Blog: Edinburgh, city of…

Bags packed and company assembled. As we headed up north to Edinburgh we wondered what was in store as a group of 4 budding energetic thesp performers. Our accommodation was kindly provided by ACE East we just had to get up there. I formed a plan in my head: promote our current show of The Covert Club, promote our collaborative companies (Headless Entertainmentand Hocus Pocus Theatre), use the escapade to bond with company members, enjoy a few days away, experience some new and exciting performance and expand my network of more budding theatre types. All within a number of days.

With a strong agenda and fumble (or thumble?) through the iFringe app, the excitement grew. We arrived. Our accommodation: reminiscent of a student flat, but obviously the kind that has financially supportive parents and the kind that had strategically planned their home-from-home-stay opposite an off-license.

It has been a few years since I’d been to Edinburgh and the festivals. I remember the first time; festival guides, listings, reviews and flyers crammed into a tote bag (they were very posh back then) with a militant schedule precariously planned so I could see and do as much as I could in this window of Scottish and International theatrics and test of endurance.

The coffee table of the flat was piled high with listings, venue brochures and postcards stapled with starred-reviews. As soon as we reached the Royal Mile it was A5 flyer central with show promotion in abundance, sporting every theatrical genre going. Shakespeare (boy there was a lot of Shakespeare this year) to dance, horror to new opera. Fantastic. I also recall a lot of gay zombie things. I’ve been to Edinburgh as few times before, apart from festival visits I’ve always seen the city in the winter. The city looks great in either season whether full of endearing theatre makers and tourists or when more docile, with its dark purple sky that frames its tall impressive buildings.

Words that came to mind: excitement, hype, dreams, disappointment, risk, bravery and appreciation. Not meaning to sound bitter or objective, because the whole experience of Edinburgh in August is a wonderful one.

Excitement builds with audience members and tourists. Excited companies armed with gaffer tape, flyers and bottled water rush by. Within each performer is the dream and their opportune moment – right there in the centre of Edinburgh- is that step closer to reaching whatever it is they’re after.

Infectious hyperactivity manifests itself as you thiumbs through the show listings. Over-hyped show promotion fools individuals to commitment of time and place that lead to disappointment. I admire the risk and bravery of any performer in an productions. The brave souls of one-man shows, the brave ensembles of experimental cabaret. The brave souls who have left their jobs and homes to seek attention in this city of many incantations. Of course, any performers’ hard work is appreciated (as we can choose to show with worthy- or unworthy vigorous applause).

Only one show I saw received a standing ovation which I wholeheartedly took part in. It’s that expression of appreciation that comes forth before you know exactly what it is you’re applauding. The writing, the acting talent, the story, my engagement with the concept? What is the majority of these elements is actually the mastermind of those onstage before you? This is often the case with the Fringe but the production I refer to here (Bette & Joan, the final curtain) excelled in all elements listed above. It was a great show that stood out from my other Fringe experiences. Too well-delivered, too comfortable, too polished? Can a show be too polished for a Fringe?

The return journey home to Norwich was a drowsy one with moments of delirium playing word games and making entertaining noises. Feel well-nourished with performance we all headed home, with ideas taking shape in our heads ready for the next Covert Club, the show which we heralded and presented to those festival goers who I’m sure we’ll be meeting again next year.