I’m still learning to fringe, and that’s okay
Iâ€™m in the middle of my first Canadian Fringe tour in years. I pulled through the Valley of Despair (Winnipeg), and finally broke through the fog with a glowing review and decent houses here in Calgary, and now Iâ€™m peering forward at the rest of the summer, at Edmonton, Victoria, and Vancouver, and Iâ€™m thinking,â€¦
â€œGod, I miss Edinburgh Fringe.â€
I mean, I do and I donâ€™t. Most people who go there experience that same push/pull feeling about it. Itâ€™s a disgusting outlayÂ of money for nearly everyone, and as far as soul-crushing performance experiences go, it is PEAK, I tell you. And at the same time thereâ€™s a family feeling that emergesâ€”at your venue, on the street, at bars and cafes whereÂ everyone goes to let the steam off at the end of the dayâ€”that is priceless and everywhere. We get that out here in Canada a little bit, but I think the extreme pressure in Edinburgh makes it inevitable and intense. I miss that.
It doesnâ€™t help that a vocal minority of my friend list on Facebook is currently there and posting madly about it. I know that the posting ramps down considerably after the initial shock and flurry of opening week, but for right now, my feed is flooded with pleas to fill a house where a reviewer will be and requests for yoga studios and healthy salads in the Grassmarket. Hah! Good intentions, captured forever on the internet.
Basically, Iâ€™m living Fringe and listening to it at the same time. Itâ€™s the Fringe total immersive experience. Stereo surround sound, Technicolor livestreamâ€¦ Itâ€™s pretty trippy up in my head right now.Â Trippy, but good.
Because even while Iâ€™m doing the hustle â€˜nâ€™ grind heading west in Canada, Iâ€™m feeling echoes of this work in the UK that informs my responses here. I have learned some things, yâ€™all. I learned quite a few things, and am still learning things here that I will be able to take with me over to Edinburgh. Itâ€™s a sort of feedback loop of self-awareness and perspective, and holy shit, no matter where you are fringing, self-awareness and perspective are ESSENTIAL. I am LEARNING, let me tell you.
- I am learning how to keep my inner sense of human and creative worth alive on nothing but air and coffee and regular breakfasts.
- I am discovering strength in the vulnerability of asking fellow artists for emotional support.
- I am finding, yet again, that it really is okay to cry out here; you just gotta put a time limit on it.
- I am testing the hypothesis, and finding it solid, that I should follow my own advice to patrons, about trying something new.
- I am recognizing that very few performers are impervious to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. On the one hand, that means I will probably never find proper security in pursuit of my performance career; on the other, well, weâ€™re all in this together (even if some of us are more in it that others).
- I am seeing extraordinary value in lowered expectations for audience size (thank you, Edinburgh).
- I am studying how to pace my promotional efforts carefully, and find the right ones for the environment that Iâ€™m in.
I am especially learning that I have a long way to go before I reach any kind of intrinsic calm out here on the Fringe, whatever fringe. Maybe Iâ€™ll never get there. But the more I do it, the more I realize Iâ€™ve done it, and still doing it. Still standing, still flyering, still pulling my show out of my heart every night. There is a sort of serenity in knowing that I’m still here.
So yeah, I miss Edinburgh Fringe. But Iâ€™ll be there next year, and when I am, Iâ€™ll have everything from this summer stored up in my emotional/psychological tool kit. Itâ€™s a slog, both here and in the UK, but itâ€™s not wasted energy. Oh man, I am learning so much.
Keepin’ up with the hustle, and you can help, by becoming a patron of mine on Patreon!