I just got a new writing challenge for the new year. (rubbing hands together with glee) One of our customers has been accepted to perform at the Edinborough Fringe Festival in August and I’m going to write a play for them.
There are a number of limitations – set limitations (the shipping would be astronomical), costume limitations (only what can fit in a suitcase), casting limitations (7 girls, 3 guys).
They’ve asked for a comedy – a scene comedy but not a sketch comedy. They’ve got great singers so there’s going to be some singing. Nothing school related. No stereotypes (I think I can do that one;) ).
I love a list of things I can’t do when writing. A list of boundaries. It sets my little brain on fire to think of how to get the end result with hurdles along the way.
I spent seven years on the fringe circuit here in Canada. Driving across Canada in a car with no air conditioning in the summer, now that’s a good time! Montreal to Edmonton ( and once to Vancouver), the fringe is where I learned how to write plays. And write plays with limitations! When you perform at the fringe, your set/costumes and props are usually what fits in your car. You only get one session with your venue technician so lights and sound can’t be that difficult. Every play has a time limit and you can’t go over because the next show is coming in right behind you.
It was a great learning experience (although I’m glad I don’t do it today. Just thinking about those tours is tiring me out…) and was basically my writing school. There’s nothing like an audience to show you exactly what is right and wrong with your play. There’s no better feeling when you’re able to gather a packed house of complete strangers and they enjoy the experience.
The fringe was a great place to experiment and explore. I saw such strange performances that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Main stream theatre just doesn’t encourage experimentation these days. To that end the fringe was a place where you could fail without losing your shirt. And oh, did we fail a couple of times! There’s one play we did that has never, ever seen the light of day again. It wasn’t bad, it was just a big ole failure….
So I’m pretty excited about the new year and the new challenge to come. That I think is what is so wonderful about writing. I’m not skydiving or climbing Mount Fuji, or learning astrophysics. It’s just a play. So why not take on that challenge and run with it?