Emily recently wrote a two part series on how to report at a festival, so I thought I would write a similar piece on how to report at the Festival Fringe. However, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is such a huge undertaking, I realised that there would be no 'one guide fits all', so instead I thought I would capture the process I go through when organising our coverage of the Festival.
Establish a team
When at the Fringe, your team is like your family. You are going to be looking out for one another, and relying on each other to do the work when expected. You need to know that you can trust your team to do what is asked for them. It is therefore important that you select a team of people you know can deliver the goods. I am fortunate enough to have the Youth Network to select from, so this isn't a problem.
It is also helpful to get an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your team early on, and also what their show preferences are. This will help during the planning stages to ensure that people are going to cover shows genres they know about, making for stronger reviews.
I cannot emphasise the importance of planning in advance. As Emily wrote, with "Fringe festivals or individually ticketed event festivals you must have as much as possible planned in advance". You cannot expect to just turn up on the day, and be let into a show because you plan to review a show. Shows have limited capacity, and if it is a sellout show, they aren't going to just let you in. Even if it isn't, if you lack the proper credentials, they won't just hand out tickets.
We have a huge spreadsheet with all of our shows on, and a Google Calendar shared with the team. This ensures everybody knows where they are going and when. If you have applied for Press tickets, you have an obligation to turn up. It isn't fair on potential audience members who would have wanted to see the show, but couldn't because you were reserved a seat. You will also get a bad reputation, and have PR's (public relations managers) emailing you if you don't do as you said you would.
On the subject of PR's, these will be your best friends when at the Fringe. They act as the gatekeepers to shows you want to review. Get to know as many of the PR's as you can, and establish a good working relationship with them. Sending a nice email could grant you access to their whole roster of shows. You can then pick and choose what you think would be enjoyable for your readers.
This has another important benefit. If you don't have press accreditation, the only way you are going to be able to review lots of shows without paying an absolute fortune in tickets, is being granted a review ticket from these PR's. It would have been impossible for us to do the extensive coverage of the Fringe Festival last year had we not been given the review tickets from PR's. 74 tickets would have decimated our budget!
Part Two will look more into what to do when actually at the festival…