August in Edinburgh: In 1978 I was up in a lighting perch for 24hrs plugging and unplugging circuits. In 1984 I was preparing an international press bureau and organising the launch of a programme book for 195 events. In 1985 I was hidden away in the Grassmarket preparing for 9 plays in repertoire. In 2000 I was dealing with the general management and petty cash for the building of 16 theatres. In 2008 and 2009 I was launching programmes of Musical Theatre and starting the Musical Theatre Matters Awards. Between all those years I have been an audience member, a workshop presenter, a company groupie/support, a reviewer, or a judge. Only in 2020 was I not tangled up in some way with Edinburgh august craziness. And now I am trying to get my head around what EdFringe2021 will be for me.
My deep admiration goes out to everyone who is creating a festival from a frozen start just a few weeks ago. Shows which would have been programmed in Feb, and lovingly prepared and marketed over the next 5-6 months, are appearing like rabbits out of hats – socially distanced and covid safe rabbits as well.
As an aside, I write this alongside marking the final marketing assignments of the 2nd ‘graduates’ of the Diploma in Creative Producing. Their assignment is to look forward to 2025 and wonder how marketing, the world, and the landscape of presenting may be radically different from now. They all reflect on what we have learned at speed over the last 18 months of lockdown and reset. They all show their passion for the artforms and creativity that they wish to make with their lives, and the belief that audiences and communities want and need the arts – for joy, for education, for wellbeing, and indeed for healing.
This year things are different
- I don’t have my spreadsheet of shows to see, prepared by lovingly going through the whole of the Fringe brochure from cover to cover.
- I will be doing workshops at Fringe Central as normal, but they will be all virtual.
- My diary is empty for many days when I could/can go to see shows – because I have not yet found my way to do deep study of the Fringe website.
- I’m open to being encouraged to see shows produced by or championed by colleagues and those who know what I might get excited by.
- I’m not yet sure where I will hang out to bump into Paul and Fringe Review, and all the producers I see around who point me to obscure and wonderful shows.
- I will aim to write regular blogs celebrating the shows I have seen.
Some marketing and event planning will be the same this year, and through to 2025 I feel sure.
- I will want to be in a live community seeing live theatre.
- I won’t have my phone buzzing and close to me, trawling through feeds with a frenzy.
- I will be more likely to see a show where someone talks to me about it, than a many pronged direct digital campaign.
- I will respect critics and critical friends more than 800k likes or influencers.
- I will want to take risks, and see projects which have the passion of a producer or creative behind it who have inspired me by their determination.
- I will still go and find some crowd-pleaser occasionally just for the sheer joy of being in a crowd enjoying a shared cheer or moment of visceral excitement.
Maybe I will find myself asking some digital AI helper to select shows I will enjoy, or enter into a global digital audience for an event – but I think even in 2025, I am much more likely to catch the bus into Edinburgh, go and sit in a foyer/courtyard of one of the spaces, and hope someone comes up to me and tries to persuade me to see their show.
Delighted to have booked Theatre Paradok and the Counterminers produced by Lewis Forman at The Space, and Sunshine on Leith at the Multi Story (because I’ve never seen it) and now to book Bard in the Yard at the Pleasance produced by Erin Rooney. Find them all on https://www.edfringe.com/
Thank you to Lauriston Hall, Bristol’s OpSoc and Stage Technicians’ Association, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Traverse Theatre in the Grassmarket, Pleasance Theatres London and Edinburgh, the Weird Sisters, Musical Theatre Matters and Fiona Orr, Musical Theatre at George Square with the Pleasance, the Space and Fringe Central for giving me places to call home in Edinburgh over 40+ years.