I met so many amazing people whose passion for theatre and performance was inspiring. I watched just a small collection of shows, but worked on a lot more, and I learnt so much as a member of the team at Venue 13, I couldn't have asked for a better crew to work with.
So what exactly did I learn from my month at the fringe? Well, here are just a few of the top tips and lessons learnt that jump to mind instantly:
- Never underestimate the value of a good nap. The festival is a long haul and if you want to squeeze as much out of it as you can it's inevitable you'll be running on a well-below-ideal level of sleep. The afternoon nap was very important to us at Venue 13 (as was the occasional kip on the deckchairs outside the venue when we didn't have to work one of the shows on our shift, but shhh).However, saying that…
- Functioning well on a very limited amount of sleep is sometimes more possible than you'd think. I wouldn't advise it, but when needs must, doing a get-out safely and efficiently on embarrassingly few hours sleep is possible. Not that I talk from experience at all…
- Eat your vegetables. Yes, Bene's Fish and Chips is just around the corner, and I know you're probably exhausted by all the sandwich options available in the Tesco meal deal last week, but takeaways everyday aren't going to do anything for your already struggling immune system, energy levels and budget. If you have the facilities, taking time out to cook a good, healthy meal is sometimes worth it.
- Talk to people. We had a brilliant, diverse, fun, talented bunch of people working on the shows in our venue, each of them with fascinating stories and opinions and differing background and cultures. Getting to know them was a joy. Also on this point though, talking to people out and about during the festival is great. I had a lovely conversation with a lady who sat next to me watching a show and another good 20 minute chat with a gentleman who caught me as I was walking around the city to ask if I knew a good place for a Sunday Roast (I didn't, but we continued talking about our experience of the festival anyway). People are great and at the fringe you know you're with likeminded people who are generally up for a chat and willing to exchange show recommendations. Embrace it. On a related note…
- Word of mouth is very important. If you want to see good show, ask people what good shows they've seen. It's far better than trailing through the overwhelmingly massive brochure.
- Some shows don't get the audiences they deserve (even if you talk about them to every person you come into contact with). It's heart-breaking, but that's the harsh nature of the Fringe. Don't let it break you though.
- Fault finding is constant. You'd think you would get to a point when the shows were all up and running and you could then sit back and relax into the routine of it all. However, more often than we liked, there'd be slight glitch and fault finding had to occur. Anyone who has worked with me knows that when I fault find I talk through the problem to myself, out loud. So at least that makes good entertainment for those around even if the problem itself is an annoyance. And continuing from that...
- Labelling is great. The excessive labelling I mentioned in a previous post really comes into play when something isn't working and you don't know why. Basically, it might be boring, but just label everything.
- Any scene change is possible. Okay so maybe not any scene change, but with practice and top-knotch-crew-choreography, you'd be surprised what you can do.
- See something you wouldn't normally. Although I did watch my first Fringe musical this year, I feel I didn't embrace the nature and variety of the Fringe as much as I wanted to. Next time I will definitely be venturing from my comfort zone more, because if you want to try something new, there's no better place for it!
- See some of the more permanent joys of the city. Again I didn't do this as much as I would have liked. I did make it to the National Museum which was amazing, but next time I hope I'll be able to make it to a few more galleries, museums and parks. Not to mention that walk up to Arthur's seat to watch the sunrise, which I still haven't done after my 4th year at the festival! Fringe or not, Edinburgh is beautiful; go exploring. Finally…
- Go to a Ceilidh. You won't regret it.
I loved my experience in Edinburgh and was sad to leave. As I said, I learnt so much, not least the general points I've listed above but I also more specifically improved my technical skill set massively. I am blessed to have formed a number of beautiful friendships with a special shout out going to all of the companies we hosted, I can only hope our paths will cross in the future. As we said upon parting, it might well be a massive industry, but it's a very small world and I'm sure we will meet again, probably in very unexpected circumstances.
I definitely want to work the Fringe again, be it as part of the team at another venue, or going up with a show. Both of these would offer me yet another different experience of this wonderful festival that I foresee continuing to be a firm favourite of mine for long time to come.
Thank you Edinburgh – until next time.