Happy New Year my beauties,
Well, we’re now a couple of weeks into January, long enough to realise that that new person you thought you’d miraculously become at the start of a new year, is actually the same you with a little added pressure to be an better updated version; a “you V.13 ” if you will. The great news is. You is enough. As in…you are enough (It wasn’t some kind of new years resolution of mine, to be more “street” ya get me?)
You were enough just as you were in 2012 and this year is no different. Here is my latest spotlight article about facing the new year with love and lightness. As ever, the articles I write contain advice I need to hear and practice too.
Right then, here you go…
Press this word
Well, hello there all you delightful people. I am back. Back from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Goodness me. I almost can’t believe it’s done. It’s taken me the best part of a couple of years to get there; from the initial idea of creating my own show, to writing the show, getting a venue, creating all the publicity and doing the previews, to finally being there, doing it. And now it’s all done. It’s a bit like a lovely roast dinner. All that preparation and it’s down in a few mouthfuls (I eat quite fast!) This is the first time that I’ve finished a show in my professional career and felt that sort of post-show blues I used to experience when I did youth theatre. That feeling that life will never be quite the same again and when you ask yourself what the blinking heck do I do now!? But just like those times, I do what I’ve always done and throw myself into the next project so quickly that there isn’t too much down time to dwell upon. Having said that, it’s so important to take a bit of time to reflect, relax and appreciate the journey and what better way to do that than with a word limit. So here I am, talking to you. Hello there. It is pretty difficult to pack an entire month of such intense experiences into one article and it seems foolish to try, so I think I will start from the end and work my way back. That way I can suitably infuse the start of my Edfringe extravaganza with the nostalgia I’m feeling now and make it all suitably narratively satisfying for you, dear reader. So that means I start by telling you that my final show was a sell-out. Oh yes indeed. Not that that went to my head (much). Consequently I’m currently writing this from a café that has french windows for a door so that I could squeeze my inflated cranium through it. By the end of the festival word of mouth had begun to spread (and I was flyering like a thing possessed, mainly with the spirit of Jackie Chan) I had had some lovely write-ups and got a couple of brilliant 4 star reviews that really helped to sell the show. Like I say, it’s easy by the end of the festival to have mentally sifted out all the difficulties and stresses and neatly package the Edinburgh album in my head as completely smooth sailing, but of course moving back in time a little more we see a Jessica not as calm and composed, a much more tired version of the one that is writing this. One that is in the middle of the experience and not sure how she is going to flyer for hours before her show every day and who is desperately trying not to take the rejection of a flyer as a personal rejection of part of her soul. Notice I’ve now started writing in the 3rd person as it is a safer way to remember those mornings when I had to dig so deep into my inner resources of positivity, understanding and energy to keep myself going strong. That was the part of the festival that I think I was prepared for least. I hadn’t been aware of the unrelenting nature of the it and that, added with the extortionate amount of pressure I put on myself anyway, is what took it’s toll on me emotionally. I found the arrival of the review stars on everyone else’s posters and flyers a source of panic and competition. I was aware of how ridiculous I was being, but continuing in my ridiculousness nonetheless. I was constantly comparing myself to everyone else, which I had suspected might happen, but let me tell you if you haven’t seen it first hand – there are posters and flyers EVERYWHERE! And if you have a tendency, like me, to look at what other people are doing a fairly obsessive amount then a walk to the shops became quite a psychologically draining event (I contemplated dry crunchy nut cornflakes but I had to draw a line somewhere). What I realised very quickly was that I needed to trust myself, my work and my journey. All of my self-help quotes and mantras became constant companions “you are enough” “tell the story of who you are with your whole heart, have the courage to be imperfect” (Brene Brown) “You’ll handle it” “all this shall pass” (Susan Jeffers) and a couple of my own “let’s go and get a twix, you blinking well deserve it” and “we’re all going to die anyway” as you can see mine are more superficial on the one hand and existentially extreme on the other than the ones that have made it into the books, but you’ve got to find what works for you.
The first week was a real shock to my system. I was very overstimulated, I was quite nervous and I was characteristically putting a lot of extra pressure on myself for the show to be a success. I had written, produced and was performing the whole show and I felt like everything was on my shoulders. But it was at this time, when I was most daunted and scared that 3 little voices popped up (not in my head, not this time anyway) saying you’re not on your own, we’re here. That’s right. My team. My rocks. My peeps. The amazing Jamie and Debs of Super Mega Action Plus fame and my wonderful director/husband (not in order of his ability at those roles) Matt. What I realised very quickly is that you are as alone as you want to be. People are there, ready and waiting to support you, love you and collaboratively create with you if you are just willing to open your eyes and heart and see them. Yes, it was me up there, but I had a team the like of which I have never known. After the first week of madness and of felling like, oh my goodness what the hell is this place and how the hell does it all work? I made a conscious decision to make a heaven out of the potential hell. I realised I could be good to myself. I could talk to awesome, interesting people. I could see phenomenal work. I could be inspired and fuelled rather than intimidated by the creativity of others. Not only that, but this was a real opportunity to learn more about myself as an artist and a person and about what I need. Not only that but a chance to tell my story to loads and loads of people. I learnt how much I need space and serenity. I did a couple of lovely walks up Arthur’s Seat (the big rock in Edinburgh) and just being able to see the city from above helped give it all a little bit of perspective and it was at those times when I took a few moments out that I began to appreciate how epic it all was and how special it was to be there performing. I also learnt that I’m not a big drinker, as you will see by some of my video diaries when I’ve had a few pints! I mean, I’ve known that for a while, but everyone kept telling me that I would need a new liver when I got back, but I discovered very quickly that I could save a lot of money by just getting drunk from the breath of others. Watching them meant free entertainment and I didn’t have the hangover to deal with in the morning. I was aware of what I was there to do and although I went out a lot I knew that I had to be on top form for my show and if I was going to have the strength to get out on the Royal Mile every day and get an audience I needed to look after myself.
I really practised what I preach in my show throughout the festival. A big part of my show is about learning to love yourself and part of that was realising that I didn’t have to join in with all the madness, that I could do Edinburgh on my terms and that I had a choice about how I experienced it. I met some fantastic people and a couple of famous ones. Al Murray came to see my show, because I flyered him without realising who he was and once I realised just said “Oh, blimey, you’re Al Murray, this is embarrassing…” (unfortunately this was said out loud and not in my head) well fortunately, because he found it very funny and came along. Not only that but he enjoyed it and gave Matt and myself tickets to his show. How lovely, hey? I know I know so showbiz, but what can you do? John Bishop also stumbled onto my video diary, by being given some of the Pidsley flyering treatment too.
Blimey, there’s so much to tell you, but not enough words left to do it in, so I may have to create an artistic impression, a word-scape if you will of what I went through. It’s best to see this as an Modernist (ostentatious) poem or a arty monologue (you’re creative, I trust you’ll make it your own) Here goes. Centre. Get into character. Are you there? Right…
Anticipation. Belief. Dream. There. I’m there. Here. But there is here. Risk. Vulnerability. Myself. Soul on the line. Bad review. Cry. Oh no. cry more. Good review. Correct. Smile. Who am I trying to please? Audiences. Connection. Laughter. Sharing. Creativity. Beautiful walks. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Tea. Tea. Tea. Rescue remedy. Berocca. Vocal strain. Vocal zone. Rest. Flyering. Meeting people. Hello. Hello. Joy. Tired. Joy. Tired. Performing. Buzz. Pear magners. Drink of the Fringe. Cheese wraps. Daily. Sunshine. Love. Passion. Am I any good? Yes. no. yes. no. yes. Learning to love yourself. The journey. Amazing. Beautiful. Exhausting. Exquisite. Next year? YES.
I love what you just did with that. I knew you’d inhabit it and bring it to life. So what’s next for me? A nice cuppa I think. The main thing I realised is that I love what I do and I hate what I do, but I love what I do more. What we need to remember is that we could stop doing this at any time. No-one is making us or forcing us and it is so hard sometimes, but we do it because we love it. We do it because of the unique joy it brings us and the people we share it with and that nothing else in the world is quite like it. Who said life had to be comfortable anyway? Start enjoying it’s uncomfortability and move into it. It means you’re becoming more than you think you can. How epic is that?
I will also be featuring on “The Mimic”, a new channel 4 comedy series coming to a screen near you soon.
And finally, if you missed my show “Jessica Pidsley’s I Can Make You Thin(k)” in Edinburgh, fear not as I will be performing it in London this month. Follow me @jesspidsley to be kept up to date. Also feel free to tweet me, it totally validates my existence and if you say something lovely you’ll almost certainly get a RT #obvs.
Thank you for all the love and support and let’s go out there and create the performances we want to see in the world. Go you!
Oh my goodness is it a relief to be writing to you guys again. I have been writing a lot of responses to interviews, online articles and new blogs in the last couple of weeks and it is so lovely to come home and put my metaphorical slippers on and write a blog once again. Can someone pop the kettle on please? Wow. Only one week to go before I head up to the Edinburgh Fringe for my stand-up debut. The funny thing is I’ve been enjoying saying “I’m doing Edinburgh” for the best part of six months and completely forgot that I actually have to go up to Scotland and “do Edinburgh” (not in a rude way cheeky, although what happens at the fringe stays at the fringe, right?) I guess I was hoping that that big job would come up, you know “The One” that would mean I’d have to leave all this silly creating a show, self-funding craziness to one side and jet off and become a super celebrated over-night sensation. Yeah, the call didn’t come and now my train is booked, the flat deposit has been paid and I’ve bought a suitcase the size of three of me to accommodate all the funky outfits that I have to take half way across the country in order to make my debut in style.
I haven’t been sleeping ever so well this week, I don’t know if it’s excitement, nerves, anticipation, joy, fear, extensive caffeine misuse or a combination of all of them. I’m thinking it’s probably all of them with a few more added in for good measure. The most daunting part of the whole thing is genuinely having no idea what to expect. I feel a bit like a wandering minstrel (don’t worry I won’t be packing tights and silly curly-toed shoes in my monstrous suitcase) but I mean, I am a fool with a story to tell and I’m travelling miles in the hope that it might mean something to the people that I tell it to. It is almost like my brain is split in two in terms of what it will be like at the Fringe. In one part, let’s call it the “right brain” I’m thinking business wise, about the funding, the agent and producer side, the career aspect, the figures, the reviews, my profile and my critical exposure and the other side, the “left brain” is quite whimsically thinking “I wonder what it will be like, I can’t wait to meet my audiences and share the truth that is in my heart, to share my vulnerability and the inherent uncertainty of being human”. As you can well imagine, the right side has an absolute field day bullying and berating the left side. I sometimes have to split them up and make the right brain sit on the naughty step.
To tell the truth I am scared. I am scared that what I’ve created might not be good enough, that I might not be good enough. Now, I’m pretty certain that I am not alone in that feeling. I don’t know how many people would want to share that with a readership of several thousand strangers, but I am not a fan of having elephants in my room, they take up far to much space when you’re living in a small flat in London. I am doing everything in my power this week to show myself and the rest of the world that I’m not scared, that I’m doing OK, that I’m “up for it” and “raring to go”, but maybe, just maybe, it’s all right to be afraid. I have long held the belief that there is great strength in emotional honesty and that allowing yourself to be “weak” or as I would prefer to label it “vulnerable” actually is a great strength (maybe I’ve just told myself that to justify sharing my weakness on a regular basis), but it is one thing to be afraid and allow that fear to stop you doing what you want and it is another thing to feel the fear and do it anyway. (I am pretty sure I can’t get away with passing that slogan off as my own, so I will just have to cite Susan Jeffers for that one. Cheers Big Suze!) Surely so much of what we do is about taking risks. I’m not talking about health and safety ones, I don’t want equity on to me, telling me I was making risk-taking sound edgy and cool. What I mean is that all of us use our emotions, our bodies, our stories and our memories in what we do for a job. We actually can’t just sign off at the end of the day and say, well that’s work done. Being creative, being an artist or a performer is actually a way of life, a way of processing and understanding our world (and you thought you were just an actor!) Let’s face it, we’ve all had times when we have been “resting” (whatever that means) ((resting is the most exhausting part of being an actor)) but I bet that you haven’t stopped living (I know, I’m like psychic or something) What I mean by that is just because you’re not “working”, doesn’t mean you’re not still seeing the world through your actors eyes, through your creativity. You might be thinking, “what the hell is she on about I worked in a Sandwich shop and let me tell you egg and cress doesn’t look any different through “actors eyes” whatever they are!” What I actually mean is that you being an actor isn’t just about what job you have, it’s something within you. Let’s be honest there’s probably been times when we’ve all wished we were anything but actors and performers, but if you’re anything like me you’ll be aware of a undercurrent of feeling that it chooses you, rather than the other way round.
And so…with all of this said, I am off to Edinburgh next week, with a show that I created precisely because I wanted to perform and I wanted to share something with an audience and because I wanted to express that something within me that needs to be told and I’m scared and I’m excited and I’m curious to know what it’s all about. All I know is that by the next time I write to you, I will have finished my time in Edinburgh (that makes it sound like a prison!) and I will be letting you all know what on earth happened. For now, I feel better for talking and the support I have had from you guys has made the journey much more comfortable. It may always be scary to put ourselves on the line, professionally, personally, emotionally and creatively, but unfortunately (or fortunately depending on what day you ask me) I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We’ll speak again when my songs of innocence have become songs of experience. (in about 5 weeks if that sounded a little bit on the cryptic side)
This is my last video diary of the Edinburgh festival (it’s been emotional) that’s me done for another year, but in the words of Senator Schwarzenegger “I have inhaled, exhaled everything.” (no not those words) “The c**k isn’t a muscle so it doesn’t grow in relation to the shoulders, say, or the pectorals. You can’t make it bigger through exercise, that’s for sure.” * (or that one) “I’ll be back…” (There we go, we got there in the end!) Thank you for being on the journey with me. It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.
Until next time, Jessica Pidsley X
*Genuine quotes from Arnie
That’s right. This is the video blog (vlog) just before my last show at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Hold on my last sold out show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Also this is actually a meta-vlog (that’s right you heard) this is a 3rd person recording of Matt recording me doing my diary (woooaaahh that is like so arty or something) I absolutely adored my last show it was delightful. This is how I was feeling just before it…
This is my penultimate performance day at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I am really savouring these last couple of days, becuase before I know it it will be over and I’ll have bought a pair of those pretty pink tinted sunglasses and will be remembering it as one of the most incredible month of my life, which it has been…but not just becuase is all been fun and easy, but partly because I’ve survived (having said that there’s still a day to go! and two nights!!)
Well it wouldn’t be right not to take you out to see a show, well, to see me about to see a show. I had to take you along because my nap over-ran and if I didn’t I wouldn’t have done my video diary before midnight and then I would run the risk of losing my shoes and my legs turning into pumpkins or something like that. Just 2 more days left now guys. The end is in sight…
It’s Friday, that must make it fish and chip day. I certainly don’t make a habit of it, but twist my arm tonight felt like a takeaway kind of night. The smell bought back memories of when I used to work in a chippy. I used to take home all the leftovers twice a week, which probably didn’t exactly help me stay out of the morbidly obese category of the BMI chart when I was younger, but all in moderation. (well, not ALL…I’m not going to do a small portion of smack for dessert, but you know what I mean) Yum. Yum. Night. Night.
There is nothing quite like being given stars to validate your existence. I have felt that since school and this year’s Edinburgh Fringe has been no different. I still love the feeling. Despite knowing all the rational stuff about good reviews being just as meaningless as bad reviews, the irrational and completely needy, praise hungry ,validation adoring part of my personality disagrees. Here is a link to my Three Weeks review if you’d like to hear what people have been saying about the show…