Performer, punter or press; the Edinburgh Festival is a microcosm all of its own and spending almost a month in a bubble like that is immense fun but can take its toll. Here are the five stages of the Edinburgh Festival.
Excitement comes hand in hand with worry. You’re looking forward to going to and being at the largest arts festival in the world. This show is your baby, you’ve worked hard on it and you want people to like it. You’ve got shows you want to see, but do you book the tickets now and see them during preview week or do you wait until they’ve had a run up? The travel’s booked, the plans are made and you can almost smell the macaroni stand in the distance.
Isn’t the city wonderful? It’s so nice to be here. There’s a welcoming buzz that emanates around the cobbled streets and you can’t believe it’s been a full year. Meeting up with old friends and getting to know your venue and accommodation. You’re sleeping in a nice central location, then again, everything’s close in Edinburgh. Every night is a party and you don’t want the fun to stop. Thankfully the fun’s just begun.
You’ve seen a good mix of shows, not everything has been amazing but that’s part of the fun. Your own ticket sales have been good and you’ve finally got the hang of handing out the flyers as well as avoiding them. Your answer to ‘so what brings you to Edinburgh?’ is honed down to about 30 seconds. You’ve decided on the bars you like to frequent and you’ve almost tried all the food places you want to go to. They might be a bit pricey, but it’s the festival. You’re really bonding with the people around you because you’re with them 24 hours a day and they’re going to be your friends for life.
It would be a lot easier for you if the weather just decided what it was doing. How can it be a beautiful sunny morning then at 11AM becomes the setting for The Day After Tomorrow? But you brush that off as the charm of Edinburgh. It’s really busy now. You can tell the people who live and work here from the visitors because the visitors walk on the pavement and the people who live and work here are power walking on the road trying not to be late. You feel like you live in a perpetual hangover. You find your temper is shorter than it was and you are sick of the same rotation of food places. Also, your voice is going but every Boots in a five mile radius has run out of throat medicine. However you are not the first to sufferer for art, work and enjoyment.
You hate everyone around you. You've planned the demise of the people you're staying with. The idea of having to stand up on that bloody stage again makes you feel angry and sick. The people who had out flyers have resorted to just saying ‘free piece of paper’ and ‘I haven’t seen it’ because they don’t care anymore and neither do you. You refuse to go out, you want an early night but you can’t get it because your flat with the ‘very central location’ is SO central it’s too noisy to get a decent night’s kip. You’re never drinking again. Why is it never not busy? You can’t remember the last time you had a moment to yourself, cursing the person who invented bagpipes and the people who play them on every street corner supplying an everlasting drone to the whole of the city. You feel like you're going to be stuck in this theatrical time warp forever, with no escape and no chance of solace.
And you wouldn't change any of it.
Ok, maybe the bagpipes.