So I went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the 3rd time, the second time for the full run. Last year I left Edinburgh with a desire to get back as soon as possible, and this year was much the same with the exception I desperately want to take a show in 2012, as opposed to work as a Techie which is what I did 2010 and 2011.
So firstly a few theatre highlights: hanging out with The River People and seeing their visually spectacular Little Matter with old chum Ivan Stott. Their Wagon, a medievial-style travelling theatre, has much the same ideology I share about folk and poetry. It can be transferred anywhere, be performed anywhere, car park, field, garden, street etc. The other great company I checked out was Milk Presents, whose Bluebeard: A Fair Tale For Adults was gloriously chaotic. Also drinking with some old, old friends whilst Dave from Propaganda Company and Ed from The River People play great tunes in the Wagon was terrific and unforgettable, one of those special Fringe moments.
I managed to perform three times this year, once was a spontaneous performance of a short set at the Forest Café thanks to Billy Liar. Billy plays really tight and furious folk-punk and you should definitely check out his EP It Starts Here and title track. Billy made me feel right at home at the Forest and gave me plenty of tips, so please check out his music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwjyRhK9s9A
The Forest Café is in desperate need of assistance to keep it running financially, please show some love over here: http://blog.theforest.org.uk/. My Fringe wouldn’t be the same without it, I dislike the big venues and overpriced generic booze. Forest Café is the sort of place you can wander in and there’ll always be some random thing going on or bump into someone you know.
I also entered the Hammer & Tongue Poetry Slam, getting through one round to perform the next night and come second overall, something I am so incredibly proud of and owe a lot to my mates for coming out to the nights, you guys are great chums J I said after seeing shows last year I needed to raise my game, and progressing to the next round as opposed to coming nowhere near last year makes me feel like I must be doing something right.
RAWR!!! Thanks to Cat Brogan for the picture (a poet with more fire than Vesuvius).
But my key experience of the Fringe was seeing one-man shows. Letter To The Man (from the boy), my one-man piece which debuted at York TakeOver Festival, is still a work in progress but I have some plans to come for it. Shows I saw really inspired me, though, to understand the piece as one whole, rounded ‘show’. I saw some shows classed as story-telling, some as comedy, some as poetry, but clearly it’s hard to simply label these so definitely. Matt Rudge’s We Could Be Heroes was billed as stand-up, but Matt wanted it to have an element of theatre and seriousness messages behind it. It was a great show, Matt is a clever comedian, but part of me wondered if he could have pushed the ‘theatre’ element further, more akin to Chris Goode’s The Adventures of Wound Man & Shirley or Ben Brailsford: My Fortnum & Mason Hell, two monologues but packed with humour and almost stand-up moments. Skittles by friendly and very talented Richard Marsh made the audience laugh throughout the entire performance, and rightly gained great praise and sell-out shows. Tim Clare’s stand-up show How To Be A Leader delved into hilarious rap at the end, referenced his spoken word material and clearly came from a performative angle rather than simple stand-up in a pub. Luke Wright’s very tight Cynical Ballads was a collection of his very satirical, funny and sharp poems but, of course, coupled with his banter in-between poems and projections, made it comedy and theatre. Tim Key, too. Baths.
So here’s a conclusion: I want to create a ‘show’. The core of it will be the poetry, but if it’s a specific ‘show’, a specific ‘performance’ then it will be different to a simple set at a poetry or music night. This means it needs a running thread, a rounded theme. Not necessarily a direct ‘message’ but certainly an overarching collection of ideas to explore. Also I think I can play more with who I am in this, when performing normally it’s essentially me in ‘poetry mode’, but this will allow something to be more of a character or certainly characterful. Food for thought.
Scrapbook to come!
(On a final note, thanks to everyone who came out to York Peace Festival and thanks to the Backyard Cabaret stage for having me last Sunday). Full set can be found here: http://soundcloud.com/henryrabypoetry. It was a fanastic community day for everyone with all manner of causes and arts side-by-side and I appreciate so much being a part of it and a stage with musicians and theatre-makers and comedians.^^^This above photo by http://www.nicholasgray.net/