As a writer I had always wanted to attend and perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. In 1947 a group of theatre companies just turned up uninvited to the Edinburgh International Festival. The Edinburgh Fringe grew from there and is now regarded as one of the biggest arts festivals in the world. The festival has a wide range of shows from comedy, musicals, street performers, theatre and so on. There is something for everyone.
In 2019, I made the decision to apply, in order to show case my work, as I have been performing my poetry and plays for some years in the UK and internationally, so I thought I’d have a go at Edinburgh!
I decided to showcase my poetry about my experiences being dyslexic. I perform as Sam Rapp (The Dyslexic Poet) . I am dyslexic, dyscalculic and dyspraxic. Lucky me, I have all three!
I wanted to look at a different approach, so wrote my show to highlight disability, whether this is physical or hidden. In my case, I knew I wanted to write a show about dyslexia. I wanted my show to be fun and entertaining so that the audience would engage with challenging content.
My poems, consider hidden perceptions about disability. For example, one of my poems taken from my book “Rant, dyslexic me” is called ‘Ignored’. This poem explores issues with, “You’re useless, lazy, won’t get a job”, and then builds upon the positives of dyslexia: “I can walk in meadows of gold and be free”. I wanted to show a range of work, and just in case the audience felt all dyslexicted out, I had a selection of poems about different themes.
I decided to have some audience participation. ‘We are the Amazing Dyslexics’ is a poem about being positive. It is a message about achievements and was a good poem for the audience to engage with.
The application process for the Fringe was difficult at first as I didn’t understand the forms – they were a mine field of complexities. Also, having to find a venue and accommodation before commencing the full application was a challenge. I have a very good friend and he assisted me in completing the forms. I found the Fringe staff and facilities very helpful. They sent me some useful tips on my media release. They are there to help so don’t be afraid to ask for it. By the end of my stint, all the staff knew me and understood my needs as a neuro-diverse person.
I had a computer issue and I just turned to a man next to me and said “Oh can you help me with this?” He did and he was a journalist from one of the major papers, so you never know who you are going to meet! He asked about my show, and I was able to inform him about it.
It is good to attend the various free workshops that the Fringe put on. I attended as many of the workshops that I was able to get to. The ‘new to the Fringe’ workshops are good as they provide essential information and networking opportunities; as well as an excuse for a chat and a coffee, or just putting your feet up.
My day usually started at 10am, leafleting, marketing and performing. I had two slots booked on the main stage on the Royal Mile which was a good experience – extremely busy and noisy, but fun.
My show was well attended and had positive feedback. I had a great experience at the Fringe. I met some lovely warm, friendly people, all of whom made my first time memorable.
Would I have all the mayhem again? Yes! Would I do things differently? Yes!
I would make sure I ate and slept more, and simply enjoyed the Fringe. So have some fun, dance, drink coffee, eat and enjoy the sights – from Arthur’s Seat to Greyfriars Bobby (Edinburgh’s famous dog).
See you all this year, August 2020:
- The Amazing dyslexic poetry show
- Along with Innocence and Automated (Plays)
(The writer of this blog is dyslexic, and uses read and write software)