EdinburghFringefrontcover1

ABOUT THE BOOK

Introduction

News: Fringe 2012

Fringe 2012 on Twitter

Author: Mark Fisher

Blog

Press area

Press coverage

Contact

Site map

CHAPTERS

The city and its festivals

The Fringe Office

The timing

The motivation

The show

The venue

The accommodation

The law

The marketing campaign

The media campaign

The awards

The show must go on

The next step

The money

The interviewees

mark@theatreSCOTLAND.com

Monday, September 3, 2012

What I learnt about putting on a Fringe show

The Butlers serving Tattie Shaw's fruit
THE series of six chat shows I hosted during the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe could scarcely have been more simple. The format was straightforward: me and three or four guests sitting in front of an audience discussing the various challenges of putting on a Fringe show for an hour. I did not have to worry about building a set, remembering lines, keeping up company morale or sorting out accommodation.

Despite this, it was remarkable to realise how much time and energy the show took up. Here are some of the things I discovered:

The responsibility of doing your own show

It is not unusual for me to appear on stage in front of an audience. I am quite often asked to chair a post-show discussion or a Book Festival Q&A session. Indeed, during the 2012 Fringe, I chaired four interviews in the Pleasance Bytes series - in the same room and at the same time of day as my own show.

I found it fascinating to realise how different my attitude was to doing this kind of event compared with running my own. Although what the audience saw was essentially the same kind of thing, I felt very differently about it. When I'm a guest on someone else's show, I take it seriously and may even get a bit of an adrenaline buzz, but I don't lose sleep over it. I do what I've been asked to do, then move on.

With my own face on the flyer, however, something changed. This was my show and its success was my responsibility. If no one turned up, it would be me who had to apologise to the guests and me who had to worry about attracting a bigger audience next time. I was confident the show itself would work (more on that in a moment), but I was much more conscious of the pressure to make sure the whole thing went smoothly and that guests and audience were happy.

The time it takes

One consequence of this was the show took up a lot of mental energy. Particularly before the first two shows, I found it difficult to think about anything else. The various tasks I had to complete were not difficult in themselves, but it was important I got them done. That, coupled with the initial sense of uncertainty about how the event would go, meant this simple show occupied a disproportionate amount of brain power at a time when I was also trying to focus on my job as a reviewer. I didn't have to do any of the physical labour involved in many Fringe shows, but it was tiring just thinking about it.

In addition to these mental demands, the show took up a surprising amount of organisational time. The tasks were not onerous, but there were a lot of them. Things I had to do included: sending emails to the guests to remind them to turn up; watching the shows the guests were putting on; picking up fruit to give to the audience from my sponsor Tattie Shaw's; carrying the fruit, flyers and copies of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide to the venue; getting unsold books back home again after the event; sending emails to the guests to thank them for their time; promoting the show by flyering outside Fringe Central or on the High Street . . .

That was just for starters. Additionally, I had to talk to friends and family about how to improve the show; find replacements for two guests who had to pull out at the last minute; ask the Pleasance press office to circulate information about the line-up to other performers; send emails about the show to Fringe companies who had emailed me about their shows; use Twitter and Facebook to tell people about press coverage and forthcoming guests; do interviews with an American documentary maker, a blogger, a Times journalist and a festival radio station; appear on a panel at an event run by the World Fringe Congress . . .

Cumulatively, all these things meant I was thinking about the show almost constantly. If that is true for this, the most simple of shows - and just six performances - how much more must it be true for a major production doing a daily run? I managed to continue seeing shows and do a fair bit of writing (though less than normal), but it's easy to see how a bigger production would be all consuming.

The lesson: don't underestimate the time and effort it takes to put on a Fringe show. It's a lot more than the hour you are on stage.

The neediness of the performer

As a theatre critic and freelance writer, I'm used to being self-reliant and independent. It's the sort of job that appeals to the lone wolf. I was surprised, therefore, to find myself quite unabashed about encouraging people to come to the show. It was like I needed their support and validation. In August, Edinburgh is a city full of fragile egos, exposing themselves to public scrutiny. In my own small way, I guess I was one of them. If you are planning to perform on the Fringe, it pays to remember how exposed you may feel and to have strategies for coping with that.

My face on the flyer = pressure

Belief in your show

The core message of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide is you should understand your motivation for performing. If you are clear about your purpose, you are more likely to believe in your show. And believing in your show makes all the difference when dealing with everything the Fringe throws at you.

Having written the book, I knew this in theory, but it was great to see how true it was in practice. Call it self-delusion, call it hype, but I never doubted my show was essential viewing. That meant I went out flyering with an evangelical zeal. I surprised myself with my enthusiasm.

Meeting my target audience, I genuinely believed they would enjoy the show. It was no effort for me to speak persuasively about it, because I was saying what I honestly felt. It would have been so much harder if I thought I was selling them a dud. In those circumstances, to go out flyering at all would have taken special reserves of energy, let alone talk to people.

The experience reinforced the importance of doing a show you believe in, remembering why you are doing it and  maintaining your enthusiasm and morale throughout the three weeks.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The book was right: I have survived

THE last of my Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: Live! shows was this morning and very well it went too. Had a great conversation with Camille O'Sullivan, Vicky Featherstone and Ben Harrison, and even did a bit of artistic matchmaking.

I hope to add some thoughts about the whole experience shortly - if you're impatient, you can read Philip Fisher's four-star comments about it in the British Theatre Guide or, indeed, my own in the Guardian. Or you can cut-out the middle man and take a listen to the podcasts here.

In the meantime here are my butlers whom I commissioned to serve Tattie Shaw's fruit for the middle two shows:


Friday, August 10, 2012

We have lift off

THE first two instalments of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: Live! have gone swimmingly, with illuminating contributions on Thursday from Kath Mainland, Orla O'Loughlin, Aneke McCulloch and Tess Waters; and on Friday from Lyn Gardner, Brian Logan, Miriam Attwood and Finn Anderson.

The events have been sparking off lively post-show conversations and generating a bit of publicity, including this from Brian Ferguson in today's Scotsman, in which he reports Mainland's view that there are more reasons than money to appear on the Fringe, including "raising their profile within the industry, attracting media attention, seeing other world-class productions, and enjoying the opportunity to learn from other productions and performers".

The series continues on Thursday. Here's a reminder of the line-up:

MaureenBeattie2011current1
Thursday 16 August

Essential advice about surviving week two and beyond from Maureen Beattie (pictured), star of Stellar Quines' The List, Guy Masterson, Oliver Award-winning director of Morecambe, Ian Fox, author of How to Produce, Perform and Write an Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Show, and Teresa Burns, co-director of How It Ended Productions.

JosieLong1PLEASECREDITIDILSUKANDRAWHQ
Friday 17 August

How to have the last laugh as a Fringe comedian with Phil Nichol, Edinburgh Comedy Award winner, Josie Long (pictured), Edinburgh Comedy Award best newcomer 2006, and Jessie Cave, comedian, actor and Harry Potter star.

HannahEidinow
Thursday 23 August

How to deal with disappointment and make the most of a hit with Hannah Eidinow (pictured), five-times Fringe First winning director, Judith Doherty, producer of the multi-award winning Grid Iron, Peter Michael Marino, writer of West End flop Desperately Seeking Susan, and Nicola Foxfield, assistant producer with Fringe first-timers Hecate Theatre.

BigVicky
Friday 24 August

Expert advice on developing your post-Fringe career from Vicky Featherstone (pictured), artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, Camille O'Sullivan, singing star of the Fringe and the Edinburgh International Festival, and Toby Gough, Herald Archangel-winning director.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The art of Skyer's Words and Women

TODAY'S interesting photo of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide comes courtesy of Queen Allen who's acting in Words and Women with Skyers Productions at the Street as part of PBH's Free Fringe. What a fine production it must be.

A leading art critic writes: "The picture demonstrates admirably, and in some ways, subversively, the symbiotic relationship between the Fringe Programme and The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, while capturing something of the tension, fragmentation and excitement that builds as the world's biggest arts festival approaches. It is a work of troubled genius - rather like that one with the grateful puppet."


Follow these links for yet more interesting pictures:
http://edinburghfringesurvivalguide.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/hooray-for-blitz-sisters.html


And here:
http://edinburghfringesurvivalguide.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/babies-puppets-and-swimming-pools-read.html

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Full line-up of Edinburgh Fringe Surivival Guide Live!

Winners of Olivier Awards, Fringe Firsts, Edinburgh Comedy Awards and Herald Angels join critic for stage version of acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe book

THEATRE critic Mark Fisher is moving across the footlights to present a show on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Following the publication of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide in February, the Edinburgh journalist is hosting a chat show, supported by the Pleasance Theatre Trust, based on his celebrated book and recorded as a podcast, live in front of an audience.
Line-up and booking details below.


OrlaOLoughlin
Thursday 9 August

Top tips about success on the Fringe from Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Orla O'Loughlin (pictured), artistic director of the Traverse Theatre, Aneke McCulloch, producer with Seesault, Australia, and Tess Waters, performer in Sexytime!


LynGardner
Friday 10 August

First-hand insights into getting your Fringe show noticed from Lyn Gardner (pictured), Guardian theatre critic, Brian Logan, Guardian comedy critic, and Miriam Attwood, former media manager for the Fringe Society now press officer for the National Galleries of Scotland and Finn Anderson, writer of Streets the Musical.


 
TMCRITICSTHEATREAWARDS087
Thursday 16 August

Essential advice about surviving week two and beyond from Cora Bissett (pictured), Oliver Award-winning director of Roadkill, Guy Masterson, Oliver Award-winning director of Morecambe, Ian Fox, author of How to Produce, Perform and Write an Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Show, and Teresa Burns, co-director of How It Ended Productions.


JosieLong1PLEASECREDITIDILSUKANDRAWHQ
Friday 17 August

How to have the last laugh as a Fringe comedian with Phil Nichol, Edinburgh Comedy Award winner, Josie Long (pictured), Edinburgh Comedy Award best newcomer 2006, and Jessie Cave, comedian, actor and Harry Potter star. 


HannahEidinow
Thursday 23 August

How to deal with disappointment and make the most of a hit with Hannah Eidinow (pictured), five-times Fringe First winning director, Judith Doherty, producer of the multi-award winning Grid Iron, Peter Michael Marino, writer of West End flop Desperately Seeking Susan, and Nicola Foxfield, assistant producer with Fringe first-timers Hecate Theatre.


BigVicky
Friday 24 August

Expert advice on developing your post-Fringe career from Vicky Featherstone (pictured), artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, Camille O'Sullivan, singing star of the Fringe and the Edinburgh International Festival, and Toby Gough, Herald Archangel-winning director. 


Venue: Cabaret Bar, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
Dates: 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 & 24 August 2012
Time: 11.30am (one hour)
Tickets: £4 (£3)
Box office: 0131 556 6550

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hooray for the Blitz Sisters

Two Blitz Sisters prove reading is good for you
HEY, people, if you want to get publicity, think the way the Blitz Sisters think. I heartily approve of all they do. More of them here.


I have a similar liking for all the wonderful Edinburgh Fringe people on my earlier post here.


If you have a picture featuring The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide or tickets for The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: Live!, then send it along just as fast as you can.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What the Avignon Off teaches you about selling your Edinburgh Fringe show

LR: Faith Liddell, Kath Mainland and Rupert Thomson
I'M JUST back from a lightning visit to the Avignon Festival courtesy of the Institut francais d'Ecosse and Festivals Edinburgh. In addition to catching It's So Nice, a delightfully deadpan tribute to Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, my main purpose was to participate in a presentation about the Edinburgh festivals to would-be participants.


In the panel discussion, Jonathan Mills, artistic director of the Edinburgh International Festival, talked about his prestigious cross-artform programme; Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, laid out the open access principles that underpin her work; Faith Liddell of Festivals Edinburgh gave an overview of the city's 12 major festivals; Rupert Thomson of Summerhall and Vincent Guérin of the Institut francais d'Ecosse gave an insight into the way their programmes work; and I conducted an interview with recent and imminent French visitors to the Fringe.

Knowing I'd be there for little more than 24 hours and wouldn't have the time to see more than one show, I had made no attempt to find out what else was on. That meant it was only while sitting in a pavement restaurant in Avignon that I first laid eyes on the programme for the three-week Avignon Off, the Francophone answer to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Was this, I wondered, what it felt like for a newcomer to be confronted by the Fringe Programme for the first time? For here was a 396-page guide that was stuffed with plays I'd never heard of, performed by companies I didn't recognise, taking place in venues that could have been anywhere in this unfamiliar town.

Such a profusion of artistic activity was both tremendously exciting and utterly bewildering. The Avignon Off - "le plus grand theatre du monde" - is not as big as the Edinburgh Fringe, but even at 10am, you have your pick of over 30 shows. That's more than enough to overwhelm anyone.

I realised straight away that, if I had been able to see a show, I would have been highly susceptible to the twin factors that drive audiences in Edinburgh: flyering and word of mouth.

It would have taken me far too long to study the programme and make guesses about how good the shows were likely to be. What would have made all the difference is a conversation with an actor promoting their show (flyering exists in Avignon much as it does in Edinburgh) or a recommendation from someone who sounded like they knew what they were talking about.

With a few more hours in Avignon, this is almost certainly how I would have decided what to see.

My conversations with the performers I interviewed for The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide
confirm this to be the case. Of course, there are people who make a serious analysis of the Fringe Programme and select their shows on the basis of what they know to be good. You need only do a quick search on Twitter to see comedy fans announcing what tickets they've been buying for their favourite stand-ups. Those people may be persuaded to see more shows, but much of their time and money is already committed.

Most people, by contrast, are not arts specialists and are likely to be as bewildered by the 376-page Fringe Programme as I was by its Avignon equivalent. If they are in Edinburgh in August, they will most likely be willing to see something; they just don't know what. This is a great opportunity. Unless your show is aimed at a specialist niche market - like my own Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: Live! - these people are your potential audience.

And the exciting thing about the Edinburgh Fringe is you have the same chance of attracting them as every other company. Here in mid-July, everything is still to play for. That's a valuable lesson from Avignon.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Babies, puppets and swimming pools read The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide

IT HAS become fashionable to take pictures of your copy of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide in all sorts of locations and situations.  Frankly, it gets around.

Here are some examples kindly provided by Peter Michael Marino (Desperately Seeking the Exit), Sam Gough (Venue 150 @ EICC), Theatre Témoin (www.theatretemoin.com) Kris Haddow (krishaddow) and Thom Dibdin (Annals of the Edinburgh Stage).

If you have further examples of your own, do tweet me at markffisher

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

RIP Victor Spinetti

THE SAD news today is that Victor Spinetti has died at the age of 82. As recently as 2007, the actor was appearing at the Pleasance on the Edinburgh Fringe. Here's an interview I did with him for Scotland on Sunday then:

He's not one for holding things in is Victor Spinetti. His autobiography, Victor Spinetti Up Front, is an anecdotal romp through a life that began in a Welsh mining village and flourished in the London of the swinging 60s with roles in Joan Littlewood's Oh! What a Lovely War! and a string of films with the Beatles, a period he has capitalised on as a professional raconteur ever since.

But even though he is frank, funny and candid about his private life – whether he's recalling stories of the sexual advances of the soldiers in a military hospital, his male "life companion" Graham Curnow or his steamy affair with his room-mate's girlfriend – he never pigeon-holes himself with words like gay or bisexual. It’s partly because he's never been part of a gay scene ("I've never even worn a pair of jeans," he says), but more because he's always been open to sexual expression in whatever form it takes.

"If there's somebody you like or love, it's possible to do something, even if you just hold each other or lie with each other," says the 73-year-old. "But it never occurred to me to be straight or gay. If there are people you really like and enjoy, you can lie in bed and there's always something you can do. I can't bear labels, but on the other hand I support Gay Pride. In the 60s we were persecuted as much as anybody for living together. We were advised by our lawyers to tear up all the correspondence we'd ever written. Finishing a letter with 'all my love, Graham' was enough for a court case. I grew up without knowing about it [homosexuality]. I found out about it, luckily, through somebody who became my 'significant other'."

He's saving some of his racier anecdotes, including "true stories about Edinburgh", for an "Uncut" performance of A Very Private Diary Revisited at midnight on August 24. Those seeing his daytime show, which opens this week, will be spared the more outrageous details in favour of comic tales and expert imitations of Marlene Dietrich, Frank Sinatra, Princess Margaret, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sir John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and John Lennon. It's an off-the-cuff show he first tried out on the Fringe in the early 80s and recently returned to at London's Donmar Warehouse to much acclaim.

His only problem is how to get so many stories into a single show. Will he, for example, have time to tell the one about being denounced by the Pope for directing a production of the hippy musical Hair in Italy? "I arrived in Rome wearing a suit and tie, cufflinks, a hat, a brolly and a briefcase," says Spinetti, a man never lost for words. "All these kids were sitting in the Sistina Theatre waiting to audition for Hair and they'd expected a hippy. There was a table with the producers and their girlfriends, sitting like a tribunal. I came in and said good morning. Then in my Italian that I had only just learned, I said, 'You have read in your papers that there is a scene in Hair which is the nude scene.'

"As I was speaking I was gradually taking off my clothes. When I was finished, I was absolutely naked and I said, 'Ecco la scena nude. It's the easiest scene in the show to do.' Some people got up and left in disgust, so they would have been useless anyway, the others applauded and the producers fled because they were with their girlfriends. Twenty minutes later Franco Zeffirelli phoned and said, 'Victor, I hear you're showing your cock at the Sistina Theatre.' I said, 'The only thing that travels in Rome is gossip.'"

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Edinburgh Fringe dreams

THIS MORNING I came across a couple of tweets from Fringe participants about having festival-releated dreams or nightmares. It reminded me of an article I wrote in 1997 for The Herald. That's a long time ago, I know, and few of the people quoted are doing the same jobs, but it was lovely piece to research and the idea still stands. I've copied it here. It'd be great to hear your own Fringe anxiety dreams in the comments below:


IT ALL started a few weeks before the Festival when I woke up convinced that Brian McMaster's programme had taken a bizarre new twist. I had dreamt that Peter Stein's Cherry Orchard was going to be done not in the respectable confines of the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, but in Glasgow, as street theatre. How would they sustain an audience's interest in Chekhov for three hours on Sauchiehall Street, and how would I get back to Edinburgh to get my on-the-night review phoned in?

It struck me that if I was having such dreams, then so too would Festival workers across the city. I wasn't wrong.

Fringe supremo, Hilary Strong dreamt she'd arrived at the office to find it closed with a crowd of people waiting to get in. "I looked in the diary and realised I'd forgotten to do a live radio link with the Today programme, which had been scheduled for 7.30am," she says. "By this time, I was due to attend a formal award ceremony, but for some reason, I was wearing painting overalls, and my shoes were covered in white emulsion that left footprints all over the carpet in the City Chambers."

For performers, the anxiety of revealing themselves on a daily basis inevitably plays havoc with a peaceful night's sleep. Gerry Gowans, starring in Garland, Judy With Love, at Hill Street Theatre, dreamt she was coming to the Fringe, not as an actress - but as a stripper. "I went on stage, but found it impossible to get my clothes off," she quivers. "The show was a flop."

Mervyn Stutter, he of Mervyn Stutter's Pick of the Fringe, at the Pleasance, was convinced he'd hit the big time. "I got a call from the BBC saying they wanted to broadcast my show on prime time TV," he says. "I was in the wings waiting to go on. The audience went into a hush. Then a voice: 'Ladies and gentlemen, live from the Edinburgh Festival, will you please welcome your host - Julian Clary!'"

Perhaps the most revealing dreams are those for which the dreamers have asked to remain anonymous. A member of the Traverse Theatre's production staff, for example, would sooner keep quiet about finding him or herself in a dentist's chair which had somehow appeared on the set of Knives in Hens during a sell-out show. "For some reason I had no clothes on and was in the dentist's chair. I soon realised that Helena Christiansen was there, also naked - but what could I do in front of the audience and cast? The rest is a bit sordid."

Then there's the Fringe Office worker who had to go out for a night on the town, and had to get dressed in a hurry. "I couldn't find anything to wear except a huge pair of pink underpants that came up to my armpits," he or she confesses reluctantly.

For reasons of diplomacy this dream about our own arts editor is also anonymous: "Last weekend I woke up next to my partner, who looked at me rather frostily and said, 'Who's Keith Bruce?' I had been having an angst-ridden dream about The Herald's switchboard, and had been calling out, 'Get me Keith Bruce'. When I told him Mr Bruce is the arts editor of The Herald, he raised his eyebrows as if to say, so it's true you'd do anything for press coverage."

The Fringe of slumberland is an even more amazing place than the real thing. Stephanie Noblett, press officer at the Famous Grouse House had a radical new vision for Chambers Street: "I dreamt there was a show-jumping gymkhana as part of our programme. The whole of Chambers Street had been turfed over, and all our performers were on horse back. I woke up in a cold sweat when of the Wrigley Sisters (one of the folk music acts) took a fatal fall."

Theatre Workshop publicist Jane Molyneux was in populist mode: "I dreamt Diriamba! would have more commercial appeal if done as a version of Cliff Richard's Summer Holiday on the Meadows. Cliff was very obliging and was quite happy to belt out several songs with Theatre Workshop's Nicaraguan and Scottish performers from the top deck of one of Edinburgh's open-top tour buses, but things started to get out of hand when I found myself on a Keystone-Cops type chase, following after a convoy of three buses, heading across the Meadows, straight for Nicaragua, with Cliff singing the theme tune to Ken Loach's Carla's Song."

While Mike Griffiths, the Traverse's production manager, was trying to figure out how the main theatre had been turned into a swimming pool, stage manager Gavin Johnson was discovering how the Festival budget had been overspent: "I went to the green room to find the fridge full of bread - and no matter how much I pulled out, there was still more and more. It wasn't even the right kind of bread, because I needed wholemeal and this was all Sunblest white."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Press release: Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: Live!

THE EDINBURGH FRINGE SURVIVAL GUIDE: LIVE!
A show presented by Mark Fisher
Directed by Sue Emmas

AS PART OF THE EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE 2012

Venue: Cabaret Bar, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
Dates: 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 & 24 August 2012
Time: 11.30am (one hour)
Box office: 0131 556 6550
Internet: www.edfringe.com and www.pleasance.co.uk

Critic turns presenter for stage version of acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe book - and promises audience an extra dose of vitamin C

Theatre critic Mark Fisher is moving across the footlights to present a show on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Following the publication of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide in February, the Edinburgh journalist is hosting a chat show, supported by the Pleasance Theatre Trust, based on his celebrated book.

"I made my first appearance on the Fringe in a student show in 1983," says Fisher, 47, a freelance contributor to the Guardian, the Scotsman, the List and Edinburgh Festivals Magazine. "I've been addicted to it ever since. I can't wait to be back on stage."

For each of the six shows, Fisher will be joined by top Fringe actors, comedians, directors and producers who will share their secrets about staging a successful Edinburgh Fringe show. "With over 20 years' experience writing about the festival, I can guarantee every show will be crammed with great advice," says Fisher, who will record the shows and make them available as podcasts on iTunes.

Thanks to the sponsorship of Leith Walk greengrocer Tattie Shaws, Fisher will be handing out fresh fruit to help audiences survive the pressures of the Fringe. "This is the world's most exhilarating festival and also the toughest," he says. "Every apple, orange and banana counts."

"A WONDERFULLY PRACTICAL BUT ALSO INSPIRATIONAL BOOK FULL OF GOOD ADVICE"
Lyn Gardner, the Guardian


Published by Methuen Drama in 2012, The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide draws on the experiences of the festival's leading figures to help readers make their show a success. Among those sharing their expert advice in the book are playwright Simon Stephens, comedian Phil Nichol, actor Siobhan Redmond, producer Guy Masterson, Tiger Lillies front man Martyn Jacques, theatre critic Lyn Gardner and Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award director Nica Burns. The book also has an introduction by playwright Mark Ravenhill.

Website: www.edinburghfringesurvivalguide.com | Twitter: markffisher

Sponsored by Tattie Shaws, 35 Elm Row, Edinburgh: www.tattieshaws.co.uk

For further information and images, please contact:
Mark Fisher on 0131 556 3255 or 07799 033407 or mark-fisher@blueyonder.co.uk

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: Live!

IN other circumstances, I'd be attempting to say something deep and meaningful about the Fringe Office's decision to draw attention to mildly rude words by adding asterisks to them. However, I've been caught up with co-convening the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland (2012 nominations just out) and I can no longer tell my prick from my elbow. Read John Fleming to get an idea of all the hoo-har.


What I can pass on, however, is the news that The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: Live! is both asterisk-free and on sale at edfringe.com. Six shows at the Pleasance Courtyard at 11.30am, Thursdays and Fridays, doing the same kind of thing the book does, only with extra spontaneity. Tell your friends. See you there.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms to reopen in time for Fringe 2012

Stewart Lee
Published in The List

SAY what you like about modern-day dress sense, but when Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms returns to life, today's fashionistas will have some stiff competition. Yes, they'll be excited about the opening ceilidh in July and the high-profile Fringe line-up that includes Stewart Lee, the National Theatre of Scotland and Phil Nichol, but will they be any match for the audience of August 1822, when King George IV came to town?


Back then, eyewitness Thomas Mudie was so taken by the guests at the Peers Ball, he wrote a whole book about it. 'The ladies were in most elegant white dresses, richly bespangled, and had on plumes of white ostrich feathers, their plumage in constant undulation, appearing to the eye like an ocean of foam,' he wrote.

Stick that in your Topshop and smoke it.

But even if our glad rags don't have quite the same class, we'll certainly be able to savour the refreshed elegance of a building brought back to its 18th century splendour. After an 18-month closure and a £9.3m refit, the George Street venue where once Dickens, Scott and Thackeray gave readings has been returned to its Georgian prime - with a Jamie Oliver restaurant thrown in for good measure.

'What people will notice is it's going to be much lighter, airier and more contemporary when they come in,' says general manager Shona Clelland. 'Then, as they go up the stairs, they will be blown away by the restoration in the first-fl oor rooms. It's going to be back to the grandeur that it originally had.'

Visitors will now find ground-floor shop units where previously the Wildman Room and the box office stood, as well as a branch of Jamie's Italian in the old Supper Room, with a second entrance on Rose Street. Upstairs, the Ballroom, Music Hall, Crush Hall and the East and West Drawing Rooms have had plasterwork, cornicing and chandeliers spruced up. Walls have been repainted in muted tones, gold-leaf finishings have been replaced and decorative rosettes restored.

'People will notice the obvious things like the decoration and the restoration,' says Clelland, who's lining up a programme of book readings, dances, conferences, dinners and craft fairs, 'but all the infrastructure - new sound systems, new heating and ventilation system, all the behind-the-scenes things - will make being in the Assembly Rooms so much easier.'

The scheme has not been without its critics. Longstanding festival resident William Burdett-Coutts was forced to move his main Assembly Fringe operation to George Square after last year's closure. He was concerned the loss of the smaller groundfloor spaces would put an end to the building's ability to present work on all scales and force promoters to concentrate on the more commercial end of the market.

It is not an argument that convinces Clelland. 'The Assembly festival created lots of spaces within the building, but for the rest of the year, those spaces were not utilised fully,' she says. 'OK, there's not so many spaces downstairs during the festival; however we've still got four spaces upstairs, two of which are small. I've never been concerned about that, because I have to make the building work year-round. For the citizens of Edinburgh, we want this building to be somewhere people come - they might come for a meal or for a shop, but at least they're coming to the building.'

Equally convinced is Tommy Sheppard, director of the Stand Comedy Club, who has been awarded the five-year contract to programme the venue in August. He's broadening his previous programming range to include theatre and music, while holding on to the ethical values that have made his existing venues such a hit with performers. 'We're going to translate to the Assembly Rooms the attitudes we think have underpinned our success on the Fringe,' he says.
'Broadly speaking, we are taking the risk on the programme and we should be able to ensure the profit-making shows subsidise the loss-making shows, so we won't be transferring those losses to the individual artists.'


The programme ranges from Stewart Lee's Carpet Remnant World to the National Theatre of Scotland's An Appointment with the Wicker Man, from Irish chanteuse Camille to Phil Nichol in The Intervention, a serious drama about an alcoholic. The smaller shows will have a top ticket price of £10; the bigger ones shouldn't go much over £15.

'We're in it to do something good for the city and the festival,' says Sheppard. 'We've taken advantage of moving up the road to allow a number of the people we work with to move to that platform. Stu and Garry, who have done a show every Sunday for nine years, are going to be doing a lunchtime improv show every day at the Assembly Rooms. And there are a few people who we've worked with, like Bridget Christie, who are going there, not so much because it's a step up but there's a different tone to it - it's a bit more theatrical.'

If negotiations with the council are successful and if traffic can be diverted off George Street, he'll be putting a tent on the front of the building to create a festival hub and to give audiences an extra place to hang out. Even if that doesn't happen, the venue will have a less hurried ambiance than elsewhere on the Fringe, chiming in with the more classy approach of neighbouring venues such as the New Town Theatre, the Traverse and St Stephen's, as well as the Edinburgh International Book Festival. 'The sub-Glastonbury atmosphere being created in the university area is a million miles away from where I want to be,' he says. 'The emphasis in the bars and the programme at the Assembly Rooms will be the best possible quality at the lowest possible price. And if I can get through August without having a single queue, I'll be happy.'

In the meantime, Sheppard is like a child with a shiny new toy: 'The Assembly Rooms always was the best venue on the Fringe and the council has spent £10m on it, so imagine the Assembly Rooms being fully air-onditioned, with new sound systems, 100 per cent new seating, new floors, sound-proofed, new bar areas and better circulation space, and then with a programmer saying, "You won't have to queue - and you'll pay less than you paid before." I'm feeling extremely positive about it.'
Flingin' wi' Ceilidh Stomp, Sat 21 Jul, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh. Fringe programme, Fri 3-Sun 26 Aug.

© Mark Fisher, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: Ian Fox's Edinburgh Fringe Comedy ebook

Ian Fox's ebook
IN the course of researching The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, I conducted about 70 interviews with actors, comedians, venue managers, producers, publicists, critics and editors. What this brought home to me was something I knew instinctively: that everyone's experience of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is unique. No two stories are quite the same. I could have interviewed another 70 people and discovered 70 more unique perspectives on the world's biggest festival.

My approach when writing the book was to encapsulate as many of those perspectives as possible. Your experience of the Fringe won't be exactly the same as any of them, but I hope it has similarities to a few. More to the point, by establishing a set of general principles, The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide offers a template you can use to tackle the Fringe on your own terms. Get the basics right and you can make it work for you.

Comedian Ian Fox has taken a different approach. In his self-published ebook, How to Produce, Perform and Write an Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Show, he writes primarily from his own perspective. He is someone who has been performing on the Fringe since 2002, doing solo shows and ten-minute spots as well as producing mixed bills. Much of his experience has been on the Laughing Horse Free Festival, so he knows about the ups and downs of doing comedy to an audience that hasn't paid, in a room in a pub that is often not designed with stand-up in mind. He's also performed on the paid-for Fringe, so understands some of the advantages and disadvantages there too.

This first-hand experience is the book's strength. Whether he's telling you about the likely costs, the challenges of dragging your props through the streets of Edinburgh or the hazards of doing accommodation on the cheap, Fox has been there. In the final section of the book, he slips into anecdote mode and recounts a whole series of entertaining stories involving drunken, impoverished, egotistical and unlucky comedians. No reason any of the same things should happen to you, but they serve as a warning of the kind of thing that could take place.

I'm probably not the right person to judge, but it seems to me Fox's book complements The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, but is not an alternative to it. There's a small amount of overlap between the two books, but mainly what Fox offers is an extra level of detail from his own very particular perspective. If in doubt, buy both - you'll still have change from £15. 


What he has to say will be most useful if you are his intended reader - a stand-up comedian, probably performing in one of the free festivals - and will be less relevant if you're not. Even then, you'll still find it interesting; the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an endlessly fascinating place and this book adds more colour to the picture.

On the downside, How to Produce, Perform and Write an Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Show does bear the hallmarks of being self-published. Fox has complained about how long proofreading took, but it should have taken a lot longer. I'd say there was an average of one typo per Kindle page. It's probably my bad reading rather than his bad writing that persuaded me the entire cast for one of his shows had testicular cancer, but you get used to skipping over repeated words, filling in the missing phrases, mentally adding the apostrophes and translating the homonyms.

There are also some factual errors: the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe began in the same year - 1947; the population of Edinburgh doubles during August, it does not increase seven-fold; and it is not illegal to hand out flyers in places other than the High Street and your venue.

As I understand it, e-publishing allows Fox the chance to make corrections, so I imagine he'll iron out these details, thus improving a valuable attempt to make sense of a multifarious festival he loves as much as anyone.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Top ten ways to sell your Edinburgh Festival Fringe show on Twitter

Author Mark Fisher
AS THOSE who follow me @markffisher will confirm, I've been using Twitter relentlessly since the start of the year as a way of promoting The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide. I've been doing this for a number of reasons:
  • I have something to sell and Twitter is a way to communicate with would-be buyers.
  • A hell of a lot has been said about social media marketing (usually by new-media "gurus") and this was an opportunity to put it to the test, separate fact from fiction and see if the self-appointed experts were blinding us with science.
  • Having written a book that gives advice to Edinburgh Festival Fringe participants, I feel the least I can do is put some of that advice into practice. If I'm telling you to get on Twitter and Facebook, I better get on it too
So what have I learnt? Here are my top ten observations based on my own use of Twitter and on what I've seen of other people's use of it.
  1. The potential is astonishing. It's easy to forget Twitter did not exist before 2006 nor Facebook before 2004. Until very recently, if you had wanted a respected figure to endorse your show, you would have had to go to considerable effort to contact that figure, let alone persuade them of your worth. Having done that, you would have had to go to the expense of producing vast numbers of flyers. If we're talking about a figure such as Stephen Fry, you'd have to print 4 million flyers to reach the same number of followers - and even then, you would have no certainty the right people would see them. Compare that with Twitter: you send a tweet to the respected figure; if you're lucky, the respected figure retweets it; straight away, many thousands of interested people will see it. A process that would have taken weeks can now happen in a couple of minutes - and at no cost. This is in addition to your regular followers who, by choosing to follow you, have already identified themselves as potential audience members.
  2. People are smart. They know if they're being sold to. They know if they're being hoodwinked. If you use Twitter purely as an advertising medium, they will see through you.
  3. People want to read something interesting. I am at an advantage with The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, because it is packed with quotations from experts on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. If I send a tweet saying "'If you've got a 2-star review, get a 3-star review next time,' @StephensSimon in Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide http://t.co/a859PjMO," it is unquestionably a plug for the book, but it is also pretty interesting - at least to my target market who recognise Simon Stephens as a leading playwright and a voice to be reckoned with. @lyngardner, the Guardian theatre critic, retweeted that one to 14,000 followers. That's 14,000 more people who know about the book. But this brings us to the next thing:
  4. Know your market. It may give your ego a boost if someone with lots of followers retweets you, but if those followers are unlikely to be interested in your show, you aren't going to achieve very much. Think about your show, think about what's interesting about it, think about who it will interest and target them. In his recently published e-book How to Produce, Perform and Write an Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Show, comedian Ian Fox says he noticed his 2006 show The Butterfly Effect attracted a crowd who were interested in chaos theory as well as the usual comedy punters. The theme of your show could attract a new audience for you and Twitter can help you find them.
  5. Save a set of relevant Twitter searches. Work out the phrases your potential audience will be using, search for them on Twitter and select the option to "save search" each time. You can then check the results every day or so. The people who are interested in the same things as you could be the audience you are looking for.
  6. Go for the soft sell not the hard sell. What you're trying to do is build up a community of interested people around your show. They won't stay interested if they see only adverts. They will stay interested if you continue to give them interesting things to read or look at. By associating yourself with a shared interest, you will build and sustain interest in your show. It won't happen over night; you have to think long-term.
  7. Back Twitter up with blogs, videos and other updates. When I post this blog, I will send a tweet about it. It is quite possibly the very tweet that led you here. You were interested in the topic I mentioned in the tweet and you thought you'd check it out. Sorry to get postmodern on you, but in the process of finding out about social-media marketing for an Edinburgh Fringe show, you have learnt there is a book called The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide and maybe it's the kind of book you'd like to read. Spend some time figuring out the equivalent for your show and produce blogs, videos and other updates on subjects that will interest your audience. Don't be cynical about it. Although I'm winding you up with all this self-referential stuff, I'm genuine in my interest in the subject.
  8. Use all the media available to you. Some of your potential audience will use Twitter, some Facebook, some Tumblr. Try to be there for them in every case. I confess, I have limited presence on Google + and Linkedin and no presence on Tumblr; my kids told me it wasn't my kind of thing - were they right?
  9. Don't forget old media. At times, I have felt a little embarrassed at the amount of messages I've been sending out. For a while, the first thing people would say to me when I bumped into them was, "I see you've been busy with your social-media marketing." It was hard to know whether to be pleased the message had got through or ashamed for being so blatant about it. But frequently, the next person I bumped into would say, "Oh, have you written a book?" However much noise you think you're making on the internet, there will be many, many people who will not hear it. Either they're not in your social-media circle or they're not big computer users. You cannot afford to lose these people. For them, you need all the traditional and Fringe-specific marketing methods I describe in the chapter called The Marketing Campaign.
  10. Don't rest on your laurels. Having built a community of people around your show, you need to keep them interested. Not only are they your potential audience, but they are also your potential advocates. Their word of mouth and endorsement will be invaluable. Keep them on side and don't neglect them.
These are some initial thoughts, reached by trial and error and still open to refinement. If you're anything like me, you won't always get it right, but sometimes you'll strike a chord and, when that happens, you should learn from it and try to strike that chord again.

No doubt you'll have ideas of your own. Please add your comments below.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Edinburgh festivals boost and World Fringe Congress

JUST back from a press conference in which the Scottish Government and other public funders announced enhanced support for Edinburgh's year-round festivals, including the Edinburgh Fringe. Part of the package is a plan for a conference that should give Fringe participants increased access to international bookers. 

Collectively, the Scottish Government, the City of Edinburgh Council, EventScotland and Creative Scotland are funding the city's 12 festivals to the tune of £3.2m in 2012. Of particular significance to Scotland's theatre and dance companies is the Scottish Government's extended commitment to its expo fund. The total budget for this has gone up to £2.25m to be shared among the festivals and spent on projects such as the Made in Scotland programme on the Fringe.

As well as this, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has been funded by Creative Scotland to host the inaugural World Fringe Congress, bringing together fringe organisers and directors from around the globe to exchange ideas, foster international collaborations and create lasting networks.

Taking place in August, the formal meeting aims to "inspire and inform the fringe community and build lasting ties". Organisers hope that out of all the networking will come international collaborations and exchanges.

"There is currently no forum in existence where the co-ordinators of fringes from around the world can meet their counterparts to exchange experiences and ideas," said a Fringe spokesman. "Although festival directors from around the world come to Edinburgh each year to book work for their own festivals, this will give Edinburgh Fringe participants increased access to these bookers."

A more detailed breakdown of who is attending will be made available closer to the time. Meanwhile, check out The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide and the chapter called The Next Step, which offers expert tips about how to network and maximise opportunities for your post-Fringe career.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: telling it like it is

THE only thing bigger than the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the internet, which top scientists estimate is now 7.6 times bigger than the universe. This means, despite doing loads of research for The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, I have only now come across two blogs that would have fed into the book very nicely.

The first of these is In the Name of the Flesh, a record of Ernesto Sarezale's time on the Fringe of 2010. Sarezale describes himself as "a Basque cognitive scientist, published poet, performer, stand-up and cabaret act, and video artist living in London" and performed his show, In the Name of the Flesh, at the Banshee Labyrinth on Niddry Street as part of the PBH Free Fringe.

If you dig back to his earliest posts, you'll find standard publicity info about the show, but then from this post about the first performance, you start to get a flavour of what the whole wild experience is really like. This remark is typical:
It was nerve wracking to have to get the bar staff to assist me with the video connections. Especially when I left briefly for the toilet and found a queue of punters waiting outside to see my show!
From then on, mixed in with his comments on other shows that he's been seeing – themselves revelatory about the eclectic mix the Fringe offers – he gives updates on the show's progress and its variations from performance to performance: one post is even called "Every night is different". 

Sarezale is honest about lessons learned along the way, such as the realisation that it might have been better to list the show as theatre and not comedy in the Fringe Programme. Anyone thinking of appearing on the Fringe for the first time would do well to cast their eye over his "15 (or so) lessons learnt at the Edinburgh Fringe 2010" (he gets extra points for linking to an article I wrote). 

His post-Fringe comments are particularly good, being frank but not cynical, and giving a clear sense of the battering and the exhilaration you can get from a run in Edinburgh. Rather charmingly, in "Was it worth it?" he puts the lows in a tiny point size and the highs nice and big. 

Still in reflective mode, his very latest post, from just the other day, looks back on what he wanted from his Fringe run and what has happened to him since; as the penultimate chapter of my book suggests, the Fringe stays with you long after the final curtain.

Then last year, Sophie Caswell blogged about her experience bringing to Edinburgh a show called I Know What You're Thinking by her mind-reading partner Doug Segal. Her Fringe Trimmings blog starts with details of the earliest marketing campaign, then after a couple of updates, pauses for a few days because the pace, in her own words, is "f**king frantic". 

As with Sarezale's blog, it's the reflective posts that give much of the flavour, whether it's "My top 10 Ed Fringe moments", capturing the craziness of it all, or "Farewell Edinburgh, you sexy sexy beast" admitting how hard it is to say goodbye.

Then in "Come to Edinburgh where the streets are paved with opportunity", she reveals how the show was spotted by a comedy promoter, leading to a return trip in 2012:
Edfringe is like playing SuperMario you have to leap over a lot of barrels to get to the boss fight at the end, by which time you’re exhausted – but if you win, you get to the next level…. and that next level has totally different challenges … and comes under the category of ‘uber-exciting-scary and even harder work’.
Naturally, as every good social networker knows, this can only mean one thing: a new blog, this one called Further Up the Fringe. Watch that space.

I'm sure there are many similar blogs out there - do tell me if you know of any good ones. There's also one promised by magician Ian Kendall who told me when I met him the other day that he had a 21-year track record on the Edinburgh Fringe and had never lost money. If he really "can't get [his] bahookie in gear,"  as he said in a recent tweet, that'd be a great place to start.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Should you join the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society?

Author Mark Fisher outside the Fringe Office
THERE was an interesting exchange of Twitter messages this week between me and comedians Elise Harris and Andrew J Lederer. The 140 characters of Twitter are not ideal for expressing the subtleties of a complex debate, so I hope Elise and Andrew will add their own comments at the end of this post - in the meantime, I'll try and do justice to what they said, the approximate order in which they said it and what I was thinking at the time.

It started with this tweet from Elise:

Wondering whether it's worth going in the main book with my Edinburgh show this year. Advice from anyone who's done the Fringe without it?
By "book", she was referring to the 280-page Fringe Programme, traditionally regarded as the bible for fringegoers and the index of everything that's on in the world's biggest arts festival. Eying my chance to gain a reader of  The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (yes, dear reader, I'm that shameless), I replied:
@eliseharris All advice is not to go it alone unless you have a very particular reason. See my book: edinburghfringesurvivalguide.com #edfringe #edfest
To which Elise said:
@MarkFFisher well the book is expensive and no longer seems worth it at all. Doesn't seem to bring people in, even.
And I said:
@eliseharris It's your choice, but signing up for @edfringe gives you more than just programme entry. It's discussed quite a lot in my book.
What I had in mind were two stories related in my book about performers who had gone ahead without being in the Fringe Programme. One told me he'd had a disastrous time and had returned for a second year determined to do things right; the other  managed to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat, but only with considerable professional support and a great show (and even he said he wouldn't do it the same way again). My general feeling is you have competition enough without making yourself invisible by avoiding the Fringe Programme.

I was also thinking about what else you get for your payment to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. The entry in the Fringe Programme is the most visible benefit - online as well as in print - but what you're paying for is also a way to sell your tickets through a central box office as well as an extensive set of support services in areas such as press and marketing and post-Fringe planning.
Elise said:

@MarkFFisher if I had the spare funds I would but it's looking increasingly tight and I won't ever see that money again.
At this point, Andrew joined in with these three tweets:
@eliseharris @MarkFFisher Don't know what it says in your book Mark, but I do know for many, the cost of "official" entry is a useless waste
@eliseharris @MarkFFisher The Fringe Society "extras" amount in a practical sense to nothing unless you are a neophyte.
@eliseharris @MarkFFisher Last note: U gotta be in SOME book & it's gotta be one people use, either the main, the free or the big venue one.
My comment about this was:
@ajlondemand @eliseharris Andrew = old hand so take him seriously, but 2500 companies choose @edfringe programme so he's in a minority
Being in a minority doesn't mean he's wrong, of course, but anyone contemplating going it alone would be sensible to consider the possibility that there is wisdom in this particular crowd. To this, Andrew replied:
@MarkFFisher @eliseharris @edfringe And many/most of those 2500 should be. I agree.
I added:
@eliseharris @ajlondemand Do you need reviewers, agents, promoters, judges and auds to see your show? If so, how will they know it's on?
What I hadn't realised at this point was that Elise is planning to perform in one of the free festivals. This does put a different perspective on things. For a start, if your show is free (and unticketed), you have no need of a box office. I'm guessing that's what Elise means when says she "won't ever see that money again" - she would be paying for a box office that would not pay her anything in return.

The question then is how valuable the Fringe Society's other services are to her. There is no fixed answer to this question: it depends on what she wants to get out of her run on the Fringe. Only she can answer that.

But for a free show, it's quite possible that the most effective use of funds is to do as Andrew suggests: make sure your show is listed in your venue's programme and concentrate on flyering audiences on the street. Andrew said this:

@MarkFFisher @eliseharris She's in the Free Fringe. Audiences come directly from the FF programme. & Flyering. A press release may get press
@MarkFFisher @eliseharris Likewise, a listing in the Society programme may not. Judges are irrelevant to most shows.
Equally, though, Elise herself then made the point that being in the Fringe Programme had the knock-on benefit of getting you included in, for example, newspaper listings:
@ajlondemand @MarkFFisher yes you need to be in a book of some sort. Though need to be in big book for most listings. Might have to think.
As for my point about all the various people - "reviewers, agents, promoters, judges" - who may be using the Fringe Programme in addition to regular audiences, she said:
@ajlondemand @MarkFFisher yes Free Fringe best for getting people in, and reviewers tend to be useless anyway. Official listings the problem
I'd be interested to know what she means by reviewers being useless - not because I am one (I know how useless I am), but because even in the past few days, I've been finding reviewers very useful as a way of promoting my book. Putting their nice comments on my website here strikes me as a very effective way of persuading people not only to buy the book but also to take me seriously in anything I might do in future. The value of reviews on the Fringe is partially to do with attracting audiences and partially, for those that want it, to do with raising your profile, persuading funders, getting gigs, or whatever, after the festival.

All of which brought us to a final volley of comments from Andrew (and one from Elise) which, I think, are worthy of further discussion:

@eliseharris @MarkFFisher Over time, as the Free becomes an ever larger component, the press will b forced to list its shows wout Fringe reg
@eliseharris @MarkFFisher In the short term, I've found that if you're in a good free venue at a good time, you'll get an audience.
@eliseharris @MarkFFisher And it helps if you have a good show. 'Specially now, w/Twitter, etc, people spread word quickly if you do.
@ajlondemand @MarkFFisher though a bad venue at a bad time and nothing will help!
You know what? I think my comments to @eliseharris & @markffisher re @edfringe would be helpful to people. So, look. #edfringe
I'm interested to hear what other people have to say about this. One thing I would emphasise, however, is that Andrew's perspective is likely to make most sense a) if you are performing in the PBH Free Fringe or the Laughing Horse Free Festival and b) if your only concern is getting audiences. The picture changes quite dramatically if you are performing anywhere else or if you have any additional reason for appearing on the Fringe, such as being spotted by an agent, getting post-Fringe gigs and other professional concerns.  The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide goes into this in much more detail.
© Mark Fisher 2012. Powered by Blogger.

About Me

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Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.

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