Familie Flöz: How To Survive The Fringe
2016 will be the fourth time Familie Flöz will be participating in the Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, having first visited fifteen years ago in 2001, returning in 2004, 2015 and now moving into the Pleasance Grand’s 750 seater venue. They have been very intense, rewarding, exhausting festivals. And of course we couldn’t possibly come away from all that without a few tips for artists coming to the Fringe for the first time, especially those coming from foreign countries.
Firstly, but maybe most importantly for Scotland, you must bring an umbrella with you. You can sometimes get lucky – in 2015 the mostly sunny weather was a miracle – but usually it rains and rains. Performers and audiences both have to get used to being wet for the whole month.
This leads nicely onto making sure you locate the closest launderette with a tumble dryer, especially if you’re going to sweat in your costumes. It would have been very good for us if we had done this in 2004. Our costumes are often made with lots of foam and, as our shows are very physical, we sweat a lot and the costumes get really wet when you add in the rain and the 99% humidity! We were performing every day and our costumes didn’t have time to dry in between shows. We found a little electric heater in our apartment which was perfect, we thought, to help dry our costumes. What we didn’t take into account was the weight of the very wet costumes and only three days in the clotheshorse collapsed under the weight and all our costumes fell on the heater and caught fire. Thank goodness only two of us were in the apartment at the time! Everyone else was across the road enjoying pints. We took all the pans, still full of the spaghetti we’d cooked for dinner, and filled them with water to throw in the fire. It took about half an hour to extinguish the flames. One of us had to go to the hospital but the other, with a blackened face from the smoke, went out to drink a pint.
There’s a lesson to learn here as well as not setting your costumes on fire, which is make sure to cook your own dinner at least some of the time if not every night. It will help your profits, or at least reduce your losses! You need to pay attention to food trucks too. Find out from your venue before you book if they’re planning to rent the spot next door to a sausage and onion seller. We didn’t, and we ended up smelling like burnt onion for the whole month. If you do drink alcohol, then you will need it to help you get through the Fringe. The perfect amount is different for everyone, but drink enough. Not so much you can’t perform at your best, but enough.
Another awful thing that could happen to you when you perform every day is that one of your actors may throw out their back and be completely unable to move. Especially if your show is physical. The only thing to do then is to find a magician who can fix the back in the 24 hours before your next show. We did find this magician, so if you need the number get in touch.
This brings us to selling your show. Have a good management and good merchandising – you want to make t-shirts and bags and umbrellas so cool that members of the audience would like to carry them for the entire festival. Don’t produce a flyer, though. People in Edinburgh develop a Paperphobia during the festival and if you approach them with a flyer they will run away as if you were pointing a gun at them.
Go and see other people’s shows. The bad shows will make you feel confident about your own work and the good shows will keep you motivated and grounded.
Remember that the Fringe is just a festival, not your entire life. Do something else with your time like watching nature documentaries about the Amazonian Forest. It will help contextualize your fringe success (or failure). Also: spread the love. Recommend other shows to your audience that you think they might like. It's good karma, and you can never have enough good karma at the Fringe!
Whatever happens, never say “I will not do the Fringe again!” The Fringe is like pregnancy. As soon as it’s over you’re sure, never again, but somehow after a couple of years here you are, back in the festival delivery room.
And finally, take a holiday! Before the Fringe and after the Fringe. You’ll need it!
There you have it, helpful tips from Familie Flöz. We hope you enjoy your 2016 Fringe experience!
Familie Flöz will be performing Teatro Delusio at the Pleasance Grand from 3-29 August at 13:45. More information here.