It was after an intense week of rehearsals that the Death and the Human team finally arrived in Edinburgh. The show had been rewritten after the previews and stress levels had been high, but by the time we got into the city there was an air of confidence as we all felt that we were, against all odds, about to pull it off. We were flung straight into our tech rehearsal on the day after the whole cast arrived – being given only an hour and twenty minutes to adapt the play to the space given, work out our tech with the venue and run the show in the space before the opening run the next day. We time managed well, however, and despite having to do some last minute adaptations to fit the space, the tech run was successful.
On Monday morning, we were introduced to the trials and tribulations of flyering. As comedian Davey Reilley put it, flyering consists of handing out little bits of your soul with your face on to passers-by, who take them and then throw them in the bin ten seconds later. We must have been at least a bit more successful than that though, as our first performance was about three quarters full, which was about three quarters more full than I imagined it was going to be.
Our first performance went down really well, with some lovely audience members staying behind afterwards to tell us how much they enjoyed it and congratulating the actors on their fantastic performances. I can honestly say that the show went from strength to strength from there on out, with each performance getting stronger and with continued positive audience reactions. I think personally that we hit our stride on our first Saturday performance, halfway through the run, and that each performance during the second week was as solid and polished as I could have hoped for.
Aside from our own run, the shows I and others saw during our time at the Fringe were incredibly inspiring and I would say personally that I feel like my eyes have been opened to many new and different styles and types of theatre which I found to be one of the most valuable aspects of my visit to Edinburgh. Some personal highlights for me would have to be Terra Incognita, a physical theatre piece about climate change, The Marked, a tale of homelessness and alcoholism told using puppetry and physical theatre, and Yeti’s Demon Dive Bar, a ridiculous cabaret show.
The experiences that I and others had over the course of the month were tiring, stressful, inspiring, brilliant and so much fun, and I cannot emphasise enough how much I enjoyed my time there. If theatre at all interests you, or you want your mind to be opened to new experiences, the Fringe is definitely one for the bucket list.
Antonia, one of the cast members of Death and the Human, has also written a short piece about her time at the Fringe Festival – read it below:
“I was given the opportunity to be in the cast of ‘Death and The Human’ to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August. I’d never even seen the festival let alone performed at it. So that was something I never thought I’d do, and I was very excited if a bit nervous. It didn’t disappoint.
“We spent three weeks as a cast and crew together: one week of rehearsals, and two performing at the Fringe. Honestly, one of the most enjoyable parts of the experience was sharing a flat for two weeks with the cast and crew. You make friends in every production at the guild, but spending so much time together and working through the challenges of a new production means you get to know each other a lot more. When I realised we were doing 12 performances, I was quite daunted as I’d already felt well out of my depth. However, the opportunity to constantly improve and tweak things proved to be really rewarding, especially given how new this style of performance was to me. Sadly, potential audience members apparently don’t just fall from the sky and land perfectly in the seats of your venue at the exact time you happen to be performing (shocking, I know). So, I got my first taste of ‘Flyering’. (Microsoft says that’s not a word but I heard it often enough so it must be). Whilst I was initially too embarrassed to approach strangers and offer them flyers, the atmosphere on The Mile was unforgettable and made it all really fun.
“Despite all the performances and flyering, we actually had a lot of free time. Stand-up comedy is a huge chunk of the Fringe, and I was lucky enough to see some of my favourite comedians live. I’d planned to see a lot of stand-up, but the variety on show meant I ended up also loving things I didn’t think I’d bother seeing. If you can imagine it, it’s probably being performed there. Yes, even that. I loved seeing just how much you can do with what might seem like a bizarre idea and minimal set. Seeing how people spun that to work as an advantage in different ways was really interesting. For example, ‘Giant’ was one of my favourite things I saw. The play about three generations living in the same house encompassed physical theatre, magic, clowning, and live music, all pretty seamlessly, and the set was almost entirely made out of cardboard which actually added charm as well as being easier to pack away. Likewise, ‘Police Cops’, an entire 80s cop drama condensed into one hour played by only three men, was only made more hilarious by the minimal props. I’d always associated physical theatre with more ‘serious’ performance, but Police Cops changed my perception of how it can be used really effectively for a glorious comedy montage. In total I actually can’t remember how much I saw (I can count 15 at the moment but I expect there are more).
“The experience is one I’m unlikely to ever forget, and one I’m wholeheartedly grateful for being given. It’s not without is challenges, and I did need to sleep for about a week afterwards, but it’s all more than worth it. And I even learnt to not be scared of trying out for something a bit different, and to never be afraid of doing something a bit weird (in the context of theatre, don’t go taking that advice and applying it to everyday life it’ll get you into a lot of trouble, trust me, I’ve tried).”