A guest blog by Peter Michael Marino
6 August UPDATE: Sunday. Been a week. Feels like a month.
I mean, I landed a week ago today. It was a quiet Sunday in Edinburgh. It wasn’t raining. Some random posters here and there. And then, very slowly, more posters appeared. More flyers. More flyerers. More people in weird clothing…or are they wearing costumes? Yup. Costumes. Here they come. Then, the familiar faces. One a day. Five a day. Ten an hour. It’s like returning every summer to camp. An international summer camp for weirdos. I love these weirdos. I…
Truth be told, I can’t blog right now. I had my third Show Up show yesterday, which was miraculously sold out (if that’s even a thing in the Free Festival) and then did my first of 16 performances in the Joe’s NYC Bar cast. And I was on a podcast. And all of that after seeing a show at 11:45am. IN THE MORNING. I might have even seen another show somewhere in there. Did I?
I didn’t sleep last night because I was all jazzed up from the day and night and a reviewer who was scheduled to attend the show didn’t show up…and it was a good show. Do I contact them? How can I not seem like a dick when I ask, “Where were you?” And then I remember it’s only the first day…or is it the fourth day? First preview? Opening night? Opening day? What is this day? What day is today?
Shit. It’s Sunday! Today is my Social Anxiety Parade press and media event. Will anyone show up to march in it? After all, it’s all being done to raise awareness
about my show about social anxiety. Will any press show up? How many times can I use the words “show up” in this post? Does subliminal advertising work?
Wait! I didn’t hire someone to flyer for me before my show, since I can’t flyer because I’m leading a parade with, I dunno, 4-40 people in it, that ends RIGHT BEFORE MY SHOW. How am I going to do my show after leading a parade? And then do another show a few hours later? Will the marchers mind if I ask them to hand out flyers while marching with bags on their heads? FOR MY SHOW? What was I thinking?
See, now I just spent
17 20 36 minutes writing this instead of fixing that joke that’s not landing here in the UK instead of answering three dozen emails from my “other life” in the States. Instead of following up on the reviewer/interview/story pitch emails I sent last week for the show I am producing here that OPENS NEXT WEEK. Wait! Do people hate getting emails on Sunday mornings?
Just stopped to eat an egg sandwich that I forgot I made 30 minutes ago. Dropped it on the floor. Back to bed? Check bank account? Post more? Post less? Follow up? Pack backpack for the day? Drink more coffee? Send an email to mom and dad? Is it Sunday? Isn’t it a day of rest? Am I really taking two shows off? Will I make money if I do shows on my day off instead? It’s worked in the past. I think? Should I do those shows?
I dunno. Gonna breathe. Gonna stretch. Take a walk. Take a nap. Check Google alerts.
27 July UPDATE: Introverts Unite for First-ever Edinburgh Fringe Social Anxiety Parade.
To help raise awareness of social anxiety, the Show Up team has organized a Social Anxiety Parade media/press event.
The parade will be on Sunday, 6 August. Participants will meet at Fringe Central at 14:00, where they will be provided with paper bags to decorate. Once the bags are placed over the participants’ heads, we will march in introverted solidarity over to the Pear Tree Garden on West Nicolson for some socially-anxious mingling, followed by a performance of the show at 15:30. The parade will be accompanied by The Edinburgh Noise Committee – many of whose members also struggle with mental health issues. All events are free and do not require any registration.
More info on the parade and the show can be found at www.showuptheshow.com/social-anxiety-parade
JULY 18 UPDATE: RIGHT HERE is the fancy new 45-second trailer for the show!
“Let’s do this.” While recently editing this first line of my newest solo show, Show Up, I realized that my last two solo shows started with the same exact line. Lazy writing? A way to get the audience excited? I’m not so sure. I think it’s actually more of a mantra for me than for the audience. “Just do this, Pete, and in an hour it will all be over.”
When I decided to perform my first show, Desperately Seeking the Exit , at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe, I was terrified. That it would fail. That no one would come. That no one would care. Yet I kept thinking about that semi-famous phrase by the semi-famous American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do something every day that scares you.” I hadn’t really been following Eleanor’s advice up until then, so I figured if I did a month at the Fringe, it would make up for at least a year of not doing anything that scared me.
The show did well and I brought it back the next year. I didn’t return the following year, because I was terrified to create a new show. How could I do better than the first show? Were my expectations too high? Was it even worth it? Again, Eleanor’s voice rang out in my head. So, in 2105 I brought my solo character show Late with Lance! to the Fringe and produced someone else’s show. Yes. It scared me, but in the end again, it was totally worth it.
After these triumphs, what else could I do? What would my new show be about? I’m not one of those folks who joins a cult, or goes on a thousand dates, or puts myself through an ayahuasca experience in South America so I’ll have some juicy material to base a show on. I wasn’t going to start doing standup. And I certainly wasn’t going to do a play with (gulp) other people!
But I knew I had to return to the Fringe to be inspired. To have faith in art again. To face my fear and have some fucking fun.
About a year ago, I whined to a friend about my dilemma. “I don’t have a new show. Why can’t I just show up at a theater a create a show on the spot?” My friend replied, “Because that sounds terrifying.” And that’s when I knew I had to do just that. Just. Show. Up. Easy, right? NO!
Outside of Facebook, I’m not a famous person. A non-famous person cannot just show up and entertain an audience half-full of strangers for an hour. What the hell was this show going to be? Well, I’ve been writing, performing, directing and producing solo shows forever, so I used that as a jumping off point. I’d create a solo show based on the lives of the audience. And it would obviously be called Show Up. Easy, right? NO!
There had to be a structure. There had to be a why. There had to be stakes and a story and twists and turns. There had to be something vulnerable and human. I called my director late one night and said, “This show has to also be about my damn social anxiety and depression. And the audience. And hope.” She agreed. And that’s exactly what the show is about – in addition to being about the audience’s own enlightening and shite life experiences.
I booked dates at a theater (because let’s face it, there’s nothing more terrifying than plunking down tons of money to rent a theater in NYC for a show that you’re semi-improvising) and it happened. I was getting off on the fear! Then I did it again a few weeks later. I liked not having a clue about what was going to happen on that stage. And again a week later. I enjoyed seeing the audience going along for a mystery ride to an unknown destination. And again and again.
I had to bring this show to the Fringe. And I had to jump on board to produce yet another show at the Fringe in addition to my own. And I had to say yes to being in yet another show at the Fringe. What the hell? Am I terrified? YES! But, in my mind, I’ve changed the word “terrified” to “excited”and that’s a lot easier to deal with.
I don’t know if Eleanor Roosevelt reads Fringe blogs from the great beyond, but if you are reading this, thank you for scaring the crap out of me. And thank you for challenging me to face my fear, instead of running from it. And thank you for letting my cluelessness give me a clue.
Show Up plays the Laughing Horse Free Festival at the Counting House (39 W Nicolson), at 15.30 every day during EdFringe (dark 14 & 21 Aug)