Holy shit the festival starts in a minute.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe starts in a month and I’ve found that doing a solo show during the festival can be tough, isolating, sometimes zero fun and sometimes the best thing that’s ever happened to you. So, from one solo performer to another here are some tips to keep you calm, stop you from being exploited and generally help you keep your shit in August.
1 - P R E P A R E
Start thinking about your pre-show routine now.
Make your playlist for the 15 mins before your audience arrive that’ll get you focused. I’ll be going for Sleigh Bells, Cults and probably Bonnie Tyler. I also love to have 10 minutes stage time, where I can stretch out, keep calm or have some bants with the technician I’ve just met who is now running my show.
2 - T E C H N I C A L G E T I N
Your show isn’t more important than anyone else’s.
Of course it is, but that’s no reason to be a massive arsehole because your space hasn’t been fitted up when you arrive for your tech. Everyone is in the same position, so get mad / graciously outraged with the right people at the right time, and not with the companies you’ll be negotiating tight turn arounds with for the next three weeks.
3 - F I R S T P E R F O R M A N C E
Why isn’t everyone here?
You’re not Bryony Kimmings or Chris Thorpe, yet, so accept that when you step out on stage, there may only be three people staring back at you. It’s a total downer when you’ve been slaving away on a show and you can’t share your World Premiere with a bigger crowd, but, you’re going to give those three beautiful people your focus, your energy and the performance of your life. They CHOSE to be there with you, appreciate that.
4 - R E V I E W E R S
Why is their pen so loud?
The likelihood is that reviewers will be at every performance you do during the festival, they will all have notepads, they will all scrawl loudly, they will have bitchy resting face, it doesn’t mean they hate you. Just relax, keep going, you’re doing great.
5 - R E V I E W S
Everyone has an opinion they want you to know about.
The reviewers have filed, you need to make a choice; are you going to read all those reviews from people who have spent 60 minutes with you and your work, compared the two years you’ve spent making it? They say if you’re going to read the good, you have to read the bad. I know personally that this is super unhealthy for me, so I’ll pass this duty on to my producer and avoid all reviews, including the bottom half of the internet.
6 - D O N T G I V E A W A Y C O M P S
But that person could help further my career.
Obviously give out comps to your Bae, and people that’ve helped you make the show, but for christ’s sake don’t give them to anyone who works for an organisation that says they want to support your work then asks for a comp in the same breath. They have salaries and their expenses get covered, if they want to support you, they’ll buy a ticket.
7- S A C R E D B A C K S T A G E S P A C E S
Is this a prop?
Get to know your turnaround buddies, be accommodating backstage and don’t wreck or move other people’s stuff. Backstage is a sacred space, you need to look after it and each other.
8 - W E C A N T S E E E V E R Y T H I N G
I’d love it if you came to see my show.
Don’t be pissed off if people don’t come to see your show, we all have huge lists of shows to see and very small budgets. Be understanding, and maybe don’t go see their show either, or do, and take the moral high ground, just kidding, don’t go, no, do, no, don’t. You can navigate the politics of this yourself.
Incidentally, here’s my show: F A S L A N E
9 - E N D O F W E E K T W O
I want to get a ‘normal’ job.
I hate the end of week two, I’m tired, super sensitive, super paranoid, my mental health is on the brink of collapse and I’m the worst person to be around, who knew working for on hour a day could be so hard. If you come across someone who’s experiencing the week two slump, sit with them, hang out, get some food, see a show, sit in the meadows, don’t mention THAT shitty review
10 - E D I N B U R G H I S A C I T Y A L L Y E A R R O U N D
365 days a year.
Not everyone in the city will give a shit about your show, be humble.
11 - E N D O F T H E F E S T I V A L
Looks like we’ve made it.
Congratulations, you made it through, hopefully unscathed. Now I suggest you go on holiday and forget this ever happened, until next year.