During The Edinburgh Fringe Festival most of my fellow writers at Kettle were out and about reviewing shows. I was viewing the Fringe from a different angle; I was part of the voluntary Marketing/Front of House team with Northern Stage, working at Kings Hall.
That meant that I was working on Box Office, Flyering on the Royal Mile,Bristo Square and Ushering audiences into their shows that Northern Stage were bringing to their new Fringe venue of Kings Hall.
Sounds easy right? Wrong it was a lot of hard work, enjoyable and a great experience but hard work. As a previous performer who took a show up during the fringe in 2012. This was a total different experience; you got to learn the mechanics of how a fringe venue and theatre company works instead of simply performing a show and then reading the reviews afterwards.
The Box Office shifts consisted of working a 10.30am-3.30 on the desk and on the telephones. It was a shift that required me to know every specific detail about each show from the price, ticket offers, times and dates of the shows and the age range. It was a fast paced shift that meant I had to be on my toes all the time.
Now if you have ever been to the Fringe you will know that you will get bombarded with flyers. But if you are the person flyering a show and a number of shows at that then it’s like WW3. Competing against fellow flyers to persuade people to see your show and because I was flyering multiple shows I had a harder job. With the Northern Stage team, we had our Marketing meetings to support us in our flyering techniques .Wearing a bright orange top and carrying a Northern Stage tote bag that was brimmed with flyers for shows that were held at Kings Hall.
The most demanding shift was the ushering shift; working 10.30-5.30 or 5.30 till midnight, t here was a lot to think about. From the programming of the shows that were running during that day, to the seating plans and the checking of the audiences tickets. Ushering the shows more than once did mean I got to know the shows inside out but I did realise the different reactions of each fresh audience that happened to come to Kings Hall.
Working behind the scenes at the Fringe is a learning curve; I certainly appreciate the arts and theatre culture more. As a reviewer you don’t realise the sort of preparations the theatre companies and venues have to consider during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
I know what you are all thinking, how did I have time to see shows? Fear not my fellow culture lovers for I was able to see more than 30 shows during the festival. As a participant of the fringe it did come with a few perks, having a fringe staff pass meant that I was able to see shows for free or at a discount and get discounts off restaurant meals. Yes I have to say I was being a small tourist when I was at Edinburgh, the biggest tourist thing I did was go on the wheel and take a selfie.Unfortunately for me while I was taking a selfie the wheel stopped half way through and here is the result of my selfie.
What I did gain from the fringe experience was important contacts, which I am now able to use for my future career. Especially in this industry it is very much who you know more than what you know. So whether it is meeting actors or PR agents and Venue Managers they are all useful contacts to gain. I was able to learn a lot while on the job from all three contacts as they were enthusiastic about us asking questions or arranging informal chats for us to gain knowledge about the industries we want to work in.
I was able to meet a lot of fringe friendly faces, such as Jason Cook after his gig of Broken which was really funny and if you ever get to see his tour I would go. I was also lucky enough to bump into Frisky and Mannish, yes if you don’t know me then I am a big fan of the comedy cabaret duo and have reviewed them a couple of times so it was nice to finally meet them at the fringe where Frisky and Mannish started out.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is something you have to be a part of, whether that is going to see shows, performing in one, reviewing the festival or working in a venue like me. It is an experience I will never forget and hope to go back to next year as a possible reviewer.