THE closer I am to my target market the better. This means choosing the right venue.
As a theatre critic, I spend a lot of time at the Traverse, watching shows or chatting at the bar. But this isn’t a place where potential readers of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide will hang out in great numbers. Performing on stage in this venue are the kind of established theatre companies which, by and large, won’t need professional advice from a book. In the audience, there will of course be theatre-makers and interested parties, but in the main, it will be people looking to be entertained. If the Scottish Society of Playwrights has its bookshop there, I’d hope it would stock the book, but as a venue, the Traverse doesn’t feel right.
My instinct is the same about other favourite venues such as St George’s West and the New Street Theatre: great if I can have some kind of presence, but not natural places for my readership.
What I need is somewhere that large numbers of actors, directors and comedians at the start of their careers hang out. At this stage,The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guiderecommends I keep my options open and consider a number of venues. In my mind, there are two front-runners (and I shouldn’t rule out the possibility of doing something at both):
Fringe Central: initially, I was thinking my plans were so similar to the service already provided by the Fringe Office that I would be better doing The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide – Live somewhere else. But then Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Fringe Society, gave me this lovely quote to use on the book:
“Every single page of this book is enhanced by Mark Fisher’s lifelong enthusiasm for, and commitment to, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the greatest arts festival in the world.”
and asked if I was thinking about doing the show at Fringe Central. Dear reader, if you are trying to do a show of your own, I know you wouldn’t dream of getting a personal approach from the Fringe’s top dog and I understand this puts me in a position of tremendous privilege, even if our discussions come to nothing. It’s a reminder, however, that the more suited your show is to a particular venue, the more keen that venue will be to have you.
The Pleasance: all the big venues are dedicated to nurturing a new generation of theatre-makers and comedians but, having presented a couple of Pleasance Bytes podcasts in 2011 (did I tell you I got four stars?), it strikes me that director Anthony Alderson and head of creative development Hannah Eidinow are encouraging exactly the same kind of people as I want to reach. I’m already in talks about doing more podcasts and I’ve mentioned the idea of doing a show based onThe Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide.
At a recent meeting, Hannah suggested I draw up a plan for the show I’d like to do and then we can talk further. The same will apply to Fringe Central, so that needs to be my next task.