Saturday, March 05, 2011

Festivals and me

I had a weird moment at the Town Hall Adelaide this week. They had a photographic exhibition up and one of the main images was a huge colourful picture of Edinburgh during the festival in August. I realised how much people here in Australia love to go, and are eager to talk to me about it. I am pretty over the festival in Edinburgh and don’t praise it much now. Performers and people alike gasp at my nonchalant attitude to the biggest arts festival in the world.

I recently did a Skype interview with a Scottish journalist and basically slated the Edinburgh fringe festival as I have become jaded by the big companies that manage to make so much cash from wee people who put up their hard earned money to make their hopes and dreams come true. I am not taking back any of my well documented comments and everyone else thinks much the same anyway. My point is, I hate that no longer want to go, I hate that I no longer dream of the excitement of that first night. I recall my first Edinburgh show with the intensity of my first adult kiss.

I can tell you the smells; I can describe the feeling seeing my face on a poster on the wall outside the old Gilded Balloon on the Cowgate in 1998. I knew I was the bottom of the artistic food chain, but my heart still pounded as I held out that first flyer and turned an eager face to a passerby. I was doing a three hander with two blokes who didn’t really care much about the show. I was as enthusiastic as hell and flyered everyday and begged people to come in night after night. Not many people came, yet my dreams soared higher.

I watched the big names get all the press, I never even got a review and after three more years I still never got a review. The press ignored me until 2004 then I got about 20 reviews in one week!

I recall going to the Underbelly venue in 2002 down in the Cowgate and looking at the crumbling old ancient bricks pass off as a comedy room. The two guys running it Charlie and Ed were posh English guys making the best of a bad job and I was part of the team. They encouraged me, they backed me up and they took all our suggestions to fix the mistakes in the building, we all did a great job that year and I fell in love with Edinburgh and did a one woman show for a ten day run. I loved the Underbelly and came back the next year with a hand written play and new show. I got a book deal, and a near comedy nomination and I felt so creative and full of comedy love. Edinburgh smiled at me, the castle winked and the lights on the street illuminated as I walked and I spread my magic through the night time alleys with my smile alone.

Somewhere along the years from then to now, I lost the passion and patience for Edinburgh. I stopped looking up at the castle in the sunset, I stopped sitting on the cobblestones and watching the buskers, I gave up running my palm along the smooth bricks that stood there for over 400 years and feeling the pulse of the building through stone. I stopped.

It all became tough work, Edinburgh is a hard secret lover, it makes you feel excited, dirty and like no other entity can stir in you but the price is high. It loves other people more than you, it is nicer to others and can ignore you- it can make you hate it and despite being addicted you have to extricate yourself from its grip and stop going back time and time again to see if it has any love left for you. It doesn’t. I am not going back. I am too old, my gown no longer shines, my hair no longer glints in the Edinburgh sun, and the city turned its back and felt ashamed of my neediness. I will miss you Edinburgh, we had good times, we laughed together, we raised my daughter together, we watched her grow thank you now go shine for others now.

1 comment:

Gorilla Bananas said...

I went to Edinburgh last summer. I enjoyed the comedy acts, but the weather was wet and windy.