Saturday, August 3, 2013

creating a/broad, August 3, 2013

Things can change at any minute
by Cameryn Moore

I’m sitting here at eight in the morning, on the couch of my fourth-floor flat in Edinburgh, watching the grey rain clouds roll through. They move fast, a visual reminder that things can change at any minute.

The weather here certainly does, moving effortlessly from a burst of sunshine to a slow, relentless drizzle. Really, because I’m walking so much, my default personal climate is warm and slightly sweaty, so the actual weather doesn’t make that much of a difference, except for determining at what angle to hold my Whorasol. (Usually it’s angled in the direction where the most people can see it, giving it a decidedly jaunty tilt, but if the wind picks up and the rain is coming down, I’m a little more practical.)

It is a vast sea of change and uncertainty, here at the Fringe, in just about everything. For example, no one knows exactly how to get reviewers to a show, except send out the releases, follow up, and cross your fingers. (I speak not of people who hire publicists. That is fringing on an entirely different plane, one that I know nothing about.) Media coverage here is not like at the Fringes in Canada, where every show in the festival will get reviewed at least once by someone. No, here there are just too many to guarantee coverage of any sort. 

What else remains? Oh, the usual: pounding the pavement and flirting with people.

So I sent my releases out seven weeks ago. Today, right after I send in this column, I will post a photo call for the filming of an artist mini-talk show I’m pulling together for Sunday, and another photo call for the first installation of Sidewalk Smut next week. Tomorrow I go to the media cattle call, where artists line up for hours to pitch their shows to reviewers for three minutes. And that’s about all I can do for that.

What else remains? Oh, the usual: pounding the pavement and flirting with people. Street promo, my favourite, and you know I’m not being sarcastic. But I twisted my ankle the day before opening night, so I couldn’t get out and do that. I could barely climb on the bus to take the props to my venue. I cried, ladies and gentlemen, I got to my venue and slumped in a discreet corner and dripped more tears every time the bar owner did another nice thing for me like get me an ice pack or a latte or a chocolate bar.

My ankle is getting a little better now, thank you for asking, but I still have to move slow, build in half again as much time as I think I need to get from place to place. The buses are fine here, I know the main routes that I need. Not having a smartphone yet, I spend 15-20 minutes every day plotting that stuff out on Google maps, writing down walking directions, checking cut-off times for bus service. It’s been so long since I’ve done anything but drive at a festival. Having to plan it all out ahead of time is both a little weird and reassuring, all at once, but having to do it with my ankle in mind is just frustrating.

The clouds are passing and the sun is out now, blue skies providing a nice contrast to the grey-slated pointed roofs and the sharp pigeon-deterrent devices. I hope we get more weather moments like this today. People are easier to talk to in better weather, obviously, not rushing as much to get to the next place, to the next spot of shelter. People rush in the rain, but they stroll in the sun, their faces more open to the sky, to each other, and maybe to me.

It’s hard to tell about that last one. I wasn’t able to get out as much as I wanted during the past two days, but I did try a bit of flyering yesterday afternoon, and it’s a different ballgame for street promo here, for sure. People do move quickly in between shows, obviously, that’s true at any Fringe, but one of the main differences here is that the beer gardens—places where I’d normally be looking for people with program books open and out in public—the beer gardens here are all attached to specific, big venue complexes that have security guards and other people watching to make sure that artists from other venues don’t poster and flyer there. NOT Fringe spirit, in my book, but you can’t fight this shit.

I hear it’s dense with families, which is a tricky space for me to flyer in, but we shall see.

Some patrons do sit down and read their program books out on the curb; that makes them an easy target for people flyering. Ditto for other signs I look for: standing in front of a venue schedule, or eyeballing the posters on the wall. I spent some of my time yesterday watching the street-promo teams, seeing what they do. In the end I decided that I don’t want to spend too much time in that environment. I could do, it’s basically my exit-flyering approach, that is to say, carnival barking, and hope that the percentage of response is worth the wear and tear on my voice. I don’t think it would be; mostly those rapid-fire flyering corridors are in areas with a high concentration of comedy or circus/variety shows. Not necessarily my demographic. Today and tomorrow I’m focusing on the more theatre-rich venues, with passage through the Royal Mile, that most famous of flyering haunts. I hear it’s dense with families, which is a tricky space for me to flyer in, but we shall see.

Uh, sorry. I geeked out a little there. Anyway, this is where my mind is grinding, now that I’ve got my first show out of the way—four people, three of whom couldn’t handle the fourth call and walked out--and I know what I’m up against. I’m up against a pub vibe and a comedy juggernaut, and I need to find my audience, theatre goers who want this challenging experience, who are willing to meet me halfway. In this shifting landscape, all I can do is just whip out my Whorasol and keep talking, keep sexy, keep visible, and hope that they will recognize me as something that they’re looking for, too.

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