Once more the international arts spotlight falls upon Edinburgh this month as thousands of performers head north to the cobbled streets of Scotland’s capital city for the annual Fringe Festival. Aside from the chaotic hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile, populated by a seemingly never-ending sea of performers and confused tourists, rent prices skyrocket for the month, bar licences are extended to 5am and performers scramble from their first show of the day to their fifth or fifteenth, cramming in as much Fringey-ness as they can into a few short weeks.
In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking that the world were coming to an end; or at the very least, some kind of arts-world apocalypse were looming upon the horizon, such is the gusto with which performers launch themselves into 3-4 weeks of non-stop shows, socialising and sleep-deprivation. How many shows can one fit into 24 hours? That really depends on how much you value your health and sanity…
Don’t get me wrong; the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an amazing event and can provide many opportunities for getting your show / act out there and networking and it’s well worth doing at least once in your career if you can. However, working such long hours on a diet of minimal sleep, alcohol, not enough / unhealthy food and general craziness can take its toll on performers (the dreaded ‘Fringe Flu’ is no myth!)
Your ability to schedule and plan will play a hefty part in the success and relative painlessness of your Fringe experience. When you’re doing as many shows in a day as you’d normally do in a week or even a month, your timekeeping skills will become invaluable.
By all means, programme in as many fantabulous shows as you can; make the most of the sheer variety of events that are on your doorstep and slap on your best burlesque game face, as you head out to entertain your umpteenth audience of the day. However, make sure that you leave time for the following (often overlooked amidst the melee and excitement of the glitter-infused, gin-soaked cabaret scene)…
1. Sleep: if you’re working round the clock, this can seem like an impossibility. Even more so if you’re in a two-bedroom flat with 10 other performers bunked down on the floor. But, if you’re doing any kind of lengthy Fringe-run, a few hours kip is invaluable, or you’ll burn out long before that final show and if you’re unlucky enough to fall into the grip of the infamous ‘Fringe Flu’ it’ll just ruin the party for you and anyone else you give it to.
2. Eat properly: another one that can be hard to fit in around a jam-packed performing schedule but as with the sleep issue, making sure you’re giving yourself enough fuel (and by this we do mean real, food sustenance, not tequila!) to get through a 20-hour day is vital. A deep-friend Mars bar or a Happy Meal does not count.
3. Take some ‘me’ time: during the Fringe, it can often feel like the entire population of a small country has descended upon Edinburgh and it can feel impossible to even turn around without bumping into someone , stumbling into the middle of a piece of street theatre or having another flyer shoved in your face. Most Fringe shows have a couple of days off, so make sure you make the most of them. Get away from the bustling hordes; take a jaunt down to Leith or Cramond for some quiet time or take a wander up Arthur’s Seat and take in the spectacular views.
4. Go and see a show: with so much going on, you’d be daft not to make some time to check out some other shows while you’re here for the Festival. There’s so much to choose from, you will be spoiled for choice. (Completely unsubtle plug: If you like your cabaret on the dark-side and fancy seeing a show, get yourselves along to our very own Gypsy Charms’ show ‘The Illicit Thrill’ at the Voodoo Rooms.)
We’re going to wrap it up there, but we wish you all a fabulous, flu-free Fringe and lots of sell-out shows, good luck!