It’s almost here, in a few nights I’ll be carried away on that avalanche of culture called the Edinburgh Fringe. I’ll lose a fortune, grow exhausted trying to convince a million Fringe goers that out of all the comedians, fire eaters, drama groups and well-known actors frantically plying their trade, it’s actually me and my play they want to see. Things will go wrong, they always do, I’ll get small audiences, be watched by bored tired folk who have merely come in to get out of the rain. But in the end, after three frantic weeks I’ll walk away knowing that there is no event on earth quite like the Edinburgh Fringe and that I’ve just been one, very small part of something unique.
The city transforms itself during the fringe. One act plays about how tough it is being a middleclass, white young man who’s parents support him in all he does take place in cellars that are used for storing crates of beer the rest of the year. The millionth gag about how tough it is being single again at 40 is told by an out of work bank clerk in the back room of a pub. Even stranger, many venues take place on long forgotten streets of the city, not the streets of today but the streets of 200 years ago buried beneath the buildings of today. When Edinburgh runs out of space it simply builds on top of itself without bothering to demolish what went before.
For most of August a huge community comes together, a community of hopeful performers who share dodgy, run down exorbitantly priced flats. A community who are terrified and elated at the same time, a group of folk all joined by the one common thing, whether they be actors, comedians, magicians, musicians or dancers, all their egos are dangling by one thin fragile thread just waiting for a reviewer with very sharp scissors.
A few weeks ago, burdened by the cost of taking a play to the Fringe and wearied by worries about publicity I turned to a friend saying, “I’m never doing this again!” He just laughed, “That’s what you said last time.”
I know he’s right, no matter what happens in Edinburgh I’ll be back like a moth mesmerised by a flame, I have to know how close to fly before I burn my wings.