By now I’ve already made it very clear that an actors life is mostly riddled with fear. More than clear. I’m sick of hearing myself say it… type it. But things have been going good for Bleach recently. Really good! If you haven’t seen already on social media, we’re now up in Edinburgh after the Manchester fringe enjoying more 4 star reviews. We also got nominated for two more awards in Manchester and won the Write for the Stage award for best new writing which is just… well… FANTASTIC!
But all of this comes with a new pressure we’ve never really had to face before. Is it possible that we now have further to fall? I’ve often heard it said that the only time an actor is truly happy is the first five minutes after they land a job. This is all the time it takes for that doubt to start creeping back in.
Usually Edinburgh is our big outing of the year. Before August we have very little opportunity to get reviewed and gain any kind of recognition for our work. So it all rides on Edinburgh. But this year we’ve already been all over the place gaining more praise than we ever could have imagined. So now we head to Edinburgh in our usual fashion, keeping costs low by performing in the free festival.
For anyone who doesn’t know the free festival is great. It offers performers the space to perform at the fringe with no charge attached. You can’t sell tickets but you can take a “pay what you want” collection at the end of the show. This is perfect for stand up comedy but for theatre it’s a bit tricky. The free festival comes with some compromises. Yes, we’re saving a small fortune on the cost of a venue. Thousands! But this means that our space is not really equipped for the type of production we do. Most venues are in the back room of a noisy bar or even in the main bar itself. So we picked the quietest venue we could find. For this our audience will have to walk a little way from the main hub of the fringe but we can be assured that the space will be mostly silent and we wont have every drunken tom, dick and harry stumbling in ever 5 minutes. We have one light and a tiny stage. Maybe 1.5m X 1.5m. It’s not ideal but as I said before, this is the trade off for a free venue.
This would usually be all well and good but the niggling feeling this year is that maybe this will damage the show. Of course our shows are always damaged a little when performing on the free festival but before it never really mattered because there was nothing to lose. Now we have a show that we know is good and we’re putting ourselves directly into the firing line. All those “reviewers” that pick up a note pad just for the month of August are out in force looking to be that nasty reviewer everyone fears. All this and the show isn’t in its best form. It’s half a show almost.
I suppose, as with all things, it doesn’t really matter as we will be gone in a week and the whole thing will become a distant memory. Any bad reviews that rear there head will be buried forever and we will still be a great show that’s achieved amazing things. But in this moment it’s an added worry. So apparently being successful comes will a whole new set of stresses and strains. Maybe the saying was right… maybe it only lasted 5 minutes.