As a musician/performer... when is it acceptable to take your shirt off during a gig?
According to a band we saw perform this afternoon in Edinburgh, the pre-requisites for taking your shirt off are as follows:
1. You must first ensure that you are not particularly physically fit.
2. You should wait until the crowd are ignoring the warblings of your one handed trumpet playing and are clearly as unexcited by the prospect of you taking your shirt off as you are excited by it.
3. You should wait until you've really done enough to earn it, or in this particular case, one minute into the first song of your strenuous half hour set.
4. You should not show any real sign of physical exertion, or indeed any particular reason to remove your shirt whatsoever.
5. The removal of your shirt should ideally be accompanied by several raised eyebrows, a scattering of confused looks and a chorus of whispered "put it back on".
That being said, we applaud the individuality of those performers who choose to remove their shirts for no particular reason.
It is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival after all. And isn't unwarranted shirt removal really what the Fringe is all about?
For the past four weeks I have been living in Arnold (a suburb of Nottingham). Arnold is a very special place. It is uninteresting without being boring, it is not pretty without being hideous and it has an enormous ASDA. One of my favourite stores was 'Arnold Jeans', a clothing store about 500 metres away from the main road sandwiched in between a church and an apartment block. There are three things I love about 'Arnold Jeans'.
1. The owner stands outside his shop every day waiting for someone to come inside. To my knowledge no one yet has.
2. The prices in the window seem more representative of a upper class high street chain and yet clearly no one in Arnold has enough money to purchase these items.
3. In the window of the store there is every single clothing item you can imagine. Except jeans.
I've been living with my friend Sarah, a wonderful double bassist and human being while I've been rehearsing a new show with the wonderful talented all female theatre company The Gramophones Theatre. Check them out here:
Together we've been building a new show all about travel called Wanderlust. After four weeks of playing and writing and talking and touching the ceiling and hitting the floor and playing ukeleles and pianos and guitars and mandolins and accordions we finally figured out what our show was about. It turns out that it's about travel. Well done us. It's about the journeys we make, the ones we don't, the ones we might have made if things had been different, the people we meet, the stories we tell and what we are left with when it all comes to an end. Whether 1 year old or a hundred, you're never too old or young to have an adventure. That's what we figured out. There was a wonderful quote that I came across by T.S Elliot. I'm going to bastardise it here:
"Our journey is over when you come back to the beginning and see the place as if for the first time."
I've had a wonderful time making songs, taking the writings of the Gramophones and turning them into lyrics, getting my acting chops out again for a little stretch, having a lot of fun writing on the hoof about insane Nor people obsessed with gore and saws, playing a welsh explorer and a rock. Lots of songs have come out of it and it's been lovely to have the ladies singing my tunes and to hear them everyday.
So... we arrived in Edinburgh on Friday night and are staying in a lovely little flat near the city centre. I'm sharing a room with Ben. (our Tech god - the other man - the only one who knows how the projector works). We are very gallantly sleeping in the two nice single beds while we force Ria and Kristy to sleep on the floor and the couch in the lounge. We have performed twice so far, once to an audience of 5 and once to an audience of 10. So if things keep going the way they are in about ten shows time we will have an audience of approximately 1280. Which may be difficult given the capacity of the venue is 50. But we're sure the venue will sort something out. It's a lovely room. The Bottle Room (so far I haven't seen any bottles in it but I'm assuming the reason will become clear as time passes). It's a lovely room for singing which is great news. The show has been going well, it's getting shorter every day because we are changing and cutting things on the fly which is making it tighter and better. Onwards and upwards. Or downwards and shorter...
I have been thoroughly enjoying the Edinburgh world, flyers everywhere, free shows everywhere, people I know everywhere it turns out (never knew I knew so many theatre types, such a small world). So far I've seen four shows, three of which I would highly recommend. The Cold Clear Elsewhere, a lovely piece of storytelling about war brides from Sydney, Red Jungle Fowl, a slick dark comedy about a missing girl in Brazil and The Colour Ham (Magician comedians with some super illusions). My brain is quite dead from watching all these shows and I'm going to take some time off soon.
If you are up un Edinburgh drop me a line or come and see the show:
More to come soon!