The largest arts festival in the world returns to Edinburgh this August. With thousands of performances housed in hundreds of venues across the city, a trip to the fringe festival is definitely on my bucket list this summer. Poets, actors, comedians, musicians, performance artists and dancers all flock to the festival every year to showcase their talent, but what about all of the first-time fringe performers? What can they expect? How can they ensure that they make the absolute most of their time in Edinburgh? Here are a few important tips…
Alighting from the train at Waverly station, the excitement hits you like a wave. In ecstasy, you’ll make your way towards the bustling Royal Mile. Intrigued onlookers swarm around street performers while hopeful artists flyer for their shows. The city is buzzing. The need to explore will almost cause you to completely forget why you are there in the first place… to put on your own show!
One of the first things to be aware of relates to where you lay your head at night. Many shows run on a tight budget and so it is not uncommon for performers to be sharing living quarters. Your cast is likely to become a whole lot closer with 3/4+ people sharing an apartment or bedroom; don’t be averse to spooning, it may be necessary!
After dumping your luggage in your digs, a tech programming session is probably due. As much as we all want to include strobe lighting, smoke machines, fireworks and explosions in our performances, chances are you’re going to have to keep tech requirements fairly basic as these venues are host to a large number of shows every day. Be prepared to make changes to your piece accordingly, make fast decisions as you’ll probably have a limited amount of time to tech, and don’t expect a full dress and tech rehearsal; treat your opening night as the practise run.
So, now that your lighting and sound cues are all sorted, how are you going to get bums on seats? Many acts flyer along the Royal Mile as hordes of entertainment-hungry tourists can be found there. To help you stand out from the crowd of performers, try to establish some inventive and exciting ways of flyering. Sometimes a conversational approach helps; other times a more performative action. Try things out. Experiment. Discover what works best for you.
Signing up to an allocated time-slot on one of the Mile’s pop-up stages is also a great way of promoting your performance, and being active on twitter is a must. Tweet as often as possible; about your show and others’. It’s a great way of networking and can also help build up your audience.
Look out for reviewers in your audience; they’re solemn looking creatures who usually travel alone, lurking in the dark auditoriums, pen and pad in hand. Just make sure that you find out which publication they write for, as you can search for the review later and repeat quotes of praise to further promote the show.
Don’t hope to make a fortune at the festival. If you have enough money at the end of the day to pay for a taxi ride back to your bed, then it’s been a huge success!
Finally, soak up the city and have fun. Edinburgh is dripping with great shows to be seen and people to meet from every corner of the globe. The city boasts beautiful parks, brilliant nightlife and a wealth of culture; it really is your playground for the summer.
Good luck, break a leg, and enjoy,