From the moment you get off at Waverley station and step into the medieval streets of Edinburgh you are bombarded with a hail of flyers and poorly washed- recently graduated drama students. Have patience with the students- full of hopes and dreams ready to be crushed by the festival. It's a tough place to survive let alone for the performers but also for the brave punter. With over three thousand shows to choose from, how did you pick? Lest you find yourself in a three hour physical theater production of Macbeth that ends with someone shitting in a bucket. (never again will this happen to me) The answers is a combination or research, wits and luck.
First and foremost get the programme, circle the stuff that seems interesting and then google the crap out of it. Secondly, pay no attention to google, use it as a guide not gospel. There is plenty a mediocre show that is reviewed amazingly or appears to be...Look closely at all the 4 stars plastered all over posters, if they are from my- mate- Dave's.com website, they are probably not as reliable as say a broadsheet review. The best way to find out what to watch is to talk to other punters and see what names keep popping up. Many a great show has got off to a wobbly start but has eventually won critics around, by winning the public first. And remember your TV and radio favorites will often sell out, so book in advance.
Thirdly, take a risk. You will see some of the best things that you have ever seen by missing the show you intended and accidentally wandering into a basement. You will also see some shows so exquisitely awful that when you re enter sunlight you will be glad to be alive, this is all part of the Edinburgh experience, that and Gourmet burgers, lots of them.
Lastly be open to new experiences at the festival, you think you hate dance, maybe you don't. You've just not found your flavour yet. If you meet an enthusiastic flyerer, chances are that they have seen the show, liked it, and also that the person employing them is being nice to them. A simple way of checking is to ask them questions about the show, if they can't really answer, they are fibbing and you should go anyway to reward chutzpah of this cold hard working student. Which brings me on to another important point, be nice to the people promoting the shows. If you don't want to get flyered, don't go to an arts festival, or laminate a copy of your schedule for that day and stick it to your forehead. You will then only get approached by people wanting to fill the gaps. These will be the hardcore people -the others will stay away because they think you have mental health issues.
If you are having a bad day as a performer, it is best to avoid the Royal Mile incase you punch a clown in the face for trying to get you involved in a piece of site specific theatre. If you see/ know a performer having a bad day, give them a hug or buy them a drink, you can also remind them that Bowie was shit for ten years (Circa Laughing Gnome) but they may also punch you for this info.
Amy Howerska is performing her Bowie and Queen inspired stand up show SMASHCAT 3-29th of Aug. You can get tickets HERE
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