A day in the life at the fringe goes like this: Wake up; go to coffee shop; do emails; write blog; go home for a rest; go flyering; perform show; eat more food; go to bed. It's like a wheel that can always be the same if you let it. So yesterday we decided to shake things up a bit.
We did start with the usual visit to Filament Coffee for smoked salmon bagels and amaze balls coffee and these little enchanting treats called million dollar truffles, which are kinda the best thing ever. Then, of course the usual flyering leading up to the show. We actually had so many people in our audience that we flyered today so it is good to know that it really does work. And we actually had a super fun show because the audience was wonderful and full of giggles. It was the first time ever that Morro has smoked an e-cigarette (they are totally nasty).
Then, after the show, we were like let's shake this evening around like ice in martini shaker... Let's doing something outside of the box that we are living in... Let's make this night a spectacle that is to be a memory... Let's go on a haunted ghost tour.
We walked the crowded friday night streets towards the place where they start ghost tours from considering if this was actually a good idea or not. The tour was called "City of The Dead" and the 10:30 tour was the "Double Dead" tour which sounded... delightful... Maybe we'll just get some food first, we thought.
A late night deep fried joint was open and looked just fine. "Do you have anything that is not deep fried?" Morro asked out of curiosity (they even had deep fried burger patties). "I'm not deep fried" said the dude working behind the counter giving us high fives. We got fish and chips because it was hard to identify what anything else was, and there was a huge line waiting behind us. They gave us mini forks which was the best. Well, Morro liked it. Jasp thought it was a really inefficient way of eating.
It was time to decide. 10:25. "Let's do it!" cried Jasp, with a look of fear in her eyes. She made sure to tell the guide that she was afraid of the dark and of small spaces and that she might and probably will scream a lot. The guide laughed as she took our money and sort-of-kind-of reassured Jasp that everything will be okay... "If anything creepy does happen however, there is nothing I can do about it."
We proceeded with a group down to the South Bridge Vaults and into the dark underground world of Edinburgh (apparently one of the most haunted places on earth). The walls were dripping, the air was thin, and the history of the stone walls and tiny rooms was even more disturbing. It was intense. Like the most intense. Especially the part with the stories about how they shoved all the poor people down there because it was illegal to be poor on the street. That made us feel very lucky to be alive now and not then because who knows what they would have done to clowns if they put poor people underground. Then we went to Covenanter's Prison in Greyfriar's Graveyard and a cell that a poltergeist lives in. Basically all the scary places that you can imagine in the dark and with the bits of history that every place has but keeps to themselves except for in creepy tours like this.
It was AWESOME! Today we totally want to do more tourist things and start to get to know the city outside of the Fringe. Wahooo!
A lot of performers take Wednesdays off at the Edinburgh Fringe. The reason for this is that Wednesdays are notoriously known for having bad houses - a mid week slump keeping audiences away from the theatre and making the whole business of doing a show a lot more of a challenge. Most of our friends took Wednesday off. We didn't know about 'Black Wednesday'. We didn't take the day off.
The thing is, we are never afraid of a challenge. Black Wednesday, however, turned out to be a little more than we bargained for. And for none of the reasons we expected...
We started the day off with a bit of rehearsal for 'The Sweet Release Cabaret' that we were performing at later at night. Our cover of Radiohead's Creep had never sounded better. As we sang out "I'm a clown, I'm a weirdo..." we put on our fanciest sparkly jackets and felt a little lighter than we had felt in a while. On this particular day we were going to meet the Canadian High Commission at the Glass House. The Glass House is just as posh as it sounds, and as we pulled up in our purple cab (which was like a disco cab because of Morro's sequin jacket and the beautiful sun bouncing off of it) we felt a tingle of excitement shoot all the way up from our toes. There was a really nice lady in a tie that greeted us in the lobby and sent us up to a special secret rooftop lounge. We got off the elevators and our jaws dropped open as we looked out to a view of the waterfront and a castle and all kinds of guests dressed in their best. It was special indeed. Luckily, we were also dressed in our best so we fit right in. The High Commission (we are actually not even sure what that is other than a group of really welcoming people who all had maple leaf pins on their lapels) greeted us and we hung out with our Team Canada friends who were also there. Morro even got some free wine. Then we took some pictures with fancy mannequins.
We left the party promptly because we had to do a show soon. We left with a skip in our step, though. We left feeling hopeful. Little did we know, a series of hiccups and farts were hiding just around the corner store that we had to pass on the way to hailing a cab.
We ate some sad and loveless sandwiches and then arrived at our venue after our usual few hours of flyering, having no idea how many people would be there today, but feeling like we made a good effort at combatting Black Wednesday. As we entered the Turret (our cozy performance space) our first hiccup of indigestion arrived. Apparently, our technician ran away. "We have a runner!" they stated. Like actually. He ran away and no one knew when he was going to come back. WHAT!?!? After several panicked Gilded Balloon staff walkie talkie calls, "Come in any technician that is available to run a show... we need someone to op Morro and Jasp stat!", our emergency tech busted in through the door with 2 minutes to showtime... sorry, make that shitshowtime.
Jonni (our technician of the day) called the show pretty well for never having seen the show or script before. In fact, there was only one time where the phone kept ringing for several minutes after Morro picked it up and preceded so smash it with everything in sight until it finally stopped. It's a good thing there wasn't a scout for a comedy festival and a reviewer at the show... oh wait... there was. On a positive note we did end up beating the 'Black Wednesday' small house curse because we were three people away from a sold-out house which is amazing (and we met a lovely man named Morgan who came all the way from Toronto to see our show...and to see his cousin who just moved here...), but we were now focused on other matters.
Instead of going to drink our worries away (which is what some people recommend here when you are feeling low) we cleaned off our goth makeup and titanic dreams and got ready for the cabaret we had practiced for. On the way we stopped for a quick burrito (they reminded us of home) and suddenly found ourselves a street over from The Edinburgh Castle, which was aglow with fireworks. It was just like the commercials for Disney World except it was real. It was better than a drink, and filled our hearts with a bit of magic so we could go and perform for the other performers who were in the cabaret at the Sweet Venues (including our Canadian sister, the glorious Rebecca Perry), because there were only about 3 for real audience members (Black Wednesday).
Exhausted and internally conflicted (because we were filled with every emotion) we walked home at 1am, almost getting hit by a cabbie who was pulling out of a parking lot and only looking the other way (he actually didn't see us at all, even after the fact, so maybe at that point we had become invisible). We walked up the countless steps to our flat and put the key into the door. It is a bit sticky sometimes because it's a new key so Jasp was having trouble turning it. We were tired and things like keys are a lot more difficult when you are tired. Morro gave it a try. It still wouldn't turn. We stared at the door and at the key. "Strange that it is so st - We are at the wrong door!", shouted Morro. We ran up the rest of the staircase, which we had forgotten existed for that moment where we had convinced ourselves we were home already, and on the edge of laughter and tears we unlocked our own door and crawled promptly into bed.
We woke up feeling a little bit homesick today. Not because we want to go home, not because we don't want to be here, just because we are tired and pre-menstrual and need a cup of being in our own bed and smelling the really pretty geraniums that may have died in our backyard in Toronto because no one is there to water them.
We started yesterday with a great breakfast at Snax Cafe where Jasp tried Haggis (the real meat deal), Black Pudding, sausage, sliced sausage and a Tattie Scone. Morro stuck with the beans and veggie sausage brekkie. We did our daily dose of internet at Filament Coffee, and then set out to fill our house again. We totally did it! Team us and Ian worked really hard and found just the right amount of fun people to see our show and it was SOLD OUT again! YAY! We basically had a super fun party with the audience because they were awesome and there was even a pre-teen boy and girl sitting in the front row who were loving it and maybe probably learned a lot... maybe more than they wanted to. Also some people took pictures with us after the show and said we were their new friends.
After the show we realized that we were so hungry because we hadn't eaten since breakfast. A lot of places had stopped serving food at that point because even though it wasn't that late we guess they were tired too, so we had to visit a lot pf places before we found food that we could actually eat and not just look at pictures of. We found some salads that were the most expensive salads ever, because we are in Scotland, and took them to go eat by Greyfriars Bobby, a little dog statue which is the best statue in town. We love this little terrier and the story of his life and how he laid on his police-man owner's grave every night until he passed on too to join his owner in the dog afterlife or whatever it is that happens once you die. After our salads were done and we were about to walk home after another long day, we noticed that something was missing - our big cape banner. WE LEFT IT SOMEWHERE! AHHHHH! Running through the streets and retracing our steps, we went to every restaurant with a closed kitchen that we visited in the hours before. We thought about our stops and remembered that we were really excited when we found salad so maybe we put it down there. We ran to the expensive Patisserie and as we turned the corner we saw them locking up. "Wait!" called Jasp as she stumbled on some cobble stone, "Our faces with a tampon. Have you seen it?!". We caught them just in time and as we stepped through the door there was our banner rolled up, lying on the floor right beside the cash register. We were so excited for vegetables that we forgot why we were here and left it behind. Reunited again with our pixilated faces we started the journey home.
Then, we finally found the other ad that we paid big bucks for. When one buys these expensive street ads they don't get to choose where they go. They select a general area and then hope that the poster will appear somewhere that is good and visible and helps put their show in the minds of theatre goers as they pass it. We found our poster across a main street on a fence that is visible only to cars as they zoom by... and perhaps late at night when no cars are blocking it to people who have really good vision and happen to be looking at the fence way on the other side of the street. The photo is below... see if you can spot us...
We walked the rest of the way home really not knowing what tomorrow will bring. We still don't have reviews from the two reviewers that were supposed to come to the show last week. Another one was supposed to come tonight and didn't, and we only have 6 tickets sold for today's show but that, we are told, is how the game goes.
In a game as big as the Edinburgh Fringe it's easy to lose sight of what matters. Easy to get swept away in the turbulent clouds of "everyone-else-knows-what-they-are-doing-and-are-doing-so-much-better-than-us-and-have-amazing-reviews-already-and-are-winning-and-we-suck". So... it's really important to keep your feets planted firmly on the ground and keep your head out of those particular clouds.
Today's goal was to sell out. Admittedly this was a bit ambitious. But all those pump-yourself-up books say to set high goals right? And something about getting stuck on the moon on the way down from the stars which sort of sounds scary because food doesn't even grow on the moon but whatever... Anyways, we were clowns with a plan.
First, we armed ourselves with quotes from our one review - we stapled them to each flyer (yes it took a while). Second, we figured out that the best time to flyer is the two hours before our show because otherwise it's mostly little kids that try to convince their parents that they should come to our show, because they don't yet understand what a tampon is and can't tell that our show inappropriate for them, and then they end up having a debate with their parents, which we usually end up mediating by giving the little kid a button with our faces, and then the kid forgets we even have a show to begin with because they got a present. We did however have a seven year old boy in our audience the other night - him and his mom left just as Jasp started stripping for Peabody. Third, we have a secret weapon.
At our very first show, a friend of ours brought a friend of his. The friend of the friend's name is Ian, and when we saw him the following day he asked us if he could have a some flyers for our show, "Because I keep telling people about you two and it would be great to have a few flyers for those moments." He has been flying for us every day now and is so good at it, especially because he can actually tell people he has nothing to do with the show and just genuinely enjoyed it so much that he wants others to share the experience. He is now officially part of our fringe family. Ian is one of the most wonderful people we have ever met.
We prepared for our "sell out the show" goal by eating A LOT of comfort food at a place called Mum's - including Veggie Haggis, Melty Wellington (so much cheese), and Cranachan - a traditional Scottish dessert which is mostly just cream and made us have to poop a lot later so it probably wasn't the best idea but it was really really realllllly yummy. Then, feeling as light and spry as ever, we rolled off to our regular flyering spot outside of the Gilded Balloon. All the regulars were there, including Teenstache who upon seeing us ran over and gave us each a high five. Later on he even introduced us to one of his friends who said "Oh they're the weird clowns you were talking about" but later called us her "new best friends" (victory is ours).
Slowly we are learning how to flyer here. You must be like a wolf looking for the special sheep friends that don't assume your are going to eat them and want to get to know you before making assumptions. Just being alive seems to get some people in a tizzy because a few times we merely said "Hello" to people (not even trying to give them a flyer) and they shouted back "NO!" - Those sheep clearly have a hate on for wolves everywhere but they should know that some wolves like vegetables too.
The Box Office team encouraged us throughout our time on the street, offering us food, updating us on how many tickets we had left to sell. They are great cheerleaders holding up fingers to indicate only 15 more, only 10 more, only 4 more! With ten minutes left until we had to go in and set up the show we had two pairs of tickets left. "WE CAN DO THIS!" we shouted. Suddenly, a family of four who were at the Box Office turned around and started laughing. They were talking about us to the Box Office team and watching us as we pumped ourselves up. "We are coming to the show" they said, "tonight". And with an exchange of pounds between theatre goers and vendors of art, our names were inscribed in a highly coveted position on the "Sold Out" board outside of the Gilded Balloon Box Office. Our first official Sold Out show here at the Edinburgh Fringe!
Goal = Accomplished
Sunday. We have been here in Edinburgh for a week. It's all the things. All of them.
We woke up smiling today because it's a new day and we got our first review which said "Everyone fell in love with Morro and Jasp at first sight", which is so great because we fell in love with them too. Also our article "Conquer Your Coulrophobia" came out in WOW247 today!
With a skip and a hop we set off to our favourite coffee shop - Filament Coffee - because we don't have internet at the flat and wanted to check our email. Then it all hit the fan - even though there is no need for a fan because it is cold here. We found out that we had a reviewer coming to the show tonight. We found out that the BBC also wanted to come to the show to film a segment for a BBC2 feature. We found out that we had no tickets pre-sold for the show except the reviewer and the BBC. AND we realized that our director was leaving today so it was the first day that our technician, Lewis, was running our tech by himself. EEEEEEEEEK!
After swallowing our breakfast bagels whole and chugging our coffees, we ran through the streets, sashes blowing in the wind, to get to our venue as fast as possible. It was time to flyer and get some people to come to our show. Here are some highlights:
JASP: Do you want to see a show tonight?
LADY ON THE STREET: Not if it has a clown like you in it.
MORRO: Hey guys! Are you looking for a funny show?
GROUP OF DUDES: Look it's Ronald McDonald! (group laughter)
JASP: Do you want to see a show about puberty?
SOME GUY: No, I really don't.
MORRO: I'll bleed on stage for you!
(No response... Except from another girl flyering for her own show who laughed a lot.)
ALSO, remember in another post we mentioned a guy who was really grossed out by our show and said it was "weird". Well, we have been seeing him every day. He is flying for another show. He started plugging his nose while he talked to us and shouting out that our show is "not hilarious at all" while we are talking to other people - which is the most immature, and so totally rude. He has a really weak moustache that looks like it needs miracle grow. Anyways, we saw him again and after putting up with his annoying comments for way too long now Morro decided to face the problem head on. "Hey cllaaawns", he said, extending the word with disgust and putting on a nasally voice (probably with the intention of imitating us). Looking at him straight in the eyes and feigning indifference, Morro said, "Oh, hey Teenstache." He stopped, a little shocked, and forced a laugh so he could appear unaffected. He lifted up his hand giving Morro a high five with a silent understanding that if he was going to dish it he was going to have to take it too. Morro walked away and that was the last time he picked on us this particular day. Now Teenstache has a special kind of respect for us that only a bully can have.
We prepared for our show, setting up the toilet without knowing if we would have anyone in the audience other than the reviewer and the BBC, hoping that some of our flyering actually worked. Dancing to Sean Kingston, we got ourselves in the mood to have fun no matter what happened. Then it began. The lights came up to reveal to the audience Morro on the toilet and to reveal to us a full house and a giant roar of laughter right off the top of the show. We had a magical gift of the most loving and fun audience we could have dreamed of. They were ready to play and play we did. And it turned out that Paul, the gent from the BBC, had actually already seen our show, so we figured he must have liked it if he wanted to come back to film it to put on the telly (that's what they call it here).
Who knows what tomorrow will bring but for now our hearts are filled with love.
We went back to Filament Coffee (which is called Milk Money at night) and celebrated the moment with toasted nuts and a peach juice.
Today there was an event at The Edinburgh Fringe called "Meet the Media". Thousands of performers line up for two hours to get into Fringe Central where they then line up in other lines to pitch their show for individual media. Once you are done one line you get into another - some of them thirty minutes long, others three hours. The event went from 1pm to 6pm.
You know at Canada's Wonderland on a really really busy day how you line up for 2 hours for a ride and then the ride is 10 seconds long and sometimes it's satisfying and other times its not so much ... But then you line up in another line that takes another 2 hours and then the ride is 15 seconds long and then you line up in another line...
We got into the line outside at 11:30am with our kick butt Team Canada friends Christel Bartelse and Vanessa Smythe, and got into the actual event at 1- having been close enough to the front of the line to get in right away.
You know how there are a lot of factories in countries around the world and people are paid horribly in them. They are working under terrible conditions, working hard and being paid hardly anything. Some people argue that the workers are not forced to be there - they are choosing to work and at least they have a job and an opportunity to make monday at all. And based on these arguments the workers continue to be paid terrible wages because if they don't like the conditions they can quit and the factories can just hire another worker because there are just so many people that need a job...
Sometimes we sat down while we were waiting in lines. Other times we lied down on the floor while we were waiting in lines. We met a lot of people - a couple of them were even media people. We were at the event in lines until 6pm.
When we left the event, exhausted, hungry and in desperate need of a pee, we were crossing the street and suddenly Morro was airborne. Tripping on a crooked piece of street (which there is no shortage of here in Edinburgh) she flipped up, catapulting forward at great speeds. Trying to gain her footing she was able to touch a toe down. It looked like she might make it. She may recover her step in a glorious victory over gravity. Can she beat the street?! That is the question. It was a Morro ballet- touch and up, touch and up, forward, forward, forward, touch and up. Just as it seemed the most possible, a twist of the wind swept in and boom down she crashed falling allllll the way across the street and landing so near to a pile of horse manure that she could smell it in both nostrils.
We changed from our fancy clothes to our show clothes... and performed our show.
What were once the quiet cobble stoned streets of Edinburgh are now lined with people from every corner of the world. The WORLD has descended upon Edinburgh. It really is as busy as everyone said it would be.
The Royal Mile, for those who don't know, is a main street through the city (it leads to the castle) and during the festival it is filled with perfromers flyering for shows, audience members looking for entertainment, buskers making a well earned buck, mini stages with people pitching acts, vendors of fancy hats.... and so on. It is a magical and unique place that exists no where else. Everyone is excited because if you are not having a good day that is probably not the place that you want to go. Everyone is energized - at least they are now but it's only day one. Everyone is talented - EVERYONE!
We spent some time inviting people to the show on The Royal Mile. Then we ate some delicious baked potatoes from a place called The Baked Potato. Actually we had three because we couldn't decide which to get. That was probably a bad decision because we were really full after.
As we walked towards our venue (The Turret at The Gilded Balloon) for our official opening night performance it really hit us that we were doing something special. Something that not everyone gets the opportunity to do, and that we might puke from over stimulation because there is SOOOOOO much going on around us.
We performed to a warm and wonderful crowd of people that we had never met before. For the first time in a long time there was not one person in the audience that we were friends with or who had heard of us before. It was almost a totally full house and they were so warm and full of love. The lady that rolled up a cigarette for Morro even said that she was beautiful, which is pretty nice because the goth makeup doesn't necessarly appeal to everyone. It was AWESOME!!!!
We celebrated by flyering some more, and then going to perform at a late night cabaret called Pollyanna Live. It was wild and super fun - kinda like Lunacy Cabaret in TO. The we had a bedtime snack of fish and chips with mushy peas. Mushy peas look a lot like wasabi but they are not spicy. They are perfect for squishing through your teeth.
We were warned that things are different here at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It being the biggest festival in the world means that there are a lot of little hiccups (mostly from indigestion), a lot of ups and downs (like the emotional kind), a lot of competition (with the best of the best from all over the WORLD), a lot of spaces being made into theatres that are not actually theatres (most of which have fireplaces somewhere in the room). It is all true.
Our theatre space, the Turret, has a 2 meter x 3 meter stage right beside the fireplace. The room feels like a living room that has 50 chairs squished into it and we are basically standing on the audiences laps while we "bleed from the crotch". It means that we can be very intimate with the show, which is great. It means we can see each person in the room as though they are in our bathroom with us - that's good right?! It means that when Morro does her cartwheel she nearly takes the speaker off the wall and/or kicks the toilet - danger is exciting. It means that when we run the bases we take one step instead of actually 'running', which saves a lot of energy and we need all the energy we can muster. It means that sight-lines to the stage floor are horrible so we had to re-block things and instead of collapsing onto the floor at the end of the show we instead collapse onto the toilet and last night nearly tipped our porcelain bowl over and fell to our deaths as we both tried to fit onto its seat - Wahooooo! It means the adventure has really begun.
Today the Fringe officially starts. Today. Even though we opened the show two nights ago it was actually only technically a preview (for us it was still opening) and we officially open tonight along with the actual festival. There is a big welcome address today: Let the games begin!
Jasp has ironed her sash. Morro has put some extra frizz in her hair. We are suiting up now in our best dresses to try to make people fall in love with us and convince some of them to pick our show over the other 3000 tonight. It feels like The Amazing Race. And it's only day 1 of 25 of the official race... game... Fringe. Yeah... that's the one... Fringe!
The foam store turned out to be a bust. It went something like this...
JASP: Hello Sir!
FOAM GUY (Older gentleman with a thick Scottish accent): Mornin'
MORRO: Can we fill this toilet box with foam and make it into a bed?
FOAM GUY: No.
JASP: Ummm. Okay...
FOAM GUY: This foam has a twenty year guarantee you see, it's far too expensive. It'll cost yous upwards ta two hundred quid to fill that box you have there.
JASP: Do you have any styrofoam or anything cheaper?
FOAM GUY: No.
So we didn't get foam - obviously. Defeated, we walked back towards our flat having no idea what we were going to use as a little bed. Something small enough to fit on our little stage. Something strong enough to hold the weight of two clowns. Then a miracle happened. It was sitting there outside, part of a make-shift display outside a store that is run by a church. Pink, sturdy, little. A small childs table. AND it was only three pounds. IT WAS PERFECT! We bought the table, ate some pie, and took it to the theatre.
We decided that even if we made a fake label for Life Brand tampons no one here would know what we were talking about so - stick with Tampax and how they are "Super Plus". All that was left to find was cheezies. Thank you to everyone who sent emails and Facebook messages and comments on the blog with suggestions - they were so so so helpful. We were like mini detectives with lots of assistants. Like we were Sherlock and you were all Holmes. And together we cracked the case. WE found so many options including Monster Crunch (which comes in pickled onion and roast beef flavours - weird), Wotsits (which are pretty good but not quite as puffy for fireworks), and CHEETOS CHEEZIES. We actually found them. Not many places have them and they are either crunchy or twisted spicy but they are wonderful.
We are finally ready for our show!
Opening day we exciting! We were told we had a reviewer so we set out early to flyer and meet the peoples of the streets. We did! We met a lot of great people including Puddles the Clown with whom we had a picnic and ate pickled onions. He is the best!
We hung out with Rebecca Perry and Mark Forward and some dude on the street who said female puberty is "weird" and he was totally grossed out by our show. Then we went for a special lunch. Our first of several that we are writing a food article about (stay tuned).
Then it happened. We had our first ever show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! So many of our friends from Canada and other fringes were there to support us and some new friends, including some therapeutic clowns from Hearts and Minds in Edinburgh, and it was nearly a full house. We had so much fun and are totally excited for the run now that we have our butterflies in check. Thanks for all the support from back home too. We love you all!
Morro and Jasp