I saw two young friends yesterday who had just come back from the festival. The first one had that manic ‘just returned from the war’ look and the other was full of laid back total resignation. All the memories of how hard the festival can be came flashing back and I experienced that wave of nausea and hopelessness in absolute sympathy.
Here is a story; not unique but rather typical. One show’s first two performances were totally sold out. Then they got a bad fifty worder in the Cue. Apparently the ‘reviewer’ liked the show, it’s just she didn’t quite manage to say that in fifty words! So, even the people who had already booked for the show didn’t turn up after that. One audience was a mother and daughter and one was a group of farmers who apologised to the performer while she was on stage, and then left. Ouch.
I always hope that news will get out about what’s good and those will be the shows that do well. That’s what we believe before we go, but it doesn’t work like that. Grahamstown is the hardest rite of passage for any performer. It’s not fair, it doesn’t make sense, it hardly ever makes money. And yet, even in dark times, when audiences are few, the pilgrimage is made.
I am offering a special service for all fringe participants: Grahamstown debriefing sessions. Come tell me your story and I will whip out my version of the same. It has happened to all of us. Over and over again.