The Edinburgh Fringe Festival starts this weekend. Perhaps you’ve noticed the wall-to-wall media coverage. From now until early September, Edinburgh will be full of people visiting from London to watch other people visiting from London perform.
It has made me realise that I have never “done” the Fringe.
Which is not to say that I have never been to a Fringe show. Quite the opposite. When I first moved to Edinburgh in 1982, I spent the summer working with a student theatre company; the next four Fringes I either worked doing tech for a student company or front of house for a theatre club (it was a club in order to get around safety regulations, I think; membership was signing away various rights. Plus it allowed them to have a late licence the rest of the year, too. Either way, because it was a club meant that they had to employ students – like me – to ensure that people coming in were members) – some years, both.
When I returned to live and work in Edinburgh in the 1990s, I would go to many Fringe show each year, though my enthusiasm for the Fringe was quickly replaced by that for the Festival proper (generally much more interesting and reliable than the Fringe – and better value).
No, I have been to a great many Fringe performances; but I have never “done” the Fringe as the many, many tourists do. Cramming in five or six shows a day, queuing for tickets and returns, crowding into the Royal Mile, and spending the rest of the time in the pub.
And frankly, I never will!