Hundreds queue to sell Fringe shows to media

Performers queue up to meet The Scotsman at Fringe Central in the Appleton Tower. Picture: Jane Barlow
Performers queue up to meet The Scotsman at Fringe Central in the Appleton Tower. Picture: Jane Barlow
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FROM A pole dancing rapper and an alcoholic adventure on moonshine, to a comedy of errors that went badly wrong on the first night, they queued for hours to sell their shows to writers covering the world’s biggest arts festival.

Hundreds of performers crammed into the annual Meet the Media session at Fringe Central for what has become one of the top billings for publicists and promoters.

With huge queues snaking around Appleton Tower in the university district, hopefuls turned out in bizarre costumes - or some in next to nothing - to catch the attention of publications covering the Festival.

The Scotsman was the most sought after - at the risk of being immodest - due to its daily Festival pullout and August evening publishing, and our four staff heard from nearly 250 of the 500 performers there.

Among the most outlandish was The Inventor and the Escort at the Gilded Balloon, one of the many bawdy sex comedies at the Fringe.

Jessica Moreno, whose cast have been flyering in the streets in their underwear, said that the show nearly fell at the first hurdle after its ‘props’ were nearly confiscated.

“The Inventor and the Escort is about an eccentric sex-toy inventor and I’m a high-class escort girl who meets him during the worst blizzard in New York’s history”, she said.

“Our props are very fun and colourful, but when our writer-director Matt Morillo was coming through Heathrow and was asked if he had anything to declare, he said ‘I don’t think so.’

After an initially tense run in with airport security, he managed to convince bemused officials to allow them through and showed his Fringe documentation.

“We know the next time we do the show somewhere we’ll have to declare the toys”, Jessica said.

The Play that Goes Wrong, which arrives at the Festival with rave reviews from London, went awry quite literally on its opening night at the Pleasance Courtyard, explained actors Dave Hearn, 25, and Charlie Russell, 24.

“I was doing the fight scene on stage and my shoulder came out of its socket when I hit the floor”, says Dave, wearing a thick shoulder support and grimacing as he recalls the accident.

“I managed to ad lib some lines, before falling through the stage door in agony.”

Charlie said that her colleague’s arm was “hanging down the side of his body” when the cast found him but quickly arranged for a technician named Rob to take his place while he went to hospital.

“He came on in overalls and dived onto the chez long and pretended to be me”, adds Dave.

“There was a heavy moment in the room then the audience burst into applause.

“There was also a bit when he has to carry someone off on a stretcher and he had never done it so he dropped them as well, but we think the audience thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Katie Wilbert, 23, from Los Angeles, had to perform her first Ninja Musical at The Space without her black karate costume after the Scotsman Hotel where she was staying was closed due to last week’s chemical incident.

“I was rather surprised to arrive at the hotel and find some chemical incident going down, but I had my script with me and just about pulled it off.”

She added: “I’m headmaster at ninja university and, after discussing some emotional stuff about why I became a ninja, I put them through the professional education package and we determine your ninja name.

“If you don’t take part I throw projectiles at you.”

John Mark Di Ciacca, 49, a chartered surveyor from Edinburgh, is the host of Moonshine, Medicine and The Mob, at Valvona & Crolla Foodhall at Jenners department store and invites the audience to join him on an “alcoholic adventure” throughout key times in history.

The Scotsman sampled the un-aged bourbon moonshine created by John Mark, an advisor to the Monte Carlo Whisky Society, and can attest that it is akin to rocket fuel.

Meal Ticket is expected to be the most likely show to attract a lawsuit in recent memory, at least if the pitch is anything to go by.

Julie Stenton, 23, from Bristol, and Ben William-Lee, 23, from London, are among six fed-up hospitality workers who tell the horrors of working at celebrity events in London.

It follows members of the Forbidden Fruit Staffing Agency at a “shoddy celeb event” and they regale the audience with what they insist are real anecdotes, pledging to name and shame each star.

Sweet Pang is Innocent, performed by Kate McGrew, 34, from Ohio, follows a rapping pole-dancer as the accounts for her sins in the waiting room to Hell.

Kierkegaard Comedy follows Claus Damgaard, 46, from Copenhagen, as he takes a wry look at the world’s most miserable philosopher.

Claus has appeared in series two of The Killing and will appear in the next season of the Danish hit Borgen.

Patrick Bailey, 22, from south California, queued up from 8am for the 2pm start to tell us about his play Life - An Everyman’s Taleat the Laughing Horse venue.

The Scotsman also met actor Andy Secombe, 60, who played the character of Watto in the Star Wars prequels, and who is the son of Sir Harry Secombe, the central character of the famous BBC comedy The Goon Show.

Together with his wife Caroline Bliss, 52 - who played Miss Moneypenny opposite Timothy Dalton in two Bond films - he is director the drama All or Nothing at The Space on North Bridge.

Victoria Melody’s co-star “Major Tom” – a basset hound – accompanied her to the event as she explained how their twin-track careers as a beauty queen and dog show contender had inspired a show at Summerhall.

“My last show was about northern soul music and pigeon fancying. Some people have said I am the Louis Theroux of the theatre world.

“My husband and I are big David Bowie fans - Major’s named after the song. When we were walking around Brighton people kept saying we should enter him into dog shows.

“I then got the idea of entering into beauty pageants and the show follows our journey over a year when I got to the final of the Mrs Galaxy award and he went to Crufts.”

Among the final two pitches of the day came from the cast of Bonk! a ‘science of sex’ show starring Anhu Chu, 30, from Canada, and Isobel Marmion, 26, from Ireland.

They described the show as the “sex talk your parents definitely didn’t want to have with you”.

Gusset Grippers was the other, which takes its (presumably) female audience through a “pelvic floor party” with Edinburgh physiotherapist Elaine Miller, 41, under the tagline: “She’s not your average physio”.