Two for one tickets, half price viewing tonight ONLY, selling out quickly, see the latest comedy, musical, drama, band, singer, duet, A cappella group, performing, shouting, crying, laughing show you will ever see in your entire life!”
I have never been to Scotland before, let alone a festival like the Edinburgh Fringe, and didn’t know what to expect when I arrived on a fairly mild Tuesday.
Led by Natasha (from the theatre company I was staying with) through the hustle and bustle of the city I noticed small glimpses of the festival as we walked to the flat where I would be staying.
I immediately realised the living side of the festival is not as glamorous as performing.
I would be staying with ‘Now You Know’ Theatre Company. It has six members, five originally from Lancashire, and they were performing their first ever show at the Fringe: ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’ which was originally written by James Hammerstein. The company are Director Anthony Orme and Producer Matthew Green (both also part of the cast), Alex Davies, Musical Director/Pianist, and Natasha Proffitt, Chris Seeryand Laura Ellis, all members of the cast.
The living conditions were extremely cramped; sharing a flat for three weeks with two other acts at the fringe –‘Beans on Toast’ and ‘Red Tap’ – both groups with 7-8 members each.
Each group had one bedroom. The bedrooms were suited for two people to sleep in. Each company had to fit a double bed, a double blow up bed, a single air bed, three weeks of clothing each and room for one to sleep on the floor – a difficult task.
Yet even with this close proximity, cabin fever did not seem to be apparent. The three acts gelled well and spent their time away from performing, rehearsing and promoting sharing life stories and sitting around the living room singing which each other, keeping spirits high.
Matthew said: “We all get on really well; I thought the conditions would be too much but everyone is lovely and we get on well”.
Chris Seery agreed: “We’ve had no real major problems with getting along, it’s cramped, but its cosy and we try not to be too messy”.
A strict sleeping and shower routine was devised for the group, each taking it in turns to share the beds and the floor.
Natasha said: “Each flatmate has a specific slot to use the bathroom to get ready for, involving some members getting up at 6am, just to shower.
After my first night with the group, which was very noisy due to the flat being above a pub with very thin windows, I experienced a real flavour of the fringe.
‘Flyering’, had to be one of the most interesting parts of the entire festival. It involves handing out flyers of your show which hopefully bring in audiences each day.
The Royal Mile – a street made up of the Lawnmarket, the Highstreet, the Canongate and Abbey Strand – carves a mile long path through the city and, throughout August, is the beating heart of the festival.
Singers, comics, magicians, musicians, street performers – your senses are mesmerised by thousands of colours, sounds and sights
Never before can there have been such a mix of Second World War soldiers, drag queens, dragons and papier-mâché costumes.
‘Flyering’ can be done in many forms; there is the more reserved handing out flyers to passers-by hoping they will take notice of you.
Others went for more forceful methods, walking up to members of the public, thrusting flyers into their hands, smiling and shouting their show was worth seeing.
You would hear hundreds of people shouting “2for1 tickets! Do you like comedy? Brand new drama, catch this four star show!”
My first stab at flyering was the first approach – which was unsuccessful. But being brave enough to walk up to a stranger and try convince them that your show is the best to see in three seconds proved quite a difficult task.
Time is definitely not on anyone’s side at the Fringe.
Natasha’s show starts at 12.50pm at ‘TheSpace on Northbridge’. They are allowed into the venue at 12.45 giving them 5 minutes to set up costumes, props, lighting, piano, and bring the audience in.
At the end they only have roughly 10 minutes to pack it all up and leave the room before the next act is allowed in.
Other performances have been cut short if they over run so there is no room for error.
Performing for three weeks, under such intensity, living in cramped conditions with people you’ve never met before in a city you’ve never visited, is quite an intense time for performers.
To pull off such high quality shows is tremendous and I take my hat off to the 3,000+ acts which will perform here.