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Edinburgh: Songs of Innocence

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)