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Pack, Pack, Packering

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When you go on holiday, packing becomes part of the adventure. You look at your swimsuit and forsee lazy days on the beach, hiking boots make you itch to start exploring and evening clothes remind you that there's not long to go before you'll be wining and dining in the finest restaurants.

Packing for Edinburgh is a different animal altogether. For a start, the weather refuses to be pinned down to represent any sort of specific climate or season. If you thought London was unpredictable...well, you're in for a big surprise! My advice is to anticipate that your month here will see sunshine, snow and thunderstorms. Always carry clothes for all three possibilities on you and you should be fine!

You'd be advised to have the odd evening outfit on you. After all you never know when you'll win an award or get invited to something swanky! However the majority of Edinburgh clothes are depressingly mundane. At the risk of morphing into my grandmother (who am I kidding, she's the only one here in heels) I have to say that, for this Festival, I limit myself to 'sensible' walking shoes, comfortable trousers and tops custom printed for my show. Yup, sexy I know. So, packing my bags, I tend to see nothing but walks along cobblestones, long days of flyering and looking altogether unattractive.

The truth is, if you're taking a show to Edinburgh, set, props and costume take priority over your own clothes in terms of suitcase space. Tuesday morning saw my family stumble through the rain and onto the East Coast train clutching a giant Christmas tree bag full of flat-pack furniture, a zebra print case packed with crockery, cutlery and changes of costumes and enough heavy duty make up to sink a ship.

Oh, if I haven't mentioned it yet, my play is a one-man show based on my interviews with Rachael Jones (a pre-op transgender) and follows her attempt to set up an 'inclusive' cafe in Bloomington, Indiana, USA. I'd finally got the play down on paper, but getting it to the stage involved having to get to grips with a world previously unknown to me. I visited transgender shops such as Doreen's Fashions in Walthamstow (the best value one in London dontcha know?) and Bloomsbury Gender Transformations to get a wig fitted on my confused actor Graham. I met another pre-op transgender lady named Caroline who taught me how to do my actor's make up to hide his stubble, and a post-op lady in Manchester who runs Julie & Linda's dressing services pointed me in the right direction (Extreme Make-up) to find these thick, cover-all foundations and bases.

My last week pre-Edinburgh was spent pretty much physically molesting my (close to a nervous breakdown) actor, making sure his boobs were squishy enough, his pores were clear and his hips wiggled when he walked in his new heels. It occurred to me as I climbed upon my train at Kings Cross: My packing might have been stressful, but I reckon this may be the first time Graham has had to explain to his girlfriend why he has nylon tights and a gaff in his suitcase. Don't know what a gaff is? My actor would consider you one of the lucky ones.


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