How to Put on Your First Fringe Show: Part 2 with Fledgling Theatre
Part 2 of the insider guide to a successful fringe production.
By Christina Care
Fledgling Theatre are about to go on tour with their latest production 'They Built It. No One Came.' Fledgling Theatre UK are Christopher Neels, Callum Cameron and Patrick Holt. After a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, they offered Spotlight some sage advice about how you too can create a successful show – and have the best possible experience! – at the Fringe.
Doing it on a whim is bold. Know why you’re going and what your purpose is.
1. Think about how you’ll spend your time
PH: We all worked on the side. We all worked almost entirely 3-4 hours a day after each shift.
CC: Yeah, we’d flyer for our own show from 10am to 3pm, then we’d show up and perform for an hour, 3 to 4pm, then we’d all work from 4.30 till 8.30 or 9.30pm. We were doing that every day for a month with maybe one day off.
PH: Yeah, can’t recommend that. On the other hand, I didn’t drink nearly as much. It might have got me through.
2. Know why you’re going
CN: I think it’s important to know why you’re going. I’ve been to the fringe as a one-off punter – to do improv or similar. I felt this was the first time that I knew why I was going. Doing it on a whim is bold. Know why you’re going and what your purpose is.
PH: Yeah, it’s so big now that if you go there on a whim it is really bold – I said for years before that I would only go with a show that I was really excited to be sharing, really proud of. And we were lucky that we had the Pleasance behind us. We’d never been to the fringe before, and given that a lot of the Edinburgh festival is about recognition, we were very lucky to be able to tie our name to the biggest venue there. At least for sales initially, that was pretty crucial. So, do your research.
3. Be strategic about your advertising
CC: In terms of sales we did a lot better than we thought, but that was a lot of hard flyer-ing. Knowing exactly where to flyer – it goes into being a bit strategic.
PH: Don’t flyer on the Royal Mile.
4. Have a good title
CC: I went up when I was a student [to see what the fringe was like] and I thought this was the best title for the show – slightly catchy. Even if some people think it sounds ridiculous. It is a catchy title and the tagline is quite self-effacing, wry.
5. Don’t scrimp on marketing
CN: Be really aware of your copy because I almost shouted down the poster. I didn’t like it – I didn’t get it. But the amount of people that came to our show because they thought the poster was nice…! If you’re aware of that, it certainly helps.
PH: We did get lucky with that poster. We paid for it to go up in a lot of good places but almost everywhere it was sort of juxtaposed with the majority of posters being of people’s faces –
CN: Often three male comedians…
PH: Which is fine, apart from the fact that we were then the odd ones out.
CC: If we had used the promotional image of the three of us it would have just looked like another sketch comedy act.
PH: We commissioned Mary Stephenson, an artist, to do our poster. We paid for it and we did plan it, we just got lucky how well it went. Don’t be stingy on the marketing beforehand.
6. Be a good guest
PH: Wherever possible try to get your way with the space. Try and get as much time in it as possible. Really, if you can, don’t share it with anyone. We’ve had that experience and it was not good. Edinburgh is obviously a different kettle of fish – you have to be in and be out. You can accept that. But also within that still try and have it nailed down before you get up there – what’s expected of you, turnaround times, who’s going to be on hand to help you with the tech. All that stuff. Pay so much attention to the space and try not to compromise.
CN: It’s important to know your venue and have good, open communication. Everyone’s been very supportive, and they’re willing to be open and supportive if you communicate. Even if you just go back there for one week someday it’s important to have that good relationship.
PH: Yeah, don’t be a bad guest!
7. Be ready to network and get involved in the community
CN: I think the other thing we benefitted from was just meeting other people – meeting other companies. Because we had a lot of people come to our show because we were going to theirs. It’s that classic thing that they were flyer-ing while we were, and if you can get a few of them to come, it’s really nice. Such a lovely vibe up there. We’ve had ongoing support from people we’ve met up there. A few came to see our show in Greenwich. You just make those alliances and stuff.
See Part One for more insight on putting on your first Edinburgh fringe show.
Catch Fledgling Theatre at the Brighton Fringe Festival from the 5th May, before continuing on tour across the UK – learn more about their work and get tickets to their upcoming performances here.