A Whole New (Old) World

Street in Edinburgh

Taken on the walk to Venue 13 to check out the space and tech move-in

Today was our first full day in Edinburgh, and it was just as bright and sunny as yesterday. Bright, sunny, and completely new to me–this is my first trip outside of North America. Going through customs (and traveling through Heathrow in general) was certainly an experience, as well as remembering to make sure to look BOTH ways before crossing because they do indeed drive on the left. So far I’m really enjoying all of the stone buildings–it makes every view more dramatic. Hearing all of the different accents and languages adds a flair to every interaction as well.

After walking with the group to Venue 13 today to learn the route and meet some of the people from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama setting up the venue, and then stopping for coffee (and Wi-Fi), Andrea, Melissa, and I explored around town. We got tickets from the Fringe Box Office–we managed to narrow it down to 5 shows out of an expansive list–and then explored all the way up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle. Then we walked back down, made a couple stops, and headed back to Greyfriars Bobby’s (where we had dinner last night) to meet up at the statue of the well-known little dog for a tour for Harry Potter fans.*

Pizza Paradise Menu Offerings

Pizza Paradise Menu Offerings

One of my favorite parts of the day was the place we stopped for dinner on the way there–and not just because there was food involved. It is called Pizza Paradise, and as you can see in the picture, a sign outside advertises that they serve falafel, humus, shawerma, kebabs, pizza and burgers, all in the same joint. I’ve never seen this particular combination of food served at one place in the US, but I do see it with amusing frequency here! And I don’t know about all of the other falafel-humus-shawerma-kebabs-pizza-burger joints of the world, but this one had really good food (Melissa and I shared chicken and corn pizza, for curious souls).

Finally, an ongoing side project of mine on this trip includes asking people I meet a Question of the Day and videoing their responses. I’ll put these responses together in a video for the kids at the DC Public Library branch** where I work, as a fun way to teach geography and share some global perspectives. In this quest so far, I’ve met 3 people–two friends from Vienna who had traveled to the Fringe to work (and get into shows for free), and an author from London who was on the Royal Mile promoting her book of short stories. They were very nice, friendly people, and I’m excited to keep working on the project–and to keep my progress documented/summarized here!


*If you don’t know about the sweet little terrier, here’s the Wikipedia article, as well as the Historic UK description.

**Totally my own project, not official in any capacity.

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All the world’s a stage

The travel part of traveling tends to be my least favorite part. Or at least it’s the most stressful, especially in instances of ocean-crossing, time-zone hopping, airport loitering. It’s limbo. Depart and arrive are polar points of a continuum; you constantly approach arrival the farther you wander, all while creating distance from departure with every step. It’s the process, the middle, the present, the moment-to-moment. It’s the prolonged tension of not-quite-there, not-quite-complete.


Departure, or the calm before the 16-hour travel storm

It’s like a performance.

I know all of my cues: check my bag at the kiosk, disassemble hand baggage at security, present boarding pass and passport, and again, and again, and once more, just to be sure I’m me and I’m where I’m supposed to be. I have rehearsed less thoroughly than some, more than others. The players – travelers, security personnel, flight crew, disembodied voices echoing throughout the airport – each performs, each is vital. Each is in constant motion; ongoing, in progress, in transit.

So as I sit, arrived (cue: exhale, decompress), in my Glasgow hostel, recovering from jet lag and awaiting another (mercifully brief) journey to meet up with my colleagues, I think about what we have arrived to do on this journey – to perform the documentation of performances. We are players recording players, with practical roles to capture theatrical roles; each player, each role, is essential to each production, on their end and ours.

Looking forward to the festival days ahead in Edinburgh, it’s my hope that the records we create will reflect the fruit of preparation and the release of completion, respective of the CalArts production ensembles and our documentation teams. We rise to the challenge of recording these performances and preserving them, armed with our budding archival instincts and know-how. I say, Bring on the Fringe.

(Originally written 29 July 2013; revised 2 August.)

About Alex Lange

I am a recent graduate from the MLIS program at the University of Maryland, where I specialized in Archives, Records and Information Management. I have a Bachelor's degree in Russian Studies, but became interested in archival science while working as a student at the National Archives in College Park, where I worked for 4 years. I have recently been hired at NARA in a permanent capacity.

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