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Lights, Camera, Walkies' Zoe Gardner Reflects On Her 2011 Fringe Experiences

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Well, the festival is drawing to a close and as usual it tends to go out not with a bang but with a whimper, as dazed performers try to do a month’s worth of cleaning in two hours, in an attempt to get back the deposit on their flat.

This is my eighth or ninth Edinburgh fringe (I’m scared of doing an exact count) and I’m familiar with the emotional rollercoaster, but it’s funny how you’re still ambushed by the same things even when you know they’re coming: highs, lows, disappointments, discoveries. As always it’s been stimulating and as always I’ve learnt stuff.

It’s been a delight to meet and work with Richard and Tom on Lights Camera Walkies, and I’ve relished the opportunity to do a play and get to tell a story every day. Reactions have been very positive, even from my friend’s two year-old (“good”) who was perhaps a little disappointed that the mimed dogs never turned up. The one day we couldn’t quite understand a devastating tumbleweed feel from the audience, it turned out that one of them – a sturdy middle-aged man – had given a small female usher a menacing shove on the way in. There’s no getting round a situation like that – everyone feels nervous sitting next to a bully – but I wish we’d known before the show started – we soldiered through imagining it was us they hated!

A good way of maintaining equilibrium at the festival is doing more than one show. This year I’ve also been doing Colin Hoult’s Inferno which has been wonderful – a continuation of a collaboration which I feel privileged to be party to. Both shows have changed quite a bit along the way, so what with the ongoing rehearsal process and my determination to make the most of my ‘unlimited’ yoga pass, I haven’t seen quite as many shows as I’d have liked, but I’ve seen a fair few.

The chance to see other things (two shows also means two venue passes!) is, for me, one of the most important parts of being here. It refreshes my enthusiasm and makes me feel part of a community of writer/performers. This has felt particularly meaningful in a year when I’m here as a performer in others’ shows – a year off from writing something myself. Watching others’ work I’ve been reminded that what remains the most essential element in the impact of a show is the personal, the sense that only that individual could have created that particular peculiar communication. I’ve been lucky enough to see several shows that have touched me with their daring and originality, which brings a combination of reassurance and provocation – putting fire in the creative engine for another year. Fire? Not fire; petrol. Don’t ever let me run a real engine.

Lights, Camera, Walkies
Gilded Balloon Billiard Room
3-29 August (not 10, 17, 18)
14:00 (60 mins)

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