I was listening, as usual, to Radio 4 on the way home from work tonight. Front Row was on, coming from Edinburgh and doing reviews of the shows around the festival Fringe.
It brought back memories of my own experience of the Fringe, of being part of a production and the excitement/thrill of the shows and talent on display.
I had accompanied a very undistinguished university performance of a Shakespeare classic (naturally giving it the imaginative and unexpected treatment of modern dress!). This was a production justifiably forgettable in the annals of Fringe history and notably poorly attended. None of the cast members went on to win fame as a member of the Monty Python team (nor, indeed, do I know of any who have won fame in any specific walk of life!!).
Nevertheless, all of us had a ball, touring the other shows and productions at times when we weren’t ourselves performing, meeting with the other cast members at the Fringe bar afterwards. Walking down the city centre streets during the day or at night brought encounters with every sort of street artiste and performer, bringing an exuberant, enthusiatic, expectant energy to the whole Edinburgh experience.
Many of the other shows were utterly inspiring, the talent sparkling, clear and humbling. Many of them were entirely amateurish, like ourselves, obviously on the first foray to this international showcase, where raw new talent rubbed shoulders, sometimes uncomfortably, with mature, brilliant, seasoned performers.
Throughout the festival period the city was bubbling, very aware that it had the attention of the media, very aware that the brightest and best of the worlds of music, stage, screen and literature were distributed throughout the theatres and church halls of the town centre and environs.
This was the place people had come to to get noticed, to showcase their work, to earn the accolades of their peers. They had a short window in which to make their mark. This was a town momentarily full of folk single-mindedly marketing themselves, scanning audiences for signs of producers, commissioners, critics.
But for myself the highlight of the festival was getting along to a late night mimed production of Murder In The Red Barn. AB FAB!!! I have images of the actors in my mind to this day! They didn’t get the official ‘best in show’ award, but to me there was nothing to beat them. A look from Maria Martin told exactly what she thought and would do – she could certainly have given Angelina tips!
And listening to the round up tonight of the productions, my list of things to do before I reach XXXX
(30/40/50/60 depending on how well you know me!!!) has grown again. I must get back to Edinburgh for the festival again before that witching age!! (Which is, of course, growing worryingly close!!)