Edinburgh Festival `99: Diary, Rebecca Lacey Actress

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The Independent Culture
SO WHAT is this Edinburgh Festival thing? It's August, yet it feels like October. Surely this is no way to spend a summer, even a British one. Yet the streets are heaving. Why? "It's the madness," they say. And they're right. For me this is an exercise in "feeling the fear". After three years working solely in television, where better to bungee back into live performing than here? And the fact that it is a great part in a funny new play helps. There are more than 2,000 performers in more than a hundred venues, which makes for an explosive mix of creative talents. Anyone can become a sell-out sensation. All you need is a small venue and a clutch of good reviews.

For all its open generosity, this is still a fiercely competitive environment. There is an almost tangible freedom of expression in the air. Social barriers are lifted and punters feel able to tell you what they think without reticence or formality.

Inevitably I have developed another layer of skin as a result. Our show is doing well, but I'm still left wondering why performers return year after year. Everyone seems to be losing money. But I suppose for those with artistic integrity there is still no better forum for experimental work. After all, it is simply a massive trade fair and you never know who might buy your wares.

Rebecca Lacey is in `It's Not the End of the World', Pleasance, Venue 33, 4pm, to 30 Aug

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