EDINBURGH 2019: How To Choose What to See at Edfringe
A question I'm asked most often in the lead up to the festival is how I decide which shows to see. 2019 is my seventh Edfringe reviewing for BroadwayWorld and it varies from year to year how much I can see but the process for picking shows is the same.
What are you looking for?
Particularly with comedy, I have a lot of acts that I love and have seen before so I'm always keen to see their latest offering. There are a lot of theatre companies whose work I've enjoyed but don't necessarily know their name so it's handy to read a release that points out their previous shows.
Other than that, I like a good story. I see things across most formats and genres so if there's something fairly intriguing in the show description that normally draws me in.
Where do you find the shows?
I rarely use the physical Fringe programme for anything other than staging my annual #PetsWithProgrammes photoshoot with Dolly Purrton.
While it's nice to look at, unless you're familiar with acts I find that the brochure doesn't really do much for you apart from give you a (small) pretty picture and a couple of punchy lines about the show with some previous star ratings.
I read every press release that is sent to me and I find the individual venue websites a lot more helpful than the main Edfringe site as they have more information about each show.
Twitter is also an excellent tool for finding people that like the same things as you and can recommend other theatre companies and comedians who might be similar. The Edfringe hashtag is a bit of a swamp at the moment with company accounts just copying and pasting their info to anyone that mentions heading to the festival but there can be some treasure amongst it.
What about all these 'best of' lists that start coming out in June?
As somebody who loves a list, I would always recommend reading those top picks articles that are kicking around Twitter for some inspiration and additional information outside of the programme.
The ones I'm not overly enthusiastic about are the ones that feature shows that have already sold out their entire run and have big names behind them. I'm sure Ian McKellan at the International Festival would be a great night out but there also has been no ticket availability since March so it seems like a waste of an opportunity to big up a new show.
Do you need a PR to pitch to press?
I'll happily read press releases from anyone who fancies sending me one- firstname.lastname@example.org
The thing with PRs is that a good one will be able to highlight which shows are particularly relevant to your publication and your own tastes. A bad one will just relentlessly send you the same release attachment of 30 press releases with a note that they're all great.
How do they fit in the schedule?
My longlist causes me great distress because I'm never going to manage to see everything on it. Some shows I can't make purely because they run too late for me to get the 10.40pm train home. The 7pm timeslot is a nightmare for comedy shows and there is just too much to pack in.
How do you fill in gaps?
There's a handy tool on www.edfringe.com that lets you select date and time slots. If I find myself with a spare 2 hours I'll normally have a glance at that function and see if anything jumps out that I think looks interesting or that has been recommended to me.
Is there somebody that can do all the planning for me?
I haven't used it myself but Plan My Fringe been highly recommended to me and seems like an excellent idea. http://www.planmyfringe.co.uk is a website and app that will schedule your shows for you based on what you've told them you want to see and using maps to make sure its done in the most practical way. They also have a recommendations section based on what you've selected.
Do you need to book everything before August?
I always try and leave a tiny bit of wiggle room in my schedule for shows that I hear about after the festival has started. I keep an eye on Twitter for anything my friends are particularly excited about or anything that has been well reviewed. It's also worth keeping some time open for particularly persuasive flyerers that you meet in Edinburgh.
I'm more organised than most when it comes to my Edinburgh schedule as I don't want to miss out on something I'm particularly keen on. If you are quite relaxed about the whole thing, try and prioritise the ones that are likely to sell out or book early for popular dates like weekends and the 2 for 1 days.
Do you have any tips for how you decide what to see at the festival? Tweet us @BWWScotland !