My name is Monica Bauer, and I'm going to be your guide to the Most Outrageous Arts Festival in the World, otherwise known as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This year is the biggest one ever: 2,695 shows in 279 venues over three weeks in the rain-soaked, castle-bedecked capital of Scotland.
My qualifications for the job are these: first, I have never before been to the Edinburgh Fringe, either as an audience member or a participant. Indeed, I'm a Fringe Virgin. Second, I have managed to ignore the warnings of many friends in my community of off-off Broadway playwrights, and will actually be taking a new play to Edinburgh. So instead of getting analysis from an expert, you will be witness to the blood, toil, sweat, and tears of a first-time fringe playwright. I am sure if Winston Churchill had been a playwright, that's how he would have described it. Not as dramatic as getting bombed by the Germans, but I understand there will be combat of sorts, as 2,695 shows in 279 venues compete for audience members armed only with flyers, press stunts, and the occasional four-star review.
Fear not, however; I promise to be an intrepid guide. I may be an Edinburgh Virgin, but I am a veteran of the New York Indie Theater Scene. Since I finished playwright school at Boston University in 2006, I have managed to get six full length plays produced in New York. I started out at the Midtown International Theater Festival, went from there to the New York Musical Theater Festival, the Planet Connections Theater Festivity, finally getting my first Off Broadway production at Urban Stages this year, where they also gave me their 2012 Emerging Playwright Award. In between I've had readings at the Great Plains Theater Conference and participated in the Sewanee Writer's Conference. I've had staged readings at the Blank Theater in Los Angeles and Penguin Rep in upstate New York. I've had productions at Louisiana Tech and Omaha's Shelterbelt Theater. So for a virgin, I've been around. In fact, I'm pretty freaking fearless.
Although the Fringe at first seems intimidating, I'm going to Edinburgh with real joy. That's not because I have visions of winning awards and getting international tours, although those would be quite nice indeed. It's because I'm taking my very favorite play to the Fringe, Made for Each Other. It's been developed over three performances opportunities in New York, ending up in a run this July at the East to Edinburgh Festival. I wrote this solo show specifically for my favorite New York actor, John Fico, and we have been working with the same director, John D. FitzGibbon, from the very start. The play has had a different ending in every performance, but we are finally completely pleased with it, and the script has been published by Indie Theater Now. There's a sense of ripeness here, that playwright, actor, and director have been working for this moment. We are ready for our international close up.
Fico, Fitz, and I have become a little artistic family. We are going to share the fruits of our labors with an international audience. We're doing it with humility, as part of the Free Fringe, where nobody pays for tickets; instead, performers pass the hat afterwards. The big names will be in fancy theaters and charging an arm and a leg. We will be in a performance space in Bar 50, part of the Smart City Hostel, asking for donations after every show. We're David, trying to make an impression in the shadow of Goliath. And I will keep you posted, all the way.
Follow Monica Bauer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Monicadrama