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Tape Face: 'At the Edinburgh Fringe we're street rats and pirates'

Tape Face blogs about his experience as a street performer and cutting his (tape-covered) teeth on the Royal Mile

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© Matt Crockett

When I think about what is my Edinburgh I will always go back to the street. I first came to the Edinburgh Fringe to be a street performer. 

Being a very late traveller from New Zealand, I can still feel that moment back in 2007 walking up the Royal Mile as the Fringe was in its first few days of that year. I stood on the corner of Cockburn Street and looked up and attempted to take it all in. The chaos, the movement - then I saw the street performers. Joining that group of pirates for the month ended up my reason for being there. 

I will always call myself a street performer

I had been in London for the previous two weeks attempting to get my street show match fit, so to speak. It had been fine but I was ready to step up and put on the over-confidence that would help me survive what turned out to be a very memorable month.

My show as it turned out, was fine. Over the run, I developed my own style of street performing and the entire exercise of going to the Fringe became worthwhile.

My Fringe will always be based on the street. Every year my flat is overlooking the Royal Mile just so I can look out and see the street performers doing shows and building crowds. Some of them are still in their early days and others should perhaps be put out to pasture, but the joys of the streets is that there is a place for anyone who has the urge to attempt to stop people and give them the show that they have.

For the last several years I have loaded up a van of supplies for various indoor shows and at the last minute shove in a show case and a battery powered amp with all of the best intentions of joining the pirates for some street performance. I never end up taking my own street show out as the concept is more attractive than the effort.

We are street rats, pirates, we have to earn our place

I think at heart I will always call myself a street performer. My indoor show falls back on the roots of the elements of street entertaining. But maybe this will be the year that I don't load up that suitcase of street props and instead step back and just enjoy the noise of the others doing what they do. Street entertainment is, in my opinion, the simplest transaction of show and audience. You stop them, do the show and they pay what it's worth. We are street rats, pirates and the lifestyle is something you don't just walk into. You earn your place.

Edinburgh will always have the reviews and awards for so many of the indoor shows but when you get some of the roughest and toughest street entertainers standing at the back of your show, watching... that is worth more than any review.

Tape Face will be performing at the Pleasance Courtyard from 3 to 27 August (not 15) at 21:40.

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