Everything you need to know if you’re performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has a special place in the performing arts calendar. Every August, the Scottish capital becomes the centre of an explosion of shows, cultures and performances celebrating everything the arts has to offer. It’s a great place for performers to showcase their work and every year, thousands of performers take to the city to do exactly that.
We speak with Matt Lord, Artist Support and Projects Manager, and Alan Gordon, Venues and Registration Manager, from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society as well as The Pleasance Theatre Trust’s Programmer and Producer, Jonny Patton, to get their tips and expertise on everything you need to know about taking a show to the Edinburgh Fringe.
What is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?
Edinburgh plays host to thousands of performers and artists as they take to hundreds of stages across the city. For three weeks in August, audiences are dazzled by everything the performing arts has to offer – from spoken word to circus, comedy to dance, cabaret, musicals and so much more.
For performers, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an amazing opportunity for you to flex your creative muscles, try out your new work, watch contemporaries perform and build connections within the creative industry. The best part? Anyone can take part if you have an idea – and a venue.
Watch this video to find out how to get started if you’re looking to take a show to the Fringe:
Before you can register your production, you need to find a suitable venue and get an agreement with them in place. Watch our video for tips on:
- The types of venues available
- Researching and choosing a venue
- Getting a venue agreement
Researching and choosing a venue
The earlier you get started on your venue search, the better. Matt and Alan recommend you start researching and contacting venues from October/November onwards.
Anywhere can be a Fringe venue – as long as they have a licence to host a show – so do your research to see which venue might be best suitable for you and your show.
While the Edinburgh Festival Fringe team can’t advise you which venue to pick, they can help you with your research. Some of the help available includes:
- A venue search tool.
- Providing programmes from previous years to research the type of work venues put on.
- Technical documents for venues that show things such as stage dimensions, tech support, box office availability etc.
- Speak with their friendly team for advice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Their website also has a handy guide to putting on a show at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Once you have your shortlist of venues, get in touch with them directly. Some venues have application forms on their websites; others will be more informal, and you can contact them by email or phone.
Speak to a few different venues to get a better idea of the costs involved, along with the services they provide and what is likely to be a suitable venue for you to showcase your work.
Be realistic about the size of the venue you need. You may sell out a theatre in your hometown but when you’re putting on a show at the same time as hundreds of other shows in a new city, that might not be the case.
What is a venue agreement?
Congratulations, you’ve found a venue! Now you need to formalise your agreement with the venue through a contract. The contract should list out all the details you’ve agreed.
Your venue should let you know if they’ll register your show on your behalf or if you’ll need to do so yourself. If you need to register your own show, you can do it directly on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival website.
How can I perform at the Pleasance Edinburgh?
The Pleasance is a not-for-profit charity that runs multiple popular venue spaces during the Edinburgh Fringe. While they don’t rent their spaces, they do curate a varied programme from the submissions they receive to show in them.
If you’d like to put your show forward for consideration, fill out and submit the Pleasance Edinburgh performer submissions form.
As part of your application, you can state your preferred venue and time. When the team are putting together their programme, they’ll take this into consideration alongside all the other information you provide.
The space you pick might not always be suitable for your show so the Pleasance team will work with you to suggest a room that might work better for the type of performance you’re putting on.
If they’re interested in your show, Pleasance will give you a ballpark slot offer and as their schedule becomes full and the details firm up, they’ll be able to make you an offer on space for you to accept.
You can find more information about show submissions on the Pleasance Edinburgh website.
Registration for the Fringe opens in January before closing in April – this is to ensure the printed programme can be made in time. Afterwards, registration will reopen again, and you’ll be able to register your show right up to August.
Steps to take when registering your production for the Fringe:
1. Make sure you have your venue contract in place.
2. Speak to your venue to see if they’re registering your show on your behalf or if you need to do it.
3. Get all the details together for your registration. This includes things like:
- Ticket prices
- Copy for your listing on the EdFringe website and magazine (if you register your show before April)
- Venue information
- The performing space you’re in
- The time of your slot
- Details about the show
- The genre of your show, etc.
4. Pay your registration fee – either to the venue if they’re completing your registration on your behalf or via EdFringe if you’re doing it yourself.
Some tips for deciding your ticket price:
- Speak to your venue in the first instance as they’ll know what works in their space.
- Check previous Edinburgh Fringe programmes to see what similar shows charged.
- Contact the Edinburgh Fringe Society wh can offer you impartial advice should you need any help.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Tips and Advice
Everything you need to know about putting on a show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe can be found on our website. Here is a list of all the videos, tips and advice we have available to help you make the most of your Fringe experience.
Putting on a show at Edinburgh Fringe:
- Tips for planning your Fringe show
- How to get funding for Edinburgh Fringe
- Edinburgh Fringe show costs and budgeting tips
- Promoting and marketing your show
- Tips for taking your show to Edinburgh Fringe
- How to take your show to Edinburgh Fringe
- Tips to make your Fringe show more sustainable
- How to make your show more accessible and communicate your access requirements
Creating a show – interviews and advice from Fringe performers and creators:
- Creating a circus theatre show with Barely Methodical Troupe
- Developing a Fringe show with Caitlin McEwan
- Directing and writing a Fringe show with double Fringe First award-winning writer and director Emily Jenkins
- Directing physical theatre with director Roberta Zuric
- Directing your own work with Paines Plough
- Getting your work to the Fringe with artistic director Olly Norton-Smith
- Making innovative theatre with Dante or Die
- Marketing and promotion at the Fringe with artistic director Olly Norton-Smith
- Narratives and developing a story as a collective with artistic director Olly Norton-Smith
- Performing comedy with Evelyn Mok
- Producing for the Fringe: the essentials with Ilayda Arden
- Producing theatre with Francesca Moody
- Self-producing a theatre show with Francesca Moody and Paines Plough
- Setting yourself up for success at the Fringe with artistic director Olly Norton-Smith
- Taking a show to Edinburgh with Charlie Hartill Theatre Reserve funding
- Taking a solo show to Edinburgh with Sadie Clark, Isabelle Kabban and Katie Guicciardi
- Telling stories through puppetry with puppeteer Richard Hay
- Writing and performing your own work with joue le genre
- Writing, fundraising and marketing a Fringe hit with writer Michelle Kholos Brooks and actress MaryKathryn Kopp
Tips and advice for Edinburgh Fringe:
- 5 reasons to go to the Fringe
- 10 performers made famous at the Fringe
- Tips for making your Fringe run a success
- The Edinburgh Fringe survival guide
- What PR can do for your show
Photo Credit: David Montieth / © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
The image is of ‘A Womb of One’s Own’ performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.