However, I know have plenty of ideas and things I’d like to talk about, plus I was messaged and told off for not doing them. So let’s get cracking!
I thought I’d put together my thoughts and feelings of Edinburgh. I had hoped, whilst I was there, to do a blog a day. The issue with that is that the Edinburgh Fringe is incredibly busy. On top of your regular performances, you’ve got guest spots and then, following that, you’ve also got to do some flyering. Finally, if you’re lucky, there is the odd show you might want to watch. With all of that going on, plus travel, I really didn’t have time to do a lot of blogging. And so, instead, here is a bit of a summing up.
It was wonderful. Truly magnificent. Visiting the Edinburgh Fringe is like entering a beautiful, otherworldly l bubble. Performers out and about, flogging themselves to death day after day to get people to come along to their shows. Punters wandering around, with one every now and then stopping, talking to an artist or a person giving out flyers. But there is so much to see and do. There are over 3,000 different shows on during the Fringe. That’s not even counting the street entertainment and the fact that Edinburgh itself is a beautiful city in its own right, with more than enough entertainment and places of interest to keep you busy. I’ve been to festivals and such before, but this was my first Edinburgh Fringe, and nothing I’ve experienced compares. Beyond everything that’s on offer, it’s the amount of time it goes on for. This isn’t just a weekend arts festival, this is a month solid of all types of entertainment from across the world.
Amongst all this creativity and joy, it becomes far to easy to start to delude yourself. Maybe I could forget everything and just make a living performing a one man show full time. After all, I’m making enough here to just about cover my basic expenses here…
The reality of Edinburgh is that it’s hard work with dizzying highs. Giving out flyers seems like it should be easy, and I suppose it is. Just standing there, waving pits of paper and cheap card in front of people. But when you’ve got something invested, when it’s your work, then it’s different. When you’re constantly getting rebuffed by people already fully booked and tired of seeing strangers try to sell them shows, when you’re coming off the back of a performance that only had 4 people there, when you know your show is good, if only people would come, then it can be hard. More so, as I’ve said before, when your own your own. But every no is worth it, every hour spent on sore feet, just for that audience reaction when it’s done. When you know you’ve spoken to someone, when what is in your soul has touched their heart, you forget everything else.
One of my favourite stories was from a friend who comes to Edinburgh every year. Overhearing two men complaining about how it’s all just full of people from Cambridge and how it’s totally lost its way. The best bit was the upper class accent she affected when impersonating them and the incredulity she felt at these obviously upper class guys saying these things without any sense of irony. Personally, for all their talk of selling out and an influx of the privileged, I doubt very much Edinburgh has ever seen many acapella groups on the Royal Mile made up of ex-offenders and immigrants working at Amazon. Though, now I’ve typed that, it does sound like perhaps the most ‘Edinburgh’ thing ever…
A common question I have been asked by a few people since getting back is ‘how much money did you make?’ The reply I give never changes. I pull a face as I struggle not to laugh. After talking to people who had been, and doing some maths myself, for my very first Edinburgh I had decided to write off £1,000. I was fortunate enough to be offered a place to stay which is the only reason it didn’t cost me more. Putting on a show at Edinburgh is expensive. Extremely expensive. This is why I’m so glad I was accepted by the PBH Free Fringe. A lot of people I spoke to told me that there was no way that they would be able to put on a show without that support. I heard quite a few complaints from some of the performers about their venues but, bluntly, it’s the Edinburgh Fringe! The costs of regular venues is prohibitive for many – if not most - people who have a show they want to bring. I actually got very lucky with my room, but the venue itself was tricky. A bit off the beaten path and brand new to the Fringe, it didn’t attract a lot of people just looking for something to go and see. But I was so grateful and proud to be there, there was no way I would complain. Well, other than the odd good natured grumble, obviously.
Abiding memories? For me, there is a huge distinction between the emotional memory I have during a performance, and the more defined memories of everything else around it. I know I enjoy performing, I remember enjoy doing it, but if you were to ask me why I’d struggle to give you a specific reason. In many ways, the memories of the conversations whilst giving out flyers, the chat’s between shows. For me, these were when the memories of the Fringe were made, this was when I was able to experience that unique bubble. All the people I met and the conversations I had with artists, punters, promoters, locals, and everyone else, that was why Edinburgh was great, and why I can’t wait to go again next year.
Did you miss Paul’s one man show ‘Illusions of Depression’? This week, for one performance only, he is bringing it to Watford. Join Paul as he takes you on a unique journey looking at depression, anxiety, and learning disabilities. You can catch his show on Saturday the 6th od October at 8:30 at the Green Room, Watford Museum, WD17 2DT.