One of the fascinating aspects of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the numbers: 3,300 shows, 2 million tickets sold, adaptations of Jane Austen novels too numerous too count (though I believe our producing intern, Kate, saw them all).
So now that we’ve wrapped our first visit to the festival, I thought it would be a fitting time to take a little inventory of our own.
The number of people who came to see Ndebele Funeral at Summerhall: 1,351.
The (approximate) number of other people’s shows the company went to see: 301. (That’s about 60 shows each!)
The pounds of chips (fries) eaten: I’d rather not remember…
Number of pints of beer drunk: I really can’t remember…
New friends made: more than we can count.
Amount raised through audience donations for local aid and education organizations in South Africa: $2,000.
Flyers for Ndebele Funeral that we handed out: 7,500.
Flyers other people handed to us: 7,500. (Seriously, you get handed a flyer about every five minutes in Edinburgh.)
Posters for Ndebele Funeral that we put up: 325.
Stars from reviewers for Ndebele Funeral: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (35!)
Worst pitch for a show: “Free stand up comedy. It may not be funny, but, hey it’s free.”
To close our tour blog, I asked our company to share a favorite moment from their month at the largest arts festival in the world.
For me it was hanging out with our amazing technical team of Ian, Mia, and Zoe before each show. I loved learning about their different experiences and stories from working on festivals around the world.
Oy. Maybe it was the chance to reflect about our whole trip up Calton Hill. It's so peaceful. It gave me a lot of positivity. Wasn't like a depressing end.
Filming Catherine Wilson from the roof of a building with a view of all of Edinburgh.
Also all of the random conversations that I had with people from all over the world. You walk into a bar alone and in five minutes you are having a conversation about anything in the world. One evening I had a random conversation with an engineer that went on for four hours. By the end of it there was a huge group of us hanging out while the engineer and his friend had a drinking contest.
Dashing up to Arthur’s Seat at sunset. You look around at the panoramic view of the mountains and castles and fields an are reminded of how fleeting and ephemeral the maelstrom of the fringe actually is.
That and having a mime pretend to glue a unicorn horn to my forehead and chop it off at the end of the show.
And Yusef had a lot of favorite moments from Edinburgh but his favorite moment of the tour occurred in South Africa and it seemed like a fitting way to close the Smoke & Mirrors Collaborative Tour blog for summer 2015.
'I was born in a shack like this..' Mandisi begins the monologue - sharing his upbringing with an audience, usually apologetically.
In NDEBELE FUNERAL'S last performance in Kliptown, before an audience who had arrived from their very real shacks, 'I was born in a shack like this' was a surrender, a release, a confession.
Mandisi surrenders this secret mightier now. Mandisi's confession is what he owes - to this Sowetan audience - to these youth who are him - to these elders of mentors, artists, and healers - who are watching their dreams unfold through him. Mandisi owes them this return home - the place of his (character) birth.
Several years back, I, Yusef, had been making some subtle inner strides in forgiveness. I wrote to my Dad, pages - forgiving him for many transgressions. I journeyed home to forgive him, face to face. It was the most terrifying thing I had ever done. The vulnerability - I was that nauseous and afraid little boy all over again. Soon after forgiving my Dad, I started to absorb the courage that took. Forgiveness released us both from trapped guilt. Forgiveness gave longevity to new hopes that we both coveted quietly or that were dying within us.
In that Soweto community center, we had one single bulb, near the corrugated iron door's entrance. The rest of the shack's dearth no longer matter.
Go home. Open the door. Be that one light. Give hope back. '