WhatsOnStage Logo

Chris Grady: Some advice for those bringing shows to Edinburgh

WhatsOnStage logo

The Showstopper's Improvised Musical at Gilded Balloon Teviot
My second blog covering my Monday of Week Two – a little late since its Wednesday morning, but I've been seeing too many shows. I promised comments on Orcs, Korean Weddings and an unready show. And I have a few thoughts designed to help those knee-deep in presenting shows here in Edinburgh.

I first welcomed Showstopper Productions onto the Edinburgh scene in our 70 seat portacabin named George 2, as part of the first "Musical Theatre at Assembly George Square" season in 2008.

Now, five years later, by careful development of the brand, the founding improvisational musical maestros are still creating a new musical every night inspired by your suggestions from the audience, in The Showstoppers' Improvised Musical. It is a wonderful sight to behold and is now packing them in at the Debating Hall of Gilded Balloon Teviot every night. If you have never seen them go now. If you are a West End producer, think about hosting them in one of your theatres for a season to delight.

I saw Showstopper right after grabbing a ticket for another high energy show – the Korean Music Show - Wedding! playing at C Venues - C, Chambers Street. A packed cheering house enjoyed the "sensational non-verbal comic music show where multi-skilled performers play 20 traditional, oddball, unique instruments while uproariously entertaining the audience." Not often is the hype on a leaflet reflected in the full realisation on stage, so if you like your musical theatre, your rock n' roll and a bit of a cheesy sense of joy, then try and get a ticket quickly.

I had a sad afternoon before Music Show seeing a production which shall remain nameless because children and parents were involved and I'd rather this blog passed them by. It did however, together with the other shows of the day, remind me how tough the game is, and how important it is to be prepared and make the most of the greatest show on earth.

Here are a few quick thoughts, which I'll expand on at the CGO Panel discussion on Sunday (11.30 Fringe Central):

Before choosing to bring a show to Edinburgh...

• Only bring your best work to Edinburgh.

• Make sure all your performers want to be on the stage with you.

• Make sure everyone in the company realises the hard work of flyering and promotion.

• Make sure the copy reflects the show which you are asking us to pay for.

• If you bring "work in progress" tell us in advance and charge much less.

• Choose a space which will feel very full with the size of audience you expect.

• Do previews and pre-work to build our awareness of the show and get it right.

• Know why you are bringing the show, and what audience you want for it.

• Think before coming about what you need to happen after Edinburgh.

And when you are here...

• Get out there and talk to everyone about the show every day, come rain or shine.

• Go network at events and Promoters Breakfasts.

• Bring a sense of joy to your work – we want to love your show.

• Don't worry if your audience is small, give it your all regardless. Remember, they might be a critic.

• Keep working until the very last performance – don't take the foot off the gas.

• Eat well (vegetables too), drink less that you'd like and sleep more than you might.

• Ask advice, come to Fringe Central and talk to people (whilst not stalking).

• Take a moment to go to Fringe Participants Events.

• Go see other people's shows and cheer them on.

• Find a way to remain enthusiastic.

• Think about post-Edinburgh and EdFringe2014; it's a marathon not a sprint.

That's enough for now. Really looking forward to meeting some companies for one-on-one surgeries on Saturday, and then doing a panel discussion for emerging creative artists on Sunday – both at Fringe Central.