Poster Power

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At the Fringe, where tens of thousands of theatergoers wander the streets looking for shows to see, choosing from amongst thousands of plays, musicals, come die shows, concerts and weird ‘Fringe’ things that defy description (one “show” is called simply ‘Come Heckle Christ,” while another promises to be about ‘Sex With Animals,’ or at least . . . well endowed people DRESSED like animals), the first most important element of getting an audience is making sure people see your poster. We pre-ordered 250 posters and 5000 small flyers, which we picked up yesterday at The Surgeon’s Hall, the venue we’ll officially open in on Friday. 

It’s one of sever operated by TheSpace here in Edinburgh. So technically, our venue is TheSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall. Or to be simple and quick about it, Venue 53. There are HUNDREDS of venues.

To start things off, Sheri and Robin and I spent 90 minutes hauling the heavy boxes advertising material up and down windy steep stairways, delivering the required three-posters-apiece to as many other TheSpace venues as we could get to. Each TheSpace venue agrees to put up posters for the other shows in their “circuit,” so we did that, after which we were pretty much exhausted . . . and just beginning to glimpse the tip of the super-competitive iceberg that is The Fringe. 

After lunch, having at last welcomed the fifth member of Team Wretch (Allo, who flew in from Boston), we hung our first poster in a restaurant near the hotel. This required first finding a store that sold tape. We’d forgotten the tape.

Then we headed down to The Royal Mile, where we witnessed a man in a straight-jacket entertaining crowds at one end of the mile, and a fellow playing awesome flamenco music on a battered guitar at the other end. In between, manic teams of actors and crew were working the street like poster-pinning locusts, taping posters to anything that looked vertical. The proper etiquette is to refrain from placing posters on any public structure, but the fringe has set up a great many huge red metal columns, and folks are permitted to put posters there. 

Space on the column being limited, what people do is . . . they ignore etiquette, putting up many posters on the same columns, dominating the space, until someone else comes along and pastes up their poster right on top of the previous one. I watched someone cover up a ‘Wretch’ poster less than thirty seconds after I put it up. Of course, I had just had to cover up someone else’s poster, though being a nice guy, I chose to cover a show that already had six or seven posters up on the same column.

The most aggressive team on the mile, oddly enough, was a band of young people promoting a “family Friendly” version of ‘Avenue Q,’ working the streets, flyers in hand, with their puppets prominently displayed. While the puppets distracted people, the AQ team plastered their posters over everything, dominating the columns with their intense take-no-prisoners enthusiasm. 

I know myself the volatile power of puppetry. With a puppet on your hand, you cease being yourself, you become another person, and that person might turn out to be an asshole. You never know. It’s a dangerous thing, and must be properly watched less it devolve into a dehumanizing drug-like subhuman mania.

Which pretty much sums up posturing in Edinburgh.

Today, more of the same. 

Only now, we have tape.

And plenty of it.

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Arrival

Well.

Robin did appear, having lost her cell phone, but with plans to buy a new one in London, before catching a connecting flight to Edinburgh.

She bought it, actually, in San Francisco.

Which was good, because the time between landing in London (a VERY long overnight flight) and the departure of the plane to Edinburgh was so short . . . we almost missed it.

Anyway, she made it. We all departed on time, landed on time, and are now . . . I barely believe it is true . . . in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Tomorrow . .. many tasks to accomplish, connections to make (we finally meet up with Allo!), things to pick up, and much work to do.

For now, it is time to sleep . . .

By the way, did anyone know there is a CASTLE in this town?

Of course you did. So did I, because my Great Grandmother wa born in the dungeon of that castle many, many years ago. It’s true. But that’s a story for another time.

Till then, I shall get some rest.

Because, you know . . . enough of this sitting around on plains, and busses and taxis. Tomorrow, it’s time for Team Wretch to get to work!!

 

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Roll Call

It’s just after noon.

The Edinburgh contingent of Team Wretch (with the one exception of  Allo who will be flying in from his home in Boston) will meet up for the trip to SFO in a little less than three hours.

Team Wretch is me, David Templeton, looking forward, at the age of 54, to my first-ever trip abroad (I went to Omaha, Nebraska once!), visiting the land of my grandfather (born 1887 in Glasgow), where I will perform ‘Wretch Like Me’ fourteen times over the course of three weeks.

Status: packed and ready (more or less), trying to finish up some writing assignments before I leave (including this one), and feeling nervous but (finally) a little bit excited.

Sheri Lee Miller, ‘Wretch’ firector and publicity manager. This will be her second trip to the UK, but her first to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and certainly her first time as director of a show appearing in an international theater festival.

Status: Just sent me an email about a media opportunity, and on course for our rendezvous in Petaluma.

Robin DeLuca, stage manager and primary tech-lights-and-sound person. Robin, like me, has never been out of the country, and has been working hard (alongside the rest of us, of course), to get herself mentally and technically ready for whatever comes at us starting with our first show this Friday, August 1.

Status: Um, actually, we haven’t heard from Robin since our show Saturday night. Robin? You ARE going to be here at 3:00 for the rendezvous and departure, right?

Allo Gillinsky, street team operations and theater support. An experienced world traveler, Allo has not only been to Scotland before, he’s been to the Fringe. He’s got family in Scotland, some of whom will be hosting the team later in our run when we move our lodgings to just outside of Edinburgh.

Status: Already in the air, flying from Logan International.

Susan Panttaja, logistics operations and road manager. This will be Susan’s second time in Scotland. The last time, two years ago, she fell and broke her arm and had surgery in Inverness. Because of this, we’re a little wary of the whole break-a-leg thing, and wonder if it would be better luck to say ‘break an arm.’

Status: In ‘Last Minute Land,’ which is one way she has of saying she’s almost ready but still finding things to do. Her other way of saying that is, ‘I don;t know whether to fart, fumble, or wind my watch.’

 

So that’s us. Team Wretch, the Edinburgh contingent.

Andy Templeton will be helping out from California with various social media, twitter feed details. And we will, of course, carry all of your well-wishes, break-a-legs, break-an-arms, and general good vibes with us.

Now, if we could only hear something from Robin . . .

(Are you out there, Robin? Please phone the Team Wretch home base and let us know your status! We don’t want to leave without you!!)

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Road Ready

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“By the time we get to Edinburgh,” said ‘Wretch Like Me’ director Sheri Lee Miller, in an email following a rehearsal a few weeks back, “you will know this show well enough to say every line while drunk, with a wedgie, and a pit bull on your leg.”
Later, she amended her statement.
“Biting. Not humping. The pit bull. Though both would be distracting.”
Her point was well made, and she was (of course) absolutely correct.
By the time I step out onto the stage of the Surgeon’s Hall, on Friday August 1, with a live audience (I hope!) occupying some or all of those fifty-one seats, I will have plenty of other elements to be retching with.
1. Jet lag.
2. An international audience who may or may not struggle with some of what I’m talking about in the show.
3. Unknown and unpredictable conditions in the theater (which is normally a conference room, not a theater at all).
4. A ridiculously small (15 feet wide by 6 feet deep) stage.
5. And a no-doubt considerable overflow of excitement, nerves, and other forms of intense emotion (after all, I have been working for over five years to make this happen and, including the direct contributions of the current Team Wretch and all previous participants in TW, arriving on stage in Edinburgh will mark one of the biggest milestones of my life), which could make things interesting.
So, as I step out tonight into the 6X15 rectangle Robin and Andy have taped onto the wooden stage floor of Cinnabar Theater, and as I begin what will be the final local performance for quite a while, I know that ‘Wretch’ is now as ‘road ready’ and ‘drunken/wedgie/pit bull proof’ as it is going to be.
Based on last night’s performance, I would say that, if the reaction of my audience is any indication, then yes . . . I am ready.
And I feel it, too.
After all these years, and the last several months of hard work on many people’s part, I am finally ready (and this weird little, deeply personal show is ready) for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
And now the question is . . . is Edinburgh ready for us?

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Catching Up on the last Couple of Months

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Woah! Really? It’s been over two months since I wrote about performing ‘Wretch’ at Foundry Nights in Berkeley? Seriously, since then, everything has been a bit of a blur. And now, as we get ready to put ‘Wretch’ on stage two more times in the Bay Area before boarding the plane (on Monday!), we’ve somehow arrived at the stepping-off point for our trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Since May, the California contingent of Team Wretch (Sheri Lee Miller, Robin DeLuca, Susan Panttaja and Andy Templeton) have all been working hard to 1. Rehearse the show 2. fundraise! 3. nail down travel plans 4. rehearse the show 5. make cuts and alterations in the script to get it down to under 75 minutes 6. perform the gradually tightening, shrinking, improving show before live audiences (which we’ve done half-a-dozen times since may, not including this weekend’s performances 7. prepare marketing materials for Edinburgh 8. arrange insurance, music licensing, printing of flyers, etc. in Edinburgh 9. rehearse the show, and 10. rehearse the show.

The trickiest parts of performing at the Fringe are needing to get the show down to under that 75 minute limit, and knowing that my stage in Edinburgh is only fifteen feet wide and six feet deep. This is why, for everyone coming to see these last two ‘Bon Voyage’ performances at Cinnabar, I will be performing the show inside a taped-off rectangle the exact dimensions of the stage at the Surgeon’s Hall in Edinburgh. Just so I have lots of practice working inside those limits.

In addition to maintaining this blog over the next several weeks, offering photos and updates about our adventures in international theater performance, Team Wretch will me tweeting and face booking, so do check in from time to time to see how we’re doing.

Thanks for all the support so many of you have offered!

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