Three shows and a Pleasance press launch in and the Fringe has most definitely arrived. It felt like the festival crept up on us; having come to Edinburgh last Friday for our weekend of technical rehearsals, well before most companies, it was almost a surprise to see bars open and shows performing when we returned for further rehearsals on Wednesday.
And suddenly it’s upon us. Tree upon tree of flyers. Choice so vast and varied it seems impossible to know where to start. Best to start with what you know, right?
The Edinburgh Fringe is a treasure trove of creativity, spilling with ideas, talent and, I’ll be honest, the odd duff. But these duffs, too, are an important process – often allowing artists their first taste of performance on a grand scale, and providing an environment in which to grow.
Edinburgh is a place where audience members can take risks. Go and see the big name comedians, but also try something new – take a punt on those engaging young artists who flyered you on the Royal Mile and spoke so eloquently about their performance and ambition.
And performers can take advantage of the glorious community that surrounds them. We’ve met with young companies on the Royal Mile that are flyering every hour of the day, leaving them no time to learn from other shows and companies, a vital ingredient in the Edinburgh experience. In contrast, the New Wolsey Youth Theatre has been instructed to see at least two other shows a day by their mentor. Now that’s more like it!
I’ve heard two opening speeches, from Anthony Alderson at the Pleasance and Lorne Campbell at Northern Stage, which celebrated the unique community created by the festival. Which were humbled by the honour of people from all nations descending upon the city to engage in this spectacular feast. And which cited the importance of continuing to foster this atmosphere and provide opportunities for young artists in these difficult economic times.
Already at the festival I’ve been lucky enough to have seen I Could’ve Been Better by Idiot Child, The Little Soldiers by Theatre Re, Stuart, A Life Backwards by HighTide and Major Tom by Victoria Melody. I have hundreds more shows on my hit list at Northern Stage at St Stephen’s, Summerhall, Dancebase, Forest Fringe and Pleasance to name but a few.
For me, it’s exhilarating to be flooded by shows of all different styles and journeys.
August in Edinburgh is the month to go out and explore.