To the Fringe and Back: Reflections (or Ramblings)

My original intent for this post was to consider the ways in which taking photographs for documentary purposes was indeed a much different task than taking photographs for artistic purposes, or taking photographs for personal use. To question whether, with documentary imagery, the aesthetic concepts of line and color are important, and whether the documentation image needed to be interesting or visually pleasing. Is it enough to have the image even if it isn’t a great image? When it comes to a cultural community or movement, how does one take it all in and reproduce it?

These questions still interest me. Yet, as I try to settle into the last few weeks of summer in New York—crowded subway cars, block parties, festivals—and write my blog post about the challenges, the concerns of how to best document culture as a (student) archivist/ tourist/ theater-goer, I can’t help but consider the parallels between my two weeks in Edinburgh and my week back in NYC.

• People handing-out literature on the street during all times of the day.
• People dressed in colorful costumes for no recognizable reason (juggling farm animals?).
• A kaleidoscope of culture, various styles of dance and food, people speaking different languages.
• Tourists like me snapping pictures, wanting to document everything, and blocking foot traffic.
• Even at 12 am in the morning, there is a hint of something going on. (I most enjoyed walking around at night in Edinburgh when there was less traffic).

• The buzz doesn’t last forever. A friend of mine, an Edinburgh local, explained that the city isn’t always so full of people; the Fringe is what brings in the crowds that almost spill over the narrow sidewalks.

Edinburgh definitely seemed familiar to me, even though it was my first time in the city and first time at the Fringe. In fact, when my friends and family ask me about first excursion abroad, I often report that being in Edinburgh during the Fringe felt a lot like being in Manhattan—but with gothic architecture. Hmm…how is familiarity captured?

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Fringe Programme "Goose" Entry

Fringe Programme “Goose” Entry

One of the best parts of my experience within this “Follow the Fringe” course was being lucky enough to work on the performance “Goose.” After seeing the show once, I was hooked. The impressive writing and acting from Michael Yichao made it so that I was excited to see the show every single day. Sarah Shoemaker’s performance as the goose was memorable and the movement she created for the piece was spot on. The show transports you back in time to when you were thirteen, and the nostalgia really draws you into the piece. Now that I’m back home in the US, I find myself quoting some of Michael Yichao’s words, or going through pictures of the show and smiling, it’s effects resonating with me even though it’s been five days since I last saw it.

Below are some of my favorite pictures from the show, and if you happen to be in Edinburgh, I cannot recommend this piece enough!


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Keep Calm and Sit Down

As other posts have mentioned, we’ve made it to Edinburgh and the Fringe Festival! It really is a spectacle of epic propotions, in which you cannot walk a block along the Royal Mile without seeing a performance of some sort, or be handed dozens of fliers for different shows. In fact, I do not think I have been handed the same flier twice in the two days we have been here!

Venue 13Yesterday, we were able to see the venue in which the shows we will be documenting for CalArts will take place. Venue 13, which is along the Royal Mile, will be our home for the next week, as we record their three performances. We also were told that Venue 13 is one of the longest standing venues to consecutively host Fringe performances.

The documentation process will consist of a few different parts. Along with recording the performances in full, we will also be taking still images and interviewing the casts and crew members. The performance I will be working is Goose, but more on the show in another post. Yesterday was dress rehearsal for two of the shows, including Goose, and tech (see Heather’s post for “tech” clarification) for the other.

Venue 13 Box Office

Venue 13 Box Office

Today was the opening performance of Goose, and our first attempt at recording a full performance for documentation. The performance itself went smoothly, and I am excited to continue to learn more about it as we watch more showings! The recording, however, did not. Technical difficulties got the best of documentation team Goose, and we were unable to keep any of the footage we shot. Fortunately, we will have more chances, and seeing the show again only helped us further understand the pace and setting of the place, giving us even more guidance for round 2. This round will be a knockout for documentation team goose.

The documentation process is new to me, but while I work through the kinks and learn along the way, I’ve decided to take the advice of a prophetic bench in our hostel’s courtyard, and…


… which works especially well when watching performances ;-)

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Settling into the Fringe

Our group has officially arrived in Edinburgh, met with the great people from CalArts, and are getting into the spirit of the Fringe!  It has been an adventure already and I really cannot wait to see what is in store in the coming days.

Once upon a time before library school, I studied studio art and I am constantly looking for new inspiration.  Luckily, the festival provides it in abundance.  Social media, technology, and the like are really not filed under my list of strengths.  So, I will be going back to my roots and contributing drawings and videos to document my experience here.  Please forgive any absurdity that may pop up as this is really just a reflection of the magical land that Edinburgh has become – nothing is outside the realm of possibility.

Fringe on, my friends.

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