Thoughts from the Barnstaple Fringe

The last few days I have been in Barnstaple for the Theatrefest Fringe. And like any fringe there have been the usual highs and lows, intense hard work, leafleting, pounding the streets with heavy luggage and enduring incredibly long train rides. This year there were two other factors: the football and he intense heat. Yet ultimately it has been a positive experience. I’ve seen a lot of great shows and met some amazing people.

I decided to commute, the first day, from Paignton. What a mistake that was! I spent six hours on a train that day and didn’t get home till eleven, then had to come back again the next morning at six AM to get to Barnstaple in time for my tech rehearsal.

I’ve been involved in two shows this year, The Two Robbies and In the Glare of the Neon Yak. The Two Robbies has had amazing audiences, enthusiastic and responsive, and people have been quoting my own poems to me at odd moments, or shouting, Jellyfish! As ever it was a huge honour to be performing with someone like Rob Barratt, whose poetry relies on humour and wordplay, and we have been making plans to perform again together in other places. There have been some very good reviews placed on the Theatrefest website of our show.

The scariest show has been my new solo effort, In the Glare of the Neon Yak. It’s a brand new show, with a new theme and the whole show is a complete change for me, as it relies on dramatic techniques and a certain undercurrent of seriousness which is not usually a feature of my oeuvre. Audience numbers have been somewhat muted, but I have enjoyed the two shows that I’ve done so far.

As ever, the staff, volunteers and technical staff of this fringe are incredibly hard working, professional and supportive, and without them the whole event would be different.

Yesterday morning I had the honour of performing in a yurt at the Diversity Festival after the LGBT march, which I also live streamed on Facebook. I met some lovely people there.

So I have one more show this afternoon and then a three hour train ride home. It always feels weird to be going back to normality after the Barnstaple Fringe. The long train ride from Barnstaple to Exeter feels like a cleansing action, slowly returning the normal world, until the whole weekend feels more like a weird dream.

Camaraderie at the Barnstaple Fringe

Its been the most amazing week or so and the last few day’s have been weird yet strangely life affirming.

I’ve been in Barnstaple now for three days participating in both Spectacular Vernacular and Poetry Ping Pong.  The weather has been amazing which has helped make me feel good,  but most of all it’s the camaraderie of the performers and those who run the event.

Day one 
Spectacular Vernacular overran a tad.  I amused every one by repeatedly saying Macbeth in the theatre.  Not everyone laughed. Previous to this I’d had to mend my cardboard zebra with gaffer tape. On the way home the sump guard fell off Tim s car.  We had to use the gaffer tape yo fix it.

Day Two
Spectacular Vernacular and Poetry Ping Pong.
The first Poetry Ping Pong was at Barnstaple Library. It went ok. The audience were appreciative. The second show was less well attended.  In fact it was only Tim and Saskia.  So Dan and I did all new material.
Spectacular Vernacular went better and didn’t overrun though there was a mini outcry when I dropped Camp Cat from my set.

Day Three
Poetry Ping Pong and Spectacular Vernacular.

Had two brilliant shows at the theatre. The audience was amazing and responsive. Previous to this Dan and I did an impromptu interview on local radio, and a marketing seminar.

For me the abiding feeling is of the attitude and support of the organisers and those in other shows. Everyone supports and promotes each other and sees as many shows as possible. For example I just watched Purgatory Passengers and it was the funniest thing I’ve seen in years!

One day to go and three more shows to do. No sign yet if fatigue.  Though I do have work on Monday morning!

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