Saturday, 10 October 2015

My Fringe is fine,thanks. Perhaps even a bit wonky.

Walking around Edinburgh hearing the phrase "how's your Fringe?" has bought one or two tears to my eyes.

It’s 1.42am and as ever, I’m delightedly tired. It’s the first time I’ve written the blog not knowing quite what to say. It’s difficult to think straight because the three weeks have merged into a series of long, spontaneous days of extravagance and delight; there’s simply too much to write. As I enter the final chapter of my time in Edinburgh its true to say I have been beaten by the city of the ridiculous. I can feel my ankles throbbing and my eyes have moved house into my knee caps; I’m revelling in my first nugget of peace and quiet for three weeks. I’m writing, listening to music and in a bed that hasn’t got 14 people crammed into it. I have definitely hit the barrier of tiredness. Living off Munch Bunch yoghurts, stir-fry and cheap curry combined with a severe lack of sleep has started to take its toll on my sanity and health. The fringe is a distinctly harsh test of stamina after a while. Living in a bubble of artistic lunacy is attractive for only so long. I crave some sense of normality. I guess it serves as good practice for the student life I am now secured to live from September. Today I finally received the confirmation of my place at the University of Glasgow to study English Literature and Theatre for four years. Because of the format of the Scottish degree, it is a course that will potentially open many doors for me. I may have the chance to study Black and White Photography at the Glasgow School of Art as part of my first year of study. In the third year I have the option to study abroad; one of the choices being a year in Australia studying at the University of Queensland; ironic as it has recently become my accent of choice, one that can get you into a variety of awkward situations if the fellow clientele happen to be from the region and you’re heckling at your dinner’s delectability as “an absolute beaut mate.”

A lot has changed in the dynamic of the play in the past week. Dan Cummins, the actor who played Conor, left us on Saturday and returned to Ireland. We have since recast it and Dash is now playing the part. It’s fascinating how much one person can entirely change the workings of a piece. We thrived off Dan’s energy more than I, and indeed all of us had appreciated. It was grand (yes, the Irish vernacular is undoubtedly making its mark) to have a fellow ukulele player in the flat, and it was certainly reassuring to have an equally addicted cheese ‘connoisseur;” the reality is in fact that I will eat anything that vaguely resembles a block of cheese at present. It is interesting, however, after three weeks of solid performances, to have a fresh face that brings a new vivacity. It’s provoked a change in our characters and has proved to be a huge advantage in keeping details crisp. We have undeniably bonded as a company and I can state with no hesitation that Sophie and Eva will create raw and exciting work in the future that we will all be ready for. We’re currently waiting for confirmed dates, but it seems likely we will perform in Dublin during November. Before bringing the piece to Edinburgh, Sunday’s Child received a grant from the Irish Arts Council and Clare County Council to assist with expenditure, and to manage the project. Part of the conditions of this grant was that it had to be bought to Dublin, and we may potentially take it to Galway and Cork, and of course to London. The future is bright; the future is (very) orange.

The atmosphere of the Fringe towards the end of the festival also changes. With Dan and Sophie’s departure, along with a diminishing number living with us in the flat, a gradual feeling of contentment has started to envelop the group. The abnormality has become normality. I’m aware this is a direct contradiction to what I said at the start of this blog, but that in itself is testament to the motions we’re all going through. Admittedly the audience numbers have catapulted again, but tonight’s was the first performance where we collectively felt like we were back on form. It’s a paradoxical life that we’re leading and I think we’ve forgotten that four weeks is in fact a long time, especially when sheltered from reality. New faces are greeted with warmth, and dragged into our chaotic frenzy.
As ever, we have seen some awe-inspiring performances from professionally renowned and amateur groups alike. My favourites from the past week have to be Clockheart Boy; a surreal and captivating story of a professor and his friends fixing a boy with a clock to replace his missing ticker; “a dreamlike spectacle of light and sound.” It has been compared to Disney and the over-animated characters, combined with the energy, beautiful set and bright colours provided a contrast from the sometimes macabre nature of the Fringe. It was uplifting and an example of the type of show I would revel in being involved in next year. After experiencing the Fringe first hand and gaining an understanding of what it’s all about, I most definitely want to showcase my own work. It also provides motivation to actually write something focused. It’s a process of inspiration; collecting ideas.

It’s now two days since I started this blog, and I’m sitting in the foyer of our venue, C with “I Can Feel It Coming in the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins blasting through the speakers. The fact it takes that long for me to write a consistent stream of writing is testament to how manic life is in Edinburgh. I realise that as a result of this, this blog is probably relatively schizophrenic. Last night I went to see Tim Key after nagging my fellow cast for three weeks to accompany me. My synopsis of his show and style didn’t adequately sum up the sheer obscurity and utter brilliance of his show. On the surface he’s a poet, but no usual poet. He’s dysfunctional and unpredictable, leaping into sometimes frightening rants about baths and sparrow’s that sit on Emma Bunton’s birdbath. A constant stream of classical operatic music accompany these brief haikus and reinforce the ethereal mood; as do the arty films that are indeed beautifully shot alongside his erratic leaps from the bath tub, after diving bravely into the water to collect his ‘Poundland’ beer. He’s awkward, yet self assured in his offbeat delivery. There are no words to quite describe his comedy. There are no jokes. His poems are not epic in form or rhythm; they are witty, elliptical encounters and observations of everyday insignificant life. He possesses a unique childishness and insanity and was most positively the highlight of my festival. That’s without mentioning that we sat two people away from Jimmy Carr and Josie Long; barely a day passes without you bumping into some horrifically famous performer. Already I’m speaking in the past tense. It has suddenly dawned on me that a long four weeks is actually coming to a close. Last night we had an agent and the judges from the National Student Drama Festival in; we’re part of the emerging artist’s award and if we win, we have a run in a Soho Theatre. I discovered yesterday, the show in which I played a gardener, “You Once Said Yes” won a Fringe First. So, in my first year at the Fringe I’ve been in a show that has won a Fringe First and a four-star independent show. Not bad considering I stumbled into them. It’s all a process of coincidence.

Tomorrow I celebrate a second birthday at the Fringe. For Eva’s 21st Birthday we climbed Arthur’s Seat; photos of which I’ve posted. It really is the most magnificent view of one of the most beautiful cities I have ever encountered.

For now, I must go and grab some noodles, watch the “Betrayal of the Penguins” and prepare to nurse the excruciating bellyache gained from laughing too hard.

By Jassy Earl
Published: August 25, 2011


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