Thoughts on EdFringe 2016.
It’s done. Edinburgh Fringe 2016. The dust has settled, the glitter is finally out of my pores and I’ve been firmly ensconced in the bosom of my family home for a good week now.
I have so much to say about the whole experience that I wanted to just hang on before writing it up to really let my thoughts sort themselves out. AND I’M READY. So here’s the skinny on what I learnt.
1. It’s an Emotional Rollercoaster
I’ve never done anything that has made me feel such intense highs and lows in such a relatively short space of time. I cried so much. Out of happiness, pride, frustration, hurt feelings and sheer exhaustion. You really are eating, sleeping and breathing your show, and you become completely sucked into an Edinburgh bubble. You can feel on top of the world one minute, reading a wonderful review or a beautiful tweet about your show, clapping your eyes on a massive poster of yourself, seeing a totally inspirational new piece of theatre, random people approaching you to tell you how much they enjoyed your show, bumping into old friends on every corner of the city, singing your heart out to a room full of happily giggling people, and then the next minute? You can feel homesick, exhausted, out of energy, and like you’re completely failing, playing to a smattering of people who fail to even crack a smile or when you read a five-star review of someone else’s show or trying to hand out flyers in the rain to people who snub you. Which brings me onto…
2. Flyering your own face is HARD
Flyers are a thing in Edinburgh. All shows have them and they don’t hand themselves out. I’ve never minded flyering before when I’ve been performing up there. In all honesty it was quite jolly, me and the rest of my company decking ourselves out in our t-shirts emblazoned with the show’s logo and heading out onto the Royal Mile to sing and thrust flyers into the hands of passers by, all with a healthy dose of silliness and, well, dicking around. But on my own? Man. Approaching people and having to talk to them about my own show, that has my face on the flyer, that I put together? NAHHHHH. I’ve never really been one for blowing my own trumpet before and that was HARD. Like, “Oh Hi Complete Stranger! Please come and see me, I’m really good.” Huge shout-out to anyone who I managed to convince to wear a T-shirt with my face on it and to the team of flyerers that took over from me in the final week. Superheroes.
3.To booze or not to booze
Guys. Imma be really honest with you.
I BARELY DRANK AT THIS YEARS FRINGE.
WHO EVEN AM I?! We all know I am a total boozehound, every other word that leaves my mouth is gin for god’s sake. But in Edinburgh? I just didn’t really want it. I was just so focused on the show, and knowing that I had to belt my tits off onstage for an hour every night, that I found myself favouring early nights and hot drinks rather than going out drinking and dancing. It was a brand new feeling for me guys. But how amazing that I had something that I cared about SO MUCH (the show) that I wanted to be the best version of myself I could possibly be?
4. When you SING your muscles WERK
Like, I did know this. I know that when you sing, your core support works hard and your diaphragm and your back muscles support your voice. But, I have never FELT it so much. I’ve never done a run of a show that involves me singing non-stop for a complete hour, every day for a month and MY WORD towards the end, my back muscles were KILLING me. It was actually a pretty cool way to remind me that actually I do use my vocal technique and have built it into being onstage. My singing teachers have clearly done a MARVELLOUS job!
I was so on top of the world to read our wonderful reviews. We had a bunch of 5 and 4 star reviews which we happily plastered all over our flyers and posters, plus after most shows there were a handful of tweets from audience members saying gorgeous things about the show that made my heart soar, my face grin (and usually my eyes weep) and further strength my belief in the show and my own abilities.
We also had a couple of rather nasty 1 star reviews, plus some hurtful comments posted online. And despite all the incredible feedback we were receiving left, right and centre, I found myself fixating on the bad remarks. Why do we do that? I know that with theatre you are never going to please everyone, not everyone enjoys the same stuff. But receiving these couple of bad reviews has made me re-evaluate how I watch theatre and talk about it. Taste is one thing, but to even put something on, especially at the fringe, takes bravery, dedication and passion. So whether you like something or not, try to respect that at the very least. We worked bloody hard on our show, and to have that effort and belief belittled in a few words dashed off and posted online felt very unfair indeed.
Until we owned the one-star in our review round-up that we then stapled onto all our flyers.
6. My friends and family are amazing
I mean, I knew this already. But it’s always worth saying it again, isn’t it? The support, love, cheerleading and advice I got from my loved ones during August was totally humbling. Every time a new chum or family member popped up in the city, it was like a little BURST of energy. Their excitement totally renewed mine, even when I felt proper fringe fatigue and left me feeling like I’d just done a shot of berrocca dissolved in a pink lucozade. Everyone who came up to visit and to see the show- I cannot thank you enough. Plus, the friends who sent me cards, flowers, encouraging messages, left squealing voicemails, shared reviews and interviews online, left comments, recommended the show to people- you have no idea how much you helped and how much you made me smile. THANK YOU!
7. Edfringe People are amazing
I always am astounded at what a creative melting pot Edfringe is. Art forms of every single kind touch down in the city and people are always keen to talk about their work, share their experiences and make new connections and links. Thank you so much to all the team at our venue, our tech superhero Kev, The Kitten Killers, Kelly Burke, the team from the play Villain, Daniel Piper, Paddy Holt, Andy McCleod, The team from Fabric, Matt Atkins, Georgie Morrell, Lucy Hagen-Walker, the team from Dracula, Lewis Doherty, Hans Rye, the team at Chloe Nelkin PR, my wonderful producer Jimmy and of course mainly to my partner-in-cabaret crime Joe Atkins all for being like my Edfringe Family, always there for a hug, a word of solidarity and for supporting us. We did it! (p.s I have probably forgotten someone in that list, if it’s you I’M SORRY AND I LOVE YOU).
I am so proud. I felt so many emotions about Edfringe, but the overriding one is of pride. I’m proud of being brave, of having guts, of believing in something and of working so hard. When I first visited the fringe ten years ago, I was completely in awe of it all, and had I known then that in ten years, my face would be on posters around the city and I’d be performing my own show, with a great venue, with a wonderful team behind me, I wouldn’t have believed it. I said before that ten years ago me would be so proud, but actually, right now me is feeling dem pride vibes too.
9. It was AMAZING.
We performed 26 shows back to back. We sold out a good few performances. We did three extra gigs, one of which was at 2am. I ate a haggis burrito. I saw a Sex Clown shove a sparkler up her bum and light it. I wrote three pieces for WhatsOnStage and another for Female First. I realised how in love I am and how lucky I am to be so. I saw theatre that made me ache because it was so beautiful and theatre that made me want to roar because it was so fierce. I wore silver glitter everyday. I hugged a lot of my oldest and dearest friends. I did interviews with The Stage, Broadway World, The Reviews Hub, The Vile Blog, The New Current, Nouse, The Herts Ad, The Gin Whore , comedy.co.uk, and The Fairholme Sessions. I had a cock drawn on a picture of my face by an absolute banter king. I recorded a podcast with Queens of the Hungle. I danced to the Hackney Colliery Band. I wore my mac with stylish aplomb. I was on Sky News, BBC Three Counties Radio and Ed Fest Live TV. I watched a Drag King and visited the National Museum of Scotland, both for the first time. A lot can happen in a month and nowhere is that more true than at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Edinburgh Fringe is still the most wonderful place on the planet to me. Hard work and emotional, by god yes but would I do it again? Abso-friggin’-lutely.
See you in 2017 Edfringe you flighty mistress.