For those who don’t know, my name is Alice and I’ve been working as an Emerging Producer for National Theatre Wales’ Edinburgh Fringe shows. A lot of people are unsure of the producers role and I don’t blame them; my duties ranged from updating sales reports to meeting international artists to handing out flyers all over Edinburgh! It was my first Fringe so I didn’t really know what to expect either, and it was hard work but totally amazing, and I’d do it all again.
Now that the month is over I’ve had time to think a little on my experiences, on what advice I’d give anyone thinking of taking work to the Fringe, and generally the main things I learned from my month in Edinburgh. I’m very grateful to NTW for giving me this opportunity, it was a huge learning experience and I loved my time working on these shows. I hope my thoughts and musings can help other people who might have questions about the beast that is the Edinburgh Fringe.
What I’ve learned from my first time at the Ed Fringe:
- You deserve to be here
- Whether you’re playing to 20-seater pub venue and struggling to sell tickets or selling out the Pleasance, we’re all on the same level. We are all artists, we are all working hard, and we all deserve to be here.
- There is no space for ego
- Whether you’re a producer, director, actor, crew – no one is above the classic Fringe tasks. Go out and flyer, talk passionately about your show, help the tech team strike your set, do everything you can to support every aspect. Remember, No Cringe at the Fringe.
- Your show company become your second family
- Look after each other, check in and make sure everyone is feeling okay physically and mentally; it can be lonely up here and we need to support each other. Go for a meal, do something together that isn’t theatre, but also make sure you schedule some alone time; being in everyone’s pockets can be intense.
- Your venue staff become your third family
- They are here to support your shows, but they also have hundreds of others; be understanding and empathetic, they are working just as hard as you. Buy them some sweet treats to get them through a long day, chat about what shows they’ve seen, take the personal touch.
- Don’t do everything at once
- The amount of exciting shows and events happening is overwhelming, but if you try and do it all you’re going to burn out. Pace yourself, don’t see everything in the first week, plan when you can take time out to really enjoy being in Edinburgh. But just remember, it’s impossible to see it all, so don’t feel guilty for missing things.
- Flyering is tiring, but it’s essential
- Always carry a handful in your bag at all times. Try and match up with similar venues and shows. Flyer swap with other artists; we need to support each other!
- Fringe events are a great chance to meet likeminded artists and people who could support your work
- Check out the Fringe Central brochure for specific events which could be useful to your artistic journey. There’s something for everyone, from actors and directors to producers and production managers. These events are education, and a great chance to meet the right people.
- Networking is not as bad as you think
- I was terrified of coming to the Fringe with so many networking events in my diary. But as I spoke more and more with different people, a lot on the same Emerging platform as myself, I realised meeting new people and talking to them about themselves and their work isn’t scary; in fact that’s been one of the highlights for me. Calling something “networking” brings on a lot of stereotypes, and I met so many people who had been put off going to any sort of industry social event due to anxiety around that word. At its heart, theatre and art is about connection and conversation. The best “networking” I did at the Fringe didn’t even involve talking about the shows I was working on – it involved meeting new people, getting to know them, making friends, and discovering other people’s journeys.
- We’re all in this together
- And I don’t mean just making sure your actors stay physically healthy. Look after your fellow artists. Go and see the other shows in your venue, talk about what you’ve seen and what you’ve loved on social media, take a flyer from someone who’s just spend 2 hours walking around in the rain trying to talk to people about their show, respond to peoples invitations to attend their productions even if it’s to tell them you can’t make it. Don’t let the idea that the Fringe is a competition into your head.
- Keep the faith
- The Fringe can be a struggle. Bad reviews, or not getting any, can be massively disheartening, as can not selling as many tickets as you’d like. But just getting to the Fringe and being here is an amazing achievement, and you shouldn’t lose sight of that. In a time where arts in particular are suffering from a lack of government funding, being cut off of the curriculum, and seen as not a “proper” career, I’ve found the Fringe the most awe-inspiring event. Thousands of people, all working unbelievably hard on their art, because they believe in it; this is dedication unlike any other, and it should be applauded, even if there’s not a lot of people physically in the audience applauding. Going back to my first point, we all deserve to be here, and if you are here with something you’ve created and believe in, you are a super star and I adore you. I think Lyn Garnder put it perfectly this year in an article she wrote whilst up here at the Fringe; “Keep faith in what you’ve made and feel pride in it.”
- Sellotape, stapler, scissors – You’ll want to add reviews/nice things to your flyers and posters
- Rain mac – I forgot mine…
- Extra socks, then a few more – The rain is very real and you will be out and about a LOT
- A Tupperware container – Don’t eat meal deals every day! Bring a tub and make your own lunch at your digs
- Sun cream – I know, I know, but the sun does shine in Edinburgh, and you don’t want heat stroke and sunburn for your whole run!
- Permanent marker – Mark all your gear for the shows – things can go walkabouts at the Fringe!
- Reusable water bottle – STAY. HYDRATED. And look after the planet.
- Portable phone charger – Unless you’re still rocking the inimitable Nokia 3310, you’re going to need juice. Don’t rely on venues/shops having plugs, and charge on the go
- CLOTHES WITH POCKETS – So you can carry all of the above with you at all times and be prepared for ANYTHING