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,
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...