Catriona

 

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the biggest arts festival in the world, was bigger than ever this year with an incredible three thousand two hundred shows being performed. Having attended the Fringe many times in previous years as an audience member, it was my pleasure and privilege to join the ranks of the participants by performing in The Trent Shakespeare Company’s production of The Merchant of Venice. It was a truly memorable experience for many reasons, but perhaps most of all because I was able to see the Fringe from a new perspective, feeling a real camaraderie with my fellow flyer-ers on the Royal Mile and especially with the Merchant cast and crew. Throughout my week in Edinburgh I kept a diary of my experiences, some excerpts from which may help you get a sense of the theatrical madness that is the Fringe.

 

August 18th 

Flyering on the Royal Mile from 9:00 to 11:00 – slow-going at first, but it soon picked up. Talked to several interested people, one of whom said he really should have read the play when he studied it at school and another who was impressed we were the only Merchant of Venice at the Fringe this year – unlike Hamlet! Different productions of Hamlet took up an entire page of the Fringe programme, as I recall, ranging from one set in a mental hospital to another set in the far flung future!

Opening night went fantastically – best-selling show in the Greenside venue of the Fringe so far, only eight tickets short of selling out!

 

August 21st 

Flyering in the rain today at 9AM – not so fun, but I still managed to hand out all my flyers by quarter to eleven. Some flyering highlights include a guy taking a flyer then coming back five minutes later to ask for directions to the venue and a fellow flyer-er who had studied The Merchant of Venice for her GCSEs. I also met a lady in a woolly hat who encouraged all the flyer-ers she met on the Mile with a cheerful ‘Keep the faith, doll!’, which brightened my rainy morning. In the queue to see a play called Mock Tudor, I struck up a conversation with a costume and theatre design student, all thanks to uncertainty about where the queue began – how very British of us. A stand-up comedian I saw later in the day had some inspiring life advice to share with the audience – stop chasing the impossible and enjoy what you have around you.

 

August 22nd 

A bit late in the game but I’ve worked out some new flyering patter – stand on a bollard and declaiming ‘Have you heard the Word of our Bard and Saviour, William Shakespeare?’ Either that or say ‘Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice – Are you in debt? Not as much as this guy!’ Both seem to work, got some laughs and got rid of all my flyers. Saw The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s new show The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) – volunteered to go onstage and was hailed as ‘the lost Weasley sister’!

 

August 23rd 

Amazing final day at the Fringe, despite flyering in the pelting rain, although I was encouraged by a hurried passer-by who exclaimed ‘You’re very dedicated!’ When after what seemed like an age I had given away all my flyers, I went to see another production by The Reduced Shakespeare Company –The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised). The show was as hilarious as I expected – I even got to chat with the cast afterwards, and when I mentioned I was performing Shakespeare at the Fringe, they replied ‘I hope you take Shakespeare as seriously as we do!’.

10:28PM – My final lines have been said – there’s still the rest of the play and the get-out to do, but my role is officially over. I’m so sad it’s over yet so glad it happened, as they say – I still can’t quite believe it’s all happened, it hasn’t quite sunk in. But it is over and so, in the words of my character Launcelot Gobbo: ‘Adieu! Tears exhibit my tongue!’

 

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014 was truly an inspiring and rewarding experience to be a part of. I watched fifteen shows, and performed for six nights –I will hopefully do something similar again next year!

 

Catriona Scott

 

Photo credit: Tim McConnell