So, Edinburgh Fringe 2017 is over: the crowds have evacuated in the face of normal life; flyers have been ripped down from the Mile; and venues have gone back to being whatever the hell they are for 11/12ths of the year.
It is possible for a human being to live off Greggs and wine, especially when all your money is going on shows and vintage clothes
This year’s Fringe stands as one of the biggest in its history – with the BBC stating that the Festival saw an amazing 53,232 performances and audiences surpassing 450,000 (hopefully not all in the same place).
As a first-timer at this Festival (although apparently, I went when I was five but I don’t remember it so it doesn’t count) it managed to be both pretty much how I imagined it while being completely not what I expected.
It’s about small, out-there shows being able to stand up next to the big ones and really have a chance to be counted
The Fringe is the kind of place where anything can happen. Actors getting naked in shows is pretty much standard, and the line between fantasy and reality is so blurred that I stopped being able to tell whether someone is a genuine policeman or just in really accurate costume.
And so, from my very non-experienced and non-expert opinion, here are a collection of some of the many things I’ve learnt at the Fringe:
- Flyering, that cornerstone of Festival life, is simultaneously a little bit ego-crushing and incredibly character building. At least, that’s what you tell yourself when you’re on the infamous Mile and you’ve been ignored for the 100th time and you’re starting to wonder if you are the problem. But that’s just part of how things work – if you dance to all the talented street performers, chat to other companies, and come up with stupid flyering tactics (such as tying yourself to a pillar with flyers). it suddenly becomes a lot more fun.
- It is possible for a human being to live off Greggs and wine, especially when all your money is going on shows and vintage clothes to keep up with the ridiculously well-dressed Fringe population (bank account I am so sorry for what I have done to you).
- As hilarious comedian Nazeem Hussein put it, Edinburgh is Magaluf for the middle class. This means that like Magaluf, everything is open till 5, but unlike Magaluf the places are theatre bars, a spirit and mixer costs a fiver and you’re more likely to see Carol Ann Duffy than anyone off TOWIE. However this also means the audiences, and indeed shows, are largely white, something theatremaker Matthew Xia wrote an interesting and poignant article exploring the effects of.
- As with everything, there are terrible moments. When it’s 10am and chucking it down but you’re out flyering anyway, or when the show you’ve worked hard on only has one person booked in for that day. It can feel tough, especially when you’re far from home. However, when you look after each other, and see the whole thing as a learning curve, it can still be one of the best experiences.
- The best plays aren’t the big ones. While Edinburgh has increasingly become dominated by big comedy acts and well-known companies, the best ones are the small-budget ones in the little venues where there’s 4 people in the audience and you only heard about it because a friend of a friend says it’s worth a look. These are the shows which blow your mind. The actors come and chat to you afterwards and say how grateful they are. It makes you realise what this whole Festival is for – it’s about small, out-there shows being able to stand next to the big ones and really have a chance to be counted.