The Edinburgh Fringe is like the annual industry conference for my line of work. I'll be honest, it's a bit more exciting than a hotel in the midlands or an outwards bounds team building trip. For some years now, this annual pilgrimage has been a significant part of my diary, taking precedence over any number of other (arguably more lucrative) opportunities.
For those who have never been, it's an unbelievable experience that I recommend you try. Thousands of performers from all over the world head to an area entirely within walking* distance, and there is nothing like the buzz that surrounds it. Whatever you're into, you can find here. Big names, new acts, fancy venues, rooms cobbled together out of bin bags and double-sided sticky tape, theatre, comedy, music, experienced professionals and students.
I find this an incredibly creative environment. Nothing is more exciting than going into a makeshift space to see a showcase of acts you've never heard of and being blown away by someone's brilliance. Or seeing a performer deliver a familiar piece in an entirely new way. The festival is a window into the zeitgeist of the creative arts world and you see patterns emerging that intersect internationally.
Lasting friendships are made here, as like minded people meet and discuss their passions. Writers, performers, producers, directors work immensely hard and play hard too. It's a focal point in the industry calendar and an absolute joy to be part of, except for a few minor details…
The weather. Completely unpredictable. Last night we were slowly roasting. Tonight I wore 4 layers to go out and when I came home I thought about finding the central heating.
The timings. Everything kicks off later and goes on later which plays havoc with your circadian rhythms, your routine changes. When I came back last year having been up for the full month, I had jet lag.
The financial implications. This is an expensive event for most performers. The rent during the festival can be extortionate and many people are forced to live in quite challenging circumstances in order to afford to stay here. There are costs that you might not think of, for example, being the centre of town it's not cheap to eat out.
Flyering. If you want people to see your production you basically need to stand in the street and pitch it to them with the vigour of a candidate on Dragons Den. You also run the risk of being pursued by other companies, desperate for you to come to their show.
Marketing. You don't want to know
The walking*. Walking is generally the easiest and often the fastest way to get between venues. However, this City has more hills than Kilton Keynes has roundabouts, and the steepest slopes are helpfully punctuated with stone stairs so that you can choose which route will be least likely to give you a heart attack. Edinburgh is like some kind of big Escher painting and my knees will take 335 days to recover.
The fringe is a seductive event which sucks you in and forces you to fall in twisted love. It's a cruel mistress, allowing some to sink and others to swim. It becomes like an addiction, where your withdrawal symptoms are the constant feeling that this would have been the one day where we would have been given 5* by Broadway Baby or met Beckham.
This year I am here for 8 days at the beginning and 5 at the end. I have told everyone that NOTHING interesting or funny is allowed to happen in between. So if you're going up in between, sorry.