Sunday, July 29, 2007

RASH - 100 best things to see in Edinburgh

The List magazine estimates there are "close to 20,000 performers vying for attention in some 30,000 shows in hundreds of venues across Edinburgh". Today the Sunday Times (Culture) named RASH as one of the 100 best things to see in Edinburgh. "When the city morphs into one big, crazy culture-fest, don't get overwhelmed. Just follow our critics' guide to the hottest shows this summer... RASH (Pleasance Dome) is a surprisingly funny portrait of life as a UN worker in Rwanda". In the Fringe Festival alone, there are 2050 shows. On top of that, there's the Art Festival, Book Festival, Film Festival, Jazz Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival. So it's amazing to be recommended amongst the top 100. If you haven't made your mind up yet whether to come to Edinburgh or not, now is the time!!! See you there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The double life of a human rights activist/performer

So whilst I would imagine most folks who are producing and performing a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are knee deep in preparations, rehearsals, press and marketing ploys, I am spending two weeks in Montreal, Canada helping to run the first ever Video Advocacy Institute run by WITNESS, the organisation I work for. Over 30 human rights defenders from around the world have gathered here to learn how to film, edit and use video and other technologies as a strategic tool to enhance their human rights advocacy campaigns, using the power of visual imagery to bring about change. It's an amazing group of people and the course is going really well. So from morning to night, I am wrapped up in this workshop, and carrying out lots of TV, radio and press interviews about our work. So in some ways, it's probably a good thing that I don't have time to worry about the fact that in a week's time my show opens at the Pleasance Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe. On the other hand, it's hard not to be a wee bit concerned that I am not able to rehearse the play, contact press and sort out all the technical challenges that I'll be facing to make sure I get this show on the road. I am lucky to be surrounded by a bunch of wonderful friends and family who have been helping me out. And it reminds me of course that ultimately I am doing this show because I believe in the human rights work, and not because I am seeking to be the Fringe Queen of Scotland, although wouldn't that be sweet?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

East to Edinburgh - New York’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe Preview

I recently performed the new version of RASH at 59E59 Theaters in New York (July 10-13) as part of their East to Edinburgh festival, featuring NY based performers heading for the Edinburgh Fringe. It was a wonderful experience. It was like a mini trial run for the Fringe which is part of the objective of the festival. It gave me a chance to perform the show as it will be in the Fringe with a revised script, brand new sound, lighting and image cues and a new costume! I got a chance to set up and break down the stage in 30 minutes - which is 15 more minutes than I will get at the Fringe. I was reviewed by the press (at least 5 different press folks showed up) - check out the first review that has come out that I'm very happy about at 59E59 Theaters is run by a fantastic group of folks and the support that I got with regard to production management, press and marketing, box office etc was the best I had ever received. I learned a lot about what it really means to produce a fully fledged show and it was such a pity I couldn't perform more nights as audience attendance was great. My biggest discovery was in my lovely dressing room where for the first time, I had a speaker in there that allowed me to hear what was going on inside the theatre. This was a bit nerve racking, hearing people taking their seats and the pre-show chit chat, but the weirdest thing was running back stage after the show and then realising that if I listened carefully enough I would be able to hear what people were saying about the show. But I closed my ears, honest! I also had to deal with my first major technical hitch. On opening night I spent the first 5 minutes in the dark as the board operator searched desperately for the stage lights. Many people thought it was done on purpose and added to the atmosphere of the play, some others were more suspect! But that's the joy of live theatre!