Ed Fringe: The Story So Far
I’m Natalie Bochenski, and I’m one half of Love/Hate Actually, a two-woman comedy showdown about the merits of the 2003 rom-com Love Actually.
If you’ve clicked through to this post, you’ll probably know that fellow performer Amy Currie and I are heading to the UK very soon to launch the show onto the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
We’ve been performing and touring this show since December 2017, and we’re thrilled to finally be ticking the big box on our bucket list of “doing Edinburgh”. As actors, writers, comedians and improvisers with more than 30 years between us, it’s something we’ve both wanted to do for years.
Finally, in 2019, the time is right. We’re both working as freelance writers and performers so have the ability to be away for the entire month, our friends and family are all excited for us to be embarking on this mammoth effort, and most of all we have a genuine and supportive investor who is financially supporting the project, because while it may be a Fringe festival, Edinburgh is anything but cheap.
So I wanted to start our blog series with a quick timeline on how we got to this point, aka: behind-the-scenes logistics! As well as the co-writer/performer for Love/Hate Actually, I’m also the producer of Mission: Edinburgh, so I can tell you there’s a huge amount of work that goes into an endeavour like this.
SOURCING A VENUE
Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an open-access festival, which means basically anyone can put on a show. The Fringe Society has no artistic director; nobody tells you “That dog won’t hunt here”. It’s all very egalitarian, until you realise that the key thing you need for a show is a venue. And the venues DO pick and choose what shows they take on.
We are thrilled to have joined forces with Imagination Workshop, a new festival hub operating out of The Principal Hotel in New Town. IW’s keystone show is Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience, a dinner theatre tribute that was spawned in our own home town Brisbane, and now sells out globally. Amy is one of the company’s Queensland-based Sybils, and it was through that fantastic connection we were able to sign on for a month-long run in their 50-seat Princes Theatre.
IW has a focus on immersive and interactive shows, particularly comedy. Love/Hate Actually is a mix of stand-up, sketch, film lecture and game show, and we definitely get the audience involved through the hour - especially our 100% democratic voting process. Together, we’re a great fit.
The main cut-off date for registering is in early April. You can register a late show, but after that date it won’t appear in the massive physical program, which many people still use as their Fringe bible.
Registration is done online, so there’s a lot of forms to be filled in, boxes to be checked, promotional copy to be written and images uploaded, and of course, checking all dates/times/prices with the venue and making sure everything is correct. Sometimes I thought the amount of intense staring I was doing at my screen would make my eyes bleed!
There’s no way to sugar coat this: Edinburgh is expensive to do as independent artists, and there’s a ton of competition. So while costs are higher (being the other side of the world and all!), ticket prices are generally lower than in other fringe festivals. It’s generally understood that it’s very difficult to make money at Ed Fringe, and we have been honest with ourselves about that. Every year you’ll read articles about how hard it is on artists, and there’s certainly a point there. However, people still go because it’s the biggest concentration of artists and arts industry professionals in the world. Producers, venue managers, agents, critics, writers, directors, talent scouts, and of course, thousands of fellow artists - all go to Edinburgh for the Fringe. And that’s a big part of why we’re going - to meet people, network, learn more both about the craft of what we do, and the business side.
Thankfully, we have a fantastic investor supporting us with our major outlays: flights, accommodation, venue hire, and marketing.
Elephant Boots Productions is a local Brisbane-based not-for-profit organisation established to give artists seed funding, to reduce some of the financial worry that inevitably comes with putting on productions, and allow room for that creative spark to fire.
Elephant Boots (and its sister organisation Pforma Holdings) has supported us before in taking Speed: The Movie, The Play to Perth Fringe World in 2017, and to take Love/Hate Actually to Adelaide Fringe earlier this year. I’m pleased that we have repaid our funding on those occasions, and that success has led Elephant Boots to invest with us in Mission: Edinburgh. We are so glad they have our back, and we can’t wait to do them proud.
MARKETING AND PUBLICITY
The full Fringe program was announced in early June, and since then it’s been all systems go for Amy and me. We’re doing all the technical things like finalising flights and accommodation (which could be a blog post all in itself!), and organising props/costumes for the show, but also reaching out to media to try to pitch for coverage and/or reviews. Word of mouth is the best marketing in Edinburgh, but a bit of publicity is always helpful!
We’ve had fresh hero images taken by Images by Anderson, and we’re in the process of getting an updated poster and brand new Edinburgh flyer created (Edinburgh has a huge flyering culture). We’ve written media releases and pitch documents and created shareable drives and are constantly working on ideas for our social media platforms - including having our friends at Trending Media Australia cut a professional video promo for us. We’re conscious that the bulk of our regular audience is in Australia, so we have to work out ways of reaching Edinburgh audiences who we just know will love our pro-con rom-com vom-nom (does that phrase work?! If so, we could use it in our marketing!)
Sometimes in the mire of all this preparation, you can forget what you’re actually there to do - and that’s a bloody good show. Honestly, sometimes it feels like the actual performing is only 10 per cent of what we do - but it’s the 10 per cent the public sees and so it’s got to be great.
Thankfully Amy and I are well-versed in Love/Hate Actually, having performed it live almost 50 times now. We think we’re in a good place comedically coming into our first Ed Fringe - but of course we’re not resting on our laurels. We’re going through the script to see how we can refine it even further, and make sure we’re tight, sharp and funny. We’ll rehearse again and drill lines and comb through our projector material to ensure we’re putting the best possible versions of ourselves out there.
That’s it for our first Edinburgh update - please stay with us as our departure date gets ever closer!
Natalie (the “hate” part of Love/Hate Actually)