Have you been to the Fringe before, and if so, in what capacity?
I first came to the Fringe in 2011 with my university who bring up about 60 first years every year in a theatre company called Z Theatre Company. I came up for 2 weeks and acted in a pretty mediocre play, but got to experience the Fringe and loved it! In 2012 I worked for Pleasance as crew in 10 Dome, then came back in 2013 and ran it.
I’ve just graduated from Hull University and want to get into more full time venue and technical work, but at the moment I work as a waitress.
How do you get over post-Fringe blues?
Start planning for next year? I think you just have to jump back into whatever your home life is. You’re not going to have The Beta Males dancing around to Girlfriend in your living room at 18.50 every day and this is very upsetting, but it’s only 10 months until next year.
Tips for surviving Fringe flu?
Fringe flu is the devil. I don’t think I got it this year, but I definitely did last year. Lemsip, paracetamol, tissues and orange Juice. Try and eat at least 1 of your 5 a day at some point as well, this might help ward of fringe flu in the first place.
Advice for performers and their venue staff? Any horror stories of badly behaved acts?
Be nice to each other, because you have to spend a month together! I’ve been really lucky to never have any really badly behaved acts. The Grand definitely had a phantom wee-er this year, who peed in a cup/bottle backstage and left it for them to clear up every night. NOT COOL. Don’t do that.
Generally performers- try not to run over regularly, even if you’re last on, the crew are pretty tired. Try not to make a huge mess in the dressing room every day, the venue crew are first and foremost technicians, not your mum. Be nice and the crew will do you favours, like let your friends in when they’re not meant to, and provide red bull if they know of a secret supply somewhere (none appeared this year)
Tips about venue crew - They’re probably pretty tired if your show is on late in the day, the show starting on time makes them happy, amusing warm ups and presents cheer them up, pretentious people make them sad. Just keep them on side from the get go, and you’ll have a jolly old fringe.
Advice for people picking a venue?
I’d say for an act it’s important to realistically estimate how well you’re going to sell. Picking an overlarge venue which you’ll never sell out is just going to waste you a lot of money. Check the tech specs as well and the venues rules on re-gelling and refocusing, you’ll hit problems when you arrive if you want to change the whole rig and find that you can’t. This is the same with wings and stage space.
Applying to Pleasance is pretty easy; it’s a simple application form you can find on their website (http://www.pleasance.co.uk/edinburgh). You have to show an interest in the field you’re applying for, and relevant experience (although sometimes they do take a gamble on people who have never worked in that field but show a good interest and enthusiasm towards learning.) If they like what they see on the form they’ll invite you down for an interview and it all goes from there. Personally I’d say you need to be good with people as whatever role you’re applying for you’ll be dealing with the public at some point or another. Smiley, organised, willing to learn and able to deal with not having a day off for a month! For tech crew you obviously need to show more specialised skill but they do teach you about the lighting and sound equipment when you arrive into your venue.
What are the advantages of working for a venue?
I’d say the main advantage of working in a venue is getting into a routine and knowing what to expect most days. Obviously the audiences are always different and sometimes there are faults with equipment which you have to fix, but when you get to know the venue really well getting the audience in on time and being able to fault find equipment becomes much easier. You also get to know all the acts really well so by the end of it you’re kind of friends, or enemies (but usually friends.)
At Pleasance all the staff get to see Pleasance shows that aren’t sold out for free, and much to the dismay of people with Yellow Passes, staff passes (black ones) take precedent, so your chance of seeing things is quite high.
Do you get a chance to experience the festival proper? What are the hours like when working for a venue?
The hours at Pleasance vary depending on what role you have. FOH and Box Office are on rota from day one so get slightly more time off than tech crew. Tech crew have to work pretty solidly for the first few days, but go on rota as soon as they can. In 3 man venues like 10Dome you generally work a morning shift one day, an evening shift the next, then all day, which means you get to leave the venue at 6ish one day and not be back in until 5.30 the next. My crew worked 11-5.40pm, 5.10-00.00 or 12.00-00.00, although we changed the swap over time halfway through the festival so that you could then see a show between 5 and 6.
I’d say you definitely get a chance to experience the festival properly but you have to be more meticulous about planning it, especially with shows that only have short runs, making sure you fit it in on your evening off. Not many venues have really early starts either, so you do get to go out most nights if you have the energy.
Follow Rachael on Twitter @RachaelFinney