As has been the case for the last few years, the Fringe has started without me. I’m ready to go to Edinburgh, in mind, if not actually bodily in terms of packing and suchlike.
There are various reasons I don’t do weeks 0 and 1 of the Fringe these days. There are also some downsides of being a part-timer. You don’t quite get taken as seriously by the industry types if you don’t do the whole run; you’re not eligible for many awards and gongs, and it seems like you may also miss out on being reviewed, since some publications, short on review time, may choose only to review “the bigger shows”. It’s silly, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
Yet, there are some reasons why doing the first week is not the best idea, as performer or even show-goer. Every year, a bunch of people descend on Edinburgh in various states of readiness. Some shows are ready to go from day one, but there are always teething problems. Some shows aren’t ready from day one. The audience also are finding their feet. The locals are in denial about the Fringe until week 3 usually, and many people schedule their Edinburgh trip for the mid-period of the Fringe or later.
In short, people returning to Edinburgh for the Fringe, with memories of last year’s peaks in audience and atmosphere, frequently find the whole thing a bit of a let down. Where is everyone? Where’s the frenzy of excitement? Why do those 19 year olds on the Royal Mile look so clean and recently laundered? This isn’t the Edinburgh I know.
Give it a week and it will find its feet. The coverage will have taken shape and people will have remembered that the Fringe is on and will have steeled themselves for watching 9 shows a day or whatnot.
That’s when I arrive. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I look at the people who’ve been there for a week and wonder why they’re looking so knackered, when it’s only just getting going. My week 1 is the Fringe’s week 2, and it’s like an instant high. It’s so good, I ended up in hospital last year (but that’s a story for tomorrow).
So, to all my fellow Fringe performers I say this – don’t worry: it’s always a slow start, but it will get brilliant in only a couple more days. Oh, and save a bit of Edinburgh for me. I’ll be there in just over a week.
If I’m honest, even though weeks 0 and 1 are a bit crap, I’d still love to be there if I could afford to and could fit it around the rest of my life and commitments.
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