An Open Letter To The Shawntourage

I am happy to say that I have arrived back in Toronto and I’m pleased to tell you my journey to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was a success, a huge life experience, and the hardest gig I’ve ever had.

The festival life was challenging: confronted by non-stop rain, frigid temperatures, insane jet-lag, and twelve-hour work days. It was overwhelming to produce a show while figuring out how to use the shower, turn on the plugs, and cross the street without getting hit by a car. It was guerrilla theatre, but it was a hell of a good time.

The entire city of Edinburgh erupts into a celebration of theatre. The madness of the festival is compounded by 21,000 performers from around the world vying for an audience. For a “Fringe Virgin” without a promoter, publicist, previews, or reviews I averaged 30% to 50% houses. This may not sound like a lot, but this is a huge success when considering the average audience for a fringe show is six people. I garnered my audience by literally standing on the street and engaging pedestrians with a flyer as they walked by.

Mim, Anne, and I shared a few tears and many laughs while in the comforts of our gorgeous flat or at our hang-out the Starbar. We laughed about me being scouted by Tilda Swinton’s representatives and experiencing acute food poisoning while onstage, Anne being a witness to a domestic assault and being questioned by an officer who looked like a Chippendale, and Mim’s pining over deceased author Robert Louis Stevenson. Perhaps the most amazing thing was that we were constantly surrounded by our partners and friends who travelled, some as far as Korea, to support us in our Scottish quest. Matt travelled from Toronto to catch the last couple shows. (Also, me just before before the food poisoning hit!)

Presenting my work in front of an international audience took me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to be efficient and to adapt. My journey to Scotland allowed me to share the stage with performers like Margaret Cho, exposed me to amazing comedians like Ruby Wax, and it informed me how to move forward with my career. At the end of each day while watching the firework (yes, one, singular, firework) light up the city’s 16th century architecture, I can’t describe the extreme gratitude I felt to everyone who believed in me and helped facilitate my project.

Thank you to Mim Adams, Anne Barnshaw, and Ed Sahely for their contributions to Survival of the Fiercest. A special thank you to John Austin, Matthew James Hines, and Robert Watson for their advice and support. A special shout-out to Graham and Vivien Black for entrusting a complete stranger with their beautiful flat. A huge thank you to Buddies In Bad Times Theatre who encouraged me to take this leap while providing a financial safety net.

Finally I’d like to thank you for being a part of my journey. This was an incredibly ambitious project to undertake. In less than 4 months, I polished and produced Survival of the Fiercest and successfully raised $15,000 through my Get Evolved campaign. Without your contribution I would not have gained this affirming experience.

I welcome you to the Shawntourage and invite you to be a part of my next journey. In the upcoming months I will focus on developing a stronger infrastructure while building my next show Ginger Nation. This show will deviate from cabaret as I go back to my roots in stand-up and storytelling to salute everyone red, white and recessive.

I look forward to updating you on this exciting project and my gigs throughout the year. I hope the fall season brings you excitement, warmth and fun times!

My deepest gratitude,