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:

And here:

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.

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!



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.



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.



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. 



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.



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

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.

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.