From the start of making this show I had to research into an area that I had no idea about: The Transgender Community. I had to learn about how to hide man parts so as to wear pretty women's clothes, how to choose a good wig (I failed), how to cover stubble and man pores with make up, how to teach a man to walk in heels, the point of dressing services, how people come out to their families, the effects of oestrogen and so on. The same goes for my marketing campaign. In Edinburgh I'm used to targeting the 18 to 40 age range, walking about the festival area looking for comedy. Now, positioned in New Town in a non-theatre venue doing a one-man show about a transgender person from the Midwest, I wasn't entirely sure how to market my show.
A little big of research from my Production Team yielded such results that, on our first weekend at the festival, we found ourselves marching en masse to the gay bars of Edinburgh wearing our Rachael's Cafe T-shirts and clutching cookies and flyers. For those of you in the know we visited CC Blooms, Priscillas and New Town bar. All of these places were absolutely lovely to us: we now have our posters up in all the above venues and the memories of a splendid night at Priscillas drinking frozen vodka cocktails.
New Town Bar stayed a special favourite. Every Sunday during the festival, Bob Downe and Scott Agnew host a SUNDAY FUN-DRAISER for Waverley Care. All sorts of shows partaking in the festival come and perform. I've seen, among others, Vikki Stone, Gemma Goggins, Kev Orkian, the boys from Briefs, Mary Lou Schriber, The Sundaes, Benny Boot and Margaret Cho. We've also been in fits of hysterics as my Publicity Manager aka my Grandma, got dragged onto the stage each weekend to promote Rachael's Cafe. Between acts we shuffled around the venue giving out our cookies and flyers and chatting with all and sundry. This is possibly the most enjoyable form of show marketing on the fringe: there is entertainment, snacks, alcohol and good conversation.
Scott Agnew, one half of the hostmanship at New Town Bar events, also held his own chat show: the Scottish Breakfast Chat Show during the fringe. He invited me onto the show to chat about Rachael's Cafe and I was lucky enough to watch and meet the guest after me: SHLOMO! Part of what makes Edinburgh so exciting is the opportunity to be creating your own work and simultaneously meeting those you respect and admire.
Fringe Central was a fantastic resource this festival. There were Fringe Fairs, Promoters' meetings and Networking Breakfasts. All of these gave you the opportunity to learn more about your play, your industry, your options and meet those you might be able to help you further. All this was accompanied by cooked breakfasts and hot drinks. Special kudos must go to Brighton Festival whose afternoon networking meeting starred beautifully cut cucumber sandwiches, pink cupcakes and gin and tonics. Did you expect anything less!? Networking meetings are superbly awkward affairs. You stand alone, drink in hand, flyer in the other and your lanyard pointedly advertising who you are hoping against hope that someone, anyone, might find you potentially interesting. You edge closer to ongoing conversations, ask Fringe Staff to tell you who to talk to and grin dementedly until said person realises you want to talk to them. Like being on a 'is this a date?' date you're terrified to make the first move in case you're rejected, silently willing them to notice your flyer before you're forced to say 'I think you could like me!'.
Until I know for certain exactly what the future is for Rachael's Cafe, I won't go on and on about the outcomes of these meetings. Suffice to say I did, eventually, work out how to start and continue a conversation and had some fantastic ones in the process. Theatre is a hard business, but the Fringe Society did an amazing job of helping all of us get on our way.