The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is over for the year but Texan, Elaine Liner takes a look back at her Edinburgh experiences and shares some of her marketing secrets.
When I finally started telling my friends back home in Dallas, Texas, that I had written a play I’d be performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer, they all asked: “What’s it about?”
I usually said, “It’s about knitting.” And then they’d change the subject. Pretty sure most of them thought I was delusional. Who’d want to see a play about knitting performed by a 59-year-old Texan making her acting debut in a 30-seat theatre at the biggest arts festival on the planet?
Well, it turns out lots of people did. As I head home after 32 days in Edinburgh and 25 performances of Sweater Curse: A Yarn about Love, I’m still amazed and happy that, given more than 2000 choices of shows at this year’s Fringe, so many theatergoers took a chance on mine. I had five-star reviews and full houses, including the final Sunday.
When the lights would come up at a performance and I’d see patrons knitting and crocheting in their seats, I couldn’t help but smile. That’s what I’d envisioned as I spent a year rehearsing and polishing the play.
For months before I got to Scotland, I emailed knitting clubs in and around Edinburgh, inviting them to see my play at the Fringe and reminding them to bring their knitting. I Tweeted and Facebooked, too, making contact with yarn stores, pub and cafe knitting groups, and individual crafters, especially seniors. This, more than the usual “flyering” on the Royal Mile, brought me an audience I knew would understand my show.
Because Sweater Curse isn’t really a play about knitting. If you saw it — and thank you to everyone who did — you know that my message is more than just a lesson in the history of putting stitches on needles.
What I want to share with this piece is a little journey through the knotty problems of finding love. And to let people of every age know that sometimes you have to “tink back” a few times in life to learn the tough lessons. Also, that age is no barrier to living your dreams, whatever they may be.
A big reason I came to Edinburgh with this show is that I will turn 60 this November. I’ve never had a “bucket list,” but this year I did develop a “Why not?” philosophy. Write a play based on my obsessions with knitting and my history of lousy boyfriends? Why not? Take it to the Fringe as a total unknown? Why not? Raise the thousands of dollars it takes to do that? Sure, why not?
And it happened. Best of all, my tribe of women and men who love making things, who love theatre … who love — they found me. And for 60 minutes in a tiny spot above Grassmarket, our lives were knitted together.
Now the question I keep hearing is: “Will you be back at the Fringe next year?”
At this moment, I can’t think of a single reason why not.
Elaine also features in our Age Scotland video from the Big Knit event.