We are delighted to welcome back our newest guest blogger to the FringeReview pages. Bruce A! Kraemer shares his reflections on bringing Kafka’s Belinda to the Prague Fringe.
28th May 2015
The 2015 Prague Fringe festival was a wonderful experience for us. It is much more friendly and accessible than either the Edinburgh or New York Fringes. This one feels like walking into a small shop and chatting with the owner. Edinburgh is like being lost in a vast mall with few landmarks. The New York Fringe is like standing outside the locked gate of a country club that you are not allowed to enter, even if you are a member.
We participated in as many 2015 Prague Fringe events as we could including these: We presented our own show for six performances, getting three great reviews and one in Czech that I have not figured out yet. We saw and reviewed 12 other shows. We went to the Opening Night Party briefly. Our show performed an excerpt in the Fringe Sunday promotional event. We stumbled into the Tuesday morning Pop Up Fringe cabaret. And the our Artistic Director, Joan Kane attended an invitation only reception at the British Embassy.
25th May 2015
I have been looking forward to this particular post. My topic is Beautiful Prague. I thought Edinburgh was one huge Cinderella’s castle, and it is very nice, but Prague, wow. The variations and details of the architecture here are mindboggling.
Everything is at odd angles in very charming ways. Streets and sidewalks are cobblestone and immaculately kept up. If a statue is holding sword or wearing a crown, there is a good chance that the item is painted gold. There are statues everywhere, free standing, on pedestals, on top of buildings, above fountains. This city really embraces the concept of “art for art’s sake” which is a fundamental principle of our theatre company.
Another awesome aspect of Prague is the way they light buildings at night. They go totally nuts and the results are gorgeous. When you walk across a bridge the lighting reflects in the river water like an everlasting fireworks display.
23rd May 2015
We opened Kafka’s Belinda
last night. Our venue is The Museum of Alchemists. I think that is an absolutely awesome name for a venue. The theater was totally sold out which sounds good, even great, except for the fact that the room we are playing in, including the stage space and audience seating area, is probably less square footage than the living room of our apartment in New York.
We do not have an exceptionally large living room. I was excited about how much money we made, until I figured out the currency conversion and realized that the total would pay for about three beers back home and would not be enough for two people to see a movie. Our first performance was a little rough around the edges. A line or two was dropped and a sound cue went off track, but none of it really hurt the show. We will get them right at the second performance.
22 May 2015
We did our Tech Rehearsal. The Prague Festival gave us a generous FOUR hours. Beforehand I did not know what we were going to do with ourselves with so much time. I am used to festivals that’s give you running time, times two and not another second. Of course we used every moment and then some. The Festival also sent a professional photographer who shot during run through. The pictures are already up on Facebook. Go there and check out Prague Fringe Festival.
21 May 2015
We arrived in Prague after a journey that was not really arduous, just mostly boring. We flew from New York City to Oslo and had to wait seven hours for the connecting flight to Prague. I used SkyScanner to find our flights and the best deal was on Air Norwegian, which is all the way at the end of terminal two at JFK airport in New York. We Czeched in to the Mosaic House hotel in Prague. It is beautiful, with very artsy décor. There is a noisy bar right off the lobby, but the room was deadly quiet. I could not hear any street noise or anything else. Coming from NYC, that is an eerie phenomena. We seem to be right in the Old City with the streets turning at all kinds of odd angles from each other. This does not stop the local drivers from coming around blind corners at speed. We got in late and went looking for something to eat. There is a tiny store right outside the hotel that is about half liquor store. They are open until 4:00am. We found a little kebab place for dinner. The food was tasty and cheap. I am liking Prague.
19 May 2015
Since I am way too lazy to write too much, today I will bring in Nicola McEldowney blogging on puppeteering in Kafka’s Belinda in Prague:
My name is Nicola McEldowney, and in the Prague Fringe Festival, you can see me onstage with my forearm deep inside the chest cavity of a small person named Lizette, my fist clutching tight to her spinal column.
As you may have guessed, Lizette is a puppet. Her chest is made of foam, and her spine is a curtain rod. Armed with this rod in one hand, her arm dowel in the other, I kneel behind her and move around on kneepads. Kneepads are important if you are a puppeteer. With kneepads, you will be comfortable and happy and enjoy a long career. Without kneepads, your knees will dwindle to throbbing, mangled knee-nuggets, and you will spend the rest of your days in bellyaching agony and be no fun at parties.
My job, as Lizette’s puppeteer, is to make her as lively and expressive as a human actor (who happens to be made from hardware). In our piece, Kafka’s Belinda, she interacts with two human actors and must speak to them as believably as they to her. My job is to “pilot” her from behind and hope she will do the rest. Fortunately, she has been built with great skill by Bruce A! Kraemer, and her emotions play beautifully through her hardware musculature.
Prague is often heralded as the puppetry capital of Europe, if not the world. When I lived in Paris, itself a puppet cynosure, my puppeteering friends and colleagues would often remark that puppetry’s true heart lay in Prague. At the risk of a flagrant generalization, it’s rare for people in France to take second to anyone about anything, so I knew this must be so.
In the United States, puppetry is often only thought as entertainment for children. Of course, times change: we’re living in an era of adult puppet shows on Broadway (Avenue Q and now Hand to God), not to mention a Muppet renaissance. Still, puppetry is generally regarded as being limited, an irony for an art form that can and does represent the whole of society in microcosm. In Europe, and I am told especially in Prague, puppetry is simply part of the cultural fabric, not systematically tied to a narrow demographic. For this and other reasons I’m delighted to contribute to the puppet tradition. In a few days I will be a part of it, and so will my kneepads.
17th May 2015
We did our last of three shows in New York. We got a deal where we where allowed to present the show, but could not charge admission. It was sort of a series of invited dress rehearsals. After wards we went out for drinks with just me, Joan Kane the director, and the cast of three. We discussed a few logistics, but mostly just hung out together. It was great team building and I think we are all quite comfortable working together, or at least as comfortable as we are going to get. I have been reviewing the finances and so far, going to Prague is a lot less expensive than going to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The entries fees are less, the hotels and flights are cheaper and everything is much easier and less bureaucratic. I hear that beer is not too expensive in Prague and that alone is going to save me a bunch of bucks. I have been promised some guest blogging by a couple of folk in our troupe. I will include their contributions when I get them.
16th May 2015
We opened the test run of the show on Friday, May 15. It went very well. We had a healthy sized audience and did a talkback with them afterwards. They were very encouraging.. We found out later that there was a reviewer in the room. His review will probably not come out in time to help promote the show, but eventually it might look good on our website, IF he liked it. I understand that his reviews are only published in Italian…
15th May 2015
The play we are doing in the 2015 Prague Fringe Festival is Kafka’s Belinda written by J.B. Alexander and me. The original concept for the play came from our director Joan Kane who was reading healing stories after her mother passed away. She came across an idea about Franz Kafka the famous Czech writer and Dora Diamant, Kafka’s lover in the last year of his life. At Joan’s suggestion we wrote a play about how Franz and Dora met a little girl in a Berlin park. The girl was crying inconsolably over the loss of her doll, Belinda. Franz and Dora arrange to present postcards from Belinda to the girl, they tell her that Belinda is not lost, she is just traveling around the world. We based the postcards on real Kafka stories. Joan wanted to visually underline the fact that Kafka, played by J.B. Alexander and Diamant, played by Olivia Scott, were real historical characters, so she decided that the part of the little girl who lost her doll would be played by a life sized puppet. She is operated and voiced by Nicola McEldowney. This also solved the problem of finding a real 11 year old girl that could play the part and travel to Prague with us. Whew, dodged that bullet.
9th May 2015
It is not without a certain amount of trepidation that we signed ourselves up to present a play in the Prague Fringe Festival. Those of us of a Certain Age, or more, remember Prague as being well Behind The Iron Curtain for much of our lives and even though we have always heard that it is a beautiful city, I have visions of Russian troops in the streets. Clearly I have not been paying enough attention to history.
Last year we sent a show to Prague, by which I mean we produced it, did the paperwork, rehearsed it in our New York City living room and sent the solo performer, J.B. Alexander, off on his own. He seems to have returned unscathed.
This time around J.B. and I have collaborated to create a script inspired by our director Joan Kane. After her mother died Joan went looking for healing stories and found a legend about Franz Kafka in the last year of his life. Here is our blurb:
Franz Kafka and girlfriend Dora Diamont were walking through a park in Berlin when they met a young girl crying that she had lost her beloved doll, Belinda. They tell her that the doll is not lost, Belinda just ran away to see the world. They bring her postcards inspired by Kafka’s short stories, detailing Belinda’s adventures. We recreate the legend of Belinda to explore how imagination can heal loss and grief.
The little girl will be played by Nicola McEldowney operating a life-sized puppet, J.B. will play Kafka and Olivia Scott will play Dora Diamont.
At this writing we are rehearsing the show in New York, but not in our living room. To help us get ready for Prague, Polaris North will present it for free May 15 and 16 at 8:00pm and May 17 at 3:00pm. 245 West 29th St, 4th floor. If you can be there, please make reservations at Brulight@aol.com.
Bruce and Ego Actus brought a new play to the Edinburgh Fringe 2014 from the United States. What Do You Mean is a piece all about the process of theatre itself. Here’s that blog…
Blog over for 2014. A huge thanks to Bruce.
25th August 2014
This is sort of the Credits Page of my blog. I have had an excellent experience here in Edinburgh and the following people are to blame: Joan Kane directed and co-produced my play. She also has the grit and gristle to have been married to me for 34 years. She is one tough woman. I would also like to thank and blame our cast. They said my words the way I wrote them and then went farther and improved them greatly and I get all the credit.
Thank you Teddy Lytle, Nick Palladino, Dev Brand, J. Dolan Byrnes, Ivette Dumeng and Ioan Ardelean. Thanks and blame are also in order for the folk who got us going in New York including sound designer Ian Werhle, costume designer Audrey Nauman, stage manager Tyler Winthrop and the crews at CAP21 rehearsal studios and 59e59 theaters. Our Edinburgh would not have been what is was without the tireless support of the Spotlites staff including Rachel and Colin King, Zach, Kieron, James and the lovely women of the box office. Thanks to our amazing PR guy, Paul Gillon who got us no less than seven reviews (at last count) with more expected. It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a city to make a Festival. Thank you Edinburgh.
24th August 2014
This is an amendment to a previous blog about the weather here in Scotland. As I write this, there is a beautiful, sunny day outside. We have plans to walk to the Botanic Garden and explore it. In my experience in the last couple weeks, I have learned to prepare for anything. By the time I get downstairs the temperature could have dropped significantly and it could be pouring or even hailing. This might be followed a few minutes later by summer beach conditions. It really changes quite rapidly, back and forth between very nice and appalling and nice again. The Scots are philosophical about it. They say: “Today’s rain is tomorrows whiskey.” I second that emotion.
23rd August 2014
I find the atmosphere of creativity at the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh to be very stimulating. So much so, that a copious amount of alcohol is required to still my frenzied brain, nightly. In betwixt the ensuing hangovers, performing our show and the next round of hearty conviviality I have found inspiration. In odd moments I have begun writing a new play. This one is quite a departure for me. My usual thing is laugh out loud comedy, at least that is what I am trying for, some of these United Kingdom audiences laugh out loud very, very quietly. At any rate, I am scribbling a drama about the relationships amongst four people. The number four is important because it is a lot less expensive to bring four actors here than, say, the six we have this year. I suppose that is a rather objective limitation to put on a piece of art, but there it is. I imagine that as the play develops some fifth character might enter a scene. The playwright in me would probably welcome them with open arms. The producer in me would shudder and try to shut them out. My inner lighting designer would not give a whit. He would just whine about not have enough specials in a festival repertory lighting plot.
22nd August 2014
There are some things in life that you could not imagine unless something else happens first and I have a pretty good imagination. My wife and the director of my play, Joan Kane, and I could not imagine having a second kid together until we had a first one. We have two and enough about them, they are both taller than we are and will not let us forget it. We did our first EdFringe show last year and we were pretty sure that it would be a once in a lifetime experience. To our surprise, here we are again and, having gotten some decent reviews again, the heretofore unthinkable is being thunk (thought?) people around us are talking about our coming back for thirds. We are being asked to get the ball rolling and start doing groundwork in SEPTEMBER! That is less than ten days from NOW. OMG. These people don’t even care what script we want to bring. This is flattering, right?
21st August 2014
Between the Edfringe, two different Free Fringes and the International Festival there are well over 4000+ shows playing in Edinburgh in August. This is too mind-boggling to comprehend, so I have been trying to think about it, just in terms over the various venues. Not all the ones that there are, because that too, is too big a number. I have been thinking about the venues where I have actually seen a show this year. That list is somewhat more manageable. It includes Assembly, Assembly Rooms (those two are completely separate companies, despite the similar name) Bedlam, C Cubed, Glided Balloon, Jekyll and Hyde, Opium, Pleasance Courtyard and Pleasance Dome (same company, a good kilometer apart) Spotlites, The Space, Underbelly, and The Voodoo Rooms. Many of these have more than one, and in some cases, dozens of theaters and I in some I have seen shows in more than one of those. Maybe I should just stop thinking.
20th August 2014
In a previous entry I whined about the food here in Edinburgh. I amend. The traditional Scottish food is not doing it for me. There are too many fried carbohydrates, few vegetables (what they do to peas sometimes is just cruel) and no fruit to be seen. I cannot believe that there has not been a major outbreak of scurvy. Don’t even get me started on Haggis. On the other hand I have been to some really excellent ethnic restaurants. I keep meaning to try a Chinese place but have not found one open when I was ready to eat. I have had excellent Thai food, superior Italian, surprisingly wonderful Indian and acceptable Mexican. Is French an ethnic? I have been to two terrific French restaurants and I generally don’t like French food. Edinburgh is quite the cosmopolitan city.
19th August 2014
I have discovered that there are some things I actually like about flyering. My show is listed at the Half Price Hut and I get a thrill every time I see my show listed on the big screen there. I love when I try to flyer someone and they tell me they already have tickets to my show. That really has happened a few times. Usually when I hand someone a flyer I try to “pitch” the show, I tell them some intriguing things about it to pique their interest. But frequently when I am earnestly trying to flyer, and I meet someone I know from some other show I have seen and we have a great old time chatting, while I hold out flyers without the pitch. Some folks actually take them, amazing.
18th August 2014
I am really unhappy about the telephone service here in Scotland. I went to great lengths to get make my cell phone work here, including repeated trips to the phone store. I can do some things and call some people, but I cannot call my wife and she cannot call me and that is making me crazy. Texts take two hours or more to be sent or received. With some numbers I have tried to call, I get a message saying I do not have enough credit to make the call. This even happens immediately after I have “topped off” (put more credit) on my phone. I have seen a few phone booths and even some of the iconic red “Dr. Who” booths. As far as I can recall, in all the buildings I have been in, I have not seen one single landline phone besides those booths.
17th August 2014
For some reason that I cannot remember we did not take any public buses in Edinburgh when we were here for the Fringe last year. The walk from our flat to our venue managed to avoid most of the hill climbing and we found several shortcuts to get places. I think I was also a little weirded out by the whole double-decker concept. It is amazing that those things don’t fall over.
This year we are straight down a long hill from one of our venues and two hills away from the other. I found that the trick is to try to predict which days I will do enough bus trips to make a day pass worthwhile. One of the actors in our cast went through the annoying process of getting a monthly pass and found that it was not worth it enough for him. He did not use the buses enough to average out what he paid. So we buy day passes on days that we thing we will use the buses for more than two rides. Fortunately there is a bus stop right outside our flat building.
The buses do go useful places, like from our flat to the George Square area where Fringe Central and many of the venues are. I have not figured out how to use the buses to get to Pleasance Courtyard but some walking is good for me, right?
16th August 2014
My topic today is touristing in Edinburgh. Is ‘touristing’ really a word? I might have just invented a verb. No, I didn’t. I looked it up and someone beat me to it. As a tourist, I describe the city of Edinburgh as one big Cinderella’s castle. I carefully omit mention a couple of unfortunate buildings like the big glass theatre on Nicolson Street, across from Surgeon’s Hall, or the government monstrosity down by Holyrood Palace. I tell people the first thing to do when you get here is to take one of those double decker tour buses around the city.
The live commentary is sometimes a lot of fun. Of, course one must see the Castle and find one’s way to the Scottish Honours. The museums are mostly free and are beautifully curated. I have not been in the Palace yet. I am sure it will be lovely. The hike up to Arthur’s Seat is surprising bit of inner urban natural. We also enjoyed the Mary King’s Close underground walking tour, which shows you a lot about the history of ordinary people in the city. There is even an actual Museum of Ordinary People that we liked.
Then there are the pubs, the depth and breadth of choices can take your breath (and sobriety) away.
16th August 2014
Flyering is such sweet sorrow. Okay that lead sentence is poetic, but not even remotely true. Flyering is really a necessary evil of selling your show at the Fringe. I hate flyering. I am not shy but I am also not an actor I do not like to put on a breezy show to total strangers. Unfortunately flyering has to be done and it really does put butts in the seats. Our show was limping along playing to “audiences” of less than the number of people in the cast. As a company we were kind of depressed. Then we got some good reviews and that re-energized us. We all threw ourselves into spirited flyering and now the houses are mutliples of the number in the cast. There are a lot of different strategies you can use to flyer. I have seen a guy stretch out a blanket in the middle of the Royal Mile, spread out flyers on it and lie down and take a nap. People took his flyers. That is Passive Flyering.
If someone wants to give me their flyer I insist they take mine. I call this Defensive Flyering. I prefer to stand at the exit from Princes Street Garden to the plaza where the Half Price Hut is. I figure people going that way might be going to the Hut to look for a show to see. I offer my flyer to whoever will take it. I get a lot of “No thank you”s because the Scots are polite. Some people take the flyer and stop to listen to my pitch, but not many. I do not flyer at the Half Price Hut line itself. There are too many competing noisy performers there, some in costume, doing Aggressively Flyering and pushing their show on the prospective punters. That is exactly the kind of flyering that I do not want to do.
15th August 2014
The food here in Edinburgh is not quite what I generally expect. Admittedly I am, in the words of my wife Joan, a “fussy fuck.” My ideas of the principal food groups are proteins, fruit, vegetables and chocolate ice cream. I have spent time as an adherent of Dr. Atkins, eating lots of proteins and very few carbs. Here, the big four food groups seem to be carbohydrates, starches, fried carbohydrates and alcohol. Anther thing that I find annoying is that you cannot get a hamburger cooked any less than medium well. I like my hamburgers rare. Somebody tried to explain to me about local cows getting angry, or mad, or something. I do not see why a cow’s emotional life has to influence how I eat.
That situation is not just here. In some states back home they do the same thing. Fortunately for me the cows in New York are happy and I say, trot them around the corral until they work up a sweat and serve. Another complaint I have is about a “prosciutto sandwich” that I bought here. The portion of prosciutto on the sandwich was symbolic at best. I find myself eating an average of less than two meals a day here. Between that and hiking up and down the streets, I am losing weight and totally pleased about it.
14th August 2014
More about reviews. We have now gotten three reviews of our show from when it was in New York and three in Scotland. Edinburgh ‘punters’ (That is the UK word for people who actually buy tickets to shows. We love punters.) seem to be obsessed with the star system. Lots of stars from a reviewer means a show has to be good, right? I am not convinced about that. In all honesty, I cannot say that my production is surrounded by a galaxy of stars. We did, however, get some great quotes. I have made stickers to add to our flyers with these quotes including: ‘It has the feel of a Woody Allen work.’ ‘what do you mean is a quintessentially fringe play’ ‘It’s energetically and earnestly performed.’ That last one is from a review that did not like the show at all, but I don’t have to advertise those parts, right? We also got this from a review in New York that was printed in another language. ‘The production features magnificent, imaginative direction by Joan Kane who adds beautiful nuances to the performance.’ These are all going to look great on our website.
13th August 2014
Tuesday August 12, Joan the director and me opted for a change of pace. We have a day off from our show so we have some wiggle room and my sobriety does not have to be do fiercely guarded. We took a bus to Roslin or Rosline or Rosslyn or however you want to spell it, to see the intriguing chapel there that was featured in the DaVinci Code film. It was a classic Scottish day covered by drippy clouds. Once the bus leaves the city it goes through about a bus length of suburbs and then you are in farm country with rolling pastures of sheep, horses and other farm beasts. The chapel had an entry building with totally sophisticated up-to-the-minute audio-visual museum technology. There are interactive things for kids to do, a gift shop and a little cafe. The chapel itself is amazing. There are hundreds of fascinating details and the place has a wonderful air of history and mystery.
There are free talks by guides who speak in the first person as if they are the chapel talking to you. I especially liked the crypt below and the beehive above. The chapel is a key location in Knights Templar lore, holy grail legends and all that crusades history. While waiting for the bus back to the city we had fish & chips at a local pub. It has low ceilings, leather furniture and great beer. The first thing on the breakfast menu was the Holy Grill. I found that very funny.
12th August 2014
Today is a better day than yesterday. It is grey, but not raining. The bathroom leak issues seem to be resolved. Much time has been spent posting things to the interwebber including the podcasts about our show from New York (http://ow.ly/AcALG) and Edinburgh (http://ow.ly/AbDiW). I have added production photos to our company site’s page for this show (http://egoactus.com/whatdoyoumean-Edinburgh.html) and I have been blogging here and tweeting about this blog. (Putting the link here would be redundant, right?) Our cast and crew have all been putting notes and pictures up on the Facebook pages of our Fringe show, our Free Fringe show, our company page and our individual pages. Our Fringe show is now listed at the half price hut and eight of us were out there today flyering like crazy. The result? We are expecting five times as many people at tonight’s show than were at last nights. OMG! We got nine and half times more people tonight. Flyering really works!
11th August 2014
Sunday, August 10 sucked. It rained all day. There were mutterings about a hurricane named Bertha. Something went wrong with the plumbing in the flat upstairs from us, causing brown, smelly water to cascade into our bathroom. This took a lot of cleaning up. My wife and co-conspirator Joan and I tried to get into a morning show and were late by three minutes and the theater would not let us in. We jumped in a cab across town and saw Baba Brinkman, the Rap Guide to Religion at the Gilded Balloon. He was terrific. We then sat in the café there and I had a spectacularly bad Panini. Since we were there, we chose a show at random and that one turned out to be a clinic in how not to stage a show. All the scenes were monologues and there were dozens of blackouts. I hate blackouts. After that we slogged through the rain to a Free Fringe show in Cowgate that turned out to be cancelled. We took a side trip to a little deli in the area for ice cream bars, that made me feel a little better. Then we went to dinner and our show. Our show had an audience of exactly two. Had they been enthusiastic our cast might have had a good time. They were not and that was depressing. On the way home we stopped off at another Free Fringe venue for drinks and saw a comedian who wasn’t funny. Then we went back to the flat for a maudlin evening of feeling sorry for ourselves. One way or another, tomorrow has got to be much better, right?
10th August 2014
The social life here at the EdFringe is at least as much of a fundamental part of the experience as the putting on or seeing of shows. Drinking in pubs here is always fun. The drinking establishments in Edinburgh are colorful, distinctive, well lit and, in my experience, quite comfortable. ( Yes, there are uncomfortable bars. Did you ever drink in an airport bar? You are either worried that your flight will be on time or that you will miss it.) Sitting in the venue cafés here is a great way to meet people. They come right up to you to hand you a flyer and the conversation blossoms until somebody has to go perform something somewhere. As much fun as all that is, the real hopping party is in the kitchen of our flat every evening after our show and going way into the night. Our cast and crew include an international documentary videographer, a preschool teacher, a restaurateur with a doctorate degree in acting, a retired social services professional, a multi instrument musician/fight choreographer, a retired New York City public school teacher, a lighting director for television and no less than three artistic directors of theatre companies. The discussions are far ranging and often very passionate.
9th August 2014
“Reviews are such sweet sorrow.” Nobody ever said that, not even William S. Reviewing is hard and so is getting reviewed. You can present a great show and get reviewed by someone who does not understand it. Conversely, you can put up a terrible show and catch someone in just the right frame of mind and get lauded up the wazoo. At the moment, my wazoo is laudless. Another interesting aspect of reviews is that a given piece can totally rip you up but you might still be able to eke out the one nice thing somebody wrote and use only that quote to look good. In order to look good, we just gave our show the theatrical equivalent of a makeover. Now we just need someone who publishes to notice.
8th August 2014
Now that we are into he second week of the Fringe, I feel more settled and a little less frazzled. Yesterday morning we got up early and re-staged and re-lit our show, “what do you mean” and ran the new look last night for a small, but enthusiastic audience. It is a big improvement. I have managed to get into the swing of seeing at least a couple other shows a day. That is what really makes me feels I am at the Fringe. I feel a moral obligation to average seeing at least one show for every day I am here. Last year our stage manager averaged over two. You really have to hustle to do that. To date I have seen 13 shows in 11 days and that is counting the two I am producing only once each.
Somewhere on line I saw that the Official Fringe, otherwise know as the Paid Fringe has 3198 shows this year, I actually counted the two Free Fringe catalogs, one has 537 shows and the other had something like 274. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that adds up to over 4000 shows playing this month in Auld Reekie. It makes for a lovely atmosphere of fervent creativity and there are a lot of very cool people to talk to but, as a producer, why am I putting myself up against this? The audiences are getting spread awfully thin.
7th August 2014 – Two entries
A lot of people have told me that the weather in Edinburgh is miserable. Quite a few natives I have talked to have apologized for the rain. I do not understand. I was here for a month last year and it was practically drought conditions. It did not rain at all the whole time, or if it did I was seeing a show at the time and the rain stopped before I came out of the show. This year it has rained a little. So what? Even when it is raining, it is comfortably warm and not at all windy. The sun shines for at least part of every day. I love it here.
Today I would like to use this forum to express my support for the Incubator Theatre in their search for a new venue at the EdFringe. The run of their show, The City, was cancelled after only one performance following a noisy protest by a pro-Palestinian group of “Scottish artists and writers.” I am deeply offended that the protest was based solely on the fact that the Incubator Theatre Company is from Israel. These “Scottish artists and writers” should go jump in the Forth. The City is a hip-hop opera. It has no political agenda. It has no religious component. The only reason for this pro-Palestinian group to object to them is that the company gets some funding from the Israeli government. If that is their reasoning then they should protest our show too. My company does not get any funding from anybody but I am from the United States and my country funds conflicts all over the world. I wish they wouldn’t, but they do. Doing shows in the Fringe is art, not war. It is this kind of irrational bigotry that perpetuates conflicts for centuries. It has to stop sometime and the free exchange of art is a good place to begin that change. I hope that somebody finds a performance space for the Incubator Theatre. I will be happy to pay to see their show even if it plays in the middle of the night in a park somewhere.
6th August 2014
Now I feel more in the spirit of things. I have seen nine performances in the last two days, three of which I am the producer for. Besides those things were getting too easy for us, so tomorrow we are going to re-stage and re-light our show completely. That should be lots of fun. One of my venues is at Spotlites at Merchant’s Hall on Hanover Street and the other is Opium nightclub on Cowgate. I have discovered a couple short cuts through these little alleys called “closes” that cut down my travel time. I am still going over the hill that the castle is on from the deepest part of one valley to another, but that is Edinburgh. My legs get quite a workout every day and between that and not having time to eat, I am losing weight. Hooray for that!Now I feel more in the spirit of things. I have seen nine performances in the last two days, three of which I am the producer for. Besides those things were getting too easy for us, so tomorrow we are going to re-stage and re-light our show completely. That should be lots of fun. One of my venues is at Spotlites at Merchant’s Hall on Hanover Street and the other is Opium nightclub on Cowgate. I have discovered a couple short cuts through these little alleys called “closes” that cut down my travel time. I am still going over the hill that the castle is on from the deepest part of one valley to another, but that is Edinburgh. My legs get quite a workout every day and between that and not having time to eat, I am losing weight. Hooray for that!
5th August 2014
I created a checklist of many of the things a producer needs to do to produce an original show in the EdFringe. I am sure this is not everything, but it gives you an idea.
1. A play you can actually do in a festival. It needs a simple set and lighting, a small cast and a catchy title. Do a comedy, not drama. Some venues charge more for comedies, but you are more likely to get audiences.
2. Rights to do the script. Lawsuits are not pretty.
3. A director and designers who understand festivals.4. A cast who can afford to go. They need the time and the money to feed themselves.
5. If necessary, union contracts. This might involve lots of paperwork.
6. A big budget, at least $40,000.
7. A theater venue big enough for you show. You have to submit to all of them to get one. Most do not respond.
8. Flights. This was my biggest expense.
9. Cabs to & from airports.
10. A place for your whole group to live in Edinburgh, my second biggest expense.
11. Liability Insurance. The Fringe requires it. See sentence two of item 2.
12. Music licensing. The Fringe requires it. See sentence two of item 2.
13. Rehearsal space. Make your show as entertaining as you can.
14. A public relations firm. They can get you reviewed. Do not just count on your venue.
15. A flyer and poster printer. We got 10,000 flyers and 250 posters
16. A flyering company. You and your cast still have to do it, but this helps.
17. Advertising. People do choose show because of ads wherever you can afford.
18. Some one to run the sound and lights. I do my own.
19. Suitcases for set, costumes and props. Prepare to pay the airline for extra baggage.
20. A computer or something to play back your sound effects. I use Qlab on a Mac.
21. A travel printer to print the excerpts from the great reviews you got.
22. Lots of extra socks. Edinburgh can be damp.
23. A extra budget to see the sites and other shows.
4th August 2014
I had been feeling like I was not seeing enough Fringe shows. I attend the two a day that I am here to present, but when I woke up on August 4 and I had only seen four other shows. I will have to pick up the pace. I would never see this many shows at home. Actually I try to avoid going to shows at home because many of them are boring or poorly done. Here I have a quixotic (surrealistic?) optimism that the next show I see is going to be inspiring. The overall experience here certainly is inspiring. I have already been galvanized to write another play to do here next year. The show I wrote and am producing this year is a very silly comedy. This new one will be my first attempt at a serious script. When I get it written, I will have readings of it, take it to a dramaturge or two and maybe even do a workshop version. I will not inflict it on Scotland unless I think it is ready to be entertaining. By the end of the day today I had seen three more shows of widely varying qualities, plus one of my own shows.
3rd August 2014
I am a lighting and sound designer, stage manager and technical director. I also do intercom for big events and sometimes frequency coordination, which is very technical. I am a techie through and through, but this year I am at the EdFringe as the playwright of a comedy. It is the first play I have ever written and when people try to talk to me about the script, I look over my shoulder to see who they are talking to. When I realize they are talking to me, I get a little confused. To cope, I am trying to create a self-identity as the word designer. We will have to see how that works out.
2nd August 2014
I am here at EdFringe 2014 in an amazing group of eight theatre folk. They are totally into the spirit of the experience. Together we are presenting two shows, one in the Free Fringe (Shameless plug #1: ‘Are You Better Than an American’ at Opium 17:30) and one in the EdFringe (Shameless plug #2: ‘what do you mean’ at Spotlites at Merchants Hall, 20:30). We have seen some other companies’ shows and plan to see a lot more. Every day we spread ourselves out across the city to explore, see the sites and hand out flyers. Late in the evening we convene in the kitchen of our flat comparing experiences, giving and getting notes about that day’s performances and then we party until the wee hours. This involves the imbibing of large quantities of adult beverages. Occasionally one or another of us has to be assisted into bed. Then we get up the next day and do it again.
1st August 2014
I am not convinced that I am qualified to write an EdFringe blog. This is only my second time here. I know someone who had been here ten years straight, although he isn’t here this year and I am.
I see the fundamental question as this: Why travel all the way to Edinburgh and produce a play here? I produce about six shows a year at home, without having to pay airfares, rent a flat that isn’t home, and trying to figure out another country’s money.
The answer is that bringing a show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a huge adventure and loads of fun. The whole city is Cinderella’s castle. The people, both native and fellow visitors, are friendly and interesting and this festival experience is several orders of magnitude better and bigger than in the festivals where I come from.
More to come.
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