How I found my fringe, from Press Assistant to writer and producer
As an overweight, closeted, theatre-obsessed wee (not wee) lad from south west Scotland, you could say that I had a rather sheltered view of The Arts growing up. I thought I knew everything though. I’d been in Oliver! like, six times, and could panto like a mofo! Along comes a move to Edinburgh and a drama degree, though, and suddenly I’m stuck in a periodical game of catch-up. Everyone knew more, thought more, had experienced more and I just felt stifled. A bit like a visitor at the party that everyone knew was wearing the wrong shoes (you told me these shoes were cool, mum).
Then I worked one summer as a Press Assistant at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society… and wow, the wee lad from Castle Douglas had his eyes opened. There was theatre everywhere. There was comedy everywhere. There was just, The Arts… everywhere. I was like an addict, and each new ticket, each new experience was a like a solid hit of culture. I saw theatre come out from behind the proscenium arch. I saw people like me making work off their own back. No one was giving them permission. They were just there and in their thousands. Suddenly, I got this amazing feeling of being on a level playing field. All elitism gone.
In 2011, inspired and freshly out the closet, I set forth on my road to creating work at the Fringe, and found a whole new Tribe. You see, writing and producing a new piece of work for the Fringe is equally the most challenging and most exhilarating thing I have ever done in my life. My two-man show about a dead dog and the people who loved her (trust me, it was better than I’m making it sound), found its home in a venue at the Fringe that welcomed me… and my play… with open arms. The Fringe is about people, people from all over the world and there is no experience that beats sharing a space with, and learning from other artists from the opposite side of the globe.
This production gave me the confidence, critical response and exposure from the industry that allowed me to make a career as a writer. Not able to stay away, more Fringe productions followed; comedy romp Teach Me, political dark comedy Riot Squat, a 500-word play Passing Glance, and coming-of-age technology saga, Buffer. My writing has been all over the Fringe and because of this it has been seen by people of all nationalities, sexualities, creeds and colours. What more could a playwright want?
Bloody hell, maybe the above is why I’m a bit ruddy knackered at 29. Anyway, that brings us to right now. I am back working for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, but this time my role involves talking to participants every day, helping advise them on the best ways to make the most of their Fringe. My Fringe now extends beyond August, and every day there are surprises, every day there are amazing people and every day there is something new. I wouldn’t have it any other way. With the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I found an appreciation for art, an excitement for the future, a career and a catalogue of people from around the globe that I can now class as friends and colleagues. From wherever you hail, whatever you experience, this wee lad from south west Scotland implores you to go and find your fringe!