The month of August sees the city of Edinburgh taken over by a mix of large arts and cultural festivals – some of the largest internationally in fact, spanning everything from art, books and fringe theatre to music, which can be found going on in venues across the whole city. If you are there as a performer, a part of a company or there to purely enjoy the art and culture that are on offer throughout the month, you will find it an exhilarating and surreal experience.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival takes over 250 venues, programming theatre and comedy. Alongside this, various other organisations and companies take part in other similar festivals such as Edinburgh International Festival and the ever-increasingly popular free fringe festivals such as Laughing Horse and PBH Free Fringe. These latter festivals are allowing up-and-coming artists and companies a chance to get spotted and rise through the notoriously competitive ranks of the theatre industry. Profit sharing shows offer young and new performers, actors and comedians a chance to showcase their talent to critics, talent scouts and the general public.
Hopefully, this will help them gain bigger and better paid roles in the future by adding great work to CVs and portfolios. Getting noticed for good work is important if you want to make strides forward in an acting career or even a career behind the scenes, such as in producing or directing.
For most attending The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in a professional capacity, it will be a massive learning curve. Having to learn how to talk about yourself, talk about yourself in the context of a show or production and juggling responsibilities with PR and Marketing. That includes things like flyering in certain spaces or venues, exit-flyering similar shows or learning the best spots to put the posters to get them noticed. Each time you attend with other professionals,the way you approach this will be different.
This isn’t always very easy, but each time you perform one of these tasks you are learning new skills and that is fantastic when trying to put together a viable CV to get you a better gig next time. You learn to pull together with others quickly – a skill much needed for most performers who are constantly changing who their working relationships are with. This also means you can rapidly make new connections with other professionals also doing similar tasks.
The Festival period in August sees all kinds of pieces of Art being presented. Things like cabaret, stand-up comedy, sketch shows, parodies, dance pieces, circus acts, singers, ensemble pieces, one-man shows, surrealism and much more that can’t be neatly fitted into a box can be found in nearly every corner of the beautiful Scottish city. Places where you wouldn’t expect to find art are used to liven up and make the festival one of the most unique experiences there can be. Buses, back rooms of pubs, streets, halls, you name it, Edinburgh will convert it into a space for 20 plus people to squeeze into to watch another interesting and thoroughly engaging piece of performance art.
Of course, there are the odd few pieces that come across as un-professional or not put together very well, but that too is needed. It means you have something to compare all that great work to and something to debate over yet another late night dinner as you were too busy running venue to venue to eat before mid-night. This element of the fringe is great because it allows an artist to analyse their own work and really get to grips with what they are producing and what it’s all for.
I would argue even if you are not a professional artist in some capacity, the fringe is one experience you should do at some point in your life. There is nothing more thrilling than being handed 50 flyers in one day and realising just how many creative and astonishing people there are out there creating amazing, beautiful and sometimes bizarre work. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival isn’t cheap though and this is why things like the free fringe festivals; there are four of them now, are important. It opens up theatre and comedy to the masses. Most productions will ask for small donation to cover costs and to pay their actors, but nothing like the very expensive tickets being sold for famous acts and comedy faces. You can allow yourself to try something new and not worry about cost, but rather the experience.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is over for another year, but find out more about promotional videos here to help secure a chance to get into next year’s festival. Most professional shows will have one for advertising purposes.
For more information and regular updates follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.