Inspiration in Edinburgh

Finding passion at Fringe Festival

By C. F. Ballou

This past August I had the fortunate opportunity to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, to bear witness to the largest arts festival on earth. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival sprawls itself along the Scottish city’s Royal Mile, a stretch of historical road that connects Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle (the Queen of England stays at the Holyrood during her periodic visits; these vacations usually include hunting in the Scottish countryside for the men of the Royal family). Bagpipes are in abundance, and buskers randomly begin their street performances after scoping out their ideal locations on the Mile; they’re happy for any and every additional face in their spontaneous audiences. Scottish gift shops and rooftop restaurants drape this row of art-infested, ubiquitously urban Europe. Tourists and locals convene in the city’s small theaters and open-microphone pubs at most hours of the day and night, often with a fine Scottish pint in hand. The geographical diversity of the event is blatant: acting troupes from Chicago and Wisconsin, break-dancing brigades from Boston and Beijing, a female comedian from Toronto via Jamaica and (what seemed like) every continent’s brotherly band of improvisational bohemian percussionists. A rock-‘n’-roll group from Helsinki did its best renditions of delta blues standards, though much to the dismay of my Son House-influenced eardrums. For a tad more structure and a little less contemporary art, visitors can purchase tickets to a multitude of plays or operas. The eclectic array of attractions caters to audiences as diverse as the performers themselves, enabling all artistic interests to be occupied.

At the Fringe I hoped to discover the significance of passion in relation to my writing. The comedic world could surely provide a bountiful selection of clever jokes for the idea of a 21 year old travelling with his parents, but having my parents with me on this trip seemed appropriate. They have always been the utmost supporters of my interests and the chief preachers and contributors of the importance of travel and writing in my life. The predominant reason for our excursion was to see our own local Amity Drama Department’s rendition of Almost Maine, a play by John Cariani. Though our fandom for the Amity drama students extends endlessly, we were chiefly there to see my sister, Alida, who was performing in the show. The group performed four times over the course of a week, and having seen the performances myself, I confidently conclude: Each of them was stellar. However, the trip held more significance for me and my own artistic endeavors. Something all of these artists shared in common, including my sister’s high school comrades, was the passion for contributing their art to the whole of the Fringe. The passion stuck with me.

Exposing yourself to foreign places and corners of the globe distant from your familiar environment inevitably leads to the broadening of personal perspectives. Writing and traveling have remained constant passions throughout my own life, and in my journeys I’ve found myself trying to maintain consistent passion throughout my leisure writings and those for school. This trip came at a perfectly peculiar time for me artistically; my passion for writing as an English major at Southern Connecticut State University and my desire for consistent progress were fused with a fresh experience in a new place, and the main event was an artistic one, to boot. An incredible spectacle of creative expression to encounter, the Fringe presented over 40,000 performances of roughly 2,600 different shows during its four weeks. My newly enhanced inspiration has been largely induced by my summer experiences at the Fringe. An artist’s voracious passion to perform is a necessity, whether in writing, on a stage, or on a sidewalk.

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