Background: This is my first year as a performer on the Fringe, as well as being my first year as performer in general. I have been toting around my one person show “Jean-Luc Picard and Me,” (autobiographical tale of how Jean-Luc Picard helped me cope with childhood trauma, rejection, morris dancing stepmothers and terrible relationship decisions) for the last 10 months or so. I have performed it in London and Bristol, and I thought the Ediburgh Free Fringe would be a nice challenge, as i have been here many times as a punter. I don’t think I quite imagined what a challenge it would be. I feel I was under the same delusion as when I tried to start a Star Trek fan club at primary school. You can only guess how that turned out.
As I mentioned, as previously being a punter here I don’t think I quite realised how bloody hard it is, or what a skill it is, to keep yourself upbeat, pepped and full of charismatic spunk. To be able to flyer to all the peeps, and then to perform… it takes some mental acrobats. And this is only my second day. I have even started trying to do some guided meditation via an app to keep myself boosted – unfortunately my brain keeps wondering off – thinking about where to flyer, what exit shows to do, why haven’t I had haggis yet, why isn’t diet irun bru as readily avaliable in the UK, why doesn’t the acommodation we are staying in have FREAKING WI FI.
My flyering experience so far: The Royal Mile is a cluster fuck of people, and we are trying to target those who seem like they would like to see a show about Star Trek, but without being insulting. I am mostly hitting those with niche t-shirts on – “You have a hell boy t-shirt on sir/madam. You may enjoy this show,” “You look like you have undealt with father issues too, come see me talk about mine.”
Sometimes you have a nice chat with someone who likes the idea of your show (they might come they might not, but they seem to think it sounds funny) and sometimes you make people laugh with the flyer, and sometimes you get a flat out “No.” Which means they prefer Star Wars.
The first person I flyered yesterday was actually a Christian, who I thought was doing a show, but was in fact handing out flyers about the Gospel. I told him that Star Trek was my Gospel. He didn’t seem very interested in that and just wanted to save my soul. I took his flyer anyhow and I told him I would totally consider it.
I enjoy swapping flyers with other flyerers the most, learning about how they ended up here as well, promising to see each others shows (and meaning it) and wondering if you will actually even have the time. I spoke to an old lady who told me I was beautiful, and she liked the way I held eye contact. I wanted to give her a hug and tell her how scared I was. Instead I told her to “come see the show!”
I have had moments of elation and fear, which seem to rise and fall like the random cobbled hills and stairways of Edinburgh’s great landscape (bleughhh). After we flyered for a couple of hours yesterday and the day previously, the total audience of my first show was 5. I was really worried it was going to be one person to start with, so I lay on the floor of the venue. The carpet was nice to lie on. I know its an uphill struggle, this whole Edinburgh thing, and I don’t have a lot of experience, a reputation and I am doing a show about Star Trek, so obviously my audience is a niche within a niche within a niche.
The thing I seem to be taking away from it so far (which may save my sanity) is focusing on making connections with people, the people who come, the importance of passing on the message of the show. That it’s okay to not feel like a grown up, or know what you are doing. That its okay to make fuck loads of mistakes. That Star Trek is the pinacle of human achievemeent. I give out stickers at the end of the show that say “no one feels a grown up, and no one knows what they are doing.” A piece of wisdom that Neil Gaiman once passed onto me, which I try to hold onto at every turn. (As well as socks before shoes, and your vagina is self cleaning*.)
I also have my trusty companion Jade – who is my carer/pa/tech/emotional supporter – who just told me that when you sleep, isn’t it weird that you start out pretending to be asleep. That blew my mind a bit.
Second show tonight – scared, nervous, hopeful, hungry.
(N.B These are not things Neil Gaiman also passed onto me.)