An Unpolished Adelaide Fringe Diary Part 2: Thou Shalt Never Rest!
Week Two of Unpolished Theatre company’s run at the Adelaide Fringe Festival where Elliot Warren has blogged on the energy required to succeed at a Fringe, and the importance of good marketing...
You cannot rest at a fringe festival, even if the numbers are up, the reviews are in and you’re winning awards you still want to paint the city in your colours.
Yesterday I slumped into a chair underneath the stars with a whiskey and coke and a chicken schnitzel from the food truck outside Holden Street Theatre. We had just finished a show and I was swiping idly through my phone and wandered onto Google Maps, where the pin was so, so, so far away from my bedroom in Dalston. I couldn’t help but do a cheeky fist pump underneath the table; our work brought us to this boiling hot, beautiful landscape and we are most certainly seizing the moment.
We fired, bullet-like, into our first week, with passion, energy and vigour. The company has developed its very own warm-up routine in which all five of us wander around the vicinity of the picturesque little theatre in our ‘get-up’ of tracksuit bottoms, gold jewellery and vests, swinging our arms about and belting out tongue twisters. Apparently, some of the older customers complained to management that the theatre was letting in a load of ‘rowdy bogans’ (that’s Australian for ‘chavs’). We then take to the stage and proceed to chant, with unswerving eye-contact, that we have ‘got each other’. It’s a quirky little routine like this that prepares you for brand new audiences and new challenges. We are a tight cast, a family in so many ways, and it’s very important to make sure we boost and bolster one another, so each member of the cast feels strong within the unity we have created.
Reviews came out and we bagged ourselves four five-star reviews, and two four and a halves, which isn’t too bad at all. We also won ‘Best Theatre’ in Week 1. In so many ways we thought we were cushty in terms of sales. However, this vast expanse of city and sand is not Edinburgh. It isn’t a jam-packed riot, elbow to elbow with theatre-goers. At this Fringe festival, apparently the second biggest fringe in the world, you have the beautiful ‘Garden of Unearthly Delights’, two outdoor Glastonbury-looking zones and then little venues forking off and out into Adelaide. So, even with the accolades, we’re still grafting to get the audiences in to see our show as the fantastic Holden Street is a tram ride away from the town centre. You cannot rest at a fringe festival, even if the numbers are up, the reviews are in and you’re winning awards you still want to paint the city in your colours.
Though we have had some incredible praise, we have also had people keen to have a conversation about the Grenfell tragedy in London, as our show certainly explores a similar environment. It is fantastic to see that an audience on the other side of the world can relate, discuss, draw conclusions and understand what we are trying to achieve with Flesh and Bone.
Something I have learned along the way is the beauty and importance of marketing and promotional materials. I have a truly fantastic pal named Owen Baker who has taken brilliant pictures for the show, and I bought him a burger and a pint for his troubles. Armed with these shots, I take to Photoshop and decorate them with logos and stars and lines from the play, with all sorts of info and social media stuff, hash-tagging the hell out of them. In Edinburgh these shots are incredibly important; in Adelaide they feel even more imperative, especially due to the fact that Twitter isn’t as popular as it is back home. Instagram seems to be the go-to medium, so bright, vibrant pictures are the one!
Work your day jobs, your weekends spent behind bars and what not, but don’t stop grafting and carving your path towards a great career.
Also getting other companies and artists to shout about your show really helps. This is because word of mouth isn’t so much of a thing in Adelaide - there’s too much bloody space between everyone! If you are in the process of creating a fringe show, make an eye-catching poster and brand yourself. Brand your show with a font, a colour and a style and never, EVER stray from it. Also, don’t half-ass this: go hunt down a poster designer and make this a very important part of your process. Another point which applies to any fringe: talk to people. Chat to other artists, see other shows, hang out in the Artists' Bars and find out what other people are doing, it generates more audience members for you and you may bump into your next collaborator on the way.
Adelaide is fantastic, and I urge you to come and present your work at this beautiful festival. It is making us all better humans: we’ve started yoga, which is free when you are an artist. We are eating really well and exercising every day, as well as doing the show. It feels like an actor’s training camp in a strange way, like we are honing our skills, bettering ourselves to come back and take over London… or something like that.
Make exciting, engaging work that the world will want to see, it will be worth it! We are not yet loaded with an infinite cash flow to make big budget, over-scaled productions but that should not stop you. Work your day jobs, your weekends spent behind bars and what not, but don’t stop grafting and carving your path towards a great career. Great writing, great acting and some optimism and there’s no stopping groups from banding together and creating something unforgettable.
Up next week: Keeping up the energy in a fringe run, and the importance of planning ahead...
Elliot Warren is a writer and actor, who graduated from the Arts University Bournemouth in 2015 with a BA (Hons) in Acting. He has created his own work since then, including his first play which he wrote, co-directed and starred in, Flesh and Bone. Elliot also created and starred in a mini web-series, Stick Up, which has so far gained over 12 million views; this is currently being developed into a feature film. He is one of the winners of Hat Trick Productions’ new writing scheme ‘Your Voice Your Story’, and is currently developing a series under option with them.