Final Edinburgh Blog… List of talents

Edinburgh Fringe is now finally …finally… over!

So a few interesting tie-ups before diving forward into next phase of work in Slovakia, Russia and good ol’ UK…

Firstly I got quite a lot of flack from artists I gave negative reviews to in my series of blogs about Edinburgh Fringe shows – not happy that I was “slagging” their shows off.

Quite right too – on both counts. If you are not happy about what I wrote – fight for your right to defend yourself, but not for me to edit the blog.

However one artist – Valerie Hager who performed Naked in Alaska… got in contact…

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/naked-in-alaska

She did convince me that writing she only “had one talent (pole-dancing)” was a bit harsh, so…edited .. (need to increase her talent list to include tenacity as well!).

Actually her response about her show was interesting and challenged my thinking on how and why she told her story as a stripper and the empowering nature of ‘true stories’. There is a place for that in the theatre of course – just the night I saw the show it got under my skin and stayed there. Gosh I feel like this is an apology.. not quite – as they say if you have opinions you have enemies .. but I don’t want to harm anyone in my blogs just say it as I see it … when I see it!

So I leave 2 stars for Naked in Alaska but encourage people to see the show and decide for themselves (it got great reviews from everyone but me!) and one day maybe  I will see it again too…

But Andrew O’Neill at Pleasance, your compering of late night comedy was shit, and you are still getting only 0.5 stars and don’t come fucking moaning to me about it!!

Having said all that the final twist for our production  of Swimming, was getting an amazing five star review on the final weekend from one of the main national papers – Edinburgh Evening News:

http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/what-s-on/theatre/review-swimming-1-3518113

Of course we had to cancel the next three performances as the queues formed around the theatre.!!!!

One of our actors hurt herself (back) moving set pieces at the end of a show – the curse of Edinburgh- and couldn’t perform. The final show was performed, but I was determined that we made sure she didn’t do it for us, but because she wanted to. Anyway she did the final show with limited movement which included having to stand for an intimate scene. It was fine, but just reminded me how delicate movement and space in particular are. Just standing there doesn’t cut the mustard!

So what will happen with Swimming? I would like to see it carry on – maybe with some re-writes.. but it will be back! It was great to produce a play by a young writer with a young cast talking about issues that really challenge young people’s sense of the future.

wpid-img_20140828_085136.jpgwpid-img_20140828_085155.jpgwpid-img_20140828_085236.jpg

So back in Cambridge…

Picking up emails – Artist Chris Dobrowolski let me know that he had included a section on his website on how I had forced him to be a performing poodle…!

http://cdobo.com/default.asp?id_site=56143905&id_primesubject=58&id_subject=219&xp=6648471393

Not true of course … he has lots of other talents… woof! woof !

 

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The end is nigh…

The end of Edinburgh Fringe is upon us…

Thousands of exhausted artists and theatre-goers (some who have been seeing six shows a day for month!) are rubbing their eyes as the dream or nightmare of The Edinburgh Fringe is nearly over.

We’re all changed in some way; some ecstatic, some depressed and some still sobering up– what next?

For us Edinburgh is a celebration and a Marker, we use it to build our company and our artists’ reputation and give opportunities to all.

Our sojourn in Edinburgh celebrates new writing in the goldfish bowl. By taking a show here we give a writer an opportunity to be in the public eye and to get reviews with national and international attention. It was from here three years ago that our play Four For Jericho was spotted and ended up being performed in India at Thinkfest;

http://thinkworks.in/performances/

So our writer Jane Upton and our actors Jess, Grace and Jack have had what can be a rare opportunity for young professionals – a long run of a piece in the glare of the public eye. Audiences have been good and the final review is very good – especially for our own Jack Bence… having your performance described as “startling” is not bad!

http://www.thestage.co.uk/edinburgh-reviews/73293/swimming/

We also gave a first time Producing opportunity to Emily Murray who has done sterling work holding it all together. This again is our commitment to young professionals. And we threw her in the deep end with 100% project responsibility.

What does it take to be a successful Producer at an event like Edinburgh?

Basically it is working to ensure your production is heard above the noise. Mostly it is all about hard, targeted work – networking, phoning and cajoling – this is to get reviewers in, to get industry to notice and of course getting audiences to turn up.

It is about shaping the look and feel of the marketing of the production and keeping the company solid and positive when they are pissed off, tired or distracted. It is about creating and maintaining solidity, excitement and momentum.

And the marker? If you work with us, you will be given opportunities.

We are a company that commits to opportunities for artists and other theatre professionals. We stand by our word.. work with us and we will work with you to give you the best exposure we can.

And this stands for all we do. Menagerie acts as a framework organisation for theatre makers – challenge us and we will challenge you, and between us we can produce something that makes a difference.

http://www.menagerie.uk.com/

So long Edinburgh… its been fun!

Fun for Everyone at The Fringe ..

August 7th – 15th 

Our play Swimming is going well. An interesting review in The Scotsman newspaper that somewhat bemuses me…as it says that it is a good play, well written, well acted but then criticises the piece because is that it doesn’t reveal key information until the end..???

http://www.wow247.co.uk/blog/2014/08/15/swimming/

I understand it is good to give key information at the beginning of say… a flight – “this is the emergency exit, crisps will cost you 5 euros” etc.

but not so much in a play… “it was a cold and rainy night the butler was about to commit murder…”

Although I agree the play could have an echo beyond the final resonance it is well-balanced I think (given the time restrictions already alluded to). Audiences have remained steady, responses positive.

Other shows seen

Tim Key: Single White Slut:

Really interesting, fuuny piece from established stand-up, this was very different – including interpretive dance! Funny and engaging. This is coming to The Junction in Cambridge next month and I 100% recommend it.

PB Star Rating 4.5

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/tim-key-single-white-slut

 

Ablutions

Live music supporting mime and character work about an LA barman. Actors interesting enough but quality of writing lets it down – it doesn’t achieve enough or take us into the dark places it should be capable of. Sure, acting is good and use of music and singing interesting… but not enough. One thing – this lead actor has to understand how to use his voice – he is singing every word but this is not singing it is acting –the voice is a tool that has to be mastered and respected, both as a tool and an instrument. The breathing of this actor has to be controlled. Breathe, Think, Speak.

PB star rating 3

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/ablutions

 

Near Gone

This was very engaging, it is a story told by two performers in two languages – Bulgarian and English. The two actors are warm and engaging and the storytelling powerful and direct. It has a strong visual component too as flowers are strewn across the stage and the movement and use of space is also well judged.

It is a true story and has emotional punch. There are elements of this that could definitely be developed further to retain audience engagement – you could feel the audience losing connection at certain stages, but it is powerful and I left with a smile on my face and admiration for the concept in particular.

I also loved the last lien … “Well done Ginger…well done!”

PB rating 4 stars

http://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/event/425035-near-gone/

 

The War

http://www.eif.co.uk/2014/thewar

 

This production from Moscow was by a company I had seen before at Gogol Centre (awesome venue in Moscow), SounDrama.

http://soundrama.ru/en/studio/about/

They are a company that uses sound as a foundation for their work and here it was really amazing as they brought WW1 to life through the story of an Englishman who committed suicide during the war. This was an emotionally devastating and technically a truly astounding production by director Vladimir Pankov. Really more of an opera with text than a play, it was immense in all respects.

The production was an eclectic jigsaw of sound, light, fierce ensemble acting, echoey band music and a startling reanimation of familiar staging tricks: the huge swinging chandelier, fluttering papers in a wind machine, suspended ghosts.

Starting with an elegantly presented tableau of artists and poets discussing the future of beauty and the world in 1913, the show dissolves into the story of Great War officer, George, who committed suicide; his case is investigated by a re-telling of Homer’s Iliad, the two stories overlapping, one a psychodrama, the other an invocation of the Trojan war, the glories of Achilles and Hector.

In the most unforgettable sequence – the production plays for three uninterrupted hours – the beating shields at the death of Hector collide with a distorted chorale of “Amazing Grace”…tear jerker and truly an extraordinary piece of work…

PB star rating : 5

 

Another Fucking Variety Show

An all singing all dressing up hostess introduces series of acts in an inappropriate space badly lit and very un-atmospheric. Please don’t do this show in this space or in this way – cabaret requires a controlled environment that puts you in the mood to be transported into that special place – a 1930’s Berlin club or whatever.. not a classroom on Edinburgh University campus.

Acts were mixed from funny to embarrassing with the embarrassing being truly awful – how do some people survive – someone needs to tell them… but hostess engaging and a nice enough way to end an evening…

PB Star rating 3

http://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/event/255575-lili-la-scala-another-fucking-variety-show/

 

Late Show Comedy

Shit – not even going to give you a link unless you get drunk and want to hear diatribe about fucking an octopus…!

PB star rating 0.5

(only not 0 because it was raining so I was dry for the 20 minutes I survived)

 

He Had Hairy Hands

This was a production we premiered at Hotbed from a talented and totally committed young company. A theatre of the grotesque set in middle England in the 1970s, it is a detective come horror spoof and plenty of fun for it. I actually preferred it on the bigger stage at the Junction at Hotbed but it still played well with a good enough script embellished by great fun performers…

PB star rating: 4

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/he-had-hairy-hands

 

So there you go … Fun for everyone!!

 

The War at Curtain…

wpid-20140811_224800.jpg

“…Sir, Yes Sir!”

August 6th

My second week in Edinburgh at The Fringe is punctuated by a trip home and  intense emailing back in the real world, as people start to drip back into work in my various networks…

So let’s see what else is happening on the flip-side of Menagerie….

I now have a backlog of four Arts Council, and one City Council reports to write, as well as two key funding applications. I am a terrible procrastinator on these – always wanting to do the projects – forgetting we need to raise the money too.

Funding is the key to a lot of our projects, and in particular those that involve risk-taking (which to be fair, is pretty well all of them). Funding is in many respects the safety harness for crazy projects; which truly are the only ones that have potential to make a difference…

Projects without funding from governments, foundations or authorities may well still go ahead, but the support acts as a catalyst and stabiliser. We then use our self-generated funds to push projects as far as we can into the riskier realms.

This week, I have been working on proposals involving either creative training for businesses, supporting creative artists in their development or our future artistic output.

We have proposals in at the moment for Executive coaching in Moscow, Enterprise development in South America, Team Building in a legal chambers in London, Audience development in Poland, Preventing Cyber- Bullying in Germany, Pan-African business development and supporting Creative entrepreneurs on the creative margins of Europe! We also have our own organisational development application in to The Arts Council and our biggie – our proposal for our Festival (Hotbed) for the next two years!

Our Legal Chambers proposal is working on a type of “Working Hard, Playing Hard” ethos for a Chambers in London. This is a day’s workshop to lay foundations for growth…challenging Administrators, Clerks and QCs to dynamically connect and move in the same direction.

Our Audience Development project is in Poland working (hopefully) with Agata Etmanowicz who was the Tiger of Tatras (see Blog…). This project is intriguing and challenging but one I am really looking forward to – how do you get people involved in culture as participants and as audience members? How can you create that sense of breaking down barriers so that arts activities are universal but retain their integrity and quality… I am not sure I know the answer but I will challenge myself and my colleagues in Warsaw and Wroclaw to explore the questions.

The EU application is with seven other partners looking at supporting Creative Industries and individuals on “The Margins” of Europe. The project will look at connecting successful organisations and individuals with those struggling to survive (or thrive) or those at early stages. Our role will hopefully be in supporting training and providing expertise in professionalising of creative individuals and organisations to get them to think and engage like Entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile in Cambridge we are working on a staff development project for Cambridge University Business School and some really interesting proposals for work supporting the spread of Enterprise teaching and opportunities with CEDAR at Anglia Ruskin University. Working with Professor Lester Lloyd- Reason.

http://bit.ly/1mShwz1

I have supported CEDAR on some really interesting projects spreading Enterprise engagement. Most recently I supported CEDAR’s Bridge International project with UKTI, Barclays and Stellenbosch University bringing start-up companies from South Africa to the UK.

http://www.anglia.ac.uk/ruskin/en/home/microsites/cedar/South_Africa__Bridge_International_Project.html

Projects bubbling away with CEDAR include a pan-African Enterprise project and one in South America. The idea of Enterprise Engagement being a governmental priority in many countries in the world is clear and CEDAR have a unique way of engaging in teaching using businesses and practitioners that supports this.

Another proposal is for a teambuilding session with a company in Bratislava, Slovakia….

We did a session a few months back for a conference for The American Chamber of Commerce in Bratislava. We were the graveyard slot of a long day where the sessions started at 9 am and we were on at 4pm. I watched, as 200 people became 100 then 60 then 30… However my determination to get these 30 people inspired put the devil in me and for our 45 minute session we had folks running a round jumping on tables and generally challenging themselves and each other in how to survive conferences like this…

The earlier sessions had included a motivational speech form an American communication “expert” on Leadership Communication which included us as an audience having to shout out Sir, Yes Sir!! When we agreed with what he said.!!!

To be fair I was just about the only person not screaming it out so maybe I was the only person who thought he was a crass, mis-guided egotistical twat who knew fuck all about anything…

Anyway he shall remain nameless and I am sure he and his stupid fucking dog (he brought his dg with him) would have hated my session on energy and engagement if he had stayed around – but of course he didn’t because my session wasn’t going to involve him listening to himself masturbate over deep and meaningful leadership lessons like be a follower not just a leader! That’s it .. that was the only lesson – apart from shouting Sir Yes Sir every five minutes.

Anyway he made me feel better about myself and taught me some valuable lessons:

  • Be confident but not arrogant
  • Don’t just talk about yourself
  • Say things that matter
  • Don’t be a twat

Anyway that conference was depressing at the time (surprising I was depressed after!!??) but worthwhile now as one of the 30 people that stayed liked our session and we got a customer out of it who wants to team build!

Actually, as with most Teambuilding requests it is all about Change – and how to handle re-organisation. For us this will be working with the team on their growth mind-set – essentially how they view the future and the challenges it may bring.

Our proposal is to run a two-day session – working towards achieving a seemingly impossible task… being truly effective in the workplace…we shall see.

More and more I am looking t the role of Engagement and Creativity in times of shift. During a meeting this week at Napier University in Edinburgh I was intrigued and inspired by a project Team Academy which focuses on teaching entrepreneurial business through learning by doing. A concept I have been propagating since I began workshops.

Team Academy

http://teamacademy.nl/

Our main contribution to these projects is around Engagement and Growth …to blow open people’s concepts of what can be achieved by individuals, by teams and organisations. Who they engage with and why – are they up to the task? if not how can they get to that place…?

Through workshops for Lawyers, Theatres, start-ups and established universities we are seeing common threads – people want to know how to gain ownership over their destinies and how to be part of a dynamic entrepreneurial story, whether it is their own company or not.

This is why we do these workshops using Artists and other Creatives … we love it, it feeds us (financially and organisationally), and challenges us.. but we also think it makes a difference…

Sitting behind all of this is our own company Organisational Development and re-working of  our business plan which is sitting clearly on the agenda – overdue!

We must look at our model so that our art stays at the heart of what we do – but also that we are entrepreneurial and fully engaged in making theatre and making a difference

Sir Yes Sir!!!!!

 

 

Annoying and talented…

August 2nd-6th

Back at the Fringe…Our show SWIMMING is now up and running and settling down well

In true ‘team’ play I have moved on from driving the van and am now operating the lighting and cueing the sound!

I have always had a good eye for lighting and actually enjoy adding that layer to all my work. It is a big drag for me when I have to get another lighting designer in (as in Egusi Soup this year) but it did look good…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/menagerietheatre/sets/72157641856518945/

So, after our previews we are now up with bigger audiences and indeed better performances and… the audience members stay awake!!! More than that they laugh and there is a great atmosphere at the end of show one and going forward. It is a complex play and shifts significantly from comedy to drama. I like it, but feel we have maybe squeezed it too much into the Edinburgh formula of being an hour in length and so the whole is not totally satisfying.

Truly this time squeeze has compromised part of the breadth of storytelling. It should be a 80-90 minute piece but has been distilled to 60. Indeed when Jane the writer turned up on day one, we had to break it to her that we had removed two monologues from the piece. Partly to help clarify story focus but also to make sure we hit our 60 minutes.

With ten shows programmed into our space, that is ten x one hour slots plus 20 minutes of turn-around and anything that messes up that formula causes a real problem.

I won’t do this again. If a play needs 90 minutes we will give it 90 minutes or not bring it. It is compromising for the work and also when it comes to touring shows later in the year people want a 90 or 120 minute piece with an interval (bar sales!).

Despite the timing issues we have a good piece which is a clever and clear character study about being a teenager working to live and not knowing what to do next.

It is rude and heart-breaking…

Edinburgh is all about momentum and confidence…

Actors pleased me relieved and almost immediately the first review comes out. It is a good one

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/swimming-pleasance-dome-edinburgh/

With actors happier, flyering is better so hopefully audiences will build. But still a way to go to get to our 50% over 25 days…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/menagerietheatre/sets/72157644412134841/

 

The rest of the fringe…

Almost 4000 shows to choose from not to mention hundreds of concerts, exhibitions, book-launches and the streets and pubs packed with entertainment…

https://www.edfringe.com/

As performers we get a pass that entitles us to go to any show being produced by our organisation (The Pleasance) for free.

The only proviso is that it isn’t sold out. So we choose shows and queue up in the hope that we can flash our pass and get in for free.

I immediately go anti-theatre for the first period of time (my first week) then work my way slowly into the theatre pieces…

So starting each day at 11 am and working through the day I have seen a fair bit of comedy and sketches in the first week.

In order of favourite – down…

(viewing bias based entirely on the fact that the shows were free to me!)

 

  1. Adam Riches: Sketch Comedy

PB Rating: 4.5 stars

Five words: Crazy, Funny, Annoying, Intriguing, Clever

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/adam-of-the-riches

 

 

  1. Mark Watson: Stand–up comedy

PB Rating: 4 stars

Standard, Clear, Amusing, Engaging, Safe

(An extra star tonight as a woman in the audience had Tourette’s and kept shouting out “Biscuit!)

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/mark-watson-flaws

 

  1. The Noise Next door: Sketch Improv

4 stars.

Ingenious, Funny, clever, quick, slick

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/noise-next-door-s-comedy-lock-in

 

  1. Pete Firman: Magician /Comedy:

4 stars:

Magic, funny, clever, engaging, head-scratcher

 

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/pete-firman-trickster

 

 

  1. Imaginary Menagerie: Kids Show:

4 stars

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dr-longitude-s-marvellous-imaginary-menagerie

Engaging, strong story, nice performances, sweet

 

  1. He Had Hairy Hands: Family Horror:

4 stars

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/he-had-hairy-hands

Theatrical, quirky, 70’s, quick, intriguing

 

  1. Civil Rouges: Drama

3.5 stars

Engaging, inconsistent, confident, confused, fun

https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/civil-rogues#overview

 

  1. This is Brazil: Dance and Music

 

  1. 5 stars

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/this-is-brasil-the-show

 

  1. Dead Poets Death Match:

3 stars

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/mark-grist-mc-mixy-dead-poets-death-match

OK, engaging, fun-enough, hard-working, satisfying

 

10. Red Bastard:

2.5 stars

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/red-bastard

Mad, bad, sad, aggressive, intriguing

 

11. Lights Camera Improvise:

  1. 5 stars

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/lights-camera-improvise-the-improvised-movie

Standard, quick, OK, whatever, hhmm

 

12. Morgan and West :

2 stars

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/morgan-west-parlour-tricks

Not funny, OK tricks, boring, predictable, tedious

 

13. Vocapeople: 2 stars

http://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/event/419156-voca-people/#reviews

Annoying, talented, annoying, annoying, annoying

 

So, mostly annoying.. now onto Theatre… and the other 3987 shows..

 

On The Fringe: technically speaking…

Fringe Festival 2014

After 25 years as a Theatre Director it is great to know that I still have the privilege of driving our van up to Edinburgh from Cambridge for the festival!

This eight hour drive is not too bad as we have a relatively small set – except we (I) volunteer to take another company’s set – much bigger – dropping off other people’s stuff… 30 Bird’s Domestic Labour

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/domestic-labour-a-study-in-love

In amongst the other company’s set is Chris Dobrowolski’s design of all singing all dancing all blowing all sucking hoovers and various other vacuums.

Chris is a pal and fellow ‘corporate Artist and trainer’ using his vast skills as a conceptual artist to muse on creativity, risk and meaning.

He is a great maker, great thinker and one of the most successful artists in using his skills in the business world as well of course in the art and theatre world.

http://www.cdobo.com/

Lots more of Chris as we move through the blog but our highlights in the past have included demonstrating his “Embracing Failure” concepts in Kentucky for the United Sates Army which is brilliantly documented in his new book Landscape..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flStxqXVg0o

And in his great show “But My Bloody Book” which we produced at Hotbed 2014

http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Whats-on-leisure/Choice/Get-stuck-into-New-Writing-festival-Hotbed-2014-at-Cambridge-Junction-20140705060044.htm

More of Chris later.

As I write this I have throb below…my hernia!

Yes indeed all this lugging about has not been good for the old hernia (operation 2 months ago following moving a sofa up to the 3rd floor of Soho Theatre for our production of Egusi Soup last year).

All this moving about isn’t too sensible but it part of the team ethos. We all work together and me driving the van, unloading and generally getting my hands dirty makes a big difference in ‘team’ and diffuses a lot of tension and nerves as we are all in it together… we share the stresses, strains (and laughs) that go with putting on a show.

Off to our venue -The Pleasance – we have been coming here for over ten years. Ten years of new writing on the Fringe..!

Unloading of our set is at a bus stop outside the venue as the loading dock is totally chocka:

 

BUS DRIVER: “get ooout meee way you eejit”

PB: I am at the festival pal!

BUS DRIVER: I no give a shit about the Festival I ‘m driving me bus!

You could tell if he wasn’t driving the bus he would just shout.. FUCK THE FESTIVAL!!!

 

Despite this short exchange, Edinburgh is amazing at absorbing the Fringe, the International Festival etc.…

I will never forget the first time I came in 1989 – straight out of college with our legendary Children’s show “One of Our Monsters is Mything” … while we were walking around on giant stilt boots advertising our Monster show, we crossed at the traffic lights.. passing a guy advertising his show “Heckle Jesus” – with the full Jesus costume on…Jesus going one way and a Mythical monster the other…

What was amazing was as these two groups of performers passed by, the people of Edinburgh didn’t bat an eyelid – just carried on like normal… just another day at the festival!

Later in that festival (1989) we did a marketing event in The Park where you could perform extracts from your show in the family tent, in the hope that you would drum up audiences.

We were in a rush (as always) and when it came to the moment that the monster came out in his giant boots to chase me (Thesus), there was a pause and a look of horror on the parents’ faces as fellow actor Charlie emerged. I couldn’t imagine what was happening behind me , but soon realised that I was getting chased by a long haired lunatic on giant 3ft high boots with a foam muscle body top on .. and no trousers – just his tights and a bulge!.

In the rush we had lost the trousers…

We did little in the way of drumming up sales on that day – but as it happened we were one of only 12 children’s shows on the whole fringe that year so we did well with audiences …

Now Children’s shows are a key component of the festival

Back to 2014…

Day one is technical rehearsals – the challenge is putting in strings of festoon lights – for our seaside town – they’re up…they’re down and two hours later they are down again and have to stay down. We are behind and don’t get through all our lighting cues.

The stresses and strains of technical rehearsals are always the same, so we leave ours unresolved but nevertheless in relatively good spirits. We have already previewed in Bury St Edmunds and at Soho so we are ready with the core of the show…

Back to our flat (crazy rental prices bumped up for the festival) to rehearse in the living room… a sofa is the beach, a coffee table the café!

The next morning begins the torture of flyering – giving potential customers a flyer with info about the show. It is painful but necessary. Many people resent being flyered others are open…

There is an art to the process and confidence and engagement is the key along with politeness. What can you do to get someone interested in your show…? Target… aim… attack

Our show Swimming..

  1. “hi are you looking for a show to see…?”

No …leave me alone

OK thank you…

 

2, “hi are you looking for a show to see…?”

Sure

Ok let me introduce you to Swimming…

I don’t like Swimming..”

Well you don’t actually have to like to swim to like Swimming…

Eventually you get into the swing of it and target the right people, get the right banter and get them interested enough to consider buying a ticket…

We have to shift 35% of our tickets everyday or else we are in financial trouble. 50% we break even. It’s a big ask and we are mainly here for exposure, for us, for the writer and for the actors…

The company returns battered and bruised from Flyering rejection…

Set up the show (we are between a Jane Austen Improv show… and two Cricket commentators talking about hilarious moments in Cricket… really this just about sums up the Fringe).

Our show is for younger audiences aimed at your 16-30 year olds and with more swearing in it than a David Mamet play, would probably offend the Jane Austen crew and have the Cricket fans reaching for their dictionaries..

Preview show one.. over: ropey!

9 people watch

The lights are so bright the audience is illuminated throughout???!!!

One audience almost appears to fall asleep..!

Ok hopefully better tomorrow..!

Hi are you interested in a show you can sleep in..?

Yes? Great ..Please, have a flyer..!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4ao8oTe4js

 

Dependency… me?

1st August 2014

Apologies for gap in Blog.

Bad form.

Won’t happen again!

Promise…

Today I am in Edinburgh at The Fringe Festival preparing our new show Swimming at The Pleasance:

https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/swimming

Just received our first review which is nice:

http://todolist.org.uk/edinburgh-fringe-reviews-2014/

I will quickly conclude on Escalator project in Slovakia…Skip over the extraordinary training day with Barrister’s Clerks in London … (but I will come back to this) and our own festival:  Hotbed …which I will come back to in detail

So, finishing up in Slovakia…

29th June ….

On the final day on the scheme we debate the value of Art and Culture.

Paul Bogen weighs in with that fact that we confuse Art and Culture – the labeling is a mess, its wrong and worse than that that it is damaging…

We have Artists but we don’t have Culturalists???

Art is from Artisan: Maker. It is about doing, making, performing, showing, telling.

Culture is about so many things; values, beliefs, religion, food…

I weigh in… Culture is the stories we choose to tell each other. What we choose to share…

Nods of approval and understanding. It is a clear concept?? I like it.

It reminds me of a famous Art Critic in New York who, when asked how he could define good art (particularly modern art), simply said it was determined by how much time he wanted to spend on it…

Thinking about it, looking at it, and talking about it.

It also reminds me of the Joke about the English City of Norwich.

Two things :

Firstly it applied to Europe to be a capital of culture – it didn’t get very far

So the joke goes…

The last time I experienced culture in Norwich was when I had a yoghurt …

and then there was the time I was in Norwich at the unveiling at the promotional Branding event for the city to enter the competition for city of culture —its tag line from the PR company??

“Britain’s Other City”

http://www.hugtherhino.com/2014/04/norwich-best-city-in-england-11-reasons.html

It is no surprise that Norwich didn’t make it.

Why did Kosice?… because it had a strong campaign that was focused and dynamic and there was a perceived need to connect Slovakia dynamically with the rest of Europe.. and put Kosice on the map.

The discussion on Art and Culture continues…

There are the challenges around how we view Artists in society especially in popular culture:

Warhol and Hurst = we have a problem with them making money through Art.

But Dylan or de Niro, we don’t..?

A contradiction in terms of commercialism and “popularism”.

The discussion moves onto one of funding dependency:

Funding dependent = potential for constant crisis or poor art. It is simple. There are examples all over Europe where bad art is a result of bad funding decisions. If you are dependent, you protect what you have and provide art that gives you guaranteed funding… that satisfies policies not artistic achievement and endeavour. no boundaries are pushed.

So you are not taking risks…

After a hard night of partying and taking risks (Paul Bogen DJ), drinking far too much and trying not to wander off (bears in the hotel grounds).. we put the tables and chairs back in place and head back ‘home’ to Kosice.

Whether it is Art or Culture we have been supporting on this programme doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that we have energised and professionalised some of Kosice’s creative people.

The fact is that they all have stories to tell and hopefully now they can tell them coherently and dynamically. And maybe they will even get funding.. not to be dependent but … to support their art (or culture?!) and engage and challenge…

 

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and the final discussion we have on the way back …

The artist who put his own poo in a tin and put it on display then sold it…

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/manzoni-artists-shit-t07667

Art, Culture or just…shit? I wonder if he got fiunded to do this???

 

Any way. We (Menagerie) got funding to go to Edinburgh !!! So, here we go…