Friday, September 2, 2011

Edinburgh Bullet Points

1. Dear Uncle Andy,

Many years ago you went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and when you came back you brought exciting stories and an album of songs from an Australian performance art band that I can still sing most of due to the fact that I spent years listening to it too much. Because of you I have always wanted to go to the fringe.

Thanks for planting that desire, I had a freaking amazing time.

2. Kevin flew in from New York and then had two days to attempt to get over jet-lag and hang out with Ella before I put him on an overnight train up to Edinburgh. We arrived at 7:30 in the morning, climbed a giant, ridiculous hill, dropped off our bags and then got started. Because with something like the fringe it's better to jump right in rather than wade slowly.

3. 24 shows in 5 days (22 each). We saw 1 scripted musical, 2 improvised musicals, 2 sketch comedy troupes, 1 “wtf was that??” devised play, 2 improv groups, 2 panel talks, 1 ceilidh, 7 stand up comics, 1 neo-futurist alumni show, 1 ventriloquist, 2 comedy bands, 1 puppet show, and best of all? 1 Folk musical version of Beowulf. God, that was good. (We not at all secretly both want to work with these people.)

There were also 2 shows that we either forgot we'd bought tickets for or completely failed to accurately read the map for.

4. Kevin and I turn out to be excellent travel partners with an almost uncanny ability to get really hungry and lose it at the same time. This might sound like a bad thing but was actually and sincerely wonderful because it meant that we'd get quiet and withdrawn (due to low blood sugar) at the same time and then fix that (by eating) and perk up at the same time. The only real difference is that I need, like, a sandwich in the morning and Kevin needs a giant coffee or three.

5. Edinburgh is beautiful. Ridiculously rainy, but stunningly gorgeous. We kept catching our breath and sighing at how pretty it was. Bonus of all the rain? Numerous rainbows.

So, so, so pretty.

6. I kept running into people that I knew or had connections to. Walking into rooms or new venues or down a street and going, “Oh. Hi there.”

The city was filled with my people, both figuratively and literally.

7. The fringe is totally overwhelming. I had the catalogue sent to me beforehand and barely looked at it because it was so full of things. We arrived and I went through a period of panic because we were going to MISS things. Which, of course we were- we only had 5 days, things were already finished or finishing, there's only so many shows you can see in a day and only so many tickets you can afford. But the anxiety of missing something extraordinary took some getting used to.

8. Best Decision I Made: Joining Friends of the Fringe. It cost £25 and meant I got the catalogue sent to me. I figured I was happy to support the festival and too lazy to find a catalogue in London, so I went for it. This turned out to be an accidental stroke of brilliance: the 2-for-1 ticket deals meant that the membership paid for itself, but the real jewel was the ticket hut.

When buying tickets non-members have to stand in an epic queue that, because this is Edinburgh, is frequently soggy. Members, however, get to skip the queue and hang out in an adorable, dry little hut and take their own sweet time choosing what to see.

At first I kept apologising for hemming and hawing and taking so long at the desks, but they kept pointing out that there were few or no other people waiting so it was totally cool. Best £25 of the festival. Highly recommended. Five stars.

9. Flyering. We were there for the last five days of the festival, so a lot of people had festival fatigue. Not us, we were PERKY. Which endeared us greatly to the flyerers all over the city. There are SO many shows that lots of times the only way you hear about something or notice it is by being handed a flyer. Streets are covered in people trying desperately to get audience members for their shows. Kevin and I would go out of our way to get flyers and were always enthusiastic about taking them. We got profusely thanked for that a number of times...

10. The festival is so large and full of so many different things that any number of different festival experiences can be had. Want to get drunk and heckle a lot? There's a festival for you. Want to see a lot of dance? Only stand up comedy? An entire run of musicals? Things that make you cry? Political drama? Children's theatre? Want to make a study of different uses of puppetry? There's a festival for all of those.

After excellent and and appropriate-for-us shows Kevin and I would turn to each other and talk about how we had found our festival.

D'awww. I'm in love with the fringe.

1 comment:

Andrew F said...

It is truly awesome. I've been twice and should go more. You should also return to Edinburgh out of festival season. It takes on a different character when it's 'quiet'.