James Seabright On Opening Ten Shows in One DayDate: 4 August 2010
So here we are: months of preparation have led to this day, Wednesday 4th August, the first day of previews across the major venues of the Edinburgh Fringe 2010. For me, it's the day that ten of the shows in my Festival Highlights roster have their first preview, and as such it is the one day of the year when I wish that I'd spent more time working out how to control the space/time continuum and thus allow myself to see all of the shows on the same day. Alas another year has passed without that happening, so instead we had a late-night meeting at FH HQ to decide how we will spread ourselves across the city today, to make sure that at least one of us in my excellent and ever-growing team sees each show.
I've been charged with seeing Potted Panto. Reel to Real: The Movies Musical, and Barbershopera: Apocalypse No! - which is lucky because these are three of the shows I'm most excited about among the 18 that we're working on this Fringe. I'll update this post later with first preview 'show reports'.
My journey to this day started in January, which is when we start to seriously look at the line-up for each of Edinburgh Fringe: having conversations with colleagues ranging from writers and directors to actors and designers, as well as other producers, about new ideas for shows, or indeed firming up long-held plans to create show X and put it on in theatre Y. Since then, plans have been firmed up in time for the Fringe brochure deadline in April, always bearing in mind the need to create a great show and put it on in the right place at the right time in order to make the magical mix that's required to capture the imaginations of Fringe audiences. The work ramps up once tickets go on sale in June, and July tends to just be a fuzz of rehearsals, previews, print sourcing, and all the other time-consuming ingredients that make up a new show (now for the plug: check out my new book for more on the subject of how shows are created, from the producer's perspective).
So it is with a mix of great excitement and trepidation that this day comes around each year, as it usually becomes abundantly clear at the first preview of an Edinburgh show whether it is going to work or not. Fortunately we've been lucky in recent years to have many more successes than failures, but the reality is that fixing a broken show is difficult to do at this stage in proceedings: unlike the 'real world' where you have a theatre to yourself to rehearse and re-rehearse a show, we're all sharing space here at the Fringe, so any changes that need rehearsing into the show on a technical level can be tricky to implement effectively. That sounds rather negative an outlook, but it also makes it even more thrilling a feeling when the challenging restrictions of staging a Fringe show fall away and a show soars through the ceiling. Here's hoping to a few of those today...
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