EdFringe is one of the most extraordinary worlds to explore and I spend a lot of time talking to people around the world who are contemplating bringing a show. It is difficult to get your head around the concept of 2000 performances happening within one City on the same day; or people like us seeing 4-5 shows a day; or having a spreadsheet with 120 shows on it of which I have managed to squeeze in just 50.
Yesterday I did one of my regular CGO Surgeries for any companies playing at Space Venues who wanted to drop in and explore their challenges. [I used to do these for EdFringe at Fringe Central too but their programme seems to have got smaller and more specialist]. I had companies from New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Paris, Japan, Slovakia, London, Bradford and Birmingham. Each had different variations on the same problem – how to be heard in this maelstrom of marketing noise. My focus is always the same – “Who do you want on your front row ?” . How specific can you be on identifying your ideal audience member. This is not the time to aim for inclusivity or go for hard-to-reach communities. Now is the time to get people who would love your show, are within walking distance of your venue at the time of day you are playing, have a noticeable interest in your work/theme/artform, and who you can talk with when you meet them about the show. Focussed flyering works (and A6 or even A7 saves waste). Layering venue tables with your print and handing wet flyers to everyone you meet does not work. Narrowcast marketing not Broadcast marketing.
And then we all have a duty when we have seen a show we enjoyed – shout about it. Do as the company asks and go on EdFringe and write something positive. Talk to people you meet in cafes. Post on your Facebook or Tinder/X or wherever and talk about shows you’ve enjoyed. Most people reading this blog have been here, done that, got the scars, and may still fit into the t-shirt. We all know that at this time the tiniest piece of praise will go a very long way.
So here’s a few highlights for me in the last couple of days:
Collie’s Shed – produced by Island Life Productions – playing 13:15 (14:15) at Gilded Pattie Hous. Powerful drama about the destruction of the mining industry in East Lothian (and the rest of the UK) with 8 cracking Scottish actors giving it passion and depth. Written by Shelley Middler with skill and flow. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/collie-s-shed
Grand Old Opera House Hotel – produced by Dundee Rep – playing various times (1hr 40) at the Traverse Theatre with the amazingly versatile Dundee Ensemble of actors giving us a joyful comedic, operatic, farcical good night out at the theatre. Written by Isabel McArthur who gave us Pride and Prejudice (*sort of). https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/grand-old-opera-house-hotel
Funeral – produced by the Belgium Ontroerend Goed company – playing 10:00 (11:00) at Zoo Southside. A mesmeric, ritual, exploration of loved ones remembering and forgetting, involving us the audience in a beautifully and carefully held, but deeply emotional, way. Some tickets for the last week. Allow your self 10 minutes before the show to become calm and quiet, and 30 minutes after the show to enjoy a cup of tea with others from the audience and care for yourself quietly before re-entering the rapid overwhelming world of Edinburgh https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/funeral
52 Monologues for Young Transsexuals – produced by Nothing More to Say – playing Pleasance Courtyard Attic 15:20 (16:20) with more trigger warnings than I even knew existed. This is a wonderful and often cis-male-uncomfortable exploration of the pink and dark sides of being a transsexual in a world of hetro and LGB people. Charli Cowgill and Laurie Ward are first class performers and communicators channelling so many verbatim pieces in a beautifully modulated piece. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/52-monologues-for-young-transsexuals
And finally I am enjoying watching the graduates of Acting Coach Scotland presenting their final shows and showcase here in Edinburgh. I have seen Being Sophie Scholl which plays alternately the Mystery of Dyatlov Pass which I see later this week and then their grad showcase on 16th. I’ve had the pleasure of doing Zoom surgeries for the class and I hope producers, agents, casting directors and others will have a quick look at these shows. It is really what the Fringe can do best – giving a showcase for new talent that, I hope, we may see on our stages and screens into the future. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/being-sophie-scholl
Tomorrow I am back on the hunt for deeply moving, joyful, naughty, wonderful experiences in the theatre intersperced with meeting folk I only ever get to bump into during August in Edinburgh.
In the words of Mr Sondheim – “and another hundred people just got off of the train” – although in Scotrail and LNER’s case make that 1000 an hour or more. If your show is low on audience today, it could be full tomorrow just because a new crowd of people have heard about your work. Take care, enjoy, and remember to eat fruit and veg as well as deep fried mars bars (if you must).