So now I’m back in London (filled with my own special brand of Fringe ‘Flu – huzzah for not looking after yourself!), and all my reviews are done (though I’m still not quite sure how I did it), I thought I should really make sure I rounded up my time at the Fringe and worked out how to do things better next time… Plus if you’re thinking of going next year for the first time, then you can take an opportunity to learn from my mistakes as a Fringe newbie – and maybe pick up some of the good decisions I made.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to be one of those people who immediately thinks they’re an expert after the first time there! But it was rather interesting to compare & contrast it with my regular fringe reviewing process down here, as well as being the kind of nerd who needs to document pros, cons & potential ways of improving things.
First off, some moans. Edinburgh – what is the deal with your bus stops?! I know it rains a lot there, so you need more actual shelters, but the amount of times I was trying to dash to a show but then got held up at a bus stop… They’re on the narrowest pavements and facing the wrong way, so when people are boarding the bus you have no way of carrying on your merry way. Also, whose idea was it to have about 20 different festivals on at once?! Usually doing more than one thing at a time is seen as efficiency, but when you’re piling in that many people during the same month you surely need a rethink. Especially the military tattoo – what on Earth does that need to last four weeks for? Don’t all the American tourists get bored?
And as for arranging press tickets… Let’s say it’s not as straightforward as I’m generally used to in my daily blog admin. It’s obviously an incredibly high pressure situation, so it kind of beggars belief that there isn’t a much more streamlined way for everyone to get themselves sorted with tickets. Unless there is and I just didn’t have time to research it properly (this is eminently possible), before Fringe veterans come back at me. And I hope I don’t sound ungrateful for all the amazing stuff I did eventually get to see for free, because I feel so incredibly lucky to have packed in everything I did. It’s just the unnecessary stress and additional admin that I really could’ve done without; my regular job involves a lot of emailing to chase people up about things, and staring at screens, so you’ll forgive me for wanting a relatively smooth ride in my blog work… Anyway, that was a massive learning curve and something I won’t let get the better of me next time.
So, what would I do differently next time?
Don’t schedule any reviews, as you’ll end up on the back foot before you properly start, instead book one show and spend some time wandering around & getting the lay of the land.
This would mean less time on catchup, and more time available for meeting up with people – as well as maybe finding more hours to sleep.
Get a little more variety in
I did fairly well, but I wanted originally to see a stand-up comedy show every day, plus I missed out on some great music, cabaret & family shows.
Have some spare slots so you can actually take advantage of people’s recommendations, or just see a show on a whim.
Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show
Catching one of these was something of a revelation for me in the middle of my week, as it started my day off properly. So if they’re back again when I next am, I’ll be seeing every selection on offer, thank you!
Set aside time to plan
Early June (when the brochure comes out) needs to have some time set aside for creating a long list, applying for press accreditation, and getting some early requests in – being wary of schedules changing over the two months.
Leave some time to go on a tour of the gin distillery, you idiot!
Some of those are more widely applicable than others, granted – though obviously feel free to substitute in your own interests.
As I ended up seeing 22 shows (including one stand-up comedy & one family science show), I thought I should narrow down my top five – as recommendations if you’re still up in Edinburgh, and also for a weeny bit of prestige for the shows I pick.
5. Medea Electronica
It’s been quite the year for adaptations of Greek tragedies (plus other Greek-related material), and this is up there with the best of them. So intense.
In the same kind of arena as the stunning Misty, and just as life-changing to watch. Koko Brown’s story is one for all outsiders.
3. Great British Mysteries: 1599?
How could you not enjoy an hour of being a “time-travelling pervert”? Completely silly, and made all the sillier thanks to consummate comedy performances.
2. Bite-Size Plays Presents: Neverwant
Orwell’s 194 injected with a sense of humour, so right up my street. And reading some of the quotes I noted down keeps making me chuckle.
1. My Left/Right Foot – The Musical
Pretty much the opposite of what you’d expect from an inclusivity focused show, and all the more refreshing for it. Absolutely hysterically funny.
Clearly not an entirely comprehensive list (for some context, my long list was over 200 shows long, and narrowing that down proved almost impossible), but they definitely stand out in my mind following a very full and rewarding week. I got rather lucky in my selection of 22 shows, as I barely saw what I would consider to be a dud, though I do wish I’d been able to go a little more ‘fringey’ as well as bringing in some slightly more mainstream selections. Next time, next time…