Awake: Part 1
The Road to Edinburgh
By Miranda Colmans
The January blues hit. Hard. So much so that my colleagues at my permanent-temp job think that there is something seriously wrong with me. I’m in a terrible mood a lot of the time. Something has to change.
By chance, I see that The Space Theatre are doing a writing challenge “28 Plays in 28 Days”. It starts the next day. I sign up without really thinking about it and then wonder what on earth I’ve got myself into. I’m not a hugely competitive person, however I am a bit OCD which means that once I start something, I like to finish it. During the month, I write a play each day, in a myriad of styles and genres. It is stretching and enriching.
Taking part gives me the confidence boost I need to take the plunge and apply for a slot at the Edinburgh festival. So, mid-Feb, mid writing challenge, I apply with little more than a summary and a snazzy tag line – and get a place.
Next task – quit the day job.
Tick! Well, sort of. I apply for a year’s career break and I’m leaving at the end of April. It seems AGES away. But there are so many things to do in the meantime…
Having completed the “28 Days” challenge, one of my plays is chosen to be read out at a gathering of all the writers who took part – I’m chuffed!
I’ve been to the Edinburgh Fringe festival before – once as a performer and several times as a visitor. However, on none of those occasions did I have to do as much admin as I find myself doing now. Trains, accommodation, poster design, registrations for this and that, setting up social media accounts and updating my website… Endless tasks. All to be completed while still working full time and applying for acting jobs, auditioning, self-taping, taking classes and playing the lead in short a film.
I must be mad. I’ve applied for the Sydney Fringe festival which is in September. And they seem keen to have me!
Attend a session about approaching the media and programming run by Robyn and Alan from EdFringe which is unbelievably helpful – thank you!
More admin follows – writing press release, creating lists of casting directors etc to invite.
I suddenly realise there is an impending EdFringe programme publication deadline and phone my sister in a panic. However, because she’s amazing, she fiddles around on Publisher until I’m happy and completes my image in time for the deadline. She even does it in different sizes so it works as a banner on Facebook and Twitter. What a doll.
I finish at my permanent-temp job and my long running jokey answer about my play “Yep – I’d better go and write it now!” becomes a reality. Oh crap.
Oh it’s fine I’ve got ages.
Oh my god, it’s so soon! There’s not enough time!
Nah, it’s fine, it’s 12 weeks away. That’s so long!
There’s so many things to do!
You’ve got time
I really need to write the play…
But the admin, the admin!
Yes, but I should write the play…
You can put the washing on, then write the play?
Why did I think I could do this? This is madness!
I can do this, I know I can and it’s going to be great!
You’re an idiot, why did you think this was a good idea?
It’s fun in my brain...
Leaving the house daily becomes essential. I get so easily distracted at home, I can always find something, anything to do rather than write the play. The poor cat has been brushed to within an inch of her life…
What’s wrong with me? What part of my brain is stopping me from sitting down and actually writing this. It’s all up there, I know it is. So why is this so hard?
Two weeks after my self-imposed first draft deadline, I finish it. I don’t know if it’s any good. But it’s a play and it fits the title.
Ah! Sydney! Nothing about applying for a festival which is 10,000 miles away is easy. Time difference is an issue, when I’m awake, they’re asleep and vice versa. But we get there. Bank transfers are made, flights are booked, accommodation is found (1 minute walk from the venue, woop!) and I discover a new distraction in thinking about where in Australia I am going to go travelling AFTER the festival, rather than rehearsing the play.
New admin tasks – public liability certificate (thank you Equity, super helpful and supportive as ever), risk assessment, Sydney appropriate posters, a technician, packing lists…
June 7th the EdFringe official programme is launched. My show Awake is there in glorious technicolour on the website and a big fat hard copy drops through my door on the same day. I’m on page 305. This is really happening. I should probably rehearse the play.
Perform the play for my husband and parents; it’s terrifying. But they are (as ever) incredibly supportive and appropriately critical. We workshop ideas and drink a lot of tea.
Time for a relaxing yoga holiday… Or not as every day between classes I run my lines and rehearse the show in the yoga studio rather than lie in the Portuguese sunshine as I’ve booked two preview performances in London at the Hen & Chickens three days after we get back. Good plan Colmans.
Half the yoga holiday people and most of my family and friends who can’t come to Edinburgh turn up. I love them all! I’m absolutely bricking it. What if I forget my lines? What if I can’t remember where I am? Get distracted by the presence of Aisling Bea and Jessica Fostekew IN THE SAME DRESSING ROOM as me and briefly forget I have to do a play. Then remember.
Previews go well and I have two weeks to tweek and perfect the show before heading north. I write many, many more lists, nearly miss another publishing deadline (Sydney this time, more frantic calls to my sister) and then August 1st dawns…
To be continued…