IN 2010, I was commissioned by Methuen to write a book about putting on a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It would draw on the experience of experienced Fringe companies and give advice about having a successful time on the world's biggest arts festival. As a journalist, I set about researching the guide in the only way I know how: by interviewing as many people as I could and summarising what they had to say.
From the final week of the 2010 Fringe to the early part of 2011, I tracked down actors, administrators, comedians, directors, editors, musicians, playwrights, producers, publicists, reviewers and venue managers and quizzed them on everything from press releases to hangovers. After an all-night session at the end of June, I submitted the completed text to Methuen. After proof-reading, design and layout during the autumn, The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: How to Make Your Show a Success will come out in February 2012.
I'll be giving more insight into the book on The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide website.
But when I've been talking about the book, more than one person has asked me if I've done a Fringe show myself. The answer is no – at least, not since acting in a student production in 1983. I have worked in the Fringe Office and, as a theatre critic, I have seen anything up to 70 Fringe shows a year for the last two decades, but I can't claim to have put the lessons of my own book into practice.
And I've decided that's the least I can do.
The purpose of this blog is to chart my journey to putting on a show on the Fringe in August 2012. I'll use it to record all the questions and issues that arise. Maybe it will help other people doing the same thing: every show is different and I can’t claim to be a typical Fringe participant (if such a creature exists), but the experience of writing The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide has taught me that the questions tend to be the same even if the answers are different.
I'm hoping the process will reveal the strengths of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, but if it also reveals the odd weakness I'll try and be honest enough to say so.