I spend a lot of time writing material for my shows - scratching my head, deleting, re-typing, drinking coffee... In fact, most of the time it takes for me to "write" something is spent on these distractions, much like the way I found dozens of distractions that would have to be completed before I could write this blog and so, it's now the middle of the night and I'm curled up in the back seat of an estate car heading northwards towards Edinburgh.
Our car boot and back seat is crammed full - props and surplus luggage are pushing into my side. It's not exactly the level of glamour that I'd wish for, but it certainly feels like an honest way to make a living - I write and build a show, take it to Scotland and see if you all like it... I can feel tension in the car - Stephen, who has helped to produce the show is driving, kept awake by energy drinks and my stage manager Sam is sitting silently in the front. The tension comes from anticipation. For performers like myself, developing new shows for the Fringe is an arduous, long slog. Each day is a roller-coaster of emotion as you confront self-doubt and the possibility of rejection. Any show needs an audience and it all means nothing until then. We are all pushing each other along with confidence, but bubbling beneath that is the exciting yet shadowy presence of the unknown.
I started working on my show "The Outsider" over six months ago with the intention of creating a "different" kind of magic show. I didn't know what different was, but I knew that I wanted it! I tried to strip away everything I knew about how to write magic tricks. Goodbye ego-centric hyperbolic "patter", goodbye jokes excavated from the 1970's, goodbye shiny suit... Instead, I looked towards the things that interested me - could I perform magic without speaking, or with only a voice-over? Could I talk about subjects that were taboo? These were the big questions that I tried to answer, through endless re-writes and audience previews. Some ideas didn't work, but when they did, I felt like I was discovering a whole new side to my art form that I had never considered. I had always catered to my audience - given them what they expected, but I had a brilliant moment of realisation that audiences should actually be surprised. In a way, we performers shouldn't "cater for them". I was lucky to have a group of people around me to push me forwards with my ideas and to take the risks with me. Now, whilst reeling through the final script after this long and difficult process, I am filled with fear. Can I wear a shiny suit, can I tell more old jokes? Only time will tell if what I have created works!
The Edinburgh Fringe is where performers go to try new ideas and hope to find an audience. In many ways it is unique as an arts festival - so much innovation within such a small space - the atmosphere is electrifying. It is open to all and I hope to maybe inspire and to find inspiration. I'll be updating you as I begin my adventure here, so do keep your eyes on this blog! And if you want to catch my show The Outsider, I'm playing the Underbelly on Cowgate at 5.05pm until the 25th August.