30 Aug 2009

Goodbye, Fringe! I have failed you once again.

Once again the Edinburgh Fringe is drawing to a close, and once again I have missed it. Other than a couple of forays onto the Royal Mile to watch street performers plying their trade for spare change, I haven’t seen a thing. I try not to feel guilty, even about not having visited the book festival even once. Somehow, others who work in festival areas during August still manage to go out and see a few shows. I find it nearly impossible to muster the enthusiasm for a night out after 12 hours of work and another day looming the next morning.
The buzz that was in the air at the beginning of the month has lost some of its euphoria. The frayed ends of a multitude of creative spirits flap in the breeze and rub against each other with a languid friction. Everyone is tired from long days of seeking attention and long nights of gigs and partying. The pillars for posters bulge at the middle like snakes that have eaten whole goats, and even the tourists seem a little worn by the constant barrage of leaflets being thrust upon them by eager performers.
The Fringe is a young person’s game. It is an abundant number of fresh-faced actors, writers and musicians, all trying to edge their way into the spotlight, hoping they will be the next names to be plucked from obscurity and plopped upon the great stage of celebrity. They feed off each other’s artistic juices, tortured and restless and wired and filled to the brim with what they can just sense is the most awesome potential.

Remember when you were young and everything you wrote or performed held a flicker of genius? Remember that open feeling, the raw way that you took on the world and drove yourself back into it again, in all the brazen seriousness of your endeavours? Even your ear wax was an epiphany from the gods.

That’s what the Fringe is. It worships art for art’s sake, the “just do it and see what happens” experimentation of youth. Most of them won’t “make it” and will eventually take 9-5 jobs or continue living on the cusps of success, scraping by in small productions and side-line earners, waiting for that big break. But no matter what, I am certain that few will look back on their time as Fringe performers with regret. When the years have slid past and middle age is staring up at them like a nasty carpet stain, they will think of themselves as they were, so wild and perfect in their intentions. And they will smile.

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