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How to… survive your first Edinburgh Fringe

James Lawrence. Photo: Natalya Chagrin James Lawrence. Photo: Natalya Chagrin
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1. Economise

It’s tough to prepare yourself for the financial outlay of the fringe if you’ve never been before. Seeing several shows a day, eating out and socialising adds up over a whole month. Set yourself a rhythm of spending within your budget and at a level that is sustainable for the duration of the festival. If you’re preoccupied with money at the fringe, it’s a sure-fire way of increasing your stress. Mark Fisher’s excellent book, The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, has some great advice for looking after yourself offstage as well as on.

2. Let go of networking nerves

You don’t need to go stuffing business cards into the hands of every person you meet but you mustn’t be afraid to get yourself out there. Get up to speed with which companies and shows are in Edinburgh, watch their work and say hello afterwards. Be professional, prepared and nice. Don’t pester, treat it as you would any other social situation and just listen and chat. Above all, get over your nervousness and just dive in.

3. Who flyers wins

Reviews and good press coverage are important, but with a whole run to survive, it is unwise to sit back after a couple of good reviews and expect the crowds to roll in. The only way your audience will find you is if you find them… People are far more likely to come to your show if you chat to them about it rather than just handing them a flyer, so go and be charming. Companies can spend a lot of money on advertising and get nowhere, so don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth: you are the best advert for your show. There’s no substitute for a good strategy and elbow-grease when building your audience at the fringe. Good luck!

James Lawrence has performed in many Edinburgh shows and this year is producing Tyke at Silk, Aug 6-27. He was talking to John Byrne

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