Tasty Monster’s Tempting Tidbits

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Welcome to the guest blog of Heather Bagnall and Luke Tudball, Co-Founding Artistic Directors of Tasty Monster Productions, who bring their latest show, Ferdinand, penned by Heather and featuring Luke, to the Fringe this year. Producers, Directors, and Mentors, they have a combined experience of Edinburgh Fringe of over 21 years! Read on for insights on their EdFringe journey, reflections on their path, and thoughts for the road ahead.

Join Tasty Monster by following them on Facebook or tweeting with them on Twitter!

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27th August 2015

Coming soon!

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26th August 2015

You may be thinking about where to go from here, after Edinburgh that is, and wondering where to look for ideas, for research, or if you have questions. There’s all sorts of resources on the EdFringe website, of course, including downloadable guides for pretty much everything Edinburgh Fringe-related, but where do you go to get the lowdown, the skinny, the participants view on other Fringes around the world?

Here are our five top places for post-Edinburgh networking and more…

1. World Fringe Net – www.worldfringe.com

The international Fringe Festival Association set up to serve the global Fringe community, including festival staff, venues, performers & artists, agents, audiences, suppliers, media, sponsors & supporters, and wider industry professionals. World Fringe organises and facilitates one-to-one meetings, conversation and spreading the word about existing Fringe Festivals as well as consulting with new and developing Fringes. World Fringe hosts networking events, conferences, talks and workshops on where to go and how to get involved. It offers advice on whose who, what’s on where and how it can be useful. World Fringe educates the festival sector and audiences on the importance of ‘Fringe’. You should also check out the World Festival Network at worldfestivalnet.com

2. USA to Edinburgh (Facebook Group) – facebook.com/groups/341720475856909/

A group of artists from all disciplines, based in the United States, who have an interest in being a part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The group includes members who have been to EdFringe, are considering attending, or have specialist knowledge of issues faced by artists and performers in those kinds of situations. A wonderful networking tool, this group is open to anyone in the United States who has an interest in the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as anyone worldwide who has an interest in bringing work from the Edinburgh Fringe (or elsewhere) to the United States.

3. Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals – fringefestivals.com

CAFF’s member festivals have worked together for more than thirty years to pioneer a made-in-Canada model unique in the Fringe world. Their festivals are designed to put artists and audiences in direct contact, fostering experimentation and discovery on both sides of the fourth wall… A movement for artistic innovation through audience-driven “curation.” There are currently 26 members of The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals including 6 members in the United States. Canada now enjoys more Fringe Festivals than any other country in the world and each festival is a leader in the development of theatre artists and audiences in its community. Collectively, CAFF festival audiences are a boon for independent artists. In the last 3 years alone, they have generated more than $10,000,000 in box office revenues, returned directly to their artists.

4. Brighton Fringe – brightonfringe.org

Brighton Fringe is England’s largest arts festival and one of the largest fringe festivals in the world. It sets out to stimulate, educate and entertain a diverse range of people through a diverse range of art forms. And all this in an iconic city with unique cultural heritage. Brighton Fringe takes place every May and is a great place to spend the May bank holidays and the summer half-term break. This vast celebration of all things creative has grown out of, and is inspired by, home-grown talent. More than 50% of participants are based in Brighton & Hove. We are committed to helping the arts flourish and are completely open-access, which means anyone can put on a Brighton Fringe event. No selection criteria are imposed on participants. This enables both new and established performers to try out new work and take risks. We also help artists develop professionally through a range of workshops, mentoring and bursary programmes. A wide array of critically acclaimed shows and performers also appear at Brighton Fringe each year, drawn by the huge number of appreciative audience members who attend every year.

5. World Fringe Alliance – worldfringealliance.com

The World Fringe Alliance combines the resources of some of the world’s largest festivals to create a conduit for communication, visibility opportunities and cross-festival participation. The members meet annually to reflect on the status of the modern festival and take actions to better the enjoyment of participants and patrons on a global scale. WFA is around the world and year-round. One of their festivals is happening most months of the year. Between their staff they have 200 years of experience of making fringe happen. Last year they sold almost 3 million tickets in over a thousand venues.

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25th August 2015

One of the things we have been working on while in Edinburgh this season is mentoring and supporting other artists, which is a time-consuming and physically and emotionally draining exercise. Some of our successes rather than being celebrated by other artists as part of this greater community were perceived as somehow diminishing their own experience, particularly where reviews are concerned. There are two things to remember about this: perception and reality are not comfortable bedfellows and everybody lies.

The point is, I have been touting the virtues of letting things go, despite my near constant, self-imposed avalanche of work projects, the irony not lost on me that we are producing two shows, one about an overstretched single dad and the other, a woman battling breast cancer and her own family pressures. I’ve been forced to examine with laser-like precision my own business model and I have been found wanting because although we had a clear plan of what we wanted to accomplish here, which we have done, I too, have been caught up in the great lie of the Fringe, feeling that twinge of the green eyed monster licking at my heels each time I walk past a cue wound round the corner, as I desperately try to make eye contact on the mile with anyone showing the smallest signs of even a glimmer of interest, knowing that without that vulgar, necessarily evil “the gimmick” with each whoring moment which passes, a feeling of mixed despair and resentment of the beautiful, poignant piece we are working so hard to create.

So tonight, I took my own advice and decided to let it go. Not that we aren’t working; flyering is a must, and one must do everything possible to fill those seats. But the letting go part is in letting go of the desperation, the despair when only single digit numbers turn up at the door, the fear as you calculate to the penny the financial loss you will be taking, the amount of hours you will have to work to ebb the tide of money, rapidly departing from your wallet. To find a way to celebrate the success, critical, emotional, artistic, personal, all of which are valid and essential.

It’s hard. It is a part of the experience which requires constant attention, the mindfulness of letting go and enjoying the experience. But if we are to work this hard, shouldn’t we be working just as hard at enjoying it?

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24th August 2015

We’re entering the final week of the Fringe and, for some, things are coming to a head, finding a conclusion, or maybe blowing up out of control. How do you deal with stress when everything seems to be happening all at once?

Here are our top five tips for dealing with stress…

1. You Cannot Control Everything

You may come to the Fringe with a brilliant plan, with everything mapped out in minute detail, with spreadsheets and schedules for all eventualities. You may have had copious meetings to plan your timetable, organise your time, and spread your resources efficiently. But Edinburgh is one of those places when all the best laid plans can sometimes fall apart requiring you to create a new action plan off the cuff. In these situations you can certainly take everything to heart, but actually it’s better to realise that you cannot control everything, and sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Wonderful things happen all the time on the spur of the moment at the Fringe.

2. Manage Your Time

As much as we would love for there to be 48 or more hours in a day, we have to acknowledge that time is finite in the festival city. There are only so many hours in a day. Everyone will always try to fill every spare second with flyering, or meetings, or publicity, or whatever, but you owe it to yourself to make time to take time off. The Fringe is as much about enjoyment as it is about work.

3. Preserve Your Boundaries

Being a people-pleaser it’s hard to be in a situation where someone needs help and not be the one to provide assistance to them. It’s un-natural to see someone struggling and not want to guide them out of their predicament. But at the Fringe you have to be a little selfish and a little self-preserving. Know where your boundaries are and stick to them. It’s wonderful to help a fellow actor or company along the way but make sure that you are not damaging your own prospects by spending so much time helping that you neglect your own show. As an old friend once said, there’s a huge difference between doing good and do-gooding.

4. Embrace Your Mistakes

At the end of the day, no one is perfect, and no situation is without it’s issues. In a perfect world we would all have brilliant shows in brilliant venues, with talented crew, and award-winning practitioners. We would all have hit shows which producers are clamoring over, and bookers are falling over themselves to put in their seasons. In the real world though it is far more likely that we will feel our shows are not entirely perfect. That there is something more we could have done, something further we could have covered. The truth is that no matter what we do, there will always be something more we wish we could have done. We must embrace our shortcomings and mistakes and understand that actually they are nothing of the kind – merely turning points in the path of the development of the work we are bringing to the world.

5. Do What You Love

Sometimes the most obvious things are the most true. If you are doing what you love, then what you love will embrace and support you. It may never be a financial boon. It may never support your bills and rent, but if you smile when you start your show, and you still are smiling at the end, and if you can move people, and educate minds, and promote discussion, or cause events to change a mind or two or three, and prompt a smile on someone’s face, or discussion points to grow apace. If you can spur a conversation or help to write a dissertation. If you can inspire an inquisitive mind with what you love, then that’s a sign that doing what you love is right, and what you should do dawn, noon, and night.

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23rd August 2015

Sometimes you need a day off 🙂 See you tomorrow!

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22nd August 2015

We’ve talked a lot about being at the Fringe, working at the Fringe, being successful at the Fringe, but there’s an aspect of the Fringe that, perhaps, we could spend a little more time on. Getting to know Edinburgh! How much do you actually know about the home of the largest Fringe festival in the world?

Here are ten interesting Edinburgh facts you may not know…

1. Home Sweet Home

Edinburgh Castle is built on the site of an extinct volcano!

2. Going Green!

Edinburgh has 112 parks and more trees per head of population than any other city in the UK.

3. Natural Remedies!

During the 17th century, Edinburgh residents believed that rubbing the burnt ashes of dove’s droppings on their heads would cure baldness!

4. Picture Perfect

One of the most photographed monuments in Edinburgh is Greyfriars Bobby, the statue of a 19th century Skye terrier who spent 14 years guarding his master’s grave. Is sits at the corner of Candlemaker Row and the George IV Bridge.

5. Hair-Raising History!

The 19th century body snatchers Burke and Hare murdered some 15 people in the city to sell their cadavers to the medical college. Burke’s death mask and a wallet made from his skin are on display in the Surgeons’ Hall Museums.

6. Party Like It’s Another Year!

Edinburgh hosts the largest New Years Eve street party in the world! There’s live music and an awesome fireworks display.

7. The Encyclopaedia Britannica

If you’re the type who likes to delve into the pages of the amazing Encyclopaedia Britannica then you’ll be interested to know that the first edition of this wonderful book was produced in, you guessed it, Edinburgh!

8. Food Glorious Food!

Edinburgh has more Michelin star restaurants than any other city outside London

9. Edinburgh Zoo

The first animal to be purchased for Edinburgh Zoo was a gannet. It cost 18 pence and now is seen on the crest of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

10. Firing On All Cylinders!

Edinburgh was the first city in the world to have its own fire brigade.

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21st August 2015

“We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community.” – Haile Selassie

For most of us competition is a fact of life. Every day we are fighting to be the best, the most successful, the most well-known. We strive to be the sell-out show, to get the five star review, to be the best in our venue, the best in Edinburgh, the pick of the Fringe. This journey, if you choose to attempt it, is a lonely one and filled with obstacles – not least all the other performers aiming for the exact same thing. I’ve always thought that a better way might be to take a look around you, see who’s there, and then ask them to join you on the road. Build a community of like-minded people. The every man for himself mentality, I believe, is dated and unsuccessful. Collaboration is the key. At the end of the day we are all here doing the same thing – presenting work which will, hopefully, attract a sympathetic audience and maybe even making some money doing it. We’re trying things out, experimenting with our work, pushing the boundaries of what is known. Finding friends to support your efforts can truly be life-changing. Seek out the social networks, get out on the street, talk to artists and go see shows you don’t know anything about.

 “Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change.” – Max Carver

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20th August 2015

In the second installment of our ‘Ask The Audience’ mini-feature we are taking a look at the colorful world of posters! How do you design the most marvelous marketing? How do you present the perfect poster? What do people want to see or not see as they walk the streets of Edinburgh?

We, once again, asked our intrepid assistants Chelsea and Andrea to quiz five random members of the public and ask them what they thought!

Valerie P – Country: Belgium – Location: Royal Mile

“The way the flyers are handed out should be creative such as, costumes, comedy or sketches, these are the things that attracts the most audience.”

Edward F – Country: Washington D.C., United States of America – Location: Edinburgh Waverley Train Station, On the train

“The star ratings and comments from the media is what attracts me to a poster.”

Johnny W – Country: Ireland – Location: Sir Walter Scott Monument

“The person handing out the flyer makes it. If you’re boring and just hand it to me, I’m a lot less likely to even look at the flyer let alone see your show.”

Ashley F – Country: England – Location: Royal Mile

“Bright colours attract me, I also love the colour pink so pink makes me instantly interested.”

Bridget L – Country: France – Location: George Square

“I like to see a face on the poster, the face of the actor or character(s).”

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19th August 2015

Flyering can be a completely confusing activity. We all know it has to be done but how do you do it the most effectively among hundreds and hundreds of other eager sales pitchers? What are the positive ways and what methods don’t work so well?

For this ‘Ask The Audience’ mini-feature, we asked our intrepid assistants Chelsea and Andrea to quiz five random members of the public and ask them what they thought!

Jacqueline – Country: France – Location: Filament Coffee Shop

Positive: When the person flyering is entertaining. Negative: When they’re consistent and in your face when you turn them down.

Mimmo S – Country: Italy – Location: St. Patrick’s Square

Positive: An Italian Production company on the flyer. Negative: The cost of the show is over 10 pounds.

Rory – Country: Scotland – Location: Fringe by the Sea, North Berwick

Positive: Creative way to flyer not just handing them out. Negative: Loud and boisterous people.

Gerard R – Country: Scotland – Location: Outside of Underbelly

Positive: When the person knows their show and has seen it. Negative: Too intense with the flyers such as, shoving it in your face when you’re walking with your hands full. Poor flyer design is a big negative to me.

Jim – Country: England – Location: In queue for The History of the World Based on Banalities

Positive: When the show is mentioned in the media and the comments are on the flyer. Negative: Waste of paper.

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18th August 2015

Tonight we held our second annual Women of the Fringe event, a brainchild of mine last year in what I deemed the year of the women’s solo show. As a universally underrepresented community in most of the managerial positions in the arts, directors, producers, composers, lyricists, playwrights, you get the jist, I wanted to seek out other female professionals, other sisters doing it for themselves. (I hear the 80s track in my head and feel the high tops on my feet.) But I digress. This year we topped our efforts by creating a living, on-line presence which will continue to grow through the festival. It’s exciting and innovative and community building.

Check it out here: http://fringereview.co.uk/blogs/edinburgh-fringe/2015/women-of-the-fringe/

Someone asked my recently why I had done it, what Tasty Monster Productions, what I personally was getting out of it, what my payoff was? I was taken a little aback by the question because the payoff is in collaboration, in lifting us all up so we can build a platform to support others. Each networking opportunity represents yet another brick in our foundation. And I also got the satisfaction of seeing my idea brought to fruition.

This actually brings me to the point of this blog which is, you have to create your own opportunities. It isn’t easy. It isn’t always fun. But particularly for those of us starting in the shadows, it is vital. We need to create our own opportunities. Yet, I’m astounded to see even when we’ve done the work, put the opportunity into the hands of others, there are still those who think it’s too much work or want to know what we will next do for them.

When someone opens a door, you either walk through it or you don’t. Don’t stand and wait for a push, don’t ask them to continue holding the handle, don’t ask for directions to another ingress because those people who were there to open the door will simply invite someone else in. And when you have the chance to create the foundation, to build the walls, to fasten the hinges, then for goodness sakes do it. Once you have the property, others will happily help you develop it.

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17th August 2015

Taking a moment from our more impassioned posts to write something a bit frivolous. This weekend, we held a poetry reading to an enthusiastic if intimate audience; poems which had, for the most part not been heard before even by members of the immediate family. Though the readings were in essence more family concert than actual audience events, the risks were low, the venue donated so we happily forged ahead. It got me thinking about the freedom of expression afforded when the financial risk is alleviated. I know this is a rarity but I also realized that to take an artistic risk, we have to put ourselves in the mind space of that naïve state where it’s all about the creation and not about the profit loss. It was a good reminder.

I’m not saying quit your day job for your art. We do need some level of financial security should we wish to not become pariahs to our families but perhaps occasionally take a moment in the creative process to remove yourself from thoughts of financing and just go out on a limb once a while. Do a house concert just for friends and family, not for profit. And rediscover the fun.

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16th August 2015

Children’s Theatre. Two words that strike fear into the hearts of many a classically trained “legitimate” actor. For others these two magical words signify an inroads to funding and financial resources which will support their efforts at “legitimate” work, their “real” career. I strongly dislike (because hate is a four letter word which has ill-effects on body and mind) the aforementioned types of actors because I love (love is a four letter word but has wonderful effects on body and mind) because children’s theatre, as in programming for children by professional adult actors is my passion. I love it, I live it, I revel in it. This year for perhaps the first time since its inception, the International Festival has a children’s program, “Dragons” brought over from China. I was ecstatic because this endorsement serves to legitimize the art form. Children’s programming has always had a place in the Fringe Festival but now, it was in the International Festival and it was magical!

I have been seeing a lot of children’s programming while here and am generally encouraged at the level of professionalism, production values and artistry involved but amongst the great there are those that “get away with it” because they assume, “children don’t know any better.” They make the assumption that children are not in fact small people but in fact are tiny idiots. Yes, you can get away with a lot, because although children are, on the whole, a terribly honest audience, they also have a different learning curve, a different attention span and an entirely different vocabulary to adults and so many adults don’t recognize that their small wonders are being horribly short-changed with the assumption that they will enjoy something nuanced or multi-faceted but would prefer some horrible caricature of condescension that were you to attempt to perform to an adult audience they would demand money returned at the offering.

So why do I bang on about it? What’s my stake? Nope, no kids, yet, except those I teach but working with children I see their brilliance. It makes me crazy, the level of disrespect required to simply take their money but more importantly to pass off mediocrity as art. How dare we? These are our future audiences for our “legitimate” pursuits. Do you really wish to encourage a generation of audiences who truly believe that American Idol-esque reality is art? That some crappy, campy, over-acted, underwhelming tripe is adequate because Mom and Dad are paying? We have a responsibility to these children and to ourselves to teach them quality so that they will grow up discerning supporters of the arts, and we have a responsibility to ourselves to never compromise the quality of our work, no matter the age of the audience.

I remember years ago as a high school student, I went from Washington, DC to New York City on a theatre trip. It was a long weekend, a four hour bus ride and a fully self-financed adventure and we saw several magnificent shows, but the selling point was the Broadway mega-hit Miss Saigon. I was so excited. I’d spent my hard earned dollars to get there and sit in the very back row against the wall but I didn’t care because I had made it to Broadway. It was a special Monday night show for students…and it showed. Most of the cast walked through the show as if they had somewhere better to be. Most of the students didn’t notice because it was their first time seeing a Broadway Show. I noticed. I was angry and disappointed and I vowed that night I would do everything in my power to never make an audience feel the way I felt that night because I felt belittled and irrelevant. Children are small but they are not irrelevant. Make the vow. In everything, strive for integrity even when you are doing “children’s theatre.”

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15th August 2015

Today was the Fringe Central panel discussion “How to Get Your Show Seen by the Right People” and if you weren’t there, you’d better have a good d*mned reason. I say this because, this is in fact why we are all here. We all have different end game desires for our shows; maybe you want a run in the West End, maybe you want to be the darling breakout hit of the Fringe, maybe you want a job with the BBC or maybe your goals are less lofty but more personal but the unifying desire of every Fringe participant is an audience. Of course the panel was about how to get your show seen by the “right people” who are, in this case, the media, producers, etc but the truth is there is an art form to vetting your show for the “right audience” and this takes some trial and error.

I recently saw a production that was innovative, imaginative and geared at, by my reckoning, the entirely wrong age bracket. I’ve seen flyerers on the mile literally throwing themselves and their glorified recyclables at weary, desperate, moderately angry passersby in the faint hopes at a glimmer of interest. Why are you wasting your time? Worse yet, the worst and most prevalent of all crimes against marketing, I’ve seen people doing down their own shows out of sheer exhaustion and frustration, so demoralized by the whole experience of repeated rejection that I feared they wouldn’t last out the day. My heart goes out; I’ve been there, I am there but with one difference. I have not forgotten why I am here and ultimately I am here to love my show, to share that love and passion and to draw those audiences to me with the indefensible magnet draw of my Pollyanna-like enthusiasm. Obviously this tactic doesn’t work on everyone…or for everyone. Many find me quite irritating. I don’t care, why? Because this show is my baby and like a mother, I will defend it to the end.

Which brings my ramblings back around to “how to get your show seen by the right people.” You can throw everything at it, ads, posters, billboards, publicists, sex, drugs, rock and roll (well maybe not the kids shows) sky writing and still without that illusive buzz, you’ll be sitting alone in your venue surrounded by your 4 star reviews and your own echo. You have to get out there, every day and love your show. Love on it, in whatever loving or irreverent or inappropriate way feels genuine. Because your genuineness is what will attract like to like. Your genuine passion, your desire to uncompromisingly defend your show, eagle or turkey, is what will bring in your audience. Your energy, your enthusiasm and your continued love of what you do. So if you are starting to feel the flyering blues, you’ve got to find a way around it, whether it’s a spot of tea, or a wee dram of whisky, a bubbly bath or a bit of bubbly, jogging, yoga, or a walk up (and back down) Arthur’s Seat, find that little indulgence that gets you through. And make friends with the other artists on the mile. Help each other out. Give each other shout outs. It gets a lot easier when you don’t feel quite so alone.

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14th August 2015

I am reminded today of something intrinsic, something important, something quote small. Here at the Fringe it’s often impossible to know someone’s thoughts or feelings at all. Instead of chastising, complaining, or whining, judging, besmirching, or some similar thing, take a moment to smile and say a ‘good morning’ to the person who seems a little over it all. And if they’re alone, or even if not, wish them well with their day, with their show, with their spot. You’ll feel a grand feeling of happiness build and maybe you’ll help their seats to be filled. And even if all of that happens in passing, you’ll know that the positive vibes are amassing and soon someone new will be passing on by and see you, perhaps, needing some vibes. Their smile and nice greeting will fall on kind ears and help you relieve some or all of your fears. So when you out and about in the ‘burgh, remember that all of us will be well served if as you do pass along on your way, you smile and you grin and have fun all the day.

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13th August 2015

It’s the beginning of week two and things are getting crazy. There are more people on the street, more shows on the stage, more reviews in the papers, and more late night liaisons to be had. If you’re energy is waning and you need a perfect pick me up, where can you go for a perfect cup?

Here are our Top Five Edinburgh Coffee Shops…

1. Brew Lab

This laid-back brewing heaven has amazing espresso and fresh filter coffee on a daily basis. Enjoy the WiFi on luxurious couches amongst exposed brickwork and make sure to sample the decadent lunchtime sandwiches.

2. Artisan Roast

Sometimes it does what it says on the tin. Get your artisan roasts fresh three times a week from the three Edinburgh locations of this fine coffee purveyor.

3. Project Coffee

If you’re Bruntsfield way make a detour to spend an hour or two at the amazing Project Coffee. This eclectic mix of old and new makes anyone feel at home and you can even have your friendly barista create a unique artwork in your coffee froth!

4. Steampunk Coffee

As the name may suggest these guys live on the edge with their exciting roasts and eclectic brews. They also actually live on the edge, in Berwick to be precise. You can visit their roastery if you fancy a trip, or just seek them out at the Stockbridge farmer’s market on Sundays where their VW van is a regular hit.

5. Castello Coffee

Slap bang in the center of town this wonderful little coffee shop is nestled amongst high street names, but still holds its own. Sit outside and admire views of the castle.

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12th August 2015

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late” – William Shakespeare

When you’re at the Fringe it can seem like you never have enough time to do all the things you want to do, to see all the things you want to see, to experience all the things you want to experience. The truth is that however much time you have you will end up filling with anything and everything that might entice you. The only way you will have time is if you make time. Take the step to take the time to make the time to take a step towards spending some time with you, you’ll be amazed how liberating it feels.

“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” – Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

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11th August 2015

Participating in the Fringe can be a daunting thing. You’re putting yourself, your work, your soul (perhaps) on the line and in front of the public for all to see and all to judge. So what happens if no one turns up to judge it? How do you deal with little or no audience? How do you increase your Fringe footprint and sell out your show?

First things first – there is no definitive answer to this very common dilemma. Everyone at the Fringe has experienced it at one point or another. You are most certainly not alone. And there are ways to get yourself noticed and make your show stand out from the crowd.

Here are our top five ways to get your show noticed!

1. Flyer, flyer, flyer, and flyer some more

It cannot be overstated as to the importance of flyering. One on one interaction with potential audience. Talk about your show, why you love it, what makes it unique, why it stands out from the crowd. Be positive. Be energetic. Don’t be abusive. Don’t be a stalker. If you’ve got a great show, tell people about it. Look them in the eye, and smile. Smiling is essential 🙂

2. Consider Outdoor Appearances

There are many opportunities for extra performances during the Fringe. You can apply to get a spot on one of the outdoor stages on the Royal Mile, for example. If your show is loud, energetic, musical, dance-based, or encompasses anything eye-catching, take a chance and get it out there in the public eye. Audiences are way more likely to buy tickets to something they know is entertaining than something unknown to them.

3. Contact Local Interest Groups

This may not be applicable to all shows, but if your production has a particular theme or topic, you may want to see if there are any local interest groups who may be interested in attending. Your circus show, for example, may be of particular interest to the local juggling school or your cooking demonstration be really exciting for the local culinary college. Take some time to research these types of groups as they may be able to being a large group or at the very least pass on your show information to interested parties.

4. Exit Flyer Shows With Connections To Yours

There are over 3000 shows at this year’s Fringe but a much smaller number of themes represented. You may have a children’s musical show that is aimed at a very young audience and wonder where to market it? Find other shows with a similar demographic and seek out the audiences leaving those shows. The people have already expressed an interest in the type of work you are offering and may be much more open to seeing more of it than somebody else you may meet in the street.

5. Network, Network, Network

Talk to people. Start conversations. Follow them on Facebook and tweet with them on Twitter. If you’re having a slow day reach out to them. You never know how effective a post can be. Trust that if you scratch someone else’s back, they will be more likely to scratch yours.

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10th August 2015

I wanted to take a moment to talk a little about graceful recovery. As in life, so it is at Fringe that we have moments of less than stellar shows, days and even behavior; an off night, a hangover, a distracting audience member. Today was just such a day. We have been dealing with project delays which particularly annoyingly are not our fault but for which we have borne the brunt. At last, at last, thank g*d almighty we have flyers at last…and there was a big problem, huge. But the bigger problem was that I did not recover gracefully. Rather than taking a moment, taking a breath and finding a solution, I went on a tirade-a rare occurrence for me for which the rest of the world is, I’m certain, grateful. Why is graceful recovery so essential?

Because in those few precious moments in which I lost it, I could easily have dug a much larger hole than the one I already felt I was in, because in my ranting, snarling and pawing at the air, I could have alienated people I work with, people without whom I do not have a job; people who share my stories and my life.

And most importantly, because graceful recovery is my frickin’ job. As artists, nothing comes easy for any of us so when something goes wrong for one of us, it is essential we not use that as an excuse to make things harder on the rest. Years of banked goodwill can be cashed out in a moment of spiteful arrogance. I was very hard on my partner today (and on some rather uncomfortable-looking bus riders who were desperate to leave even though I suspect they weren’t even at their own stop). We aren’t perfect, none of us. We all have a bad day but recovery is an essential part of the artistic process and a healthy part of daily life. Which is why, though I behaved badly for a few moments, I’m not going to dwell on it. Because part of graceful recovery is the realization that others have given you grace to make a mistake, and forgiveness for your ill-advised ranting (and age-inappropriate language; who wrote a kids show?) even if you don’t deserve it. Accepting with humility the kindness of others, whether it’s turning a blind eye to your bad behaviour or swearing up and down that “no one noticed” when your pants fell off, that is part of the graceful recovery.

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9th August 2015

There’s more to Edinburgh than just the Fringe.

If you feel like it’s all just getting a bit too much with the onslaught of the Fringe Festival, here are our top five distractions from the Edinburgh Fringe…

1. Arthur’s Seat

Talk a stroll up Arthur’s Seat. Whether you are a weekend warrior, a trained, season marathoner or a unicyclist looking for a little fresh air and a nice photo-op, Arthur’s Seat has a trail for you and an absolutely breathtaking view of the city and the Firth of Forth. (Not a lisp, that’s the name) You can do the walk in a (VERY) brisk 30 minutes to a leisurely 2 hours.

2. Portobello Beach

Did you know Edinburgh has a beach 20 minutes bus ride from city centre? Walk the boardwalk, take in the views or if you’re truly daring and thick-skinned, take a wee dip in the crystal clear, bloody cold waters of the Forth. You can also celebrate the end of the Fringe by jamming out at the annual Big Beach Busk.

3. Dynamic Earth

If you have kids, are a kid at heart, or just freaking love some interactive science, then this is a must for your Fringe itinerary. Learn and experience the story of planet Earth, journey through time, and enjoy interactive exhibits of all kinds including state of the art technology and even a 4D experience unlike anything you’ve seen before. Don’t miss Scotland’s only 360 degree full dome film theatre!

4. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

We don’t have to say too much. You’ve seen the fireworks, you’ve seen the parades, you’ve heard the bagpipes playing at every street corner; maybe you’ve even caught a terrifying glimpse of the thrilling Haka Dancers. But did you know that the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is the largest performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with over 100 international participants from around the globe? Get there early if you have a special event because this mammoth show feels like a home-town hero in Edinburgh.

5. Go Underground

Did you know modern-day Edinburgh is built upon another city? There are tons of fun, weird and even spooky adventures throughout the city but equally a myriad tours offered underground, exploring old world Edinburgh and the sordid history of this city of the arts.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed so take a moment to take a stay-cation from the maelström and enjoy some of Edinburgh’s non-Fringe charms.

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8th August 2015

Ah, Meet the Media, a first in a series of shark tanks of the Fringe. We love it, we hate it; we feel a bit whore at the wedding trying to maintain our integrity while selling our show and ourselves for two minutes of airtime in a sea of louder voices. It’s easy while preparing and reciting ad nauseam your 30 second elevator pitch, catching a glimmer of interest in the glazed eyes of the glorified intern which drives you to desperation, expanding your tight 30 seconds to a waffling, fading 3-5 minutes before the cursory handshake of doom, to lose all hope or worse, far more dangerous, to believe your own hype.

In the midst of the last precious moments of the MTM, as I stood in line for 90 minutes awaiting my precious few seconds of hope, an artist in the line next to me began to regale his friends with tales of success, rivaled only by Aesop himself, tales of packed houses and nary a flyer passed, immediately followed by the accompanying huzzahs and a musical interlude, distracting the poor souls who had finally made it to the front of the queue for their brief meeting. Folks, I call bullsh*t! Do not look upon this false idol and despair for that is what he longs for. It took everything within me to curb the urge to smack him soundly across the nose with a rolled up Scotsman for the dog that he is (though I would never do this to an actual dog) for his bs, sophomoric, and albeit, I’m older but, completely transparent intimidation tactics. Here’s the thing, as Hugh Laurie says, in his amazingly accurate American accent, “Everybody lies.” It’s true at the Fringe as well. Everybody lies because we all have to give the appearance of success no matter what our journey because that is our job. But here’s the more important take-away. We are not in competition. I repeat, we are NOT in competition. Unless you’ve written a play about a single Dad raising his son on the ideals of a popular children’s book from American, we are not in competition. Everyone here has a unique voice, a unique vision and we should be celebrating that in a festival with 3000 shows, we all have a story to tell. Do your job, love what you are doing, let your passion shine through and don’t buy into your own media hype. Unless you are doing Shakespeare…then you’re totally in competition.

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7th August 2015

So the Fringe is officially underway. The ship has launched on its yearly voyage of discovery through the uncharted waters of shows big and small, navigating the rocky shoals of reviewers, and the stormy seas of sought after success. Those with seasoned sea legs turn their weathered face of experience towards the horizon and plot a course based on tried and true techniques, but what do you do if you’re new to the crew and only have your expectation to go by? Some would say you follow your gut and for many this proves a trusty friend, but others will opt for taking advice from seasoned Fringers whose experience can point them in the right direction. In either scenario there are expectations of all sorts of outcomes, only some of which may come to fruition and you must be able to adjust your goals as the route of your journey changes.

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6th August 2015

Today was a day for meeting up with friends from Fringes past. It’s an interesting transition from that first year, turning up at the Fringe, posters and flyers in hand, nerves and fears in head, to today. Familiar faces starting to appear at every venue – it’s a bit like old home week. Is that a thing in the UK? In America, we have yearly reunions during the Home Coming season, when graduated students return to their high schools and colleges to celebrate with the new classes. Well, Fringe is a bit of a homecoming as well, and the number of smiling faces and bear hugs serves as a barometer of your past successes (artistic and personal) and a reminder as to why you are here. So if you are a first timer, start seeking out those connections and if you are a seasoned Fringer, grab a pint with a friend and do a bit of catch up. And if you are a jaded, wizened, angry ol’ *%&*$r, what the h*ll are you doing here? Just kidding. But seriously, go and see some of the up and comers. You might just remember why you called Fringe home so long ago.

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5th August 2015

Everyone freaks out about ‘Meet The Media’. It’s always a nightmare. A necessary event, but a nightmare all the same. Hundreds of performers and companies all crammed into Fringe Central vying for precious minutes with their publication of choice. But there are ways to handle it, and actually have some fun.

Here are our Top Five Tips for preparing to Meet the Media.

1. Know Your Story

You’ve sent out your press releases and invitations to your show. You’ve postered, you’ve flyered, you’ve followed up your invites, you’ve tweeted, you’ve maxed out your friend requests, and still are wondering what MORE can you do? The simple answer is the right answer. Know your story. Why are you at the Fringe? What is unique about you? Your story? Your journey? What is there about you that is unlike everyone else? Why should anyone care? This is not about gimmicks. This is you, loving your work, being compelling, letting your passion be the spotlight that leads the press to your venue and your show.

2. Do Your Homework

Know who you are talking to. Know who their readers are. Offer them what they are looking for. You have less than two minutes and limited resources to steal their attention and their interest and pitching for a review to a features editor, or for a feature to a reviewer, is just a waste of precious time. Pick your targets wisely. Know who may give you the best bang for your Fringe buck – you are never going to be able to see everyone at every table. Think about Indiana Jones. Sometimes the least shiny and obvious trophy is the one of the greatest value.

3. Find A Buddy…or Twelve

This is something for all the Fringe, but particularly when facing the daunting challenge of jumping into the lion’s den and facing off with a potential reviewer. Creating a support system is an essential task. Find out who is in your venue, what are the shows before and after yours, are there other shows with similar audience demographics? Seek out like-minded people and share your skills. It feels a million times less lonely when you’re standing in line with friends around you. Down the road this’ll prove an invaluable resource.

4. Rehearse Your Pitch

How do you sell your show in just one sentence? What is your ‘elevator pitch’? If you only had ten words to describe what you do – could you do it? Practice, practice, practice. Be engaging and interested, informed and enthused, confidant and passionate. Find the happy medium between humility and hubris. And be prepared for more – or less. The person listening may want to hear more, or may hear what they need to hear and cut you off. Be prepared to expand your pitch but don’t be offended or disheartened if the opportunity does not arise.

5. Keep on smiling!

This is hard, for everyone. Smiling makes it better. Bring your patience, your sense of humour, bring your camera, and bring your flyers. It’s amazing how many people don’t. Come early, stay warm, and bring rain gear in case you have to wait outside. And wear a hat, at a jaunty angle…just because :O)

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4th August 2015

“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler

It’s easy to get caught up in the Fringe. To get so engrossed in your show, your preparations, your work, that other things fall by the wayside. Sometimes important things. It’s hugely important to take a moment every day to stop, take a breath, and realise that other people are in the same boat as you, and probably just as freaked out.

Here’s what you need to remember. Everyone is, most likely, feeling the same way you do. It’s ok to admit that things are hard. If you’ve done the preparation, brought your best work, and love what you do, you’ve already taken some huge steps in the right direction. The thing to do now is go talk to people. Other performers, producers, directors, technicians, writers, musicians, poets, comedians, publicists…whoever. Share your information, ask questions, listen to advice, smile, laugh, discuss ideas. If you love your work, so will they.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

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3rd August 2015

So you’ve got a great show. You’ve submitted to venues, been accepted (congrats!), travelled to Edinburgh on the (add method of transport), found your digs, and grabbed a breath…now what?

Edinburgh can be terrifying and amazing, inspiring and daunting, magical, illogical, mystical, and indefinable…all at the same time. How do you figure out just what to do from the seemingly endless list of jobs on your very first day?

Here are our Top Five Tips for hitting the ground running on Day One.

1. Take A Look Around

Apart from the fact that Edinburgh is an amazing amalgam of history, culture, heritage, tourism, and more, it’s a great idea to know where things actually are. How do I find Fringe Central? Where’s the venue for my show? Which street leads to the cheapest pub?

Head on down to Fringe Central and get yourself a free festival map – it really will be one of your best friends. Take a moment to mark the important spots for you – the venue, the bus stop, the half price hut, and so on.

Then…take a walk! Look around! There are hundreds of great places which are not on the map just waiting to be discovered.

2. Wear Good Shoes

Good shoes are one of the most important things you can bring to the Fringe. And insoles. And spare laces. And good shoes.

3. Get A Bus Pass

Unless you’re someone who wants to walk EVERYWHERE, get a bus pass. And even if you’re someone who likes to walk everywhere, get a bus pass. The buses in Edinburgh are affordable, reliable, and efficient, and the pass is great value. You don’t want to be late for something and realising that you’ve got to hike uphill to get there! Passes can easily be obtained from the ticket office by Waverly Station.

4. Smile!

You’re at the LARGEST ARTS FESTIVAL IN THE WORLD! It’s AWESOME!

5. Don’t Panic!

Trust us. It’s going to be ok. It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be ok. And once you get through it, you’ll be able to do anything. And there are people to help – like us, and the Fringe Society – come say hi! You can do this. And it’ll be unlike anything else you’ve ever known.

Hit the ground running. Work up a sweat. Acknowledge the work. Celebrate your journey. Be awesome. Rinse and repeat.

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3rd August 2015 – The Prologue

Edinburgh Fringe. That sounds fun. What’s it all about then? What is the very first thing that comes to mind?

Preparation, preparation, preparation!

If you have never been before it can be totally terrifying, and if you have been before, the same is true! There are many ways to navigate it, and over the years we’ve seen a few, but whatever route you choose you must make sure to make a plan, stick to it, and be ready to throw it out of the window if needs be and come up with something else even better.

Confusing advice? Perhaps. But that is why we are here with this blog right now. To attempt to de-muddify, enlighten, and perhaps, educate a little, while still having a whole lot of fun. Figuring out how to ‘do’ EdFringe can be a brain-melting experience, we know, but with the right tools, a little bit of chutzpah, and some good old knowledge, it can be a totally amazing, life-changing event.

Stick around, it’s going to get interesting! And you may, occasionally, pick up a tasty titbit that just might make your Fringe experience that little bit more Tasty 🙂

More to come…

Tasty Monster Productions