Why the Fringe shouldn't be for the pros

Lynn Ruth Miller thinks small is beautiful...

Your venue has given you a small room that seats 30 people comfortably but crowds 50 into the space.  Your cousin operates the lights and the CD player and you step out on the stage.  Your audience loves you and everyone cheers.  You got a four-star review from a college student who blogs for a website no one has heard of; yet you KNOW you have a polished magnificent production that will make headlines in London, amaze the reviewers and put you on television instantly.

And then reality hits.  That amazing production that thrills the Fringe audience is only a beginning.  Before you can put your show on a real stage with proper lighting, good publicity and promotion, the kind of exposure that attracts cosmopolitan audiences, you have to get some professional help.

Has it all been for nothing?

Not at all.  When you perform at a fringe festival you are learning to adapt your production to spartan facilities, present it to audiences who have not invested enough in your ticket to care if you are the next major theatrical wonder to hit the stage. 

You have learned to perform when people are talking, getting drunk and ignoring you.  You have paid your dues. 

The truth is that even if you can do one of these performances in competition with thousands of other shows, you are not done.  It takes more effort and more professional help to go on to better things.

The rub is that better things cost money and hopefully you will have earned enough to pay for the professional polish you need to push your production up a notch.  That is what the Fringe should be about.

If you are one of the people who paid huge amounts for your venue and for promotion already, you do not need to present a show on the Fringe.  The whole point of a Fringe production is to give low-budget, new productions an opportunity to test the waters and figure out how to make their dream into a professional reality.  Make no mistake:  every time you do a show, you gain experience from it and the knowledge of how to push it up a notch. 

A Fringe success is a wonderful beginning …but not an end.  If you can remember this, you will love your experience in Edinburgh and profit from every day you are there

Published: 19 Aug 2010

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