ALICE BEAUMONT, who plays the Asteroid and Holly in All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, reflects on her Edinburgh Fringe so far.
We’ve been here three weeks. I love Edinburgh but being a part of the Fringe means being caught up in a very strange world. It’s easy to let the whole experience drag you along in its massive current. I regularly feel complex combinations of wonder and heartbreak, irritation and delight. And always, always an unrelenting self-analysis, both personal and professional.
The ‘success’ of a show (in terms of ticket sales) relies fairly heavily on reviews and word of mouth. If you're lucky it is possible to measure your own show's success on your own terms - not critics', but it is hard to do sometimes. It’s a month of subjective judgement, tweets, stars and recommendations. Sifting through the publicised opinions of others can be tricky, but there's no greater feeling when you realise you believe in the work you're making regardless of anyone else. That’s the dream.
I have found, with so much assessment in the air, the need to look internally and assess myself is palpable. But the less said about that the better; feelings are gross. Instead, here are some things I've experienced whilst being here.
One of those melted clocks from a Salvador Dali painting
Seriously, what is going on? Days are blurring together – right now I’m not too sure whether it’s Sunday or Monday. Or Thursday. I feel like we’ve been here for all of time and simultaneously no time at all. The start of the festival felt like yesterday but in reality we only have a week left. I've stopped trying to figure out what the date is.
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything goes up at 8:45pm so technically we have full days ahead of us before performing but they slip by with bewildering speed. I swear I’m having a morning cup of tea and a minute later I’m doing the pre-show warm up.
I'm sorry to mention the weather (Dullsville!) but it plays a very prominent part in daily life here because of its maddening behaviour. It is, in politest terms, erratic. Blasts of sunshine that make you regret choosing black jeans that morning and threaten to scorch any uncovered skin in a matter of minutes, accompanied by the clearest of skies. Then, moments later icy downpours erupt out of nowhere and last for an hour. Then the sun bounces out again like nothing even happened.
I've stopped trusting the morning brilliance and don't go anywhere without my crap umbrella, which I promised myself I'd upgrade when I got here but as yet have not. The wind is a joke and the evenings feel like November. Despite all that, I rather like its unpredictability, it is in keeping with the other-worldliness of the festival. We've so far, miraculously, avoided a wet Get In. We prepare for our show outside our venue and, fingers crossed, it’s Scottish law that every day from 8:15-8:45pm is a rain break.
Fringe feels kind this year. It’s got heart. People who are here for the Fringe seem so happy to be here and the locals are so welcoming, which is impressive since thousands of us have infiltrated their city. I met an Edinburgh local in a café who was proud of herself for not ‘flipping out’ at a group of actors who were taking up the entire pavement. She said to me that it was wonderful to have so many artists here.
People have been so full of gratitude when we see their show and supportive and kind when they see ours. I marvel at people’s boundless energy whilst flyering. I try to imitate this; I’m not great, but I’m getting better. Most have so much to say about their show and you can see their passion for it right there in the street.
As ever, there’s a ridiculously vast array of plays/musicals/art/cabaret/comedy/poetry. Some brilliant, some not so. This year I’ve been desperate to see complex female characters on stage and I’ve definitely been fortunate enough to witness some. Every time someone mentions an amazing show they’ve seen, I’ve felt the thrill of potentially missing something that might be unmissable. And then I get to see for myself if the hype is true. It’s weird being in a position of being judged as a performer and simultaneously doing the judging as an audience member.
Most of the time I feel a real sense of camaraderie. It’s pretty cool to be here with so many companies all doing the job we love. In darker moments, like after the show late at night climbing the terrifying stairs to our flat I can’t help but think of all the hundreds of people who have spent so much time, money and effort on shows where dwindling audience members are apathetic at best and critics don’t blink an eye at slating them.
It can be a bit brutal here, which reflects the industry in general of course. We've been extremely lucky and I can't really express the gratitude I feel at being here with a show that I love performing in and that people seem to love watching.
The Fringe has been a giant amalgamation of stuff. It’s been a hefty whirlwind and everything is in extremes: too emotional, too big, too fun, too tiring, too strange, too overwhelming, too cathartic, too time-bending, too loud, too quiet, too lonely, too busy, too much. I can’t believe this is our job. And I can’t believe we get to experience all this. For me, being a part All We Ever Wanted Was Everything in Edinburgh has been nothing short of awesome*.
*‘Awesome’ is not the best word here. The thing I’m trying to express is more like a sound, but I’m writing this on a computer and you’re reading… this so a word will have to do.
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything runs every night at the Paines Plough Roundabout until 27 August, 8.45pm.