Features Published 14 August 2020

How to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Without Leaving Your House

The fringe is (mostly) cancelled – so here are some highly creative tips on how to recreate the magic, without leaving your home.

Francesca Peschier and Alice Saville

An Edinburgh fringe scrapbook; the Royal Mile, Greyfriars Bobby, and fest regulars Sh!t Theatre

The Edinburgh fringe is cancelled this year, forcing theatre fans to endure the torture of relaxing in the sunshine, eating ice lollies and going on leisurely picnics like ‘normal’ people (underpinned with creeping dread about the arts’ future, of course). But what if your life is missing something that wholesome park hangs can’t provide? Something darker, damper, and richly scented with the odour of partially-fulfilled creative dreams? Shedinburgh Fringe is launching today, filling that void with a teeming line-up of shows including Yolanda Mercy’s Quarter Life Crisis, Tim Crouch’s My Arm, and White Rabbit Red Rabbit. And to help out everyone who complains that livestreamed theatre is “not the same”, here are some highly inventive tips on recreating the magic of the fringe at home, before you tune in. 

-Stand under the shower in all your clothes. Set it to a cold trickle. Do a couple of invigorating laps round the sofa then air dry in front of your laptop, aspiring to the musky scent of an unwashed bassett hound’s ears. (AS)

-Occupy all the chairs in your house with objects and coats so that you have to eat your messy but delicious falafel half leaning against the fridge with one hand. For the full Pleasance Courtyard experience, chuck a tenner down the garbage disposal as recompense for the taste of chickpeas and regret. (FP)

-Put on an Enya CD and watch your cat use the litter tray by candlelight at 3am. Afterwards drink four gins and try to give coherent, thoughtful compliments on Tiddles’ ground breaking performance art and its scatalogical interrogation of the feline body. (FP)

-Fill your living room with sleeping bags and the scent of damp, and then persuade your housemates/pets/bearded-strangers-who-look-they-know-how-to-juggle to crash there for the month. Your 4am-11am sleep schedule should be broken by an obnoxious phone alarm song that, a year on, will either cause you to break out in a sweat every time you hear it, or will be the inspiration for your new fringe show. (AS)

-Rig yourself a drop bag above the stairs full of A5 bits of shiny paper, then try and get up the steps without slipping on flyers. If you have a toilet upstairs, you can  add a sense of Royal Mile late-to-a-show urgency to the adventure by waiting until you really need a wee. (FP)

-Make a planner for every hour of August. Laminate it. If someone asks you to meet for a coffee, tap it, inflate your chest and mutter self-importantly “Sorry, busy busy busy. It’s either 11.37pm on Sunday night or we’ll have to wait until next year.” (AS)

– Capture all the joyous randomness of a uni improv troupe by watching your housemates have a really good time over a private joke without you. Take it further by writing a genre/place/musical style on a blackboard and having them all reminisce about that great time they read Austen/went to Torquay/got very into smooth jazz without you because honestly your life is meaningless. You are meaningless and you can’t even play the ukelele. (FP) 

-If you are lucky enough to have an outside space, cover it in fairy lights and stick a picture of an artist you really like at the furthest point. Nurse a drink all evening and think about what you might say to them if you were brave enough to make the Summerhall approach/ move across the patio. (FP) 

-Locate your nearest set of wheelie bins – if it all gets too much, go outside and weep behind them.(AS)

-Check the various hook up apps for the most inappropriate person you can find and embark on an ill-advised love affair that culminates in a clandestine, socially distanced grope via Zoom – ideally on a mattress on the floor to create that essential eight-actors-stuffed-into-one-Grassmarket-flat vibe. Never learn their second name but have at least one shouty argument with them in the smoking area you’ve constructed in the bathroom. (FP) 

-Put a fistful of twenty pound notes (or fifties, if you’re a producer) in a tank, together with several voracious land snails. Watch their leathery mouthparts gnaw away at your money as the month progresses. ART. (AS)

-Have every intention to climb Arthur’s seat to watch the sunrise. Don’t, obviously, actually ever do this but make sure you tell everyone about your plan. Maybe even purchase a preparatory flask. See also claiming to take a daytrip to ‘some beach near Leith’ which honestly has become such a part of fringe mythology that it probably only appears once every full moon to locals who’ve walked widdershins round the old Scotch Pine at midnight. (FP) 

-Do not under any circumstances check the news. None of that matters now. Let the fringe wrap you in its comforting/suffocating embrace, like the clingfilm round those home-made sandwiches you binned in favour of yet another macaroni cheese toastie. (AS)

-Pick an emerging company to champion. Tell strangers in the supermarket about their work; the less interested they seem, the more deeply they need to be awakened by the transformative power of live art. And this summer, they can be! Because it’s raining and there’s nothing left on Netflix, so what better time to plonk yourself in front of some fringe theatre – with zero risk of trenchfoot, suffocation-by-flyers, or a fatal mauling by Greyfriars Bobby. (AS)

Help the fringe come back in 2021 by donating to Summerhall, Pleasance or Zoo – or support the freelancers whose work it’s built on via The Fleabag Support Fund.

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Francesca Peschier and Alice Saville is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

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