I first went to the Edinburgh Festival in 1997 with a solo show called The Man Who Thought He Was Going To Die…and, of course, I did die quite a few times that year. I had to also cancel shows because of lack of audience members and I came away with about a thousand pounds in debt…but I absolutely loved it.
There are a million stories we can all share about performing at the festival. I have two I want to share. I had a friend who was doing stand up to just one single member of the audience. It was going well considering the circumstances. About halfway through the set the audience member put up their hand and asked if they could go to the toilet. The comedian agreed and the audience member left for 5 minutes leaving him standing there silently in the spotlight, halfway through his quickfire set wondering if he should continue, wait or go to the bar. They did come back and he and the audience member still share Christmas cards to this day. In my first Edinburgh, I had, at last, thirty audience members in for one show. Halfway through they all started to leave and one of them apologised mid-exit to me as I was doing a monologue, saying “I’m sorry we’re from Sweden and we’ve got the wrong show…we thought this was Macbeth.”
This year I go again with People Show who I've been up to the festival with three times before. In 2003 we took Baby Jane and won a Fringe First, in 2012 we won an Arch Angel award with The Detective Show and in 2004 with Playdead I got a chest infection that made me finally give up smoking. High and lows.
It’s a show that we are very proud of with an amazing soundtrack and a beautiful lighting design. It’s funny, dark and so reflective of what is happening all around us in the world at this present moment in time. I have a beard also, which is worth the admission price alone.
Why do we do the fringe? This was a question I was asked in an interview recently. There is, of course, the professional career aspects, winning awards, creatives being spotted and discovered by other directors and producers etc. We personally want a long life for this show with the prospect of touring nationally and abroad and getting more audiences seeing our work. But there is more to it I think.
It’s about seeing at 11am a piece of European futuristic physical techno performance on ice, followed by two-hander comedy act about working at Budgens in the late 80’s. It ’s about audiences taking a chance, seeing something from a dogged flyer handed to them on the street, and then an hour later they’re in the theatre watching it. It’s about loving and hating pieces of work, and arguing and discussing why you love and hate it. It’s about trying to not get drunk in the first hour after your shows finished at 1pm. It’s about walking the hills. It’s about making the money last. It’s about wearing the wrong clothes. It’s about many things…
So if you’re there for the month, a week, or a couple of days. Please come and see the show, or just stop by for a drink after. But most of all have a special festival because we live in interesting times and special things need to be cherished.
The Last Straw, Summerhall, Demonstration Room, 3pm, Most of August. (two days off)