September 9, 2009
Rick the A/C man is here again which means, I suppose, that I have come full circle with this blog. He never did manage to fix the air conditioning a month ago and we only ever realize it doesn’t work when we are in the midst of a heat wave- as we are now. Wild fires blaze in Los Angeles, the air is hot, the sky filled with smoke- yes indeed, I am a million miles away from blustery, damp Edinburgh. My last night, after a farewell celebration with actors, actors’ parents, director, producer, assorted assistants and musicians from her other show (at least I think that’s who they were…) I went to see Camille O’Sullivan one last time (that would be three) then got on a plane and headed home. The following morning at 8 am I found myself on a soccer field in Orange County watching my eleven year old’s team get crushed . How quickly life slams you right back down to earth. (My daughter is the tiny one in the middle guarding the giant)
September 8, 2009
As the last week of the festival approached, conversations with new friends and acquaintances changed from the “how’s the show? good reviews? best thing you’ve seen?” chat to the “so what’ve you got planned for afterwards? chat”. What became clear to me after a few days of existential “who am I, what am I, what is my purpose in life?” questions was that I wasn’t alone. Literally thousands of people are approaching the end of August with no idea what they’ll be doing afterwards. And its ok.
This is the first time in my adult life that I’ve not been in full time employment and have not had the next job lined up. To have nothing concrete to go to is simultaneously terrifying and exciting. I have absolute freedom to do entirely as I please. I just need to earn enough to feed myself. I keep reminding myself of the Bob Dylan lyrics: “when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose”. And when I listen to them, I know deep down that something good, nay amazing, will turn up.
September 8, 2009
I am now sat typing this, my final blog, in disbelief that the festival is over. It feels as if it raced past, but also that I was there for an eternity. And what an experience! My first Edinburgh. A baptism of fire. I loved it.
On our last night, those of us who were left went for a meal at a little tapas bar not far from the Assembly Rooms. Delicious food, real wine surrounded by lovely people, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. As you do, we talked about the highlights of the festival, and as people recounted incidents that had stood out for them, I realised just how much we had experienced together. You can jam a lot into a month, especially in Edinburgh when you’re average sleep time reduces to about 5 hours a night!
Being told “The Origin of Species” had sold out its first show on day 4
Grinning all through the Soweto Gospel Choir
The waterfight with my director at 1am
Seeing Camille O Sullivan and crying all through it
Discovering I do enjoy stand-up comedy after all – I’d just never seen good stuff before
Meeting a million people with a similar outlook on life
Getting 5 star reviews for all 4 of our shows
Hanging out with my company at Brookes bar
Saying goodbye to Edinburgh knowing that it had been a success
Was it madness agreeing to produce 4 shows as my first Edinburgh venture? Yep
Am I glad I did it? Oh yes
Would I do it again? Hell yeah!
September 7, 2009
Barely has the Edinburgh Fringe packed its bags for another year like a dispatched Big Brother housemate than a swathe of London venues have snapped up its best bits for your viewing pleasure. Yes, it’s transfer season – and not just on the football field. Talent scouts were out in force last month to ensure that London theatregoers get the best of the fest come autumn.
We’ve already reported on transfers for Catwalk Confidential to the Arts Theatre, The Stefan Golaszewski Plays to the Bush and a slew of musicals to Jermyn Street. But that’s not all by a long shot. Whatsonstage.com’s Off-West End deputy editor Nancy Groves has scoured the venue listings to round up what else has made the trip south this month. Read more
September 7, 2009
Two of the winning productions in the 2009 Musical Theatre Matters Awards, sponsored by Whatsonstage.com at last month’s Edinburgh Fringe (See News, 25 Aug 2009), are transferring directly to Jermyn Street Theatre this month as part of a four-week season celebrating new British musical theatre. Read more
September 7, 2009
2-5 Sep, times vary
Watching this adaptation of J.M.Barrie’s classic by New York company Mabou Mines, it seems curious that it has become a childrens’ favourite. Peter Pan brings images of swashbuckling or flying over the streets of London to mind: the Disney cartoons and Christmas pantomimes are probably to blame. But the story is – we find out here – a complex emotional tale concerning the rather more adult issues of early maturity, responsibility and innocence. Read more
September 4, 2009
Well I’m home. Curled up in my flat in Cardiff, looking at the sea and trying to work out what the last 4 weeks were about and if it was all worth it. Read more
September 2, 2009
Baba Brinkman’s “Darwin on the Fringe” blog presents an insider’s view of Edinburgh through the lens of Memetics, Evolutionary Psychology, and other Darwinian paradigms.
The Fringe is dead, long live the Fringe. This morning we packed out of our student flat in central Edinburgh and caught the train back to London, and tomorrow I fly back to Vancouver (not for a rest though, I’m going straight to Burning Man!) Yesterday was day 25 of the Rebel Cell and day 27 of the Rap Guide to Evolution and I have to admit I am exhausted. The exhaustion isn’t so much from the shows though, it’s from the action-packed last few days of the Fringe, going to see as many comedy acts as we could (highlights: Pajama Men and Celia Pacquola) followed by some late nights out. I took the leash off a bit at the end because I had been extremely moderate for the middle ten days of the Festival due to serious vocal strain. No shows were cancelled, but some of my audiences were treated to husky performances a la Tom Waits, which means I probably lost the favour of many an ovulating female (no, I didn’t sound as good as Tom Waits, only as graveled).
Research has shown a strong preference for deeper male voices among women during their fertility phase, but only for short term mating purposes, not committed relationships. Research has also shown that men consistently find women’s voices more attractive during ovulation (but only if they are not on the pill), another form of subtle signaling designed by evolution to maximize reproductive potential (see my previous entry on concealed ovulation). And how did my whispery voice affect my daily memetic copulation with audience members? Well, only in a parallel universe could we do a controlled experiment, but the final weekend drew my biggest crowds yet, and over the course of the Festival we sold approximately 1800 tickets to the Rap Guide to Evolution, higher than any previous Fringe run I’ve been part of. Special thanks are due to the Scotsman for their acknowledgement, which certainly increased my memetic proliferation.
Yes, it really has been orgiastic, and at this festival I have repeatedly played the role of both female/audience and male/performer, spreading memes of my own and receiving the memes of others, which will now gestate until I deliver them forth in some new form. The best analogy in the natural world that I can find for the Edinburgh Fringe phenomenon is the life cycle of the mayfly. Mayflies belong to the order Ephemeroptera, Greek for “short-lived wings”, an apt description of the ephemeral Fringe experience. Mayflies live most of their lives as aquatic naiads or nymphs (wingless crawling insects), living and feeding underwater for a year or two before they moult and metamorphose into their sexually mature flying adult form. The purpose of the adult mayfly is singular: to mate and mate fast. They only live for a few hours or a day at the most, and just to make sure they aren’t distracted by frivolities such as foraging, their mouths are non-functioning and their digestive tracts are filled with air. Evolution really has fashioned adult mayflies literally as sex machines. When tens of thousands of mayflies all emerge from the water at once, these clouds of frenzied mating insects can darken the sky and cover every surface. We used to encounter swarms of them on the block during my treeplanting days – we called them “fuck bugs”.
That’s what the Fringe feels like. Imagine emerging from the cold lake after spending a year crawling around underwater just feeding and shedding your skin and feeding and shedding your skin, developing the resources you will need for the swarm. Then suddenly you are air-born and time is moving faster than you’ve ever experienced and you know death is imminent and you are surrounded by tens of thousands of others in the exact same predicament, all with the same biological imperative screaming: “mate, mate, mate!” The mating in the case of the Fringe is (primarily) memetic, exchanging ideas and songs and jokes and stories rather than genes, but that feeling of fleeting frenzy is the same. You do what you can with the short time you have, and when it finishes you accept its passing. Of course, death in this analogy is not death, just as sex is not sex. Death is simply the cessation of joyful daily opportunities to spread your memes. From a gene’s eye view, the body of the adult mayfly might be breathing its last exhausted breath, but sperm have been deposited, eggs have been laid, and the purpose of these spent ephemeral bodies has been served. The genes (or at least copies of them) will emerge in new bodies next year for another swarm.
Whether I will be one of those bodies at next year’s Fringe remains to be seen, but for now I’m feeling somewhat embryonic, ready for some sleep in the fetal position (ie, on a cramped airplane). If I understood the evo devo of memetics a bit better I could try to predict the form that these gestating memes might take in a year’s time, but for now I’m happy to just let them steep, comforted by the knowledge that my mind has been well fertilized over the past month, and that my memes were received by several thousand other fertile minds. Buzz buzz buzz.
*Baba Brinkman is a writer and performer in both The Rebel Cell and The Rap Guide to Evolution. This is his 5th Edinburgh Fringe experience.
September 1, 2009
The final round of Herald Angel awards – which have been running since 1996 and recognise “innovation and excellence across the spectrum of artistic activity” – were announced on Saturday (30 August 2009), presented by new chief executive of the Fringe Society Kath Mainland. Read more
September 1, 2009
Despite the continuing recession, the Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, has reported record ticket sales this year. Overall, ticket sales reached 1.85 million, an increase of 9% from the previous record (set in 2007) and 21% up on last year’s figures, which were impacted by problems with the ticketing system (See News, 20 Aug 2008). Read more