The Fringe: Day 4 & 5 - HOME
I'm not used to having a home for the last few months - at least a constant set of four walls and a roof. Since leaving the meditation retreat I was volunteering on til the end of April, I've been between my Dad's in Gloucester, friends beds and sofas in Bristol whilst working on the play, my partner's apartment in Oslo...I've been looking forward to Edinburgh as it'll mean I have the most stable living situation for the last 3 months.
Athough...Edinburgh during the Fringe isn't the most 'stable' of places - a festival of passion, art, performance and energy can make you feel like you're on a bit of a roller coaster - being only 5 days in I may only be at the bit where it goes TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT as it climbs. Time will tell. With the unknown though, it's important to make sure a sense of stability, as much as possible, can be found.
I've been lucky enough to have David Martin, founder of Soft Sod Productions and good friend from my Kelvin Players Theatre family back in Bristol, to not only help me through the inevitable questions in the run up to The Fringe, but also to provide a home for me whilst here. Sharing with David, Jacqs and Lucy (Director and co-star of David's latest play, Unspoken, raising the profile on childhood abuse, the challenge of mental and emotional turmoil and our very human search for truth, acceptance and resolution) the four of us have a base.
This is proving a vital place where I can come and recharge when I need to, before and/or after performance.
For anyone considering taking a show to the Fringe my biggest bit of advice is to 'Find a sense of home'. Accommodation-wise, be honest with what you need. As an introvert with a highly-sensitive immune system, sharing a place with some performers who are on late at night, come in early and maybe enjoy a lot of late-night drinking is not a good fit for me - I have curbed my late night habits over the last 18 months...probably something to do with living on a meditation retreat!
However, home is never just about the four walls and a roof. As I keep saying, I came to the Fringe to have a conversations - investigating my own story of masculinity is not only one of the most important things I've done for myself, but it's starting to become a livelihood and storytelling will be a big part of that. And so, after a few days of settling in it's important I see what other stories are being told, and what conversations there are to be had with other performers.
On Day 4 I went to see In Pursuit of Manlyness by Sheraz Yousaf. A well-seasoned stand-up comedian with an effortless friendliness on stage and a beautifully blend of dry yet cheeky delivery, Sheraz' tells his story of his own messages that have taught him how a man should be. My play is a drama, with doses of comedy, and it not only provided a fresh angle on the issue of every man's story of masculinity, but it also validated my own approach. There's room for all sorts of different stories that can pull at different heartstrings. It was great to connect with Sheraz afterwards as we traded personal histories, Fringe experiences and Sheraz will be heading to my show in a day or so - it's great to feel that sense of solidarity. As well as new friends, it's important to remember that friendly faces can help to keep you as grounded as possible. My cousin, his wife and her parents joined me last week but with my director having headed home and it being another week before my family and then my partner come to visit, it's important, as a one person performer, to have a social life - again, as an introvert it can be all too easy to shut yourself away, especially when tired from the roller coaster.
Catching up with friends at Degrees of Error - all round bloody wonderful people and the highly-skilled performers of the huge hit that is Murder She Didn't Write - the improvised murder mystery show - seeing them yesterday, sharing some food, a drink or two, relatively civilised conversation and hearing their wisdom as seasoned performers...it all helps in grounding oneself when up here when alone. In fact, you realise you are not here alone once you start reaching out.
The balance is a fine one to have - making sure I have enough rest, enough play and do enough promotion so I have enough energy to put into my show. If I'm going to have these conversations - and that is why I'm here - then it's important I really listen to the rhythms of what I need.
As I move into Day 6, I've been here close to a week...and I feel I've learned so much about myself in just that short space of time. And having the awareness to continue to be aware of my body and mind is a blessing. Thank you meditation! That way, no matter what The Fringe gives and taketh from me...I will always be at home in myself.
The journey continues....
SoftSod's Unspoken is showing at C Venue Royale every day at 12:45 til 27 August: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/unspoken-1
Sheraz Yousaf is playing al Tolbooth Market, Room 4 at 8pm til 25 August: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/sheraz-yousaf-the-pursuit-of-manly-ness
Murder She Didn't Write are on every day at 5pm every day at Pleasance Beyond: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/murder-she-didn-t-write-the-improvised-murder-mystery