Eleanor Conway’s Sober Guide to The Fringe

The Fringe is one of the arts calendar’s heaviest drinking months of the year, with performers’ bars open until 4am every night. And great fun though that is, Eleanor Conway thinks that a bit of sobriety could be just what performers need to stay sane and make the most of their month at the largest arts festival in the world.

Go home and get some sleep

The most important month in your calendar is finally here… The Fringe is in full swing, your show is great, and audiences are coming.

But how do you play it? Do you stay in and concentrate on your art, or do you do the ‘networking thing’ at the multitude of bars etc?

There’s definite merit to going out. This is the only time of the year where all your peers and industry are in one place and it’s a real opportunity to connect an email address to a face and begin to forge a relationship.

Well, I’ve done super-heavy drinking Fringes in the past, where I’ve ended up literally crawling on bars in week three with a cough that would make Dot Cotton call the doctor.

Speaking from my personal experience, part of my drinking was bravado and fear based. That might not apply to everyone, but placing even a small amount of that into an environment like the Fringe with its big egos and unmet expectations is an absolute psychological disaster waiting to happen, especially as we move through the month.

But now I’m a changed woman, I’m here with a debut stand-up show about extremes and addiction, and I’m trying to live a sober life while still being social.

It’s my sixth Fringe and it’s the third one I’m doing sober, so I thought I’d share some of my tips for balancing socialising with sanity during the Fringe.

Your Show is Fine. Really.

Edinburgh is built on bigging up your show/PR company/talent agency. But by bigging up your own show, you’re essentially throwing others off their game.

Just remember pretty much everyone is losing money or will break even at best. All this bravado is to rationalise to ourselves that we’re all not mad for doing so.

Remember that Edinburgh is a long game and the results are based on the whole month rather than your last show.

Make a List and Check it Twice.

Write a list of three realistic things you want to achieve during the month.

Every time you start to feel envious or distracted by a conversation you had in the Abattoir or someone else’s review, or the fact you didn’t spend more on posters, go back to your list.

You’ll always feel crap if you’re constantly looking at others’ progress for measurement.

Realise When it’s Time to Go Home

Nothing of note gets said or orchestrated after a certain time and pretending anything otherwise is wrong. But I’ve been guilty as anyone…

If you find yourself drifting into an over the shoulder stare, a cookie-cutter conversation or leaping onto a new bit of meat in the Loft Bar, it’s a sign that you’re tired and that you’re not taking care of yourself. Go home and get some sleep.

But not before apologising to the other person. A solid person will nod and understand. A buffoon won’t be listening.

You can see Eleanor’s free show Eleanor Conway’s WALK OF SHAME 19:45 4-28 (not 15) at Frankenstein’s Pub. Find her on Twitter @eleanorconway and online www.eleanorconway.com