Edinburgh Fringe is hard work. Anyone that has ever worked or performed there knows it. This was my 4th Fringe and I remember every year, midway through the festival I find myself wondering why I keep coming back. I mean, the amount of work is insane, the "isolation" from the rest of the world, the Fringe bubble…One day though, I go and see this play, a performance that blows my mind ,and reminds me why I want to only work in the arts industry.
Art can change the world, can change people, can make a difference. Every year at the Fringe I see great performances, shows that amaze me, make me laugh and cry, question my own beliefs, change my opinions, surprise me. I also have the chance to collaborate with a good bunch of people, meet and chat with performers and all the backstage people, directors, producers, festival staff, witness their commitment and share their vision. This is why I keep going back, for the people and for all the performances that make me feel, feel something.
Art is for sharing, sharing stories, moments, and thoughts, so I thought I will share some of my fringe experiences.
The first physical theatre performance I saw was The Island of Doctor Moreau at CVenues in 2013 by Brooklyn based theatre company Piper Theatre Productions. After that I became a big fan of physical theatre. I will never forget how I felt after Nirbhaya (Assembly Festival, 2013), unheard voices, injustice, victims of violence willing to share pain and audience members willingly receiving it. The world is so unfair. Humans can be so cruel; ‘I want to make this world a better place’ I thought. Repertory - Theatre by Elephant and Mouse (CVenues, 2013) gave me a hint that I really enjoy comedic theatre.
In 2014, Exhibit B by Brett Baily (Edinburgh International Festival), Freak by Theatre 503 , Every Brilliant Thing by Duncan Macmillan (Paines Plough), and White Rabbit Red Rabbit by Nassim Souleimanpour, changed the way I see the world, art and people. That year, I also saw a lot of international work, including beautiful dancing by Kiwi company Black Grace, and a lovely theatre piece Sunday Morning by South African company Hello Elephant and Fresco Theatre. I realised I do like stand-up and comedy, especially when it is combined with story-telling. I still remember Justin Hamilton from 2014 and his show, Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994, Katerina Vrana in 2013, and more recently, Tom Ballard, Susie Youssef, Sarah Kendall, Mary Lynn Rijskub, Graham Clark, Pajama Men, Adam Drake (Goose).
In 2015, I met the lovely people behind Old Trunk Theatre, brave enough to address issues that society is reluctant to discuss (Pramkicker, 2015, Fran+Leni, 2016), I saw Lungs (Paines Plough) at the Roundabout (Summerhall), Ross and Rachel, Le Gateau Chocolat, and Leper + Chip at Assembly Festival, all performed brilliantly and left me speechless. I laughed a lot at Love Sick, had the best time at Die Roten Punkte – Haus Party and loved the combination of ballet and juggling at 4x4 Ephemeral Architectures by Gandini Juggling. I also saw my friends Tess and Cheryl (TheatreState) bravely performing Tribute Acts and sharing personal stories about their relationships with their dads.
I had the opportunity to work with some amazing circus and physical theatre companies at Assembly Festival, including, 7Fingers (Traces, 2015), Flip Fabrique (Attrape Moi, 2016), Onyx Productions (360ALL STARS, 2015 & 2016), Casus (Driftwood, 2016), Emma Serjeant Productions (Grace, 2016), Compagnia Baccala (Pss Pss, 2016), The Ricochet Project (Smoke and Mirrors, 2015). Also seen spectacular circus performances, including Bromance (2015), The Elephant in the Room (2015), Elixir (2016) and Perhaps Hope (2016) at Underbelly Circus Hub. Not to forget the cabaret superstars I had the pleasure of working with, Lady Rizo, Sven Ratzke, Michael Griffiths and Amelia Ryan.
This year, Boris & Sergey made me love puppetry. I saw heart-warming and comic physical performances by Henry Maynard (Tatterdemalion, Flabbergast Theatre), Sean Kemtpon (Stuff). I also became a big fan (really big fan) of Belgian productions (Big in Belgium, Summerhall), powerful performances at Last Call, World Without Us, Us/Them, innovation at Bildraum, and moving stories at One Hundred Homes a wonderful project by Yinka Kuitenbrouwer about where home is. Eurohouse (Fellswoop Theatre) made me homesick, a moving, intimate and playful play about the political situation in Europe with a focus in Greece. Exposing Edith by Michaela Burger and Greg Wain was the best surprise of this year’s festival for me, a powerful play about the life of the legendary Edith Piaf. I will never forget how many feelings Vamos Theatre shared without saying a single word at Finding Joy. Keeping the tradition, my Paines Plough play for 2016 was Love Lies and Taxidermy. The last day of the festival I saw Labels at Pleasance, a story about migration, and prejudice, that will make you laugh and cry, so relevant, by Worklight Theatre, beautifully written and performed by Joe Sellman-Leava.
I wish I could mention all the shows I have seen in the past 4 festivals; or even all the shows I have ever seen, they all worth it, but it will be a very long post. Edinburgh Fringe is a great festival, it gives the opportunity to artists to talk to people through their art, share experiences, to develop their work and further promote it, and why not make the world a better place, bit by bit. I have met amazing people from all around the world, made friends, and I am very grateful to be part of it. I also realise now ‘Elephant’ is a popular word for show titles and theatre company names.
Finally, since unintentionally (believe me), this became a rather personal post, I would like to thank my Fringe family for the laughs, the fun times, the hugs, the jokes when everyone is exhausted, and for bearing with me.