I got handed a piece of wood by a German guy with a chainsaw – only in the Fringe – written on it was ‘Nothing is really difficult’ an interesting concept. It turns out this is a flyer for I don’t know what but I like it and I’m going to put it on my wall and it got my thinking, how do you sell your show? I swear this is the question on everybody’s lips. Even Brian Ferguson from the Scotsman asked me is it flyering or reviews that work best? I had to put my hands up at that one, I have absolutely no idea. But before the reviewers have decided how many stars your show will be given then what is it that you can say to someone to convince them that your show is really worth it’s salt when obviously you’re the most biased person on the planet.
Obviously flyering is one thing but when giving someone a 20 second pitch is hardly going to help them see that our show is passionate and raw, that you will get emotional involved, that we explore how being human causes us to rely on those around us, and when we’re on the edge they have the ability to save us from the brink or push us into the abyss, or whether a kiss can really be meaningless.
This is made especially hard when you are surrounded by an all-singing-all-dancing cast of 50 and a giant sperm puppet, which comes with the nature of the Royal Mile. There aren’t any gimmicks that will truly portray the essence of our work successfully on the street, you pretty much just need to see it, instead we have been known to lie completely still holding our infamous umbrellas and wait for people to stop and look, then we can sweep in with a chat and a flyer. However, we must ask – are the mile punters the right audience for our pitch? The majority of people are doing their own show and tend not to be interested in hearing about yours and then another large percentage are tourists just there to soak up the atmosphere. So how do you go about targeting the right audience for your show? You can flyer and chat to people after similar shows or after productions that you admire as artists. Talk to other people in the city not just as a pitch but also to share festival experiences and confide which shows you think are good or bad. But obviously the best policy is word and mouth of those who have been to your show but when the fringe has only just begun and no one has had a chance to truly test the water then this is also slow progress.
But maybe none of that really matters, perhaps the number of bums on seats is unimportant compared to the show you have created. I’m starting to believe we should just let the fringe run it’s course and although we will put in as many schmoozing, flyering, showing-off hours as possible, at the end of the day what will be will be and as long as you’re proud of your production, and we most definitely are, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else says because you can stand up and say, we did that for this reason and that’s how we wanted it to be – it is our vision. I think that’s what being a young theatre company is all about, not being afraid, putting yourself out there and even if you stand alone or no one agrees, stand tall and carry on because at the end of the day theatre means something different to everyone and what you say or do will affect different people in different ways, and as cliché as this will sound, that’s the beauty of it!