Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Of Deformities and Inaccurate Shorts

What massively fashionable things, I hear you ask in your minds even though you didn't know you were, are you wearing today, Léonie, oh Queen of all that is zeitgeisty?

Well, funny you should subconsciously ask! Today I am sporting some tiny pink shorts with the word FLIRT misleadingly scrawled across the bum, a pink t-shirt with stuff on it (don't look too closely at the stuff, please) and hair that is somewhere between a bird's nest and a pack of angry ferrets. As you might have guessed, I have not ventured outside yet.

Instead, I have been doing admin. This is today's admin outfit and it is serving me well so far.

Firstly, I have a contract to sign. A contract from Contact Theatre. A contract from Contact that says, "Hey, you know that solo show in November? That one we've been talking about? Are you def going to do it? Anyway, if you are then could you sign this and send it back? Cheers, loveyabye!". (I am slightly paraphrasing.)

I am doing a solo show. This year. With, like, music and stories and stuff. In a proper theatre that isn't just in my mind. I have dates for rehearsals and development and writing and stuff, all of which I have to remember everytime my face starts to cave in through sheer overwhelmedness. Actually, though, I am just really excited. My knees are tingling and my hair is tangling. Everything is happening. Breathe.

The other thing I have been doing is creating the word "Edmin". This is admin that you have to do before taking a show to the Edinburgh Festival. If someone else has thought of this word before I have then frankly I do not want to know. Edmin! I am so proud of myself.

I have been to the Fringe loads, but this is the first time in ten years (ten years!) that I have been there with a show. Five years ago I went for a few weeks, stayed there and got a job flyering. I decided that year that I was going to dress up in essentially evening wear everyday, but with big boots to keep out the Scottish summer (see: rain). It did make the whole thing considerably more fun, and I loved hanging about, talking to other flyerers, making friends and allegiances (and even the odd enemy). I bloody love the Fringe. I love all of it: the shows, the conversations, the music, the drinking, the packs of earnest students flyering for their production of Hamlet in the belly of a whale, suddenly looking at your watch and realizing it's four in the morning and the sun is about to rise when you thought it was probably about midnight. I wrote a blog post about it when I was there in 2007: you can read that here.

I went and read it just now, and remembered this phrase, which aptly sums up the Fringe for me - "at the Edinburgh Festival, every night is like a Saturday night and every day is like a Sunday."

This time, though, a SHOW! With Lowri Evans and Sophie Willan, on the Top Deck of the Comedy Bus at Three Sisters, from 2nd-12th August, 1.45-2.45pm. It's called Wrong Place, Right Time.

Yes, we are doing a show on the top deck of a bus. It is, we have been assured, a converted, stationary bus. I really hope so, as I wouldn't fancy performing to a mix of pensioners, school children and generally hacked-off-with-festival-idiots Edinburgh folk, just doing rounds of the ring road then stopping off for ten minutes outside a Lidl while the driver smokes a fag and everyone gets a bit hot.

Ben and Dan are also taking a show up, so the whole band will be there, and we will hopefully be doing some busking as well. That's another thing I have done this morning, filled in all the busking application forms, which, oddly, was when I felt a massive surge of EDINBURGH WAHOO YAY CALLOO CALLAY GOING TO THE FESTIVAL OMG !!!!1!!!!, etc. I think because I saw a photo of the Royal Mile and it zinged my brain a bit.

Loads has happened to me at the Edinburgh Fringe over the many, many years I have trotted up there. I have fallen in love, been dumped, been abused, argued, sneaked into celebrity parties, snogged comedians, slept on doorsteps, eaten more baked potatoes than it would take to build a baked potato version of Arthur's Seat, partied, wept, drank, sung, lay on the ground with bodypaint on, mocked wanky students, been a wanky student, lost phones, bankcards, wills to live and always been reduced to a happy husk of a human by the end of it all.

This year is more Serious because I have a show to perform and one to promote in Manchester in November. I am doing this for My Career, and I am going to give myself a stern talking to before I go. But hopefully I won't listen to myself too closely, as I still plan on being that happy husk by the time I come back.


So, last week I morphed into the Elephant Man. My face swelled up for no reason and I had to go to A&E because my throat started closing up. I still don't know why, but they did blood tests and stuff, couldn't find anything wrong so just gave me loads of medication. Weird, but I am better now. At the time I was convinced that I would definitely remain like that for the rest of my life, and had already decided that I would have to find a career that meant I would never have to leave the house, like an Internet Understander or something. I had just begun to plan my memoirs which were going to be called something like De-Faced: A Tale of Courage when it started getting better. It's OK now, so the memoir has been shelved for the time being.


Eggs Collective are performing at Islington Mill this Sunday! Sara, Lydia, Lowri and I have been working tirelessly, fueled only by coffee, a billion pastries and raucous laughter. I have loved hanging about Islington Mill (where our studio is as well), making stuff and taking breaks in the baking courtyard. Yesterday Eggs and CHERYL (the performance collective from New York) bonded over a YouTube clip of one of Jedward breaking a leg on stage. It was heartwarming. CHERYL are cool, we love them quite a lot.

If you are in Manchester this weekend you should definitely come to the Mill. It is going to be nuts.


Enough of my droning. I have to go and re-think my outfit before I have to leave the house. The shorts just aren't working for me, partly because the word "FLIRT" is inaccurate, partly because they are short to the point of unseemly, but mostly because they are just generally, all-round horrible.

What works for Edmin, remember, does not always work for the outside world.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

On Thirty

Alternative titles for this post:

Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon Now

(Crow's) Feat of Strength

The Wise Contemplations of a Grown Up Human Who Still Collects Stickers

My thirtieth birthday was ages ago now. Nearly a month! Crikey, I am well thirty. The celebrations (note the plural) involved the following:, champagne, kiwi cocktails, clinique, cake, cards, kisses, green dresses, tapas, paella, flowers, paintings, plastic frogs, cocktail umbrellas, white wine, leather shorts, obscene heels, being the one to leave the celebrations in the staff room, taking the malteasers out of the celebrations box first, sambucca roulette, scrap books, homemade presents, manicures, pedicures, family, friends, singing, first-time Manchester visitors, brilliantness, excellence and much, much more...

I have made a few resolutions upon turning thirty. Although I am a firm believer that Age Is Just A Number and You Are Only As Young As You Feel, it seems as good a time as any to decide to be an intrinsically better person. My resolutions are basically to not mind my profile (as in the side of my face, rather than any social media jazz), particularly seeing as quite a few people who I happen to respect and think are quite clever about things and the world don't seem to mind it half as much as I do. So, there's that. There are also other ones involving career and stuff, but they're too long winded and clichéd to go into.

My Grandma turned eighty a few days after I hit thirty. Lots of family members all went to the Lake District and stayed for a few days. It's quite a place to contemplate aging: all that rock heaving itself through millenia as our human geology moves at lightning speeds. We went for a walk, did scree-scrambling and false peaks and mexican waving to a paraglider who raised a laconic, gloved hand in response. We got to the real top and lay on the wind-flattened grass, some people doing gymnastics as the sunlight rested on patches of the hillside. Then the wind began snuffling through clothing cracks, so we started our long descent, then round the lake and back for foamy pints of ale in the pub garden. Grandma had a great time. Family from all around the world, a sunny weekend, watching a football match in the pub and lots of food and drink. On the Sunday evening we played a rounders game in the last dregs of sunlight, which quickly became alarmingly competitive, as grown men launched themselves into unwitting nieces, boyfriends aimed tennis balls at the backs of their girlfriends' heads, and every point was vehemently argued. Eventually we decided to call it a day, call it a draw ("Oh, so this is a FRIENDLY now, is it?!") and retire to the house for pomegranate martinis. The whole weekend was fantastic, really.

Since then, well. I have done some gigs. One at home, with tealights and wine, and lovely friends. One was a wedding, which felt like being in another world for a weekend. It felt so far away from Manchester, so other, that it made me miss another life, made me wonder where I would be if I had never moved up North. It occured to me that I have never thought of it like that before, so certain have I been that I made the right choice back in 2008. It shook me a bit, that idea. That small, sneaky what if. I'm not sure whether it was a slight delayed reaction to turing thirty, that feeling of suddenly being confronted with my choices, but it was weird. All week I have been spiralling down that road which, combined with deadlines and job applications and boring, indoor stuff (as well as a cruel head cold) has made me a bit shaky on my feet. Now, though, after a weekend of proper sleep and conversation, I feel a bit more solid.

This week is Eggs-orientated. We are doing a residency at Islington Mill for their Off With Their Heads Jubilee Event, curated by totally insane and brilliant New York-based performance collective CHERYL. Lydia has been at the Mill all last week creating wonder, and I can't wait to get down there. Did I show you our teaser trailer? No? It's here, if you want to look. (Oh and I made a website for my WORK with some songs on it and a video clip and some weird writing in the third person which I might go and change to the first person or something. Anyway, it's here.) I am excited to get cracking (pun INTENDED) on all this Eggs stuff, I think the Jubilee party is going to be amazing and we have the space to stretch out into proper ludicrous excellence.

Then in a few weeks it's Ben's show at the Royal Exchange which I am playing cello for. God, I am sorry but here is another link, this time to the trailer of the show. I am in it - they made me drink wine those monsters. It's also me on cello, the introduction to the show that Dan and I wrote, I kind of love that piece of music.

So, clearly thirty is going OK so far! I am sort of glad a had a bit of a crisis, it's not good for everything to be too good all the time, I might get complacent and start thinking I don't have to try anymore. I think it just sort of hit me that this is my life now, not some kind of extended run up period. (That's philosophy, right there! Move over, de Botton.) I think I am still a bit, kind of "really?!" about the whole 'you're a grown up, now' endeavour, but then I consider the fact that this week I am going to spend most of my time in a studio making weird art and I start thinking perhaps I am doing grown up alright, for me. It reminds me of that bit in Spaced where Daisy says to Tim, horrified "they're younger than us!" and Tim snorts and replies "only physically!".

Yeah, that, really. Bring on the mental art.