Imagine waking up every morning, getting dressed, making breakfast (or finding a place to grab a quick bite), and performing the same show, in the same city, in the same venue, at the same time over the span of eleven days; after which you find yourself walking around the city everyday trying to see as much of the more than 3,000 shows as you possibly can before passing out on your bed from exhaustion at around 1am. So far, that’s been pretty “routine” here in Edinburgh. At first, I thought the idea of it all completely unrealistic. Why would I want to see more shows after performing the exact same piece of theatre every single day? After dealing with all the mental and physical “wear and tear” of the intense schedule in Glasgow (which for me as well as some other individuals usually meant 9am – 9pm school/rehearsal days), why would I want to exhaust myself further? It only took a few days here in Edinburgh to understand that exhaustion can lead to freedom and enlightenment.
It’s lying in bed following a warm shower after a long and intense workout at the gym; it’s the feeling after you’ve walked out the door of a rigorous and grueling course you spent hours and days studying and working hard at; it’s watching a child grow and reflecting on all the things you contributed to their upbringing, now to be proud of the person they’ve become; that’s the feeling. Learning and growing from each and every moment invested in an activity, no matter how difficult it became, has brought you to the point of deep reflection about the world and yourself. All of the tension and effort you’ve put in is now being rewarded with more than a mere accomplishment. It’s rewarded you with enlightenment.
Being in theatre, living in place full of theatre, and indulging in a breadth of different theatrical cultures daily has been nothing short of enlightening. In only five days, we’ve seen shows culturally and stylistically different; taking us from Brazilian song and dance, to the Scottish Referendum, to American rock music, to the arts of Asia, all the way to Greek Mythology, and more. Some have had fun with puppets, or been “awakened” by an experience with Dracula, and some have even had the pleasure of watching Shakespeare’s classics done as: a rock musical, as a fusion with Elvis Presley, and with one of the cast members completely and deliberately “impaired” (all on separate occasions). The vast expanse of possibilities has taught me to not watch a “show” when I see a piece of theatre onstage, but to see the world and a different part of it instead. Honestly, I don’t know how cheesy or unrealistic that sounds, but that’s how I legitimately feel at this point. Each and every time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a show, I’ve learned something about another country; been introduced to things I’ve never even heard of, and seen things I never thought even possible in theatre, or in life for that matter. I’ve been exposed to people being moved to the point of tears (either because of deep sympathy or extreme laughter) due to a particular piece on many occasions. It’s gotten to the point where this California raised, Asian–American boy has become interested in travelling the world not just to say I did it or to make a great story to tell the kids, but to learn something totally new and unexpected. That’s what theatre did for me, and that’s what theatre does for so many others in this world.
It’s also been an inspiration to write. In all honesty, I haven’t seen a single show that I’ve particularly disliked which, believe it or not, could be seen as quite an easy thing with some of the bold and random show ideas here at the FRINGE. That just gives me confidence in writing a piece of my own; writing not only to share knowledge, but to gain it by exploring things I never thought to explore before.
As my thoughts come to a close, I’d just like to encourage anyone who hasn’t seen a show in awhile to do it. Just take the time. It doesn’t matter where or when. Just do it. It can even be a children’s theatre piece. You’d be surprised what you’d find. Look at a child and watch the fun he/she has exploring something new and taking pride in the things they’ve learned, whether it be about pirates and kids who never get old, or a romance between a bookworm and a transformed prince; lessons on love, family, and growing up. Take the time to see the smile on their face at curtain call; a smile that’s present because they’ve learned that hard work is rewarded and fruitful; a smile that exists because they’ve learned the joys of putting a smile on someone else’s face.
OR, just watch something more age appropriate for you and learn something. To each their own…
BUT GET EXHAUSTED, GET ENLIGHTENED, AND GET UNBORED!
– Mathew San Jose