The adventure of a lifetime continues....
I’ve been in the mighty city of Edinburgh for nearly two weeks now, a fact I fail to believe. The Fringe is everything I’d expect it to be. Vibrant, buzzing, and absolutely mad! I’m currently living with 3 members of the Irish cast, an American student, and our director. Last week there was 13 of us in the two-bedroom flat. Hilarious chaos! We live right next to Greyfriars Cemetary, and frequently speak to Bobby through the window. It’s also a great spot to hang out of the huge sash windows on Candlemaker Row and watch the fireworks for the military Tattoo. They are sublime. For the first week I also played a gardener in a promenade piece located around the whole of Edinburgh and sat in the torrential rain drinking tea and feeding paying strangers ginger biscuits. It wasn’t quite as precarious as it sounds.
As for the show, it’s been a whirlwind already. I’m performing in Eva O’Connor’s second play “My Best Friend Drowned in a Swimming Pool,” with Sunday Child’s Theatre Company and am playing Chloe. Today is our 13th performance, meaning we’re exactly halfway through our run which finishes on the 29th August. We managed to secure a PR relatively early, which gave way to the Guardian’s tweet, describing the play as “raw teenage angst.” Following this break-through, we’ve had numerous reviewers and London Theatres visiting us. New Writing London came to see the show last week, and has since contacted our director, Sophie Fuller, to confirm that they would be delighted to transfer the show to a theatre in Battersea. Similarly, the Royal Court Theatre, London, came to view the show last night; a particularly exciting opportunity as it is seen as being one of the leading figureheads in new British Writing. We are yet to hear from them. This is without the definite prospect of a tour in Dublin later this year.
The Scotsman, The List, EdFringe, Three Weeks, WhatsOnStage, The Fringe Review and Broadway Baby have seen the show thus far, with the latter already giving us four star ratings. The piece has also provoked independent reviews. The Fringe Review described the play as “a thought provoking and extremely amusing piece; a gamut of emotions...beautiful, restless, volcanic and erratic. Sunday’s Child are well worth watching.” WhatsOnStage observed it as “a beautifully crafted piece of writing packed full of dark humour, cynicism and brutal honesty...some of the best new writing I’ve seen at the Fringe for years.” There has been particular focus on the physical elements of the performance as well, with Eva’s dancing receiving a high degree of attention.
It’s definitely worth mentioning the entirety of the Fringe; there’s a formula one needs to follow. A massive element of that lies in promotion and developing tactics to win over your audience against your competition on the Royal Mile. I remember reading in a program a few days ago of Gordontoun School’s production of Spring Awakening that “they quickly learned as a school, that Edinburgh is only partly about the performance. It is a far greater experience than just your time on stage.” We spend at least two hours a day on the Mile flyering and putting up posters. Each day the pitch adjusts with ratings and reviews and other developments. It’s reassuring to hear a growing number of the public retorting with “oh, I came to see it last night and I loved it.” Likewise, it’s warming to hear Eva’s name being associated with words such as “talented” and audiences being taken aback by the maturity of the script. The atmosphere on the mile is one that cannot be compared to any other location or situation in, I would quite easily say, the world. For a month you’re encased in a bubble, where you achieve a level of acclaim and praise for your company’s work, you compete with other amateur and indeed internationally professional shows. Everyone is on an equal playing field; all of the shows can potentially receive the same degree of recognition and attain a reputation for their work. It’s an invigorating experience and like Ghost Office has given me an entirely different outlook on my future career in the arts. That’s not to say it doesn’t come without its wake up calls. The industry is vast, and when located right in the heart of so many talented individuals all producing innovative and original work, it only re-iterates the utter brutality of the theatrical world and the determination and creativity I am going to have to harbour to achieve any degree of success. I’ve gained an appreciation for the other paths I’ve opened in the past year through photography, music and writing. I need to keep every single door open. This leads me to the decision to study English Literature and Theatre at an academic university and make direct use of the academic abilities I possess. A summer being involved directly with leading professional pieces of work in two of the most exciting cities in Europe has made me realise there’s a variety of other factors that will affect my career in the long run. It’s integral for me to keep my feet on the ground, be firm in my convictions and make the best decisions in a professional landscape, whilst retaining a yearning for knowledge and creativity. There are so many other areas of the arts that I want to explore and abilities I’m learning I possess. I feel it would be a sacrilege to cut off their potential growth at such an early stage of my life.
With performing comes the watching. There is an undeniable breadth of work at the Fringe from classical works of Shakespeare and Chekhov, to music both classical and groundbreaking alternative, to dance and physical theatre, comedy, circus art and an entire art and book festival. Since being in Edinburgh I have seen 23 shows, been to 3 exhibitions and shot countless photographs of the most breathtaking architecture I have ever seen. Yesterday we saw “The Dark Philosophers” at The Traverse Theatre on the other side of the city in New Town. It was a National Theatre of Wales production in association with the theatre company “Told By An Idiot.” The play celebrates one of Wales’ most distinctive voices of the last century. Taking as its inspiration the ink-black comic tales of Gywn Thomas, the great Welsh storyteller and dark hilarious chronicler of the Valleys, The Dark Philosophers is a funny, violent and passionate depiction of a community teetering on the brink of humanity. It combined harmonic melodious singing and music, featuring pianos and ukuleles and an impressive set compiled from wardrobes and drawers that functioned as steps. It’ was beautifully written and compelling to watch and tragic in places, observing the Valley’s life as “A great big, sad, beautiful joke.” Another performance that struck a chord with me was that of “The Butterfly Effect;” a trio from Scandinavia equipped with compelling storylines influenced by cultures from around the world, performing through the vehicle of equally diverse instruments, from wine glasses, to beat-boxing, to the elastic of ‘long johns.’
There’s ample opportunity to see absolutely anything you could possibly imagine.
There’s ample opportunity to build a wealth of experience and hilarious memories, whilst learning more than one could ever envisage.
I love Edinburgh, and indeed Scotland. I can’t wait to move here and embark on a stimulating and insightful four years.
The adventure does very much, continue.
Published: August 15, 2011
Have your say
Well done Jassy! Your weekly 'blog from the wings' is enthralling ....I love it!! I too am a lover of Scotland and especially Glasgow.
Glasgow is a brilliant city. The people are fantastic and you will feel right at home. An excellent choice for university...good luck.
Please keep writing though....the show isn't over until the final curtain.
Maybe your future blogs could be ' on campus with an arts graduate' writing for the Glasgow Herald ??