COMING soon to a Fringe Programme near you:
COMING soon to a Fringe Programme near you:
|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.
|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:
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.
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.
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 Guideand the chapter called The Next Step, which offers expert tips about how to network and maximise opportunities for your post-Fringe career.