WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

My First Fringe: performing at [email protected] Fringe has been an astonishing experience

Pauline Mayers explains why being at the Fringe for the 70th anniversary is important.

Pauline Mayers
© Lizzie Coombes

I actually performed at the Fringe six times between 1987 and 1993 as a dancer in other people's shows but this is the first time I've brought my own production.

Being the creator/writer/performer as opposed to just a performer is giving me a very different experience and insight into how the Fringe works. Collaborating with my producer Roz Coleman, our co-producers West Yorkshire Playhouse, our associates Northern Stage and with the team at Summerhall has been an involved conversation from the outset! I've been lucky to have so many people see the value in bringing an unorthodox show like What If I Told You to the Fringe. It all makes the experience of being here in the 70th anniversary year that much more… pleasurable? No: important.

My show is the only one in the venue without a military or police theme

Being at [email protected] Fringe has been an astonishing experience. My show is the only one in their programme without a military or police theme, so I experienced some initial reservations, never imagining that it could be presented at a venue manned by uniformed men and women of the army. Now that we're midway through the run, I feel very differently. I've been able to spend time talking with the people at the venue – and they've come into the show and shared the space with me.

I now feel that this Army Reserve Centre is one of the best venues to present the show in. At the centre of What If I Told You is human connection; if I can't take this piece to a venue and be able to connect with people, then something isn't working. Being in this space gives me the chance to have a different kind of conversation to anything I could get anywhere else.

What is really keeping me going, is doing the show every day

Being in a new venue, and being at the Fringe with my own show has been rather overwhelming at times. There are so many voices in the room, and so many people to engage with to get everything working. Between flyering and keeping up with the opportunities our PR is generating, between tech and turnaround times, and keeping up with the brilliant women that I've brought with me to do the koan of the second half, there's a huge amount to think about all the time. But the overriding thing is that the show itself is really pleasurable to perform. And every night we all breathe together.

We're trying to look after ourselves, making as much home cooked food as possible. We've climbed Arthur's Seat, done yoga and been swimming. It's amazing to have so many friends around us and to see them and their shows to make the most of the opportunities that the Fringe offers.

But what is really keeping me going is doing the show every day. I enjoy the rhythm of performing daily, and the chance to keep talking about the inspirations and horrors that inspired me to create the show in the first place. The Fringe is a unique opportunity to perform to, and with, different people each day. The show changes as the world does and having it seen by different eyes allows me to view it afresh each time.

Pauline Mayers performs What If I Told You at [email protected] Fringe at 17.00 each day to 27 Aug (except 21).

For all our coverage of the Edinburgh Festival click here