My Scottish Recce

Got back Saturday and I’m still adjusting. Passed out on the couch watching Colbert last night. Woke up 90 minutes later. Stayed up another 90 or so.

Aimee and I went this past week to see the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. To see what it’s all about. Not to take a show this year. The wisdom we have received is that you need to do this first to save a lot of headaches. I have to say I agree. Even though I’ve been in a number of festivals, this is entirely different. No offense to any festivals, but it’s like comparing the Track & Field Day I had at Oak View Elementary to the summer Olympics.

There are around 2800 productions going on at once. The Royal Mile is a busking and flyering paradise. Or an agoraphobic’s nightmare. Posters everywhere. We played a game called Church, Pub or Venue? We added Hostel to the choices after a couple of days. Our hotel had a pub that was a venue. The street in front of the lobby–Grassmarket–was another busking and outdoor performance zone.

The sad souls giving out postcards for shows everywhere you go. “Free comedy show tonight at half-eleven.” “2-for-1 tonight.” The one that struck me most deeply: “The show called ‘a complete waste of time’ in today’s review.” With 20 days to go in the festival, that person had a tough climb ahead. The six or so panhandlers I saw during our entire stay sat quietly on the ground with a cup or hat and meditatively stared below ankle level.

The food is terrible. Bacon is good. Beer was bad. Went back to Guinness. Haggis balls disappointing to me. Starbucks serves Sausage Butties. I avoided. Had to go there for the wifi that was not working at the hotel. Most coffee is served as Americanos elsewhere.

The shows were mostly excellent that we picked. I’d say over 12 hours were put into choosing what we’d see from the various guides. A venue organization can have venues in several locations and multiple spaces. A couple times we zipped Amazing Race-style from the wrong one to the right-er one to the actual one. There are many guides. The main guide. The Big 4 guide. Each venues guide. The PBH Festival Guide. The Laughing Horse Free Festival guide. Zoo Venues, Gryphon Venues, C Venues and The Spaces. Oh, and the Edinburgh International Festival. Yeah, that’s the thing that started in 1947. About 12 companies weren’t let into that and so they started a Festival Fringe. There’s also a small jazz festival at a venue and a Foodies Festival.

We did not get to see any of our friends’ shows. We saw 30 shows in 7 days trying to see a variety of spaces and types of work. I feel guilt about not supporting friends there but it would be a tiny drop in an infinite bucket. Picking out what to see was hard and we really needed another week to see most of what we wanted and to support friends. We get out to see a lot of stuff in NYC so we put the focus on what we didn’t know.

This trip cost close to twice what our last festival production cost but it was a great investment. Now we have to figure out our plan for next year and the years to follow. I’m a little sad to be back home but relieved to be able to unplug. I was really overwhelmed by the fourth day.

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