A Summer in Edinburgh: Edfringe 2016

This summer was unlike any summer I have ever experienced before...

Every summer of mine would be spent entirely with family and friends; holidays, bbq, camping trips... utterly priceless moments. School breaks were always something to look forward to, an incentive to encourage yourself to work hard up until they finally arrive. Making the decision to spend the entire summer working in Edinburgh far away from family wasn't easy.

After some careful contemplation, I went for it. I thought, why wouldn't I want to spend a summer in Edinburgh? especially since the peaceful city comes to life during the summer months! There are several festivals that take place all at once from July to the end of August, including The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival, and of course, the largest arts festival in the world - Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

I spent the summer working specifically as part of Edfringe with C venues. I liked the idea of going to experience the innovative theatre shows that would be performed everywhere in the city, as well as making sure spectators who came to watch great theatre were comfortable and happy with their experience too. Little did I know working up towards the festival would require a whole lot more...

Arriving at Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station was surreal; I was excited but anxious and, after a 4 and half hour journey, pretty exhausted too - both physically and emotionally. It's a good thing my parents' family friend packed me a lovely packed lunch the night before or else I would not have survived. I got off the train with my overpacked hot pink suitcase (I didn't have much a choice since my family had taken all the other neutral-coloured suitcases on holiday) and headed for an exit.

Being the small town woman that I am, the tall faded brown buildings were what mesmerised me first. I wasn't used to seeing such tall buildings, especially ones that looked beautifully worn out and rustic. Around the corner was the Princes Street Gardens, a massive park of greenery right in the middle of this historic city. What a gorgeous view... too bad I couldn't appreciate it all that well because I was too busy struggling to get my bags up the steep hills.

Edinburgh is basically one massive steep hill.

Eventually I got settled into my flat, and when I say eventually I mean about a week after I arrived since I kept having to move my stuff to different places in the flat. The accommodation was located pretty much at the centre of activity, just around the corner from Edinburgh Castle and literally about 5 minutes walk away from the vibrant artsy street that is Grassmarket. I grabbed lunch here most of the 6 weeks I was there, my favourite eateries being Grazed, El Toro Loco, and Oink, which was the pink-coloured building amongst the multi-coloured architecture on Victoria Street. In all honesty, it was a terrible diet but the food was delicious! Besides, I needed to fuel for the work we had to get done for the festival.

During the first week or so of my stay was the process of the fit-up of all of the different theatres, and this involved some serious hard labour - carrying scaffolding poles, moving furniture to different locations, going up and down ladders, moving and carrying rostra, hanging up heavy black-out drapes... the list is endless. Although there was a lot of heavy-lifting, the worst jobs were the minor tedious ones like taking blue-tac and old staples off of poster boards, sitting at front desk doing absolutely nothing, and literally waiting for paint to dry... did I mention there were 7 different theatres run by C venues?!

All of that was worth it in the end because the transformation of the spaces were magical. Just look at the difference it made to this recreational hall underneath a church... from an empty hall to the outstanding C too theatre.

{credit to Kayoko Yamazoe for this photo}

Once all the theatres were set up to pristine condition, it was time to open the doors! It was interesting to see how the theatre spaces changed as each performance went by. The variety of genres that took place in C cubed, where I worked as House Manager, were diverse, from the dark, sadistic dystopia of Fear No Colours' adaptation of Mercury Fur, to the light-hearted comedy musical and new-writing of Front Room Productions' The Princes' Quest. Not only did you get to meet such friendly company members, but being able to discuss and share the experience of the audience members once they exited the theatre made me feel so content with the job. Of course I cannot forget to express my appreciation for my crazy colleagues who made working less boring and so much more fun. Working at the theatres during Edfringe was phenomenal, an experience I'll never forget.

When I wasn't working, I made a habit of going to see as much theatre shows as I could within a day. One of my favourites had to be American theatre company First Sprout Theatre's original performance Deal With The Dragon - a one-man show about a sassy German dragon that controls your life. Kevin Rolston is an incredibly talented actor, so much so that you forget that he's the only performer on-stage! Alongside this show, the hilariously witty Stiff and Kitsch production Adele is Younger Than Us and Ockham Razor's Tipping Point were two of my other favourites. It was also great to see my university's drama society perform their first Fringe show The Lost Children of Neverland. Well done to T24 for a brilliant performance!

This isn't even a quarter of the amazing theatre I saw this summer. 

Perhaps apart from the morning, you would always be able to find something to see and/or do during the day and night. It was impossible to get bored during summer in Edinburgh, unless you incredibly detest absolutely all of the arts... and those people don't exist... at least I hope not. Whether you like some raunchy cabaret, love some traditional theatre, fancy a bit of classical music, or want to try watching some jaw-dropping contemporary theatre, Edinburgh is the place to go for it all during the summer. 

And if not for the all the festivals that take place, then at least go for the gorgeous historic tourist attractions!

You can find this picture and many other pictures on my Instagram! Links at the top of my page x

I want to say a massive thank you to the C venues team of 2016 for making this experience worth while! Even though I found it hard not being around my family this summer, being part of the C family was just as great. C you again soon! ❤︎

I am so ready for Edfringe 2017... until next summer, Edinburgh!

~ glessabella


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