Friday, August 3, 2007

August 3 - The show is open

Well we did it: We opened today. We had a nice crowd of over 100 people. That is very good for opening. We will do well these next three days as our tickets are only five pounds. Part of that is an opening special of 2-for-1 tickets.

The show went well. We were running long so we had to cut one song. And it worked well. We finished right on time. It’s very important to do so. The scheduling is so tight that if one group goes five minutes over it can mess up all the other shows that follow. The performers and band had nice energy. The audience was engaged. We had a lot of younger folks in the audience today. The last third of the show, though, was a little strange in that the lighting board began acting weird. It was not doing what it is supposed to be doing. Consequently, scenes were darker than normal. We didn’t have a final blackout, but we got by. The audience applauded spiritedly and there were shouts of approval as the cast left the stage.

We struck the equipment, platforms, backdrop and props in about five minutes, which is two minutes under our allotted time. All in all, I was very pleased and very proud. There were moments in the production that were genuinely moving. If this show, which I have probably watched 100 times can still give me chills, I know we are doing something right.

I was nervous about the lighting and the music before the show. Yesterday we had a rehearsal in one of the large flats we are letting. It went well but we blew the plug for the electric piano when it was plugged into a wall socket without a converter. We immediately began to search for a replacement plug. After a bit of searching, we found one in an electric shop that carries converters and adapters for electronic gear. Remember, our electrical system is completely different from that of the UK. We need adapters, transformers and converters for all of our equipment. The rehearsal went well in the flat. There is something so intimate and bonding about doing the play in an apartment. I think it buoyed everyone’s spirits and gave everyone a boost we needed.

We also had to rehearse last night until one a.m. and then again before the show today. After the show today I gave notes and we began our busking schedule. I had a radio interview at 6 p.m. and brought along six members of the cast to do the last song of the show acapella. It went very well. They sang beautifully. Tomorrow we begin performing songs on the Royal Mile stages. It’s a great way to draw an audience. We do a few songs while the rest of the group is working the crowd, talking up the show and handing out leaflets. It’s important to do this as competition for an audience is fierce.

There are more than 1,500 groups from all over the world that come to perform here. There are 380 venues listed in the Fringe program. These venues include churches, schools, cafes, clubs, outdoor spaces, parks, museums and every available and conceivable space that can hold a performance.

This is my eighth time at the Fringe. I have been here seven times with WestConn. And I’ve come on my own once. We began the program in 1995. I’ve seen every conceivable type of theatre during the years I’ve come to Edinburgh, but one can still be amazed and transformed by the work done here.

I’ve seen an incredible performance of “Medea” in a basement room that held 10 people. It was done by a Polish actress, Sophia Zelinka, who had been a member of the famous Cricot theatre company for 30 years. It was truly amazing; one of the greatest theatre experiences of my life. And that space held less than a dozen people. That is why people come to Edinburgh. If you are adventurous and search things out, Edinburgh will renew your faith in the theatre as an art form that can touch your soul.

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