I can't believe it! Almost 3 weeks have passed since my arrival in Edinburgh. Now Mom and I are headed to the airport for a quick visit to Paris before coming back to NYC. It's been a really good trip. I've met so many wonderful people and made lots of important connections. I think the best part about this trip is finding out that I can do this, that I'm proud of the work I've done and that there are so many people who are willing to cheer me on as I move forward. Thank you.
Phew! I cannot believe that I've performed 11 shows and tomorrow will be my 12th and final show in Edinburgh. It's been a great run. I've had so many lovely audience members including people who I have the chance to speak with after the show and stay connected to. I'm tired, though, and looking forward to really RELAXING once the show is over tomorrow. Then, I'll get a chance to sit back and take in a few more shows.
Mom and I met a Scottish friend at a Vietnamese restaurant this evening, Vietnam House. The food was really good. Simple and beautifully presented. Great decor. Highly recommended!
I'll miss my greenroom buddy, Harriet. We have our shows at the same time except she's in the theatre upstairs and my show is downstairs. But we kind of get ready together and then put our street clothes on again together. We check in before and after the show and it's become such a wonderful routine, such an integral and grounding part of my get-ready process. I'll be sad to say goodbye to our little dance of coming and going. But, this is exactly what Edinburgh promised - a chance to encounter people who we connect with, who we stay connected to long after the Festival is over.
It's been a few days since I've written so let me catch you up! My friend Joanie came to visit and arrived on Friday. We've been busy running around and seeing the sights. And man, have we been running! We saw a bunch of shows and even took in a rugby match! Joanie wanted to see a bona fide rugby game and we decided it would be culturally very important so we headed to a field not far from where I'm staying and watch the Leith team play the Lismore team. We were totally confused by the rules but quickly looked them up and asked many questions to the people supporting the opposing team. They were slightly annoyed because we kept saying, "Did we just score again?" They kept sighing, "Yes." It was a lot of fun and so much more interesting than American football because the ball stays in play for so long. It keeps getting passed and rolled and kicked and turned over. There are no shoulder pads or helmets so people are more careful when they tackle and have to tackle using their hands, not just their shoulders. It seems more human because you can see everyone's faces, and although they do wear mouth guards, they seem to be more aware of their opponents' (and their own) heads.
Joanie and I also took a nice hike up to Arthur's Seat which is the very tippy top of a big hill (or tiny mountain). It took about an hour to get to the top, but the views were SO worth it! You get a 360 view of the city and you can see the sea! We were mesmerized by the sea and decided to walk down the hill toward the sea. It took us 2 hours, but we made it and touched the cold water of the North Sea as dark settled in. We were hoping for some seafood as a reward but it was Sunday night and everything closed early. Wah! :( We found ourselves in the small beach town of Portobello, hungry but triumphant and finally found an Indian takeout place.
How's the show going? Oh, it's still going strong. I've hit my stride with my flyers - I have stickers now that have quotes from my 4-star reviews and when I pass them out, it's a new source of pride. One woman who I gave a flyer to in passing today said, "Oh, I read the review. It's on our list!" That made me feel very happy.
A friend who is a native of Edinburgh (who told me about the festival in the first place and hooked me up with a place to stay) is also in town and brought her parents to the show yesterday. Many thanks to L! And the fellow we're staying with also brought his mom and sister yesterday so it was a sort of family meetup/reunion and we went to lunch afterwards. It was grand! Many of us ordered fish & chips (gluten free!) and Joanie got to interview real Scots about their views on succession from England.
There is yet another guest of honor who arrived in town today...my MOM! She flew for 10.5 hours. Stayed awake (mostly) for almost 30 hours straight. Okay she dozed a little on the plane but what a trooper! She made it. And we're going to paint this town red (as soon as she sleeps off her jet lag). Mom will probably see the show this Thursday. And my last show will be Saturday. Today marks my 8th show - 4 to go! I can't believe I got through that many already. It's been a very positive experience. I'm really happy I came to Edinburgh.
I was out flyering as usual before my show today. I came downstairs to wait to go into the theatre when our theatre director walked in and said, "Congrats on your review!"
"The one from Tuesday?" I asked.
"No, " says Darren, "the one from this morning by Broadway Baby."
What?! BroadwayBaby is kind of a BIG DEAL! I mean, they are pretty legit around here. I got 4 stars! It totally made my day. In fact, it sort of made my trip. It was a really nice review. You can read it here. It just suddenly all feels worth it. All the mornings I've woken up with butterflies, not just here, but in New York, too. All the rehearsals, all the work, and all the fear that people wouldn't get it. But it seems like they do. It turns out that it IS a relatable story and that's what I had hoped. So I'm content today and feeling warm fuzzies from Edinburgh, Scotland and my fellow artists. Thank you. This is a good thing and will continue to be good, even if I do wake up with butterflies again tomorrow.
Today was my smallest audience yet - 8 people. You'd think having a review would have tons of folks lining up at the box office! But no. Not here. I am trying to get more reviewers to come and see the show. Supposedly, I need to staple review quotes to my flyers now - somehow that makes it more legit. I haven't done that yet, but tomorrow I'll do the printing, cutting and stapling. And not to worry, I still have 3000 flyers left! Flyering DOES work by the way. I met a very nice older woman on the street yesterday who said she took a flyer from me just because of my smile. And then she brought 2 of her friends with her today. These three ladies met in Vietnam on a walking tour of the country several years ago. And they stayed friends! We chatted after the show for about 10 minutes. I think that's the best part of being here. I've met not only the locals but also people from all around the UK. I'm learning the difference between a Scottish and Irish accent. And even what a Welsh accent sounds like! I find all these British accents so charming. And of course, I'm meeting Brooklynites! And other New Yorkers and people from DC. Tomorrow there's a mixer for anyone who has a solo show. That will be fun. And a chance to do more flyering! I'm getting the hang of this...
Tuesday I had my second show and it went so well! I think it may have been because I had a new comedian friend in the audience and she laughed, gasped, chortled in all the right spots. It kind of gave the rest of the audience permission to make noise. And that really put me at ease. There was supposed to be another press person in the audience but they didn't show up. Darn! That was such a great performance. Alas.
Today's show went alright. I was shaky and nervous the whole time. You'd think that on the third day of the show, I'd be relaxed - old hat, right? But no. I felt a little out of it. Maybe because I stayed up too late last night after I realized I'd had a good review...by the way, I got reviewed by TVBomb. It's official! Yee haw! 4 out of 5 bombs. I'm hoping for a few more reviews before my time here is over.
On a different note, I'd like to tell you a little about Edinburgh. It's on the sea, so there are lots of seagulls everywhere. In the morning, they fly by my window and make their cries. It sounds like a woman laughing heartily. So in my morning dreams, I often see this women laughing, laughing. And then I wake up. Today I went to TESCO which is sort of like their version of Walmart. I found a box of gigantic tissues which you have to see. I'll attach it here soon.
I was really lucky today - I had a reviewer as well as people from Amnesty International Awards come to see the show today. I felt good about my show, however, no one made a peep during the whole hour! It was so quiet - no laughing, chuckling, chortling, sniffling, sneering, snickering. No gasps or even a cough. Okay, one cough. But no audience response! I was devastated during the show, thinking that they were bored out of their minds. Or, because it's an early show, they weren't quite awake yet. However, after the performance, a few people thanked me, which was a surprise, and then another company explained to me this afternoon that in Europe, it's considered rude to make any noise at all during a show. Well, I was not expecting that! But now that I know, I can breathe a little easier. And I won't pause for laughter where I used to before. The space is great. My crew is excellent. Now I just need to hustle to get more people in those seats!
Yesterday I had my tech rehearsal for the show. The venue I'm performing in has a really great light setup with regular lights, plus LED lights to add color. I have 38 light cues! And thanks to my awesome tech person, we knocked them out in just about an hour and a half. He seemed a little stressed but thanked me for keeping him on his toes. He'll be very busy during this show! I'm up early, couldn't sleep in. I'm going to have breakfast and then start flyering (again!) before my show. I had some flyering success yesterday and met a lot of really nice people. I hope they come see the show. We'll see... I have Waffle TV coming to see the show today - my first press coverage ever! Am I nervous? Uh, yes. But also REALLY excited to do this show, especially for a group of people who have never seen it before. I'll keep you posted.
Well, a lot has happened since I posted last. I feel like Neo in The Matrix where he gets an enormous download of every type of fighting skill/ martial art in a matter of moments. Except I haven't assimilated the information quite so fast. I'm collecting data as fast as I can, hoping to turn it into a strategy ASAP since my show opens on Monday. I met with a person from the Fringe media team yesterday who recommended not just mass flyering random strangers, but to find shows that have a similar theme to mine and then ask the company if I can "exit flyer" their audience as people leave their show. So I've asked 2 shows who I think have something in common with my show if I can do that. It seems like a good idea. Today I visited the venue where I'm performing and met a whole bunch of the staff. Everyone is really nice and more than helpful. I get a free pass to see all the shows at my theatre and several others nearby. I saw 4 shows today and met actors and directors at a happy hour just for our venue. I'm interviewing every person I meet who's been to the Fringe before to hear how they got people to attend their shows. A lot of people have been here before and have specific things that worked. One person said to make eye contact with whoever I want to give a flyer to. Another said to forget flyering and just tweet, tweet, tweet and post a lot on FaceBook. Another woman has had success passing out flyers an hour or 2 before her show and also offering free tickets. So I did my own flyering for a little bit - it's sort of like standing there asking to be rejected. However, if I'm talking to someone in line or at a bathroom sink, that seems to work really well. I'm getting better and better at my 30 second pitch! And I've been doing some guerrilla-style poster hanging. Like the backs of bathroom stalls! And mailboxes. No place is too low for me to put up my poster! Trash cans work just fine. My thinking is that I just need people to see my show image more than once. If they see it more than once, they'll recognize it slightly the second or third time and finally they'll make a mental note to check it out or at least go online and read some reviews. Which I don't have...yet. But that's coming. The theatre I'm in is pretty nice, with good lights and a big stage. I have my tech rehearsal tomorrow - someone suggested bringing food to the tech because they work really hard and I know my lighting and sound is not so simple. I have resources - so many people who have gone before me and are more than willing to share their knowledge. It's not so harrowing after all.
On a gastronomical note, I tried haggis for the first time, which I'd heard about from several people who know their Scottish dishes. Definition: a savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck - heart, liver, lungs - minced with onion, oatmeal, suet (fat), spices and salt, mixed with stock. It was actually pretty delicious. Although mine looked and tasted more like stuffing on Thanksgiving. And I was worried about finding gluten free food there, but I haven't had any issues with wheat. There are a lot of baked goods with wheat, but I also found oatcakes which are like a thick oatmeal cracker. They are have the consistency of a cookie, but are made just with ground oats and some oil.
Headed to bed now, thanks for reading!
Reporting LIVE from Edinburgh, Scotland! Well, so far, so good. The airplane trip was super smooth and even though the flight was pretty full, I had an entire row to myself so I was able to get in a few hours of nap time pretty comfortably. It was raining when we landed but I didn't mind - everything looked so green and lush. After deplaning this morning I took a tram into the city. I picked up the keys for the apartment I'm staying at and then went to buy a weekly bus pass. I got lost and was kind of miserable. My sneakers got wet. Even though I'd heard that the weather here was cold and rainy, somehow, I still didn't pack right. I understood "rainy" because I packed my umbrella, but "cold" didn't register. I packed summer clothes. All shirts and one light sweater. Also my denim jacket just in case. But that doesn't cut it here! It's cold! It's wet! I actually looked around in some shops for a rain jacket but I was too tired to make any sort of decision. Besides, I already ordered a hoodie with the Greenside logo - that's the venue I'm performing in. I wanted to pack light but It looks like there is such a thing as packing too light. I wish I had my rain boots! And a raincoat and a big sweater.
Enough about the cold, it's warmer now and muggier, too. I have a 2 week bus pass which will make it very easy/affordable to get around this city. My host recommended picking up groceries at Sainsbury's which I did since I found this store at the bottom of the mall (!) by the food court. I loaded up on fruits and veggies - very inexpensive! Yay! I couldn't find the eggs so I asked ... they were on a shelf underneath the crackers. That's right, not refrigerated! How's that for a cultural difference? Anyway, with the help of several extremely kind Scotswomen and Scotsmen, I found my way to the apartment where I'm staying with a friend of a friend. I made myself an omelette and unpacked a little. Now I'm heading to bed. Finally, a real bed! Just for a nap, though. I have an appointment with the Fringe media office this afternoon where they've promised to give me tips on how to get people to come and see the show. I'll definitely let you know what they tell me. Good night for now!
I leave today for Edinburgh! My flight is at 7pm out of JFK and I arrive 7 hours later in Scotland where it will be about 7am. Lucky 7s! (I hope!) There are a lot of things still up in the air... like ticket sales. I've sold hardly any tickets which is harrowing. I certainly don't want to make a trip out to Scotland and then perform my show to an empty theatre! But I've heard you've got to hustle hustle hustle. I'm printing thousands of flyers to distribute when I get there and I think once I'm on the ground, I'll be able to execute some sort of strategy. If anything, this will be an experiment and those of you reading the blog will be able to measure how well my experiments work. Then, when you bring a show or musical number or stand up routine or children's show to the Edinburgh Fringe, you'll know exactly what to do (or not to do). I'm practicing my Twitter skills and I'm also running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. List of crucial things to bring: script, sound cues on thumbdrive, outfit, passport. If I forget other things, that's okay. All right, I've a hundred more things to finish before I head out! Stay tuned...