My bucket list for my 40th turned out to be a list of the realistic and the aspirational. Although if you had asked me when writing it I would have got that categorisation completely wrong. One of the things I didn’t think I would be doing was planning my first trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. But thanks to the Network of Independent Critics not only am I heading to Edinburgh, but I’ll be spending a whole week there, and I also get to experience this ‘first’ with Seren.
My hopes and dreams for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival mainly focused on being able to immerse myself in theatre- to escape, to regroup, to re-energise. What I had failed to have any awareness of was how much fun the build up is for someone who loves project managing, bullet journals, stationery and excel spreadsheet.
The moment the Fringe programme dropped into my hands I knew stepping into the unknown was going to be an amazing thing. The decision-making process of filtering over 2000 productions into those which we can fit into our week was a welcome challenge and distraction from project planning at work. With sticky notes, highlighter pens, and eventually the joy of an excel spreadsheet I have enjoyed planning for the Edinburgh Fringe.Fortunately for me, it transpired there were some quick wins to reduce our options without having to exercise judgement. For us, these were determined by the timing of our trip, and that Seren was coming on this journey.
As we’re travelling to the Fringe due to the support of the Network of Independent Critics, we are focusing on children’s theatre. What I am really eager to explore with Seren is what makes good theatre from the perspective of a nine year-old. I’m already appreciating that Seren doesn’t need to limited by children’s theatre. A trusty pink biro also came in well for exploring the entire Fringe programme. Fortunately again, the two non-negotiables came into play- Seren is nine, and the dates of our trip.At the point of having more productions circled than time, I decided I needed to make use of sticky notes. I decided to make my way through the programme and shortlist the productions which I thought would most appeal. In doing this I played to Seren’s character. Weighing up how much Seren would enjoy the main themes contained in the descriptions for each performance.
This wasn’t entirely cut and dry. I admit a few were added which appealed to me. Many were thrown in because I very much want Seren to have strong female role models in her life. But the majority, I hope cut it with Seren. And because this really is about her, The Greatest Showman Sing-Along made its way onto our shortlist despite the 21.45 showtime- because it is her summer holiday too!Sticky notes completed, I suddenly remembered something I had read about venues, and appreciating walking distances. I realised it’s not just making sure start times and durations are considered but also map references. Oh my!And suddenly, it became clear. Sticky notes and beautiful pens are one thing. Nothing achieves the efficiency of moving things around on a spreadsheet. To make sure the favourites stay on the shortlist. To ensure it’s possible to make the most of the location. And to make sure as much as possible we’ve got the best variety to keep a nine year-old engaged.And with the spreadsheet underway, there was a great reason to find some more sticky notes to identify our ‘shorter list’. To review, and with Seren’s eye – change our minds and alter our spreadsheet completely. And then, after reading some posts about planning for Edinburgh, I realised that my project management gene was excessive. And so we pared our plans back a little more. Making sure we had free time. To find time to enjoy Edinburgh. To catch the shows which haven’t yet made it to our shortlist. To eat, and to be. So, if the Edinburgh Fringe comes remotely close to the fun I’ve had preparing for it- it’s going to be fantastic!
Disclosure: Seren and I are staying in Edinburgh with the Network of Independent Critics. I have press accreditation from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. All words and opinions written are our own.