The Mourning After

Edinburgh FringeWhen a year or so ago Danyah Miller, director of Wizard Presents and lovely friend mentioned the possibility of taking a show to the 2013Edinburgh Fringe Festival I leapt at the opportunity. It’s fair to say I had no idea of what it would entail having never been to the Fringe before, but everyone I spoke to said it would be an amazing experience, I thought it would be a good one, for me and the family so I said I’d rent a flat, take the kids and the dog – friends seemed to think  I was off for a weekend taking in the atmosphere!

So it’s now September 2013, first Fringe in the bag and I find myself reflecting on the whole experience. Working backwards the plan had always been  to stop off in York on our way back, but somehow a month of adrenaline fuelled activity gave Danyah and I  just enough energy to keep going; all the way home to Abbots Langley.

We talked for most of the 6 hour journey; what were your golden moments? Which shows made a lasting impression? What are the next steps for our own show: Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns? As we turned off the M1 at junction 8 it was hard to believe that it had been a full 5 weeks since Danyah and I  had set off, this time heading North to Edinburgh, excited and anxious about how our show would go. We had just a fortnight of rehearsals and 3 previews behind us. The car was packed with stacks of books, cushions , a projector and smoke machine which we  hoped would work, a circular carpet which we had permission to cut to size if it proved too big for the playing space  and a printer which had sat in a cupboard idle for at least 3 years. Our clothes, a skateboard and two small luggage carts filled the roof box.I sat and unwrapped 2000 blue and green wrist bands donated by Profile Promotions as Danyah did the lion’s share of driving. We were ready to take on everything Edinburgh Fringe had to throw at us.

And now, 35 days later it is hard to believe that so much has happened. Our show was well received across the board, the projector had functioned well most of the time, the smoke machine had been pretty reliable and we hadn’t needed to cut up the carpet. Danyah put the printer to good use creating flashes to staple across our flyers and posters advertising the 4 and 5 star reviews. The wrist bands were a hit with children as our  street team comprising young Quinneys and Miller junior walked, and occasionally skateboarded,   the Royal Mile, Playfair Steps, the Mound and Princes Street Gardens on a daily basis targeting families with children aged 5 +, inviting them to come and see the show.

Returning home, it’s time to move on. The Festival over, there is a strange feeling of loss. The daily pattern of flyer, show, flyer then see some other shows, is over. We have a few extra wristbands to spare, a bag of left over Unicorns- giveaways provided by one of our sponsors Blott, and a box of Michael Morpurgo books donated by Walker books. But then, on the other hand I have a most wonderful  treasure trove of memories.  There had of course been daily moments of laughter and experiences in relation to our own show, but I had also seen some truly inspiring work by others. My firm favourite was Ballad of the Burning Star by Theatre Ad Infinitum. Flown made me laugh and Blam!had me standing up in my seat applauding. Comedian James Acaster‘s dry humour appealed and I still catch myself chuckling at the sketches performed in BEASTS.

What do I miss? The daily pep talk with my street team as we focus on how many tickets have been sold and how many more we would like to shift, the smile on a little girl’s face when I hand her one of our beautiful unicorns as we pass in the street, the enthusiasm of our audience as I pass across a programme as they come out of our show.  What won’t I miss- the daily worry of the technophobe;that the laptop I took home and looked after overnight won’t fire up or the projector dutifully plugged in as soon as I walked in to the flat failed to charge.

Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY.