So I’ve just spent seven days up at the Edinburgh Fringe scouting shows for the Mimetic Festival. And as always with the fringe it was a veritable mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. But what seems to be new, and ubiquitous across good and bad, is the post-show sales appeal.
Let me set the scene: having spent a transformative hour with a group of performers, who have all worked their hardest to make you believe in the magical, to take you to an alternative world where different rules and logic applies, to have moved you and put you in an emotional and sublime space… and then the second the applause stops, while you’re still in that sublime space between show and real world, they step forward, drop character and start telling you to go online to twitbook all your friends about how much you liked their show. Seriously, pretty much every show I saw: “If you enjoyed yourself tell all your friends to buy tickets, if you didn’t (insert joke about keeping your mouth shut / telling all your enemies to buy tickets).
I don’t get it. Yes audience is important. But do you really have to work that hard for an hour to create a brand new world only to kill all your hard work in the final moments? Maybe I’m the only person this offends. But if a show was good I need time to transition back into the real world. I want that time. It’s part of the magic of theatre. And if I don’t need that time to transition then the show obviously wasn’t very good and I’m not going to spread the word anyway.
That being said an honourable mention needs to go out to Kill The Beast – who had the good grace to project their marketing missive – and at least did it in the spirit of the show. While full hats off to Familia de la Noche who let the magic live after their ‘Greatest Liar in all the World’ with no post show pleading at all, and considering they had a full house when I saw them, they also went to prove that crass post-bow begging has far less effect on audience numbers than just having a good show.
Yes it is hard to get an audience in Edinburgh… but can I put in a plea for not letting this get in the way of giving your audience the very best experience you possibly can?