They say you never miss what you’ve never have. Until you have it then you miss it. Last year due to a family illness, I had to miss ‘The Edinburgh Experience’. It’s that time of year again when the biggest arts festival in the world begins. Do I miss it? Yes I do. I’ve been to some fabulous places this year with my plays and films including a few visits to London, but there’s nowhere quite like The Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Whether you have the opportunity to have your written work performed or the chance to watch the many wonderful shows being performed during August in the Scottish capital, whatever it takes to get there, the high road or the low, head north when the bagpipes call.
2010 they called for me, when three short plays I’d written with the intention of being performed at a smaller festival were discovered by an Edinburgh promoter. Of course I was green to the game, I made mistakes. I took too bigger cast and crew, took the first offer I got from a promoter and spent so much time running around after everyone I only got to see 1 show. But mistakes are not regrets if you learn from them and of course the man who has never made a mistake has never done anything. Without mistakes you will never find success. Along with the answer to the difference between winning and losing and the difference between success and failure being the same. The answer of course – giving up! I was in no mood to give up as apart from the initial mistakes I was living a 24 hour carnival of fun. I also had a major asset. I had TV star in one of my plays. One who just happened to be born in Scotland, one who was loved by the biggest newspaper covering the festival and an interview with him one day on the full front page of their festival publication gave us 25 per cent of the newspaper’s festival coverage that day. Not bad when you’re up against 21,000 yes 21,000 other shows seeking publicity. The attention increased ticket sales, boosted cast morale and we left Edinburgh with a fantastic review in the centre page pull out of The Edinburgh Evening News.
I returned in 2011 with a much smaller cast and crew. I’d waited until I got a much better deal with a different promoter. With less people on board I wasn’t running around looking after everyone. I saw 17 shows. I chose 2 actresses and 1 actor from these shows who I thought would be ideal in future productions. They were. They all came to work with me and were all a fantastic success. What better place to discover potential actors. Seeing them on stage as opposed to setting up and holding expensive auditions, with so much talent on show Edinburgh is the ultimate place to discover talent and be discovered yourself. We also discovered you didn’t need a TV star to sell your show. A young, enthusiastic cast in fancy dress working hard on the Fringe’s famous Royal Mile promoting the show did the trick. Leading to one of our shows selling out, avoiding the financial insecurity that frightens away a lot of people from performing at The Fringe! The sell out success attracted offers from interested promoters to take the show elsewhere after Edinburgh.
If you can avoid the pitfalls and work hard, you can reap the rewards and enjoy the fun. The fun being my most important memory, I can remember walking around Edinburgh in 2011 at 3 o’clock in the morning seeing so many happy, smiling faces and being in a state of disbelief that back home in England there were riots taking place. Writing for me is the ultimate escapism and in August there’s no better place to escape to than Edinburgh. It’s a literary capital. Its famous book festival takes place at the same time as the Fringe. It’s a city that’s home to Ian Rankin and the iconic Elephant House cafe overlooking Edinburgh Castle, where J.K. Rowling sat writing many of her early novels. In August there’s no better place for writers to escape to, than the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Have you been to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and enjoyed it as much as I have? Do you have similar experiences with other festivals?