Kerry Fitzgerald: Finding digs at Edinburgh Fringe is tough for actors – if you’re a parent, it’s a nightmare
I’ve always said I wouldn’t do a show at the Edinburgh Fringe unless it was something I really loved – a whole month up here with hours a day flyering and promoting your play is a big commitment if your heart isn’t in it.
Lost in Thought by Lucy Danser, an incredible new play about a mother, a daughter and obsessive compulsive disorder, was that work. After reading the script in June, I knew that this would be my year at the fringe if I could get the part.
After rounds of auditions, I was cast. The celebrations quickly gave way to planning and sorting the logistics of bringing the show to Edinburgh. Part of that involved the producer looking for accommodation for us all.
The hunt went on for weeks. While others were safely lodged, as rehearsals approached it was becoming harder to find a place for me to stay throughout the run.
So why was it such a problem? A child. I have a two-year-old son who was to come up with me to the fringe and it turned out to be a huge issue I hadn’t anticipated.
I was told landlords refused to rent rooms to people with children for the fringe. You know, as they might if someone had a dog
As we had our first script read-through I still had nowhere to stay – the only person in the team without lodgings. Co-incidentally I was also the only person with a child.
Initially, I presumed the people renting rooms didn’t want children in the house. I was told that it was actually the landlords who refused to rent the rooms out to people with children for the festival. You know, as they might if someone asked for their dog to come and stay.
This left me in the position of being in rehearsals without knowing where I would be living, or whether I could bring my son at all; whether I would have to make childcare arrangements, how I would be able to do that, and how I could manage the situation emotionally.
This added huge pressure during rehearsals. In the end, I posted in Facebook groups, looked on Airbnb and found somewhere 30 minutes outside Edinburgh by bus.
The lovely woman who put me up said she was happy to have my son stay for the entire month. The production had to pay more for the rent and I had to pay to travel an hour each day. But I’m here and I’m with my son.
Mothers who are actors should not have these barriers to doing their job. And landlords barring children seems appalling to me. I just can’t understand the justification.
My dream would be for the festival to centralise accommodation for creatives who are also parents, so that whole houses will be filled with parents and little ones – making friends, comparing notes on the best kids shows and understanding the need for some quiet after bedtime.
Or maybe, more realistically, I just hope it becomes easier for parents to find a room without breaking the bank or being forced to travel for hours, and to be made to feel more welcome at the world’s largest arts festival.
Kerry Fitzgerald is starring in Lost in Thought at the Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh, until August 26