If you download the file, you'll see how much money I spent on taking a solo show to the Edinburgh Free Fringe, and what I spent it on. Not that the money matters, but as I was reminded earlier this week, taking a show to the Fringe is monumental....and it's not cheap either.
Had the Free Fringe festivals not begun, I doubt very much that I would ever be able to afford to take a show there. Although in my budget I have overspent in some areas, to add another £2000-10000 would have made it out of reach. The free fringe is donation only, money is collected in the hat of the performer(s) on the way out, and though I made a good amount after 16 shows, it was no way near to covering what it cost. I knew I was there to develop a show that was formed, but needed to be tested in front of an audience, and I could've spend that much on courses and directors to work with me - this was what had been missing.
I spent a little bit on props and costumes over the 8 months running up to the London previews, but much of it was recycled from old projects or belonged to me. The music editing, photography and graphic design were all done at mates-rates, and the show was produced for no fee other than gratitude and alcohol.
Every spare corner of Edinburgh is turned into a venue during the fringe, and the spaces used for the free fringe are pretty basic. I chose my venue - Southside Social - based on the time-slot they gave me: 8.45pm. I knew I didn't want a lunchtime or very late evening slot, and this was best on offer. The location was only slightly off the beaten track, but was still quite difficult to find. The room spec said it held 60 - it was 40 maximum, and the most wonderful thing was that the ladies toilets were at the back of the room, meaning that anyone who needed the toilet during a show was forced to walk past the performer and the whole audience! This made for some hilarious moments onstage for me, and some of my favourite performances were the ones with well-timed interruptions!
The room looked like a library reading room, which suited the show, although the only stage lights were two lamps that I had to switch on and off as part of the show, when I needed a blackout halfway through. This part of the show became it's own little skit, and was different every night.
Then there was a problem with the stand up comedy group, who had the space before me. Their show overran twice in Week 2 and twice in Week 3. With such tight turnarounds it's very impolite to do this, and I did have to say something to them. Some of the paying venues charge the company £10 per minute that they overrun. One night my show went up 10 minutes late, and I knew I had a reviewer in, which made me nervous for the start of the show. Having said that, my show has a lot of props and costumes, I found a specific way to arrange the room that worked better for me a week into the run, and I came up with a system for packing up and setting up. I didn't ever overrun as I had an hour slot for a 50 minute show.
The day after I arrived in Edinburgh, I started looking for a tech. I had some luck, a friend put me in touch with someone he knew, but my other leads didn't follow through, and I only had a tech for my opening night. There were only 7 sound cues, and I operated them from my ipad plugged into the PA at the side of the stage. There were a few hiccups, sometimes the music was too loud for certain moments, but I experimented until I eventually found what worked, I don't think it detracted too much from the flow of the performance, and gave me more flexibility in terms of cues.
The main problem with the fringe is trying to fit everything in, there are so many shows to see. I saw 26, 7 of them were ticketed shows, but everything else I saw either on the free fringe, or the pay what you want fringe. I only saw 2 awful things, and both were in shows where I'd turned up to support a friend doing an open spot, and one or two of the other acts were.......The three shows that have stuck with me since returning are Sheets (Kiki Lovechild), Pss Pss (Bacala) and The Expector (Madame Senorita), all three were clown shows, all quite unusual, and all brilliantly performed.
And finally....the bar staff at Southside Social were some of the nicest people I met, they were so supportive of me, and I told them the day I left 'I wish this pub was my local.'