So as the dust and glitter settles on our Edinburgh Fringe Festival adventure we wanted to tell you all about our experience. We have set out to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about our first Mighty Heart venture to the Fringe…so grab a brew, get comfy and brace yourselves!…Well, its not going to be that hard hitting, we are saving the true grit for our Mighty Heart Edinburgh survival event at HOME in January as part of PUSH Festival (We will let you all know the ‘when’s’ and ‘where’s’ once its all pinned down).
Before we went to Edinburgh we researched, chatted with mates (cheers lovely Josh Coates!) and gathered as much information as we possibly could about the beautiful bright beast that is the Fringe. What we quickly realised is that no matter how much you think you know, or feel like you’re ready it will most likely overwhelm you…well, at least slightly!
We had been on a Mighty field trip the previous year with our bestie Esther Dix and spent a fabulous 4 days camping, seeing theatre and scoping out the Free Fringe. This was brilliant as we got to look at venues and feel the festival, however its probably worth imagining yourself there for 4 weeks, without the luxury of having your co-director/bestie Esther with you for the whole run and flyering in the rain!
Whilst we are on the subject of flyering we might as well share with you some stuff we learnt, here you go:
So, Mighty Heart got 500 posters printed, all glittery and leopard print-y and fabulous, we were right excited…until we arrived at the Festival. The Edinburgh Council own pretty much every bit of space in the city, so you cant put your posters up unless you pay them a sizeable amount to do so. We wish we had put the money towards going in the big Fringe Festival Guide. This would have been a much better way to spend our money, and would have brought folk into the show.
Don’t worry if you don’t find it natural to thrust flyers in peoples faces, its really hard work and when you are at the festival if can seem like everyone is loving it! What we discovered is that a lot of people don’t let you into the truth of what they are feeling until you offer up your truth…we made so many friends by just being honest, admitting that we were having a hard day or a bit of a struggle. Its surprising how many people just want to hear a supportive honest voice. When we had a bad day on the Mile with our trusty sign (EVERYONE should take a sign! It does half your job for you, and people actually approach you for your flyer) we went for a break and a brew. This could seem like an obvious one, but for so many people at the Fringe well-being is at the very bottom of their priorities.
We loved this little café; The Coffee Mill beside Grassmarket, toast with jam and butter for £1.50 and the man that ran the gaff, Gino was so super nice.
Look after yourself and anyone you meet. We made some bloody glorious mates by being open and asking how folk were doing day to day. We went to see their shows and they came to see ours, which doesn’t seem like a lot but a sense of community really saved us on days we felt crap.
This is our mate Geoff. We met him on our first day in Edinburgh. He promised to come and see our show and he did. We went to see his show, ‘Money Is As Innocent As The Sun’, and it was one of the best things we saw!
Make sure you get a day off a week. We met so many artists that really suffered at the Fringe because they worked just that bit too long flyering, or didn’t have a day off, or beat themselves up over a small audience. Its really hard work, you’re SMASHING it just by being at the Fringe Festival in the first place. Some things are out of your control so be kind to yourself and always give yourself (and anyone with you) a pat on the back.
On our first day off we went up Arthurs Seat and stuffed our face with bagels at Elephant and Bagels (near George Square).
We also made friends with the people that own this Greek Restaurant Spitaki, by our digs, its lovely and we loved it that much we went for a second time with our Free Fringe buddy Gary from Leeds (Twitter: @garyfromleeds ) (http://www.spitaki.co.uk)
The PBH Free Fringe is wonderful, in that it gives artists like us without a load of cash to put their work on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival….but, if you are going to be on the Free Fringe you have to prepare yourself. We can only tell you about our experience and I’m sure there are lots of different feelings towards the Free Fringe but for us we really missed the basic things we take for granted in Theatre spaces. Things like; a warm up space, front of house, a normal amount of time to do a get in, technical help, lights, a space where people can’t just walk in…BUT, as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival grows and becomes more and more corporate we need to appreciate the Free Fringe and everything it is trying to do for us artists. So we thank you PBH Free Fringe for giving us a step on the ladder and some cracking pals.
If the PBH Free Fringe didn’t exist we would never have met and performed to all these glorious, amazing, open minded audience members! We loved every moment of every show (even the one where 7 people walked in onto the stage from the door by the stage that led to the toilets!). We had Nurses, Teachers, Mother, Babies, Blokes, Hen Parties, Care workers, Birthdays, Mates from all over the country and loads of young people!
We also met 1990’s hero Dave Benson Phillips…and a giant vagina!
We feel like the next bit of the blog should have its own special title, and an Professor Albus Dumbledore quote which we stumbled on at the birth place of Harry Potter, The Elephant Café….cue sparkly, messy, honest subtitle!
The radical act of calling it a day.
As we approached the final week of our Fringe run, we both started to feel a bit ‘not right’. We felt like the energy of the festival had worn us out and the venue had started to have an impact on our work. Whilst walking our 45-minute journey home with the shows set, in the pouring rain we both confessed that we felt like we wanted to go home. We both worried about what people would say or think of us for leaving 4 shows early. We worried what the other acts might say, we worried about our overactive creative brains riddling us with guilt…And then we decided to do what was right for us, we made our plan to come home early. It felt like a radical thing to do in that environment, and it also felt like the truthful thing to do.
I suppose the biggest thing that we have learnt is that every artist /company /comedian/spoken word artist/musician is unique and the biggest difficulty at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is not to compare yourself to others. It’s absolutely not a level playing field. How much money you can throw at PR directly affect’s who will come to see your show, and who will come to review it. The best venues cost the most, so the more money you spend on a venue the more bums you will have on seats. You can slog your guts out flyering and chatting to folk and no one will turn up. Go to the Fringe on your own terms, for your own reasons, you are Queen (or King!) of your Fringe experience!
Please join us and some mates we met on our Fringe Festival journey in January at PUSH Festival at HOME Mcr, where we will share everything we have learnt and all the information we wish we had known before we went to the Fringe so that YOU the artist can be informed, enabled and empowered.
Over and out lovely MIGHTY mates!
Peace, Love and Haggis
Sam and Lisa
P.S – The night before we left for home we had a crazy moment of euphoria where we destroyed the Mighty flyering sign…luckily we filmed it for you all! Head over to our Facebook page to watch it! https://www.facebook.com/mightyhearttheatre/
Good night, farewell Mighty sign….