It is very easy to ensure your experience as a Fringe performer is dire and spirit-crushing.
Just follow these top five tips and you’re sure to hit the bottom quickly and effectively…
1. Make it all about money. Become fixated on making a profit and ensure every empty seat is a sign of your personal and professional failure. If you can, borrow money from friends and, ideally, colleagues and always have “when you are going to pay them back” hanging in the air like a festering wasp, close to death, but still managing to stay annoyingly aloft. Try to lend money to someone else (or even more than one person) while you are up there, using money you don’t really have.
Put a lot of unplanned spending on credit cards (buy a new smart phone if you can just for the Fringe) and exceed an agreed overdraft, to act as another financial ball and chain holding your happiness back.
If you can, get into an early and big row with your producer (and ideally colleagues) casting aspersions on their morality and suggesting the profit share is corrupt to the core.
2. Eat a really unhealthy diet, especially fried food, and eat crap sandwiches as you walk along flyering. Drink almost no water or fruit juice, and overdose on caffeine if you can. Try to destroy your liver and the livers of those you care about. Try to eat only Pot Noodles.
3. Be insecure. Worry obsessively about reviews and develop conspiracy theories about your colleagues, friends and even loved ones. They are all judging you harshly. Finally judge yourself harshly too and have a fling with someone who has recently been to the Landmark Forum.
4. Hang around the venue you are performing in every day, for hours afterwards, and also spend a lot of time with the most negative people in your social and professional circle. Try to only interact with cynics and those who are bitter about the theatre industry. Try to bump into a haunted ex.
5. Ensure the show you are in is mediocre. Then you can repeat something that isn’t particularly good for a whole month, driving sadness into your soul like a tent peg into semi-hard treacle. Fix the show in stone and resist all attempts to improve or develop it during the run. Take all criticism and feedback deeply personally and always retreat into the comfort of solitude and dodgy substances. Talk everything down, rename pessimism as realism and doubt the motives of everyone you meet, even yourself.
6. Spend most of your day online, on your phone, reading bad reviews and engaged in angry exchanges on social media. Use your phone like a mirror, constantly seeking affirmation and praise. Burn out staring at the screen, and engaging in distracted conversations with real people, with one eye at least on your social media stream.
7. Try to be irrirated with as many people as possible and become fixated on the people who aren’t doing the washing up in your shared flat, or who leave the seat up or down (depending…).
8. Be a perfectionist and, if you can, a fatalist as well. It is going to go wrong and we will never achieve satisfaction.
Follow this recipe for emotional disaster and your Fringe will be as dire as the journey by cheap coach or outrageously expensive train or orange flight.