When you write a show for the Edinburgh festival at some point you have to stop writing and perform, and with hour slots being in short supply you find yourself performing anywhere and everywhere. Last week I came off performing my show twice a night on the biggest cruise ship in the world (most likely Universe) to performing twice on a Friday night in Shaftesbury. To give that its full context, Shaftesbury is in North Devon, has a population of 7315 (roughly). The Harmony of the Seas is currently in the Mediterranean and has a passenger population of 6780, plus 2300 crew.
Spot the difference
The Harmony can travel at 25 knots, while Shaftesbury travels at, well, nothing. I mean it's a town it can’t move (do try and keep up). In fact if anything Shaftesbury travels back in time.
It is a beautiful town, as soon as you enter you want to move there, uninvent technology and bake bread (the famous Hovis advert was filmed here to inspire such things). It also stands 215 metres above sea level, so it's one of the few things that can look down on the Harmony of the seas (sort of).
New fringes and festivals start up all the time, with more failure than success. It’s a complete risk for the performer to attend. I have personally twice done so and ended up with no crowd or worse (yes there is such thing as worse. Locals annoyed that you are in their pub) but never do I learn and I tried again. I am very pleased I did.
Due to me only being down for one night I performed my show twice, at 6pm and 8pm and both shows were packed. I mean I say packed, my room only held about 25 people but less is more. Not only is Shaftesbury a beautiful place but the locals are lovely (or at least 50 of them are), they were happy and supportive. At least ten minutes of my show had never been said on stage before and they laughed at the funny bits and smiled at the 'Come on Luke you need to do better than that' bits.
(Although one brand new bit got a good laugh in first show and nothing in second. I mean come on guys all in or all out. What am I supposed to do with that feedback?)
My only regret is that I couldn’t do the full weekend as I was working but I look forward to going back next year, and maybe in between just to enjoy the beautiful little town.