It is becoming increasingly popular to take shows to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. No matter what role you’re assuming in the production you should expect to spend a high proportion of your time publicising the show – at the biggest arts festival in the World, the competition is intense!
Nearly every show which goes to the Fringe will require everyone involved to contribute to the accommodation hire costs. This is not cheap – festival flats are in extreme demand and consequently rents are notoriously high.
You will be able to see a great deal of theatre of varying standards during your time at the Fringe. Generally you’ll get into shows in your own group of venues free of charge – particularly useful if you’re at one of the larger groups such as Pleasance or C Venues.
Producing or Directing at the Fringe
A number of groups regularly take productions to the Fringe – applications open as early as January due to the huge amount of preparatory work necessary. Once accepted, the society will normally negotiate premises on the show’s behalf since some venues have regular links with certain companies. You can, of course, produce a show independently, but be prepared for very hard work.
In 2008, the Fringe consisted of 31,320 performances of 2,088 different shows in 247 venues. It’s not hard to see that you need to have not only a good show but a unique selling point in order to survive. A great deal of time must be spent on working out a publicity
campaign: handing out flyers on the Royal Mile is no longer sufficient, although it’s probably a good starting point. An exceptionally strong press release is required just to get reviewers to see the show.
See the camdram infobase guide to Producing in Edinburgh
Technical facilities at the Fringe
Technical facilities in most Fringe venues tend to be restricted, as few of them are “real” theatres. In addition, each space could be shared between ten or more companies, and the most time you can reasonably expect to have between the previous show leaving and the audience coming in is ten minutes. Similarly, you’ll be expected to be out of the space just a few minutes after the show ends.
Acting at the Fringe
Before committing to a role in a Fringe show, make sure you know exactly where and when you will be rehearsing the show (probably in Cambridge during July). You may also need to contribute to accommodation costs during this period. Acting in a show at the Fringe can be anything between exhilarating and depressing. Take into account that you’ll be performing the same show for almost thirty days, probably with no days off – and you’ll be living with your fellow cast members. The size of your audience is far less predictable than it is in Cambridge: of course many Fringe shows are very successful, but it takes a great deal of hard publicising to pull in large crowds.
Last edited Tue 14th Jul 2009 by James Baggaley
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