After a long day of auditions we have got a full cast for Edinburgh 2013. I spent the day playing the role of Goldilocks, condemning a whole host of eager auditionees to my ‘no’ pile on the basis of being, amongst other (more legitimate) reasons, “too old”, “too young”, “too much”, “not enough”, and my personal favourite, “too much like a sexual predator”. These, I must tell you, are genuine extracts from my notes on the day. The list of boxes to be ticked before someone can graduate even to the ‘maybes’ is never-ending. And to actually make it into the cast? Well there has to be that extra something, the feeling, the (dare I say it) X factor. It’s unexplainable and different for every director and every show. And as I looked back over the day and considered who to cast, it dawned on me – in what is perhaps the most judgmental industry in the world, how do you get chosen?
Every August, we all flock like seagulls to the damp air of Scotland for the largest arts festival in the world. The Fringe Society tells us that in 2013 there will be “2,871 shows performed by 24,107 artists in 273 venues” across the city of Edinburgh, all competing for the coveted prize of an audience. No longer does the power lie in the hands of the purse-string holding producer or director; it has been passed to the person who could, if they really wanted to, buy a ticket.
The Royal Mile is THE place to be noticed in Edinburgh and everybody seems to know about it. Often there are more performers charging the infamous high street than potential audience members, but that doesn’t stop us. More time is spent during the Fringe auditioning for an audience on the Mile than performing the show itself. We’ve cottoned onto the fact that punters are saturated with flyers and are pulling out every stunt in the book in order to get noticed. From unicyclists to a capella rock choirs, there is something for everyone (although the world’s most pierced woman who resides on the Mile throughout the Festival often receives the most attention). Stand out from the crowd and at least a passer-by might stop for a moment.
This year, my company is going to be handing out balloons (come and get one to find out why) on the Royal Mile. Yet however much the person in receipt of one of our freebies may love balloons and think our show sounds great, they might not buy a ticket. Why? Well only they know. Perhaps it clashed with a big TV comedian or perhaps they just didn’t fancy it this time round. But fear not, because they will remember and maybe they’ll tell a friend about the Goldilocks with the free balloons. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll choose you.
With thanks to Benjamin Newsome for his work on casting 35MM
Photo (c) Matthew Murphy.