There was a distinct lull in London recently. With August in full swing, the train carriages seemed a little emptier and the pavements less crowded. There was almost a feeling in the air that somewhere else, all the action was taking place – and that place would be up at the Edinburgh Fringe. While Scotland stands on the precipice of an all-important deciding vote, the country has taken centre stage in the media’s spotlight. But not to be forgotten, its annual Festival also demands attention.
For most of August, all theatrical eyes are on Edinburgh. Naturally A Younger Theatre was also there in full force bringing us helpful blogs and great reviews hot off the press. But what about all the performers left behind, twiddling their thumbs? Let’s be honest, not everyone can afford to trek all the way up to Scotland.
There’s the question of getting there in the first place. The train can be very pricey, as the Filskit ladies can vouch for. There is also the epically lengthy option of the Mega Bus (again, Filskit has tried this as well!) Once you get there you then need somewhere to stay. Ideally, if a group of you are going it’s a good idea to flat share. There are some decent self-catering venues which work well if you are staying for a longer period. From listening to regular visitors to the Fringe, organisation is key. If you are prepared enough, we’d advise you to book as soon as you can, the earlier the better so you don’t miss out on reasonable rates. Rooms will go like hot cakes!
But what about performing at the Fringe? To be brutally honest, us Filskit ladies are yet to jump on the Edinburgh band wagon. People ask if we’re going every year and each year our answer is no. Registration alone is costly, then you have to factor in marketing, pounding the streets with flyers with thousands of others – and there is a high probability that your cast might even outnumber your audience. Being a children’s theatre company, this would be a high risk strategy for us Filskit ladies. Whilst it can get you noticed and significant critical acclaim (bearing in mind that most critics will travel there to see a wide cross-section of shows in a short space of time), there’s also the chance of running up costs for very little reward.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some award-winning acts and shows that get everybody talking. It can also be a platform for relative newcomers to shine, such as graduate company Barrel Organ with Nothing. It is interesting to see how the comedy acts tend to bulldoze their way to the top of the bill. We’ve heard several complaints around performances clashing due to the later slots being solely reserved for the comedians. The fact that TV channel Dave presents an award to the funniest joke of the Fringe shows what a commercial vehicle the Festival can be. If you are curious, the award went to prominent king of the one-liners, Tim Vine: “I decided to sell my Hoover… well it was just collecting dust.”
We have to admit we feel a twinge of envy each year when others head north. Edinburgh is a fantastic city bursting with creativity and there’s the chance to witness the good, the bad and the downright bizarre. For us, an annual trip up to the Imaginate Festival is our Scottish fix. As a festival with young audiences in mind, it is admittedly more relevant to us at Filskit. But we can’t deny that Edinburgh really is a wonderful city for the arts. With world class performances and a Fringe festival that just grows and grows each year, it really is the hottest Festival in the United Kingdom. All eyes will be on Scotland to see how united we are this time next year…