Best of the Edinburgh Blogs - Week One
We currently feel like we're in a happy little Edinburgh soap bubble floating around a sunshine sky while apparently in our home town all hell has broken loose. Weirder still is that all the riots are happening where are cast usually live. George (my girlfriend and cast member) usually lives in Clapham, Jules in Hackney, Jon in Balham and basically all of us are seeing pictures of places we actually know and love. Jules' local pub has been burnt down and riots have been happening at the end of George's road. We even had an impro friend who was tweeting last night from Clapham that gangs of masked men were surrounding her flat as it was above a Sainsbury's. Usually this would all be seen on TV by us or in the papers, but because we're in Edinburgh we've been away from usual media and have instead been picking up what's been happening through twitter and facebook on people's phones as it happens. It was actually terrifying on our friend's behalf to hear about more and more people surrounding her house and us having nothing to do about it, and instead be in this happy little sunshine world of make believe musicals.”
"Well, I think we're making the best of it but, honestly, this weather is no fun at all. I'm looking out over the crags where eagles swoop and mists swirl, and the rain has been so heavy all night and all morning - and no sign of cessation - that it's pressed open windows that are only half ajar on their hinges. For the first time in coming to the festival for decades I finally gave up on a show late last night because I couldn't find a taxi, couldn't stand upright in the belting monsoon and suddenly felt damp, depressed and deflated … Ah well, there's still the International Festival to come, where at least one can touch hands with the living and the cultured."
"My half price waterproof trousers are still going strong. The black feet I have from my shoe dye leaking on me now forms part of my show. Habitual swapping of leaflets with the girl who peddles a ghost tour in Spanish becomes slightly dishonest as we both promise to do each other’s attractions. Like an uplift bra, the ongoing drama of my landlady’s search for the perfect barbecue and her wonderful friends who visit keep me together. This is a house that is constantly ringing with laughter and with the rainy season here in Scotland, it has been a cheery roof to shelter under. With the cello player gone home from next door I find the new couple to ship up are a pair of chatty fidgets. They look handy with a kitchen roll but I’m not optimistic about the calm. The Fringe is predictable only in its unpredictability it seems."
"So it's day two of the most horrendous Scottish weather for August ever. I just went out in my sowester and galoshes and still managed to come home with rain in my bra. But all is not lost; there is nothing more resilient and jolly than an Edinburgh punter. I am always shocked at how people, soaked to the bone and blue from the cold, smile as they bump umbrellas with each other and step out into the road only to find themselves knee deep like Dr Foster … I am trying to explore the city with people who know it really well as its hard to find some gems amongst the overpriced tat. Tonight I am a guest on Arthur Smith’s P**sed Up Chat Show, after that I am meeting some Norwich Poet types; maybe they can help me sniff out some tasty pubs and bars."
"The beginning of the festival period can be slow to get started, a little quiet and quite studious while people work on getting their shows up and running. A week on however, as previews begin to lead into the actual festival run and people find their pace, the atmosphere changes strikingly. From early in the morning to very late afternoon the Royal Mile, a long street in Edinburgh, is jam packed with theatre companies emoting manically, dressing up crazily and flyering everyone in sight. There are extracts from shows performed on the cobblestones while street performers set up complex magic and clowning routines. The combination of participants, festival goers, locals and tourists mean that the Mile is always teeming with people and can be an amazing if not irritatingly shove inducing area of town."
"It’s a common complaint amongst theatre fans that the Edinburgh Fringe has gone to the comedy dogs. And there are plenty of stats that would seem to back up this view. Just six years ago, theatre ruled the roost as the largest festival genre, representing 37% of the overall Fringe programme. In 2011, it’s comedy that claims 37% of the programme, with theatre running a fairly distant second at 30%. So in terms of domination, yes, it’s true, comedy is the victor. But it’s not that the Fringe is any less a breeding ground for drama than it was before. Comedy’s win is merely proportional to the rapid growth of the festival overall. Theatre’s 37% of the programme in 2005 amounted to 666 shows of the 1,799 on offer that year. This year’s 30% amounts to 763 shows. That’s a perfectly respectable - some might even say impressive - 13% increase. So theatre is still growing in Edinburgh - it’s just that the rest of the Fringe, fuelled largely by comedy, is growing faster. (In fact, more than twice as fast.)"
”One of the best things about coming to Edinburgh every year is the massive health benefits that accrue from The Fringe Diet. The Fringe Diet is based on the idea that what was good for you aged 19 is even better for you at... well, a greater age, especially if you commit to it fully. When I was a fancy free teen at Polytechnic (look it up, young people) I'd drink beer most days and exist almost entirely on toast, chips and occasional posher takeaways. With this intake I was two stone lighter than I am today. Now that I'm a proper grown-up with the wages of a regular job I can afford, for the fortnight that I'm at The Fringe anyway, to take this to its logical conclusion, moving on from toast at breakfast time to chips for lunch and then, if at all possible, at least one curry a day, washed down by hourly stops for a cheeky pint. By following this plan I've always gone home lighter than I arrived.”
"The most extraordinary display of audience behaviour I've seen in the past week was at the Ontroerend Goed show, Audience, which, through a series of provocative scenes, deliberately sets out to bait members of the audience into reacting to what is going on before them. One scenario in particular, where a young female member of the audience was bullied and insulted by a performer, provoked such rage and offence that people around me shouted and swore at the performer in question. This, of course, was the hoped for response: with this show, Ontroerend Goed forces us to examine the way that we behave in group situations, questioning the role of individual morality when herd mentality provides a convenient ethical get out clause. But so angry was the man sitting behind me, that when, at a calmer moment later in the show I politely asked him and his wife to stop talking, he bellowed at me 'I'll stop talking when I f**king want to'. Not good behaviour.”
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