In August 2014, Critical Point Theatre ensemble members traveled across the pond to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland. The renowned Edinburgh Festival Fringe began in 1947, and in 2014 there were 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues, making it the largest ever arts festival in the world. In the midst of the #IndyRef crisis, we presented Refresh: Stories of Love, Sex, and the Internet, one of our original performances by Matthew Schott. The show was called, “An inventive, thoughtful examination of the modern cyber morals that affect us all” by The Stage and, “A frank and thoughtful contribution to an evolving debate” by The Scotsman‘s renowned theatre critic Mark Fisher. Also, some girl’s blog called the show “slimy”, so there’s that. Tyler Ward, a production assistant during the process, tells his story of traveling abroad for the second time in a two-part series:
A hidden, perpetual challenge of doing Fringe is the quest for WiFi. How many cups of coffee did I buy for the privilege of sitting in an establishment for those sweet, sweet half moon lines leaping up in the corner of my screen, indicating that I was, in fact, connected. An internet connection became invaluable in our work. As newcomers to the festival and the city without international phone plans, we relied on it constantly to find a location, research press, track ticket sales, buy props, communicate with each other, and cultivate solutions to last-minute problems.
Our sweet little townhouse sat on the edge of Holyrood Park. It was a lovely constant through the month. The weekdays were often stressful and long, but on weekends, long strolls through the park were often in order. A few minutes in, you come upon St. Margaret’s Loch. The still water sits at the base of a trail that winds up to the main peak of the park, Arthur’s Seat. One cool morning, we woke up early to climb to the top, and it was a surprisingly short trip. It was very steep the whole way, but we powered through. It would be an understatement to say the views were breathtaking. To the east, we could see the arm of the North Sea, and to the west, sweeping panoramas of the city and the mountains beyond. You see Julia and Lani are hunkering down to brace themselves against the fierce wind. It was a wild time, and we loved it.
Tech night for REFRESH was a big night for us, the first time in the space, the first time touching the show again after the D.C. run, the first time Lani ran the light board. We got everything done pretty quickly, building lights over the existing show and sound cues. It felt fast and furious. Later, towards the end of the run, after we developed an intimacy with the space and things started to feel tedious (a show every night!!), it was helpful to recall back to the excitement of this first night.
The hairy coos, or the Highland Cattle, named in teasing mimicry of the Scottish dialect, are large and adorable cows with, short tusks, heavy bangs, and long, rolling tongues. We fed these guys slices of bread that they coiled into their mouths, reminiscent of frogs catching flies.
We walked into Fringe Central that day expecting a panel of media experts, there to answer our publicity and marketing questions. We found this. There were representatives from each major media outlet covering the festivals sitting at tables, and hundreds of participants were lining up for a minute to pitch their shows. We were all vying for coverage. Julia, Lani, and I split up into different lines, and ended up talking to a few reps each, not a bad afternoon’s work! It was a madhouse for sure, but the surprise turned into some useful opportunities for us later down the road.
Our trip to see the hairy coos began here at the Forth Bridge. This was the first stop on our expedition through the Scottish Highlands. The bridge itself is a marvel of engineering constructed over a century ago. At a length of 1.6 miles long it connects Edinburgh with Fife. We had a total of 19 performances at the Fringe which left us with one day off each week. There was no better way to spend them than exploring the history and beauty of Scotland!