Written by Julian Lopez-Morillas   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 08:39


    Here we are! The flight from SFO to London was interminable, though it had its highlights—we came over the southern tip of Greenland, with glaciers and rugged mountains, just after dawn, though Ireland was completely lost in overcast—but once we reached Heathrow things began to move very quickly. We breezed through British customs—they waved away our letters from the Fringe and the venue vouching for our good character, wouldn’t even look at them—and after barely an hour in BA’s departures foyer, swarming with energy and diversity, we were called for our connection to Edinburgh. That flight in turn took barely an hour; the overcast broke up as we crossed into Scotland, and we came in over the Pentland Hills to see Bass Rock in the far distance and the Forth Bridges sparkling in the sun.

    It took barely five minutes to collect our checked luggage and three more to find a taxi, with a burly driver who couldn’t have been a better introduction to Edinburgh—stocky, bullet-headed, thick brogue, father, golfer, football fan, with a wonderful sense of humor, who delivered us promptly to our flat. The keys were awaiting us and before we knew it, we had arrived.

    The building is in gray stone—granite?—like seemingly every other in the city,  I would guess early 1800’s, the stairwell narrow and worn, but the flat attractive though small: on the “second” (third) floor, living room overlooking the surprisingly quiet street, modern electric kitchen, small fridge, tiny bathroom and toilet, and the best feature-- the two small bedrooms look out over the interior of the block, lush with trees and gardens, over the far side of which looms the southwest face of Edinburgh Castle:

     We were still pretty energized in spite of having averaged one or two hours of sleep in the last twenty-four, so after putting things away and tidying up we walked out into a lovely late afternoon—the cab driver had told us it was the first rainless day in a week or two—and walked through the Grassmarket and up to the Royal Mile, everything bustling with preparations for the Festival and the Tattoo. We looked into St. Giles’ Cathedral and decided on a pub dinner at Deacon Brodie‘s Tavern, with bangers and mash for me, Scottish salmon for the others and a little sampler of haggis, neeps and tatties for the uninitiated. Strolled back to the flat and put ourselves to bed, in hopes to shake off the jet lag in the next day or two. I was awake in the middle of the night for a couple of hours, my mind whirling with all we have to do today, but eventually got back to sleep and now I’m feeling pretty well refreshed; it’s a little after eight and we’re ready to get the day started. One of the first tasks is to figure out our Internet access; I can’t post this until we do, and though the building seems full of wi-fi networks, we have yet to find one that’s reliable and not password-protected. I’ll post this later this morning from a Starbucks (there’s one two blocks away, of course) if we haven’t been able to get hooked up by then. 

Last Day at Home
Written by Julian Lopez-Morillas   
Sunday, 29 July 2012 15:53

Just over twenty-four hours till liftoff: lots to do, but we feel as though we're on top of it. We must call the airline today for our seat assignments (we could have reserved them earlier, but at a steep surcharge); pack my costume and the show props-- furniture we will scrounge as best we can, and the portrait of Elizabeth, which Michael had transferred to vinyl, was rolled up and mailed a week ago. Arrangements to be made for looking after the cats-- Perdita, Arthur and Alice will be well cared for by our neighbor up the hill, Anita. Getting as much cash as possible into our checking accounts, so we can use our debit cards in Scotland. Trying to pack clothes for the unpredictable UK weather, though considerable rain is a pretty safe bet. We've secured UK mobile phones and a voltage converter and plugs for maintaining power on our various electronic devices-- traveling is so much more complicated than twenty years ago! But I don't think I could survive without my laptop and Kindle!

There's hardly time in all this to think much about the actual show, though i've met twice with Michael and Jeffra in the last two weeks to finalize the cuts that will bring the show down to 75 minutes, the maximum stipulated by our venue (and by now, on all the promotional material). That means leaving out some material that's dear to my heart, notably the gloriously creepy "Porphyria's Lover," and trimming the letters a little more. This is a process that has gone on for several iterations of the show-- the first time I performed it, it ran close to two and a half hours including the intermission-- but it must be done, though I will particularly miss some of Elizabeth's wit and passion in the letters we've had to trim. On the plus side, the show should be tight and consistently hold the audience's interest.

I guess we are as well prepared as we're likely to be, though my anxiety level is a little high. Four weeks is a long time to break with the routine of our daily lives, and a lot of improvisation will be required once we arrive. But we believe in the show, and we're confident audiences will be enthusiastic, though they might be small at first. 

Next post, probably Wednesday. FROM SCOTLAND!

Written by Julian Lopez-Morillas   
Thursday, 12 July 2012 00:00


    We arrive in Edinburgh two weeks from today, and the pace is picking up. We’ve just placed an order for 5000 flyers and 50 posters, with which we’ll try to blanket the city as soon as we get there—we and a few thousand other performers, of course. There will be hundreds of productions all competing for a huge, but ultimately finite, pool of audience members, and I really have no idea how many of them we can reach. It’s directly in our interest to fill our houses as much as possible, not just to make us feel good but because we collect all box office until the guarantee we’ve made the venue is matched—unlikely to happen, but our only prospect of turning any kind of profit.


    We also have to post an insurance bond; mail some set elements to Scotland; figure out how to buy or rent others in the few hours we’ll have before we begin technical rehearsals; make the final arrangements for the flat I’m renting for the four of us; pick up tickets to some shows and concerts we particularly want to see; secure cell phones for our time in the UK; and complete and rehearse the modifications to the script that will bring it in under our allotted 75 minutes.


     One thing I’m particularly looking forward to once we get to Edinburgh is hanging out with my dear old friend Micheal McShane, who will be there the whole time we will. Mike still has a sizeable following in the UK from his appearances on Whose Line Is It Anyway? many years back, and he has several projects going at this year’s festival, including the premiere of a play he’s written. He’s promised to show us around, introduce us to people, get us into some comedy shows free—it’ll be nice to have as a guide someone who knows his way around. There’s so much in the experience about which we have no idea what to expect! 

First Installment
Written by Julian Lopez-Morillas   
Saturday, 16 June 2012 19:46


Welcome to the first installment of The Edinblog, Julian’s journal of taking SLEEP TO WAKE: ROBERT BROWNING REMEMBERS ELIZABETH to this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As of today we’re only eighteen days away from our departure and there’s still a lot to do before we can make this long-lived fantasy into a real event.


We’ve received our order for the T-shirts that are rewards for our donors of $50 or more, and we’re trying to get as many of them as possible out to all those for whom we have mailing addresses and who have told us what size they prefer. So if you haven’t notified us yet, you can get on the bandwagon by writing me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and we’ll try to get your shirt to you, in time to wear it in sympathy when we’re performing in Edinburgh from August 2nd to the 13th. Here is Michael’s design for the tee:


There are myriad other things to get done before leaving, having to do with publicity, transportation, apartment rental, insurance, program copy and so forth. I’ve been very frustrated being unemployed for the past couple of months—going to the Fringe knocked me out of consideration for all the Shakespeare festivals that are my usual summer staple—but the silver lining is that I have enough time to deal with all the many, many details that have proved so time-consuming. Producing has turned out to be a full-time job in itself—one I’ll be happy to leave to the professionals in the future. It reminds me what a cushy job acting is by contrast!


Watch this space over the coming weeks—there will be two or three more postings until we leave, and then at least three a week once we’re in Scotland. I hope to be able to give all my readers some taste of what it’s like to participate in such a vast and variegated extravaganza as the Fringe has become, and chronicle the fortunes of the little show that is our contribution to it.


To all of you who helped make this journey possible, again, our thanks. And enjoy the ride!


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