The Cardinals are taking their biblical quasi puppet show to Edinburgh. It opens on Monday and we’re back to honing once more.
Though the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is clearly the greatest arts festival in the known universe, it is also a total pain in the backside. Much of this pain derives from the fact that although it welcomes every form of theatre imaginable, it only welcomes it so long as it isn’t technically complicated, the get-in doesn’t take long, the set isn’t very big, the show doesn’t take long, the get-out doesn’t take long and the cast isn’t big (or doesn’t need paying). With her usual resourcefulness Charlotte has dealt with 90% of these problems by finding The Cardinals a great home a Greyfriars Kirk all the rest of us have had to do is deal with the “show doesn’t take long” element.
WARNING: This Blog Post is beyond ‘minority interest’
In most contexts running time isn’t a great issue, the show is as long as it needs to be, but in Edinburgh audiences are often trying to slot a series of shows together into a schedule and a line of thinking started to develop that a running time of 1 hour 30 would be more useful than 1 hour 45, did we feel it would be possible to lose 15 minutes of material from a show we’re already happy with? Was this madness? Was this a sell out?
First up: The Opening… The Cardinals has thus far always stared with a form of Pre-Credit Sequence, it’s a gentle introduction to the world of the show, it introduces the team and their setting and sets up the notion of ‘the void’. I like it very much, it lasts nine minutes, we’re losing it for this edit, we’re putting a little of the material in at 11:57 to reward the early arrivals, I’m sure the full version will return when the gigs come rolling in from this Edinburgh run.
Next: The Interval / The Stage Manger / The Crusades and everything else… it is interesting how the formal challenge of cutting time from the show has emboldened us to make some changes that I am convinced have improved the show.
Our device for performing The Resurrection has always been a bit fiddly to install and remove, it was a legacy of an idea that got lost along the way (trying, in the midst of a show about ‘poor illusion’ dropping in a genuinely excellent illusion). This fiddlieness wasn’t originally a great problem as it came directly after the interval. However, when we decided to do away with the interval it became a pain. When trying to cut 15 minutes from the show that pain became acute. You can’t cut the resurrection from The Bible Story so you need to find a new way of doing it. Opening this area of the show up for review allowed us to find a stronger route for the Stage Manager figure through the show. Being in pruning mode also gave us the motivation to do a further revision of the Crusades section, which extends our crimes against history, but improves the theatre.
We ran the newly trimmed show this morning. New running time 1 hour 30 minutes and 15 seconds, but don’t worry, I know where we can lose the 15 seconds.
The show is now both shorter and better, it isn’t better because it is shorter, but striving to make it shorter has helped us make it better.