EdFringe: A (Pleasant) Punch To The Face

I've been absent from the TheatreFaces for two weeks.

I've been at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for four weeks.

The EdFringe kind of kicked my butt. In all the right ways. 

(Get your mind out of the gutter.)

It was an amazing experience in an amazing city, and the hectic schedule and exhaustion of travel and the confusion and melding of time and days one into the other (and inevitable illness that struck our group like a mini-plague) ultimately took me out from posting.

Last I checked in, I was raving about Bo Burnham. His show at the Fringe was definitely one of the highlights - but there were many other shows, and many other memories, that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

Oh, and I must've eaten like 20 fish and chips.* Also, haggis is not nearly as scary as people make it out to be.

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite memories of the Fringe.

Performing a Show I Wrote in Scotland

This was pretty awesome. 

For me, goose was the little play that could this year. This 20 page full length (it's 90% a monologue piece) made semi-finalist at the O'Neill's National Playwriting Conference, won a Kennedy Center American Colleges Theater Festival award, and got a five star review from it's first Fringe reviewer who came on opening day. It featured design and direction collaboration from several amazing MFA candidates at CalArts, Sarah Shoemaker as the goose, and was my first time acting in a piece I wrote. Oh, and I got to do all this in Scotland. As part of the largest fringe festival in the world.


Performing a Show I Wrote in Scotland...for an Audience of One.

On 3 separate occasions. And having one show cancelled due to an audience of zero.

One of the toughest things about the Fringe is you're competing with 2,700 other shows. Getting noticed and getting people to come to your venue (especially as our spot was just off the main map of the Festival, and a few extra blocks down the Royal Mile) is a challenge. It was definitely a different experience getting to perform for an audience of one... when you're monologuing for the better part of the show. 

On the flip side of that, on two of the three single audience member days, the audience member came to the dressing room door afterwards and shared how much they enjoyed the show, and how they thought it was a shame there were such low audiences. Performing for an audience of one also was a great reminder that every performance deserves 100%, because to each audience member the story is new and deserves to be told with full intention.

Performing the Same Show for Three Weeks

Any actor on any touring show is probably laughing at me, but three weeks of daily performances for a total of 22 shows was the longest consecutive run of a production I've had to do. It was a great practice in discipline and routine, and endurance.

I don't WANNA do this show AGAIN!

Seeing Endless Amazing Theater

There were so many new favorites that I got to discover at the Fringe. From the ludicrous (Briefs, Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare) to the violent and profound (Red Bastard, Brand New Ancients), to the simple and elegant (SquidboyPirates and Mermaids, The Man Who Planted Trees). I could write a blog post about each of those shows, and that's just the tip of the iceberg, the best of the best.** These pieces definitely hit me in the solar plexus and kickstarted my inspiration and excitement about theater and storytelling.

In this show, there's a dog named Dog. It doesn't get much more awesome than that.

Seeing Endless Horrendous Theater

The thing about the Fringe? There is no selection process. It's anyone and everyone who wants to put up a show. And as a result... there are some downright awful shows. Painful shows that makes you wish you could get that hour of your life back. I walked out of a total of 3 shows this Fringe. That makes the total number of shows I've ever walked out of... 4. And that fourth was a movie.

Meeting and Working With Royal Welsh Students

The best part of travelling is seeing new places and meeting new people. I got to meet and work with awesome, cool students from the Royal Welsh School and made many new friends.

Irony: only one student in this photo is from Royal Welsh. The other is a Hamilton exchange student poser.

EdFringe was an amazing experience. I had an awesome time, and honestly am already plotting ways to return next year. At the Fringe, our team joked about the things that got the most audience attention were "free beer," or "for kids," or "nudity." 

I think I got the title of my next show: "Naked People Give Free Beer to Kids!"

Guarenteed Fringe Success - or Jail Time. 

*only the slightest of exaggerations. 

**That I saw. And I liked. Slight bias of opinion, obviously.


Hi again! So.

I've been blogging for TheatreFace for two+ years. 

Crazy how time flies, eh? 

Over the course of the last two years, I've gotten to write about a lot of things. I've had the awesome gift of having the freedom to explore content and form in my writing, even posting some (bad) web-comic style posts. 

Getting to write regularly about theater, and specifically about my practice, has helped me hone in on my priorities, look at a variety of topics with a critical and reflective eye, and helped sharpen my writing skills. It's been a real treat.

Today, sadly, is the end of an era of sorts.

While I'll still be posting occasionally, I will no longer be blogging weekly here at TheatreFace. As I'm coming home from the Edinburgh Fringe and fully embarking on the post-graduation life reorganization (say that three times fast), I'll be fairly busy with a flurry of responsibilities and tasks. 

I'll still be around for sure, but it probably won't be a weekly thing. 

If you like, you'll be able to find me at my website (www.michaelyichao.com - under construction, but due back up soon!) and on Facebook and Twitter.

See you on the interwebs!

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Comment by Judy on September 3, 2013 at 1:26am

I did a show at the Fringe once for an audience of one. There were around six or seven actors, and in the audience this one nice American elderly lady!  At the end of the show when they came out to bow she clapped, and the lead actor broke the fourth wall and stepped towards her and shook hands with her. It then became nice and friendly and she talked with the actors about the show.  I was really impressed by the lead actor's directness.

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