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Bedlam Theatre: Early Over-Excitement

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We are about one month from the first day of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This landmark was announced with excitement on the Fringe society's Facebook feed and followed by a flurry of likes. For many, this may seem a rather mundane milestone: for most, it's only one step closer to a two day holiday; one inch closer to that last bank holiday weekend in August; an insignificant blip in a summer filled with Wimbledon, barbecues and squeezing into parks to find tanning space. These are luxuries that we have little room for, and not least because Edinburgh is under the constant siege of scattered showers.

For those of us who work on Fringe venues, and particularly our team at Bedlam Theatre, this date could not be more significant. "A month left?!", we clamoured, "What have we got left to do? Can we do it all in a month? Will our hearts give out before we make it to August?". The answers to these are fairly simple, if a little daunting: "A lot, probably not and almost certainly". This may sound a little pessimistic - or even defeatist - but this doesn't mean we won't run headlong into this brick wall anyway.

Our first month in charge of the building has been a busy one. We've managed to create some pretty new branding, started re-carpeting the entire place, and gathered the information necessary to give visiting companies what they need. We did most of this while covered in paint, because of actual painting and because of the invention of paint tag (I'm not sure it will catch on). The team were bought a set of personalised cacti - because every office needs decoration. We also found some gifts from previous years of Fringe: a baby doll who looks like its limbs have been dislocated, a bottle of Baileys from 2000 - which tasted both curdled and alcoholic - a selection of letters from the ghosts of Bedlam past, and, most disturbingly, a pair of discarded blue knickers.

The initial fear quickly gives way to unbridled excitement. After all, Bedlam Theatre has opened as Venue 49 every Fringe since 1980. Maybe it's blind luck, maybe it's hard work, maybe it's both, but somehow we have been flying the Fringe flag for years. During the rest of the year, we act as Scotland's only fully student-run theatre. But for the summer, our wee team of students take over and do something that almost no-one our age gets to do: run a venue at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We curate our programme of shows, we market ourselves, we operate our day to day affairs and we make sure that we are the best we can be for the 24 day marathon that is EdFringe.

We've still got a website to put up, a rig to plan, a café to set up and an entire theatre to decorate with as much bunting and fairy lights as we physically can. And that's only the simple stuff: we've got a mural to paint, a team to hire, training to do and shows to sell. And that's only the start: after all, August is looming.

It's not often nowadays that a group of savvy, if over-excitable, young people get this kind of opportunity. It's also not often that your home during the academic year gets surrounded by 2871 show's worth of performers, artists, facilitators and everything in between; Bedlam not only gives us the chance to be a part of that atmosphere, but to be on its cutting edge.

The Fringe's founding spirit, in my opinion, is the chance to try something different. Although we have taken the opportunity to do this every year since we took over the theatre, the brand new team get to embody that idea. Some of us are novices in our positions - studying subjects that don't involve fixing things late at night in darkened rooms - but it is the can-do ideal that the Fringe is built on that spurs us on to do brilliant things in June and July, and keeps us going to run the venue in August. Whether this goes right or wrong, it's the process that counts.

24 days to go.