creative producer blog

The Creative Theatre Producers Club

The space for theatre makers.

How to survive Edinburgh - 1.

This is the first newsletter for a while - basically, I’ve been a bit busy, which in this business is no bad thing.

But it’s August and as everyone in the real world rushes off on holiday, we enter the stress-pool that is the Edinburgh Festival!

Many of you will be Edinburgh veterans - but if you’re not, and even if you are, you should know - Edinburgh is tough! And when I say Edinburgh, I’m really talking about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is where most of us chase our field of dreams.  My first Festival was 1992.  

As you’ll know if you’ve been on our Creative Producers Workshop - we have to learn that Spreadsheet Are Our Friends. So you will have done your budget to death and be down a road that started with registration and brochure copy in the dark depths of the winter. And it might be too late for you now, with the festival almost done, but I just want to make the point that as producer, you need to take care of yourself.  Edinburgh during festival is almost a 24 hour city. It’s exciting. There are new creatives to meet; productions to see and most of all your own show to succeed with.

But you need to be aware it’s the little things that can be very tough for a producer. Most performing companies tend to stay together in the same accommodation and it can be very hard sharing the toothpaste and food budget for a whole month with an actor you auditioned for an hour in June. If I had a pound for every company I know has split over the Festival, I could afford to fund a couple of shows every year!

And then there’s morale. If you are the producer, you know that the buck stops with you. Everyone else in the company can moan and groan and bitch and complain, but you are the final adjudicator, peace-maker, smoother and soother.

And that’s just dealing with the company. What about yourself?  Did anyone tell you the average Edinburgh audience is 4?  No, thought not.  And great reviews are a possibility IF you can get the reviewers in to see your show in the first place.  Which you probably won’t.  Be ready for it.  Even though most decent venues will do all they can to help, there’s a LOT of competition for reviewers.  A friend of mine who is an Edinburgh veteran with an international reputation finally got his first review in week three of four!  So manage expectations within the company. Miserable actors are a very miserable thing indeed.

Also, try and have at least a day a week off - or at least a couple of days off in the run. I know that might sound very counter-intuitive and radical on a fixed run, with potential lack of income, but you and everyone will be working at a pitch you would never do normally. Not just performing, but leafleting, (God, the flyering! Save me!) drinking, late nights or early mornings and bad diet; all will combine to wear you down.  So try and make some ‘you time’.  You probably won’t lose much financially with a few days off and it might just energise both yourself and the company.

If you are in Edinburgh, I hope it is all you expected. It is a glorious agony. If you are considering going next year, or if you know anyone who is, please forward this and tell them to sign up to our newsletter.

And as always if you have any comments or criticisms, I’d love to hear from you.



NEXT TIME - Reviews, good and bad - and how to deal with them.
COMING SOON - How not to blow your success in Edinburgh!

Creative Producers Club.