Our editor Kim Campbell went to the UK this summer on a triple mission: 1. To have a vacation in Ireland and Scotland 2. For an official visit to European Juggling Convention (read about that here) and 3. As a newshound, to attend Edinburgh Fringe to cover the multitudes of circus shows (and to hone her basic ‘two shows and two reviews per day’ writing skills.) This whirlwind tour took three and a half weeks, which amounts to a lot of creative packing of luggage. Here is what she has to say about the adventures and her sage advice to fellow circus folk:
1. Pack light
If there is a chance you will be on a cruise ship one day and in a tent the next, it is really important that you also pack up to five juggling clubs in your limited luggage space. In this way, you will ensure that the customs officials in Ireland get a good laugh at you while you try to explain your itinerary. And in a pinch, you can entertain the elderly on your sea voyage.
If you are a first time Edinburgh Fringe-goer like I was, nothing you will do–neither maps, nor good shoes, nor excellent self-care routines, nor carefully stashed away granola bars– will prepare you for the onslaught of humanity that will be on every surface of Edinburgh for the entire month of August. So surrender yourself to it, to the crowds, the after-parties, the 3000 shows you can’t decide on and the access to only food from a food truck. If you do, you will be rewarded with some amazing things like new friendships, meet-ups with colleagues, some new professional connections, deeper insight into the circus and theater, moments of awe at an ancient and beautiful town.
3. See It All!
Although it’s not technically possible to see it all, if you have any kind of heart, you will want to. Performers spend a good chunk of their few daylight hours dressed in their costumes, hoofing it around the meadows and Princes Street in order to entice you to come to see their show, and who are you to say no? Word to the wise, if you happen to have a press pass, tuck it away while walking from venue to venue, or else you will experience a strange sensation as flyer-givers slowly enfold you into their masses while chanting their spiel. Have a heart and take their flyer and try to squeeze in just one more show. In one three day haze, I saw seven shows, all while making time for coffee dates, and conducting live interviews for an Instagram takeover before dashing home (to my Airbnb) to write the reviews. Of course, it helped that I planned one of those days to be centered solely around the Underbelly Circus Hub so I only had to step from one tent to another…and to find the food trucks.
I’m so glad I had the chance to attend Edinburgh Fringe and to see the circus shows that were there this year. For many it is the place to launch a dream and a show (on a dime or on a big budget like Aurora Nova and Underbelly)–and from my perspective, its a really important place for any cultural agent, be you writer, art maker, or programmer, to get a sense of what is happening not just in the circus world, but in the bigger ecology of entertainment.
Tune in to CircusTalk for the reviews!
Feature photo: Me posing with the Yuck Circus folks!