my top 5 tips and picks for edinburgh fringe…

wpid-wp-1439394821826.jpeg

As you read this chances are I’m either, watching a show, drinking cider, or crying with laughter. Or if I’m really lucky, I’ll be doing all three, because today I head up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015.

For those of you who have heard of the fringe but never really paid any attention to it, the fringe festival is the biggest arts festival of it’s kind in the WHOLE WORLD. It combines theatre, dance, drama, comedy, circus, kids shows, poetry, storytelling and music, into a 3 week long cultural haven that over takes the whole of the city centre. If you think music festivals are big, this is much bigger! This years fringe brochure has over 3000 shows for you to choose from, and if you’ve never visited the festival before this fact alone can be a bit overwhelming, without then trying to factor in finding accomodation, venues which are often hidden away in the back room of a shop, or the basement of a church, and just the whole atmosphere of the city itself. Which at this time of year is ELECTRIC.

I like to think of myself as a bit of a seasoned pro. I’ve been going to the fringe for 6 years now, to work in a venue, as just an audience member and this year as a programmer. One year I WILL go up as a performer, but that will be one very big and very expensive adventure.

This year, as part of my job, I’m heading up to the fringe to find and see some of the best shows happening in the UK right now and hopefully then bring them back to Lancashire. I’m not bragging, I’m aware of just how lucky this makes me. I’m also aware that because of this, and because of my history with the festival, I’m privy to alot more information, tips and tricks than most people visiting will be. As sharing is caring, I thought I’d put together a post of my top 5 tips for anyone visiting the festival, and the top 5 shows I’m looking forward to seeing.

wpid-wp-1439397080164.jpeg

  1. It can be bit of a military operation…

Going to Edinburgh and getting the most out of your time there can feel like a bit of a military operation, but the planning and researching of what to see where and when is half of the fun! As I mentioned before, there are A LOT of shows happening all at once, and they are all of varying quality. The fringe is an open access festival meaning that if they have the money literally anyone and everyone can take a show and perform at the festival. Everyone from youth groups, university drama societies, internationally acclaimed acrobats, and the best new writers and comedians in the world descend on Edinburgh in August, meaning you could close your eyes and walk into the best show ever, or you could find yourself sitting in a dark room, with a very numb bum and a bored brain for an hour and a half. Doing a little bit of research before hand, into what shows you want to see and who they are by is the best way to make sure you don’t end up filling your trip with terrible shows! A quick glance at a companies website, or a look into one of the many ‘top picks of the fringe lists’ (including mine below) is a pretty safe bet to finding a whole trips worth of good shows. Plus now the festival has begun, reviews come out daily, if not hourly thanks to twitter so you never need to go into a show entirely blind if you don’t want to.

2. Take a risk…

Having said that, Edinburgh Fringe is all about taking a risk and trying something new, or giving something a chance. If you’ve never seen physical theatre piece put one at the top of the list. Shows at Edinburgh are infamous for pushing boundaries. One of the best things I’ve ever seen was an overnight, 6 hour long version of Medea, which included having a nap, hot chocolates, gin, and breakfast with the cast when it was all done.

If that all sounds a bit too out there for you, and the whole arts thing is new to you, then you can take a risk in other ways. Keep some of your trip completely unscheduled and walk into a free fringe show, without having to risk spending money on something you might hate. Walk down the royal mile, pick your favourite leaflet and go and see it without checking out the reviews first. Or just take up a promoter on their free ticket offers.

The people performing there, have taken a huge risk too, so lets support that! It might be that the best thing you see is by a completely unheard company performing in the smallest room, for free, and part of the beauty of it is, that you feel that you’ve stumbled upon the fringe’s best kept secret!

3. Wear sensible shoes & other pieces of advice your mother would give you…

Ok, so I’m cheating with this one a little bit, but when you go to Edinburgh it will almost definitely rain, and you’ll no doubt be out from lunchtime at the latest, until the wee hours of the next morning (at the earliest). Wear sensible shoes, there’s a LOT of walking involved in a visit to Edinburgh, between venues, up hill, and depending on how adventurous you are sometimes with the shows you see too.

With all that walking, you’ll want a good stock of snacks with you, to keep you going! You’re out all day and not only is it tiring, it’s also expensive, a bunch of bananas can go a long way.

Other essentials include, something warm, something waterproof, and something to get you through the hangovers!

4. Somewhere to rest your head…

Now if you’re reading this, chances are your trip is already planned, and you’ll have seen just how expensive accommodation can be! Edinburgh is a beautiful city with expensive hotel rooms all year round, come festival time, these prices soar. Luckily you don’t have to rely on the hotels, lots of locals clear out for the month and rent out their home to festival goers, but the supply is there because the demand is there, so finding cheap digs is like finding a golden ticket.

My top tip for accommodation is either the Caledonian Hostel in the city centre, which keeps their beds and rooms reasonably priced, and you can sometimes find a bed for the night last minute. Or my trusty digs are up at Queen Margarets University out in Mussleburgh, which is about 5 minutes out on the train and a 20 minute taxi ride at night. It isn’t the most convenient location, in that generally once you’re out, you’re out for the whole day, but what you pay in sleepiness and taxi fares, you more than save on the cost of the rooms – which are also en-suite and come with access to a kitchen! Plus they often still have rooms available throughout the festival (my friend decided on Tuesday he would join us this weekend and managed to nab a double room). You can’t book through their website, but give them a call, they are lovely and incredibly helpful people!

5. Don’t just sit in the theatre…

It can be tempting when you’re at the festival to try and cram in as many shows as humanly possible, but put some time aside to explore Edinburgh itself, whether that’s climbing Arthur’s Seat, wandering around the castle or just sitting in a cafe enjoying a coffee and watching the city buzz! Enjoy the company you’re with, meeting new people and letting it all sink in.

Production shot from The Soaking of Vera Shrimp, taken from The List Edinburgh website.

Ok, if you’re all packed and ready to go but still have a few spots on your itinerary that need to be filled, here are the five things that I’m really looking forward to seeing over the next 4 days. I’ve pre-booked to see 13 shows, and that is leaving my evenings and Monday free to watch things I hear about while I’m there. I will attempt to post mini reviews on everything I’m getting up to over on twitter, and hope that these shows live up to my expectations!

  1. The Soaking of Vera Shrimp by Rosie+Me at Pleasance Courtyard

As a solo story telling performer, obviously, I’m interested in seeing shows from other solo storytelling performers. The Soaking of Vera Shrimp is described as ‘part science lesson, part story-telling, this is a poignant and playful solo-show about love, grief and never giving up’  This show appears on a lot of industry ‘must see’ lists. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s a ‘one woman show’ this isn’t an autobiographical rant, but the story 14 year old girl who finds she has the superpower to read raindrops.

2. Foil, Arms & Hog: Skiddlywup at Underbelly Cowgate

If you read my post about holidaying at home, you might remember I mentioned going to see this incredibly funny and attractive Irish trio back in may. Watching Foil, Arms & Hog is a little bit of an Edinburgh tradition for Lucy and I. Silly and clever, this is a sketch group that changed my mind on not liking sketch comedy! There’s a lot of comedy at the fringe, but these guys consistently sell out venues. There so popular, on Friday’s and Saturday’s they are doing two shows a night! So don’t leave it till last minute to buy your tickets!

3. Ross + Rachel by James Fritz, produced by MOTOR at Assembly George Square Theatre

You’ll find a lot of shows at Edinburgh Fringe playing with pop culture references but this show isn’t so much the story of Ross & Rachel but all the romantic hopes and dreams the ultimate lobster couple represent. Another solo show and again very popular with the industry lists – which is rare for a show with such a poppy title! “Ross & Rachel tells the mind-bending, heartbreaking story of what happens when a couple that was always meant to be together, gets together” and is performed by Olivier Award nominated James Fritz.

4. Little Thing, Big Thing by Fishamble: The New Play Company at Assembly George Square Theatre

Fishamble are an Irish company that I’ve never seen before, which again is a brilliant thing about the fringe, getting to see shows from all over the world. Little Thing, Big Thing, is set to be a ‘darkly comic thriller’ which isn’t something I would normally go for! Even people who work in theatre, have their comfort zones, mine, paradoxically is the more contemporary experimental stuff, and I tend to err away from the more traditional work but this show sounds like it combines the too. Plus who can resist a story about a Nun on the run?

5. Fable by The Flanagan Collective at Summerhall

The Flanagan Collective are a company I’ve been aware of for a while but never had the chance to see or work with, so when I heard they had a new show coming up to the Fringe I made room in my schedule for it. Thy’re known for mixing, theatre, folk  and music together and creating a bit of a party feel for the audience, and it sounds like Fable will be a continuation of this. Plus they are performing over at Summerhall which has really come out as one of the top venues for new exciting work over the last couple of years. If you want to see more contemporary work, that the critics rave about, I’d recommend booking a whole afternoon of shows just in this one venue!

So there you have it, my guide to this years Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Check out the official Fringe website for all shows, and more information on planning your trip. I’d love to hear from you! Are you heading up the fringe this year, or have you been before and have your own top tips to share with me? Like I said, I still have time in my trip, so any reviews or recommendations please throw them my way! You can catch me all weekend over on twitter.

Live life & What The Fringe?! x

Follow me on Twitter | Bloglovin’ | Instagram

Advertisements

why finding your purpose shouldn’t mean splitting your soul…

wpid-20150624_154153.jpg

Hey everyone, how are you? Today I want to talk a little bit about how difficult it can be to choose a job and find your purpose.

I mentioned in my post on Sunday, that recently I’ve been getting a little more serious about my freelance theatre work, and that this has led me to rethink how I label my work, and how all the different roles I take on make sense with one another.

I read a lot of blogs, from wonderful inspiring women, men, entrepreneurs and general creative spirits, and they all have one thing in common. They all seemed very clear about what their purpose is. They had a product to sell, a message to give, a role to fulfill. I looked at my theatre website and my blog, and thought that the maybe the reason i’d felt a bit blah about it all lately, is because I had too many roles to play. So many that I couldn’t give any one my full attention.

But I loved them all.

I didn’t want to pick a niche. I don’t want to be just a children’s performer, or just a lifestyle blogger, or just a programmer. I want it all, but everything seemed to be telling me, you can’t have it all. I couldn’t decide whether to separate my blog from my theatre site. I couldn’t decide whether to separate my theatre site, into separate theatre sites. I couldn’t decide how to split all my passions up, because although on paper, they didn’t seem to fit together, to me they felt inextricably connected.

So I started to think differently about it. I started to wonder what linked all the things that I did together, and then I realised, that the thing linking it all together was me. I couldn’t separate my passions up, because unlike Voldemort, I can’t split myself up into tidy (but deadly) little chunks.

The reason I’d felt a bit blah about it all recently, wasn’t because of all the different roles there were to play, but because I’d forgotten why I wanted to play these roles in the first place.

Maybe, it is just me because I am, in some ways actively looking for it, but it seems to me the world these days is built for multirolers. People who don’t do just one job. This is particularly obvious in the blogging community. Bloggers are writers, marketers, photographers, pr specialists, stylists, wise and wonderful people, who seemingly do it all. Sure some of us are better at the words than the pictures, and we don’t all know what a social media strategy looks like, but if we don’t know how to do something, we know somebody that can, so I guess you can add resourcefulness to that already impressive list of things.

Coming out of university with a degree in English Literature and Theatre Studies, I’d been forewarned by parents, and grown ups all around me that, ‘it wouldn’t lead to a job.’ And they were right. It wouldn’t. Because guess what? So few degrees actually do. I mean do you know anyone who studied history and became a paid historian? I thought not. All I had was a creative skill set and a passion.

A passion to tell the worlds stories. To tell my own story and to help other people tell theirs.

That’s what led me into arts marketing, where I could help other people make sure their story was heard by an audience. That’s what led me to start a blog where I could tell the story of the everyday things that normally go unnoticed. That’s what has led me to become a programmer, where the local community choose the stories they want to hear. And that’s what has led me to make my own theatre and to run workshops with children and old people a like. At the root of my many branched tree was the drive and desire to make stories and theatre happen.

Have I said the word story enough?

When I looked at all of this, I realised that all my passions did make sense sat together, as long as I told the narrative (thank you thesaurus) behind them. That my theatre website didn’t have to be a boring old cv, that looked like a simple dot to to dot. This job led to this one, which led to that one, which leads me to hear. Instead I had to paint the picture, I had to make sure the different colours brought out the best in one another and most importantly of all, I had to go outside the lines. Having a purpose doesn’t mean having only one interest.

Working in the arts, it isn’t uncommon to have one person playing many different parts (both on and off stage) and I think this is becoming increasingly true in other careers too. I know a lot of people who read this have felt or do feel confused about which road they should go down, about how all their roles and passions sit side by side. Maybe you don’t have to put them all on a website, because you’re not interested in working freelance, but you probably do have to find a job that matches at least some if not all of those passions. For you my advice would is this: Work out what all these things have in common, what is it that makes you passionate about them? What is it that means you can’t pick just one? Is it because you’re driven and want to do ALL OF THE THINGS? Well, don’t let that scare you into thinking you’ll hate being tied down to one job, because one job very rarely has one task. If you want to, you can make any job role uniquely yours. Maybe you’re not involved in the marketing department but it just so happens you’re a wizz at social media, why not ask? Maybe you’re a blogger worried that you’re trying to write about too many things and trying to appeal to too many audiences? Well I don’t just read one type of blog, so if you want to offer me a whole plethora of posts then I’m more not less likely to follow.

Or maybe you’re a newly graduated twenty something year old girl wanting to work in the arts, with no idea of what specifically it is you want to do. Try everything. Because you’re a human being with more than one skill and one passion, and whatever job you get, it will almost certainly ask you to play more than one role.

Live life & rlearn from Voldemorts mistakes x

ps. If you were wondering I’ve decided to keep my blog and my theatre website linked up. When I finish the new site I will share a bit more on this!

Follow me on Twitter | Bloglovin’ | Instagram

Where the devil have you been…

wpid-img_20150619_114825.jpg

Hello everyone! How are you? It’s been more than a little quiet around these parts lately, in fact it has been deathly silent. I’d apologise for that, but I’ve just been to damm busy having an amazing time. What’s that hashtag? #Sorrynotsorry.

You may remember a couple of weeks ago, I posted about a project I’d been working on called ‘Back of the Bus.’ After months of planning and stressing, and countless sleepless nights last week, we quite literally got the show on the road!

It was an incredible week. Professionally speaking, I learnt SO much, and I can safely say all the stress and worry was worth it, I now feel so fired up and ready to take on the next big thing (or at least I will be once I’ve slept). Personally, it was filled with moments I know I will remember forever, like when we took the dancers in to a dementia care centre, and they performed for the residents, as I stood there watching (and crying) I knew it was a really special moment. Then of course there were the lovely people I got to work with from the company! Java dance we’re such an amazing bunch of lovely talented people, I wished everyone I shared public transport with was like them!

The show itself, as I hope you can see from the pictures was fantastic, and the audiences absolutely loved it. A lot of people left having seen their hometowns in a completely different light, which is exactly what we were all aiming for. One of the things I hear alot in this job, and generally where I live is ‘nothing happens areound’ere’ so to be able to not only say ‘actually yes it does’ but to also say ‘and what’s happening is as good as the big cities’ is fantastic!

wpid-img_20150628_105207.jpg

Speaking of amazing things happening in big cities, I hopped straight off a bus full of dancers, and onto a very early morning coach to London, for British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park, and to see two of my favourite women in all the world… Lucy and Taylor Swift.

It might have taken seven hours on a coach, but it was definitely worth it. Heading to a festival, even if it is only for a day, is a perfect way to step out of everything that is going on in life and really forget about it. Something which when you have been crazy busy, even if it is in a good way, I always feel is important to do so that you really get that head space to just let everything sink in.

wpid-img_20150628_104435.jpg

I won’t lie to you, not only did I shake my rather sizeable bum off to Miss Swift, I also cried. Several times. I think a combination of having had an insane and exhausting week, seeing Lucy for the first time in seven months, and genuinely relating to basically every word Taylor says (apart from the ones where she is introducing her super model best friends) was just too much for me. Oh, and the cider probably contributed a little bit to that too!

Sunday and Monday were much more chilled out affairs. Sunday took the shape of a mid morning brunch, followed by a wander around the Welcome Collection museum (also known as the Museum of sexology) and an amazing dinner at The Gate (a full review to come). And then on Monday I caught up with the incredibly talented Leo, wandered around the shops in Angel before getting back on the coach and arriving home, late, exhausted but extremely happy on Monday night.

Since then life has taken a more normal looking shape. It feels so odd to be back at my desk, working my way through admin after everything I’ve been doing lately, but again I’m welcoming the slower pace. It was also the new boys birthday last weekend, which I missed so I’ve been catching up with his face and planning birthday treats.

Looking towards the rest of summer, I’m excited for Manchester International Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, seeing friends, and generally crossing my fingers and hoping for good weather. Here on the blog I have so much to catch up on, including an interview with Sally, the creator of Hello Little Lovely, and a thousand and one ideas that have been piling up over the past couple of weeks. I’m going to be taking a step back from posting three times a week – what with the sun, and life getting a bit busier, I want to make sure that anything I do post has had serious time and thought dedicated to it.

But enough about me! What have you been up to? I’ve got one very full unread bloglovin’ feed, and an inbox to match, so if you’ve not heard from me in a while, I hope you can understand why!

Live life & take something off your plate if need be x

 Follow me on Twitter | Bloglovin’ | Instagram