August is traditionally quite a month for me. It’s my birthday at the end of the month. I remember as a child my parents always used to take us to the Tattoo (now the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo) and there was a part of me that believed them when they told me it was put on specially for me, for my birthday.
Then when I was slightly older I had a memorable birthday night lying on a picnic blanket in Princes Street Gardens sooking champagne through a straw out of a bottle placed beside my head, and gazing up in wonder at the incredible fireworks – the fireworks concert at the end of the Edinburgh International Festival is something quite spectacular.
In the last few years all I’ve wanted to do on my birthday is sleep. Or eat broccoli. You see my birthday comes at the end of a month of pretty intense festival time in Edinburgh. And since 2006 my job has been working for one of those festivals: initially at the Book Festival, and now at the Festival Fringe, the largest open-access arts festival in the world. And when we say largest we’re not kidding – it is way bigger than anything else, with 2,695 shows in 25 days and nights (with over 40,000 performances of those shows) and over 21,000 performers taking part. That’s almost twice as many performers as there were athletes at the Olympics. And we do that every year. In Edinburgh. In August.
Sometimes I wonder why I would ever want to live anywhere else. But in a weeks time I’ll be leaving Edinburgh, to live in the country, in the Clyde Valley. Currently it’s my weekend home, but soon it will be my forever home and I’ really VERY excited. Of course I’m not really leaving Edinburgh forever, as I’ll still be working there. But it will all be very very different.
But before I forget it all I thought I’d summarise what I saw this year at the Festivals: a total of 22 shows over three different festivals, and covering a few different genres, although mostly (and unashamedly) theatre. In sort of chronological order…
- Appointment with the Wicker Man
- Letter of Last Resort & Good with People
- The Daniel Kitson show at the Traverse
- Two Worlds of Charlie F
- Das Vegas Night
- Magic Faraway Cabaret
- I, Tommy
- Anne Enright (Book Festival)
- Jeanette Winterson (Book Festival)
- Razing Eddie
- Macbeth on Inchcolm Island
- The Red Hourglass
- Re-thinking Food Debate (Book Festival)
- The Kitchen Cabinet (BBC Radio4 recording)
- And No More Shall We Part
- Dream Plays (Scenes from a play I’ll never write) by Tobias Manderson-Galvin
- One Hour Only
- The Rape of Lucrece (Edinburgh International Festival)
- Wonderland (Edinburgh International Festival)
- The List
- Translunar Paradise
My favourite show is impossible to call – there were several truly great shows, and particularly some stunning performances. However, Two Worlds of Charlie F and And No More Shall We Part were both incredibly moving (yes, I shed a tear or two) and deserve special mention. Leo was gravity defying – clever and funny and quite incredible to watch. And (remor) was ridiculously intense, not to mention hot and sweaty – a dance/physical theatre piece performed in a prison cell with 15 audience members crammed in watching (and sweating). In fact I think it’s safe to say that my Fringe this year has been intense.