Monday, August 27, 2012

With One Show to Go

leaving the flat

With one show to go, there are many things on my mind, not the least of which is the question of whether my battery will last long enough to post this post since I forgot my power converter.  I'm sitting at the Black Cat Medicine Coffee Shop.  

view from the coffee shop
The sound of suitcases on cobblestones is everywhere.  It actually sounds like tap dancing -- how appropriate.  With 10,000 performers leaving the city over the past few days and many of us wrapping up today, and with the rain coming down right now, you can definitely sense the end.  It's so true...it's not with a bang.  It does feel like a whimper. 

walking towards the Royal Mile
Right after the show today we'll pack up the Barbies and the bedding and the Smurfette t-shirt.  We've found a taker for the projector cradle, the cd/ipod player (that I bought for the outdoor performances), the stool and the inflatable bed.  I need to find a taker for my UK curling wand and this bottle of nail polish remover that I refuse to let spill out in my suitcase.  We'll dump all the posters in the recycling bin.  We'll say goodbye to the wonderful Assembly staff, take everything back to the flat and then we're done.  We're going out for good Indian food. 

the is a city of unlocked bikes and off-leash dogs
There are going to be so many things to miss about Edinburgh. Being a part of this festival is unlike anything I've ever done, and I am changed.  But, I would by lying if I didn't say I was ready to pack Dirty Barbie away for a little while.  I'd be lying if I didn't say I was really ready to go home. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When the Opposite of Everything is True



Will Kerner and Mary Coy on The Royal Mile

When the opposite of everything is true, you know you're at the Fringe.
It was pouring down rain a minute ago, and now it is very clear and sunny.  Every time I start to think one thing, I think the total opposite is true.  The kind of polar feelings that could send you looking for fresh meds.  Advice is contradictory here....extremely...and yet, everyone is right.  The pace is unlivable and yet the sense of good living, big living, loud living is everywhere.  We are surely a nuisance to the locals and yet, they seem to enjoy us so much.  Here are some other examples of the extremes I've encountered...

1.  Everyone says be disciplined, keep to your routine, take care of yourself.  Everyone says go out to bars until 2 am, everyone says go with the flow.

2.  You can't help falling in love with other people's shows.  You have to stay in love with your own show. 

Yesterday, I fell in love with a show called FORMBY. 



3.  Stars mean nothing.  Stars mean everything.
I went to a workshop where an actor/producer said, "Stars are rubbish."  "We want to get rid of them.  Nobody reads the reviews.  They just look at the stars.  That's insane."  His posters are covered with stars.  Don't hate the playa.  Hate the reviewa.  Or love them.  In this world of over 2600 shows, the stars can guide you to what is great, maybe what you shouldn't miss.  The stars are coming from one person, though.  One gal, one bloke.  Maybe they're overexcited.  Maybe they don't know shit.  Maybe they know exactly what they're talking about.  Maybe you will use their quote to open many doors for you.  We've gotten three four-star reviews.  Hot damn.  Wait a second.  If you get excited and you feel like you're "buying in".  If you don't maximize that press, well, you're a lazy idiot.  Most recently, Ciara Knowles from THREE WEEKS said of my show "this is that rare play that many people can connect with, regardless of sex, or nationality."  Thanks, Ciara.  You just made the top of my little stick-on flyer update.  I have to say, I've been going to shows according to word of mouth.  That's why I went to FORMBY.  That's why I'm going to REMOR tonight. 

4.  Women are the best.  Men are the secret.
talking with a lady about the show, probably about Barbies
I have loved talking to women here about Barbie or Cindy (they are quite divided here on that subject...more on this later).  Or talking to them about Edinburgh or the Festival or storytelling or where they've been in the south (once they here my accent) or where I can get tape.  But, it's the men who always break the ice during the show and give people permission to laugh.  It's always a man.  I am grateful for them.  Seriously.

5.  There is never time to drink enough water.  There is always time for beer.

6.  Dirty Barbie actually likes to be clean. 
A surprising development.  I've been tidying.  Tidying at night.  This must be a universal balancing response to the number of messy artists with whom I am sharing a small square mileage of the universe right now.  I don't know if it will stick, but my underwear looks nice in the drawer.

7.  Today is my day off.  There are no days off. 
I did sleep in.  I am going to go to lunch with a friend and I will drink wine.  I can't wait to see REMOR tonight.  But, in the middle of all that, there will be postering and getting stickers on more flyers and checking in with the PR firm and writing back somebody.  I'll take a day off when I get home.

8.  I miss home.  This can't end.
It's true.  I miss my husband.  I miss my friends.  I miss my pets.  I miss getting to use my iphone where ever, when ever.  But just when you start to long for home for all of it to end, you find you are walking towards your venue and your makeup is in your bag, and there are 45 minutes to go before you load-in your show, and you think, oh shit...I'm in Edinburgh...doing my show.  It's incredible here, the people are incredible here.  I've done 18 shows, and there are only 6 shows left.  I haven't been inside any castles yet.  I gotta get on it.

I'll keep looking for opposites.  I'll probably keep believing both are true.  Like this:  I've never been more humbled by the work others are doing, but I've never felt more authority to keep creating.  

The Long Walk Home

Here are a couple of views from my walk home every day

Crossing the Meadows
As I write this, it is raining, but surprisingly for Edinburgh, and continuing with opposites being true, it has been very sunny this month.

The walk up through Marchmont to our flat


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Letter to My Producer on My Day Off


from UNHAPPY BIRTHDAY by Amy Lame at Assembly Theatre
This is a letter to Ray Nedzel, one of my producers for the Dirty Barbie Goes to Edinburgh endeavor.  He and my husband, Lance Stewart, were here for the first 8 days of the trip and they, along with Mary and me, cranked out some serious grunt work.  I can't say that the days are shorter or easier.  Every day here is a little different.  I'm getting lost less often, and we all have new friends. The work and the fun and the amazement loom over you equally, actually.  Sarah Noyes and Peter Coy arrived to help on August 7.  Will Kerner, also a producer, arrived yesterday.  Sarah will leave on Thursday.  I have an amazing team. 

Dear Ray,
We got a new coffee press.  I see that you must've told Will that our coffee-making equipment was in the toilet...I see that he packed gear.  He also reorganized our fridge upon arrival.  We now have a lovely coffee press and no one has been forced to use the strainer and the paper towels.  Peter and I agree that five level scoops does the trick.  Mary likes it stronger.  Sarah says she is off coffee, but she's been sneaking cappuccinos here and there.  She is not sneaky at all about the Strongbow, which she took to quickly.

Two big things happened on Sunday:  one the fire alarm went off during the middle of the show.  I was right in the middle of "Confessions of a Mean Girl" and I heard this noise which I thought was either someone's phone alarm and they needed to go take their medicine -- immediately -- or it was a fire alarm. I heard whispering outside the door and the Assembly ladies came in and quietly evacuated us all out to the street.  Turns out the smoke machine that they are doing in Mies Julie set off the fire alarm.  We all went back in and I picked up right where I left off.  I actually think it was an exciting icebreaker, but hope it wasn't the "most fun" moment for the audience.  Second thing:  I busted my ass coming out of Assembly Hall and rolled my ankle.  I blame the cobblestones...and you.  Remember that time we were eating taco salads in June and you told the story of the actor you knew who wasn't taking the best care of himself and then he turned his ankle?  That story has been on my mind since then and so, perhaps, it was only a matter of time until I bit it, perhaps it was a self-hex.  I shouldn't place those on myself.  It's not a bad accident as they go.  A very dignified Scottish man felt horribly for me and I know you will be disappointed to know that I missed that moment to convert his pity into a ticket.  Dammit!   

In addition to the ankle, I sure have signs of FOMO (fear of missing out).  Symptoms flare up (feels like someone grinding up my stomach to make a burger of my innards) every time I try to go to bed at a decent time and know that people are out seeing things and drinking and meeting and blah, blah, blah.  Also, I have noticed little bumps that I self-diagnose as NDE (not doing enough).  These really start itching when I see people hustling.  The pharmacy around the corner has nothing to help.

I've been doing my professional development as we planned.  I've attended both sessions hosted by Mark Fisher on making your show a success, and one about the media.  Both were very helpful. 

More networking...Promoter/Presenter Day at Fringe Central
I stumbled into this promoter/presenter session at Fringe Central and managed to talk to about 5 promoters who may be interested in thinking about how the show could move forward in London and other places.  The whole thing smacked of "Follow Up City", so I'm on it, Captain.

This is a picture of Sarah updating the flyers.  
Sarah in Fringe Central with her trusty paper cutter
 
It is wonderful to have her here and she's been helping in every capacity.  She and Mary went to see Baby Wants Candy last night and they loved it.  This is what we now have stapled to the outside of the flyers to update our press, and it REALLY helps in the conversation starting on the street:

 

“Stewart is vibrant…a master…reminiscent of a young Doris Day at times…the audience were laughing uproariously and clearly enchanted.”  --FringeReview.com

Top 5 Pick for Edinburgh 2012 Festival Fringe –Daily Record

“Deeply poignant humour by an accomplished and endearing performer.” –Fest

“Stewart plunges into this autobiographical play with energy and verve…funny, poignant…there is no doubting the sincerity of this heartfelt material nor its raw emotional appeal.”       The Scotsman

“An empathetic presence radiating with joy” –The Huffington Post

“Impressive acting talent…the audience will enjoy this high-energy, emotionally-charged performance.” –STV

Pete and Mary are SO EXCELLENT at talking to people about the show.  They are flyering -in-motion, and our building audience numbers are greatly do to the quality work they are doing at REALLY talking to people about the show.  They have clout, you know, and are fully-clothed, which is quite a difference on the Royal Mile, and it reads even stronger than the Dirty Barbie t-shirts.  

As you can tell from the opening picture, we made it to Unhappy Birthday.  I think you would've liked it.  It's definitely the most interactive piece we've gone to and I ended up with red lipstick all over my face and I had to chase her around the room and later that night we found red lipstick around my ear.  Lots of Morrissey songs.  

D and Sarah at UNHAPPY BIRTHDAY...we were obviously not unhappy attendees
We are officially at the halfway mark.  We've completed 12 shows and we have 12 to go.  We are all looking forward to this day off, and yes, we're all going to see shows, shows, shows, starting with And the Girls in Their Sunday Dresses at Assembly.  I would list all the shows (I've seen 15 so far), but my wi-fi is making linking so difficult and slow that I will save that for another day and a stronger connection. 
Sarah will only be here through Thursday morning and I'm trying not to be sad about that as we will make the most of the next two days and I don't feel like being sad about anything yet.  Having said that, Saturday was my hardest day here.  I knew Lance was taking Ron to Catawba and I wished so badly to be there to drop off that precious cargo and to subject him to all my Catawba advice on the ride down there.  Maybe it's just as well that I wasn't there, but that didn't stop me from sobbing at Fringe Central while trying to email.  Oh boy....when major life events collide...I'm an empty-nester now.

The news from the show is that I think it's getting better.  I'm using these performances to crack open my storytelling. I feel much looser, more connected to the audience.  Women from Brazil and Sweden and Spain have loved the show -- there is no doubting that this is an incredible time.  Talking to older men from Scotland who laugh and laugh during the show has been the boost of a lifetime.   

News from the team is that you and Lance are missed.  That was such an incredibly busy and important 8 days that you were here and we invoke your name often (especially when I was drinking your last two cans of Scrappy Jack) and say, "Thanks, Ray!"  I hear you will be in rehearsal soon for Clybourne Park at Live Arts.  Congratulations. 

In addition to seeing shows, I am going to try and eat some fruits and vegetables today.  A little nutritional reboot before shows 13-24 wouldn't hurt. 

Your advice from afar is always welcome.  Write me back soon.  
Sorry so sloppy,
Denise
p.s. the Scottish actor who goes on right after me said that he's been eavesdropping a bit on my show and that I remind him of Truman Capote with my accent.  "It's haunting, isn't it?" he said. That's me....I'm a spooky (and short) little devil...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Preview One: a good day at the Fringe

Ray says... Good day one preview.

Well, we were working the Royal Mile, papering the house a bit, when we got a phone call from the Press Office that the Scotsman (the top newspaper in Scotland) wanted to send a reviewer today.  Dee and I thought we should say yes, even though we hadn't had time for a run in tech (long repair on damaged projector -- damn you Air France.)

At bottom of page, another delightful surprise.  (fringe top tips)

And the show when great.  Dee Dee was a pro from day one.  And we were just over half full, including a man who graduated from UVA some 25 years ago (and his family).  So here's a bit of the excitement after a successful, out of the gates running, first preview:

Oh, so and then, someone on the street tells us that Dirty Barbie was a top pick of the Daily Record -- maybe the top pick. Read the article here: So, see it was a good day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dirty Barbie Preps for Tech

Dee Dee rolls into the her tech rehearsal pausing by at 1 meter tall picture of herself to take it all in and  welcome you to the Fringe and her wonderful home for the next month, Assembly Hall: