Yes it’s that time of year again (August 2016) when people are off on their holibobs and sunning themselves on a nice beach somewhere and I head to sunny Edinburgh for the cultural festival that is The Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the third time.
But you may ask what are you doing there?
Are you reviewing, performing or working at a venue? Alas I was there for a week off work to enjoy my holiday and spend it at my favourite city at one of my favourite festivals.
As mentioned in my article in Kettle Magazine about prepping for the fringe- organisation is key. Without a guide or some sort of timetable you my dear friends are scuppered, so I planned to see between 3-5 shows per day with a lunch/emotional oh my gosh what have I just seen break.
Arriving in the afternoon in Edinburgh I got myself stuck in straight away and had planned to see two shows, And Now and Frisky and Mannish Cabariot. Both different ends of the theatre spectrum, never the less I only managed to see the first performance (apologies to Frisky and Mannish) of the dance piece And Now which was about the change in Scotland. To be honest I didn’t understand it, which does not surprise me- dance performances at the fringe are very different to the usual dance performances in the North East. No, I think you had to be from Scotland to fully appreciate and understand the piece.
Doing the fringe properly
Moving on to Tuesday, this was the first day that I felt that I could really do the fringe properly- really explore it and enjoy some shows. The first being my old theatre company- Violet Shock in a show that I was originally cast in for the first production, Wychwood. A tale about the spooky on goings that happen in an old asylum.
I then went to see a funny performance called dance piece called Contemporary ?, a show looking at the meaning of contemporary dance, looking into what dancers think it is in comparison to the audiences views. As an ex dancer I thought it was really funny and accessible as I found myself reminiscing over what my experience was like as a dancer and what I thought contemporary was and how I was able to use it as a form of self expression.
Later in the day I decided to head back to the venue that I worked at last year, Northern Stage- except this year they were based at Summerhall rather than Kings Hall.
Throughout this festival I promised myself that I would see pieces of theatre that I thought would challenge me as an audience member. I wanted to see performances that I usually wouldn’t normally go to see. So heading over to Northern Stage I saw Rash Dash Two Man Show , a show about gender, masculinity and patriarchy- with some music and dance the performance was entertaining but also very heavy for a Tuesday night. I left the theatre questioning what I thought to be right and questioning my own opinion as to whether I liked the show or not. And this feeling/experience of theatre continued as my week of the festival went by.
Yes I found myself going to watch theatre and dance performances that came across as less of the entertainment side but more of the protest/ informing an audience side of things. Often not knowing where to put myself in these experiences, I did find it a little overwhelming- it was if a lot of information was being rammed down my throat and I had no control over it. Granted, yes I could have left the performance but that is rather rude and I like to see a performance through to the end incase I miss a twist to the plot. It just seemed too much for me, I like going to the festival to have a good time- there were some shows that I felt were a bit OTT and I didn’t necessarily agree with but it did open my eyes to different forms and experiences of theatre.
Aside from the controversial pieces of theatre, there were a lot of performances that were right up my street. Full of fun, music, dance, drama and pure joy. Watching Putting the Band Back Together which was a show about finding your love of music and picking up an instrument no matter how bad/good you are and playing it. Rotterz which was written by a good friend of mine, Reece Connolly- think Famous Five meets Zombie apocalypse, it was such a hoot to watch- a very funny performance I was aching all over from laughter. That’s what I want from a fringe performance and from my overall fringe experience, to come out with a big grin on my face and to be laughing all day long.
Although my week in Edinburgh did fly over fast I really did have such a hoot seeing all these wonderful shows at the Fringe Festival. And who knows maybe next year I will be at the festival celebrating the 70th Anniversary as a reviewer?