SO, this weekend I found myself sitting behind a sound desk at Sweet Venues on the Grassmarket, cueing sound effects and slides for Princess Pumpalot: The Farting Princess.
How this state of affairs came about is a long story, and one for another time, but it got me thinking.
While thousands of performers have their moment in the spotlight during the Fringe, what about the army of technicians, stage crew and faceless behind the scenes creatives and venue managers, without whom not a light would shine, nor a sound-effect play. In many ways they get the short end of the stick as well as taking the wrath of companies when things go wrong.
Actors come and go, performing in their hour long time slot and escaping shortly after their audience, as another cast take to the stage, but venue techs are there all day, at the beck and call of directors expecting to have their every whim catered for... and that’s the problem. I have come to the conclusion that many heading to the Fringe for the first time, have no concept of the scale of the thing, or the make-do-and mend nature of the beast.
Temporary stages or spaces are just that. It’s ridiculous to believe you’ll walk into a space as well equipped as your local theatre, yet many do.
The clever companies go prepared. Minimal set, a flexible lighting design and the most basic of sound can be every bit as dramatic as a full-scale production.
After all, it should be about the performances, shouldn’t it?
Stand-up comics have worked that out - a spotlight and a mic and they’re away.
So next time you go to see a show at the Fringe, and the cast indicate the tech box during the curtain call, turn around and give the guys and girls running the shows a round of applause too.
Without them, there would be a lot of dark, silent venues in the Capital right now.