My First Fringe

For many a year, I doubted myself good enough to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It seemed like some far away place where performers were made or broken. Without financial backing or a producer, I never thought it possible.
But I took the risk and turns out to have been one of the best things I've ever done. 

This being my first, I thought I'd ease myself in with an eleven show run of my biographical show 'Sorry I'm A Lady'. 

Edinburgh is stunning, like a chocolate box Danish fairy-tale and the people, absolutely lovely.  My venue, The Street were fantastic to work with. Owners Wendy and Louise are fabulous and always felt like they were on our side. Great food, good drinks deals, pop in if you're in the city.
The audiences were incredible. Besides one quiet night, I had a packed house most evenings. There was one night where a group came in clearly expecting sing-a-long campy drag and the occasional blip but I learned something from every show.

There are numerous tales of people losing vast amounts of money hiring a venue and selling tickets at the Fringe so chose to be part of the PBH Free Fringe where all performances get a free venue and do a bucket collection at the end of the show. As incentives, I auctioned a limited edition 'Holestar Coaster' every night and offered signed posters and CDs. My hope was to break even and I well surpassed that. Some audience members wanted selfies, others hugs, one girl said she loved the show but had no money but would I accept a bag of chocolates? Yes, yes I would.
The show is now exactly how I want it to be. After previously performing it for two, week long runs at Vogue Fabrics, The Cube in Bristol and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, it's been snatched and tightened into a well oiled machine. (Massive thanks to Myra Dubois and Jonny Woo for helping shape shifting it). Hey, it even got a four star review in The Scotsman newspaper.
I love performing it. Yes it's a self indulgent biographical show but I like it. It's got highs, lows, cabaret, performance art, silliness, politics, campness, a lot of singing and a poo story. The basis of the show being if someone like me can go through a bizarre history of leaving school with no education, mental and physical health problems, being in British army, a brothel receptionist, artist, dominatrix, drag starlet and can learn to love themselves and live their dreams of showing off in-front of people, well anyone can. Performing at the Fringe has made me realise I am capable of this kind of thing and can carry a solo show. But writing, directing, promoting and performing the show myself is exhausting so I need to apply for funding, find a producer and take the show on tour, spread the love and concentrate on being fabulous.

During two weeks in Edinburgh, my only regret was not seeing enough shows. So much of the day revolved around painting my face, endless PR, getting into town (from the lovely Alan and Fiona's house) and prepping myself that going to see other work was tricky. Though I did manage to pop into Christeene, The Lipsinkers, Mz Kimberly, Dandy Darkly and Illicit Thrill, all of which were fabulous. Props also to Cabaret Roulette whose show was on at The Street before mine and managed to see some incredible performers.Besides my eleven shows, I managed to squeeze in additional performances at Dive, Church of High Kicks, Musical Bingo, a quick show at Menergy, Glasgow and a four hour DJ set. Tried a deep fried Mars bar (which was hideous, not the crispy, gooey mess I'd hoped for), flyered in the pouring rain, laughed about the predictable abundance of 'straight blokes in a t-shirt' doing observational comedy, drank Pussy Bombs and left the city knackered but sated.

I adored my first Fringe, it surpassed all expectations.
Humbled, grateful. I'll be back.
x


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