Backstage with...The Rialto Theatre, Brighton

The Rialto Theatre are a medium-sized Brighton Fringe venue, who will play host to theatre, comedy and cabaret performances in their second year at the festival. We caught up with Productions Manager Katy Matthews to find out more.

Backstage with...The Rialto Theatre, Brighton

Why did The Rialto Theatre get involved with the fringe?

The fringe is a key annual event in Brighton. As a small theatre, it is our chance to showcase new work and build up an exciting programme of events.

This is your second year at Brighton Fringe, were there any big learning curves last year?

Yes definitely! We learnt a lot about what worked and didn't work in terms of promotion, practical staging across shows, staff rotas, everything really! Which makes this year even more exciting for us as a venue as we can really improve on what we have to offer.

What makes a great fringe show?

A piece that brings something new to the fold, be that a new idea or a new approach. Something that is not afraid to take some chances; fringe is all about experimentation, a chance to go against the mainstream and really explore the medium.

What was behind the decision to programme all local talent?

Its not completely all local, but that was definitely our focus. Brighton is full of talented creatives and there aren't enough outlets to showcase them fully, so the fringe is a good opportunity to redress this balance.

What can we expect from The Rialto Theatre's shows this year?

Like last year, it is a real mix. We have several daring and challenging pieces with quite edgy subject matter. But we also have some childrens shows, cabaret and comedy. We don't like to pigeonhole ourselves to one genre.

Who are you especially excited about at this year's fringe?

Lots of our shows, we have such a strong line up this year. We're naturally quite excited about our in-house shows: Glengarry, Blackbird, Un-titled and Treason, but we will be especially interested to see how Myra is received, given its uncomfortable subject matter. We felt it was something that was worth exploring provided it was of course handled sensitively. We're also eagerly anticipating The Merchant of New York, which was our 'Scratch Night' winner, the epitome of us being able to showcase new work and new local talent. There is also the family show, The Sentence Snatchers, which is full of whimsey and so magically inventive. It will be a real treat for younger audiences.

What does a typical day look like for you while the fringe is up and running?

Busy! We can have up to 7 shows on in one day, which for a relatively small venue with only a small regular team can prove quite challenging. But whilst there is lots of running around, prepping the space between shows, maintaining the box office, and running the bar, we try and give every chance for our staff and volunteers to see shows as well and enjoy the perks of the job. As a team, we get to meet so many interesting people and forge new ties for future collaborations.

What is the biggest challenge in running fringe theatre to this scale?

Scheduling is very tough, with so many technical get ins to fit in, and marketing with so much competition from other shows at different venues. As much forward planning as possible is key, as well as sourcing a good strong team of regular staff and freelance / volunteers.

And finally, what advice would you give to any venues who were looking to get involved in fringe theatre?

Communication with companies is key. You need to let each other know exactly what you require from each other, in terms of staging, marketing, tech etc. Then hopefully there aren't too many surprises! But most of all, programme shows you are passionate about, it makes it easier a few weeks in when the energy is fading and it reminds you why you do it in the first place. /


Emily Steer

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