Awake: Part 2
Edinburgh and Sydney
If it hasn’t rained within 24 hours of arriving in Edinburgh, you must be in the wrong place. I love the city, but boy does it rain.
My show is being put on as part of the Free Fringe and as such my first full day in Edinburgh is spent helping put posters up in other Free Fringe venues. This is actually really fun, meeting lots of the comedians and performers and checking out the other venues. I also attend a session for people doing solo shows organised by EdFringe and meet some lovely fellow performers. Over the month, many of us manage to support each other’s shows which was really wonderful.
The venue for my show is new to the roster this year, I pop in to say hi and see the space and then all too soon it’s August the 3rd and I’m out flyering for Awake. It’s a mildly terrifying experience which does get easy as the month draws on. Flyering can be draining, demoralising, humiliating and also engaging, hilarious and uplifting. It’s all of these things for 25 days. Working out where to flyer is an initial challenge – during the month I mainly ignore The Royal Mile (too many people, just one little me) and I stick to Grassmarket (near the venue) and The Half Price Ticket booth (“Half price? My show is FREEEEEEE”) I think it kind of works, who knows?
The performances happen. They are frequently interrupted due to the toilets being at the back of the room behind a curtain but audiences come and even drop the odd note into my collection hat at the end. My amazing friends and family come to support me and the #EdFringe community is on Twitter for a bit of support. I make best friends with the owner in the L’Etoiles Salon du Tea on West Port as I pop in every day en route to the venue for a herbal tea.
Getting reviews is always nerve wracking, but when you’ve written, directed, produced and acted in it then it is terrifying. Awake is about insomnia which I’ve suffered with for most of my life and while awake one night, around 3am, I thought I’d Google the show to see if there was anything new. And there it was. A review in the Scotsman. I nearly vommed on my phone. I opened the link, trembling, read it, cried. Read it again and cried again. It was good. That moment is one I’ll never forget.
Once in the swing of things, I manage to see some great theatre, comedy and circus, climb Carlton Hill, still don’t make it up Arthur’s Seat, watch the Military Tattoo, walk miles and miles and only see two shows that make me want to pull my face off.
25 shows later and it’s time to go home. The train back to London is a fiasco as it’s wildly overbooked but did get to chat with the legendary Lee Nelson who’s show was brilliant, so that made up for it. Discover that it's apparently still summer as London is 10°c warmer than Edinburgh #justsayin
A day and a half later, after packing and re-packing, I head off to Gatwick with Mummy Colmans to fly to Sydney.
The Sydney Fringe festival is an infant compared to Edinburgh which celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017. In Edinburgh, you’d be hard pressed not to know that the festival was happening with around 3,300 shows. Sydney had a total of 300 over the month so the scale is wildly different. I meet my technician Nathan at The Blood Moon Theatre and we tech. Five performances follow at the venue and I even get a review. Going to Sydney was a great experience – my friends and family there got to see me perform and I made some small in-roads into the theatre world in Australia. It wasn’t without its challenges however – not knowing the festival or anyone on the ground to help me out, the time and currency differences when organising things (see Part 1) made it all a lot trickier. However, I got there in the end and I’m so glad I did.
Back in the UK and I’ve performed the play for several community groups and hope to do a London run at some point.
Writing and performing my own work was something I long wanted to do and I’m so glad I finally made it happen. It was incredibly rewarding as a writer and actress and I think I’ve grown as a performer. Would I do it again? Absolutely, just not this year…