The dust has finally settled.
It’s just over two weeks since our last performance of Waterproof at the Edinburgh Fringe and it’s only in the writing of this blog that we feel like we’re beginning to make sense of our month up in Scotland.
As a young company with our first show up at the Fringe, we spent the first half of 2011 meticulously preparing for August. Writing, re-writing, set building, prop making, not to mention the countless car boot sales and eBay auctions that helped raise the money. All the prep and planning was truly a labour of love. And y’know, whilst you’re sick of the splinters, when you’re cutting out handmade confetti or the like on your sofa night after night, of course you dream of your show winning all the awards. Of course you fantasize about being plucked out of obscurity and into the limelight – it’s only natural. Thankfully our expectations remained quite realistic. We’d heard some horror stories about Edinburgh. Horror stories about young companies who go and never return.
And, well, it wasn’t as a bad as all that. In fact, it went rather well.
For us, Edinburgh was all about moving that one step forward. We’ve performed in London Fringe venues, pub theatres, student unions, even living rooms. We’ve done all of that. We wanted to reach new audiences, get reviewers in, meet the ‘right people’ and generally just attract a bit of attention. We certainly did that. What’s so amazing about Edinburgh is that all those reviewers, theatre producers, programmers and bloggers you see on Twitter are all in one place, and suddenly the world – or at least the theatre world – feels very small. You’re putting faces to names and shaking hands with people who could shape the future of your show and that was very, very exciting. For us, it was one of the best bits.
Going out there day after day, selling your show and competing with thousands, is hard work, especially when there are only three of you! If you don’t believe in the work, it must be impossible, and we’re really pleased that we have emerged from the festival still loving the show. We really battled against our time slot of 1.30pm. We were competing with shows such as Berkoff’s Oedipus, Your Last Breath, Swamp Juice, Girl and the Iron Claw … we could go on. All shows we would have loved to have seen. However proud we are of our ability to still get healthy audiences in, we have learnt a valuable lesson. In future we’ll think again before opting for the ever-popular early afternoon slot. Comedy dominates the Fringe programme from 6pm onwards and theatregoers are left with little to choose from – when this happens they are more likely to take a risk and that risk could have been us. As an unknown young theatre company, risk taking is what helps us reach new audiences.
We feel like we have learnt more in four weeks that we have in years, and even if it has been a rather expensive lesson, the future looks bright. With a bundle of four star reviews and the lovely surprise of an NSDF commendation for design, we feel like all the hard work has paid off.
We’re also very excited to announce that with the support of the Hat Factory Arts Centre and Luton Borough Council, Waterproof will be performed in a closed down shop in Luton Town Centre in Spring 2012. More tour dates are in the pipeline and will be announced very soon on our blog. So keep a look out.
It’s now important for us to strike will the iron is hot, dream up some more stories, and turn those stories into theatre. We go into rehearsals for our new show this winter and there will undoubtedly be a few more car boot sales and eBay auctions along the way. Edinburgh didn’t make us stars. We didn’t win all the awards (well we won one, sort of). But my god how far we’ve come!
Teresa Burns and Eva Sampson of How It Ended Productions. For more information, see its website here.
Image by Adam Levy