We are Processed Theatre. Last September we produced a successful “Reefer Madness: The Musical” at Mainline Theatre, and have just closed the first show of our second season, “EDGES: A Song Cycle.” While it was definitely a big departure from a show like “Reefer Madness,” we got a lot of great response and are more excited than ever to deliver our mainstage show in September: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
The Fringe is over. We've moved on. Rehearsals for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee began the day after the Fringe ended. But, like most of the Montreal theatre scene, we are still recovering from our Fringe experience. Here are some of the things we learned in that whole crazy process.
1) I wouldn't do another OFF venue. You aren't promoted as well as "ON" companies. Many people open up the centerfold of the Fringe program and map out their Fringing, but since OFF venues times aren't listed, only the name, people have to flip through and find your show in the main program.mAnd the first few days the beer tent was open, OFF shows were not being put up on the info board. (This was quickly fixed once it was brought to their attention.) You also don't get volunteers or a venue manager, and the people who you find to help you do not earn fringe bucks, but have to accept them as payment for your show. You do not get a rover or walkie (although we did, since our venue was attached to venue 9) and you have to do everything yourself. OFF venues are good for site specific, or if you really need to do your show.
2) It’s all about Buzz and word-of-mouth. Posters and flyers can only do so much. If you got 40 flyers in a day, what would make you go see one or two of those shows? You have to get people talking. Here are some things to consider.
- DON’T WRITE BUZZ FOR YOUR OWN SHOW! It's tacky, most people see right through it, think you're an asshole, and avoid your show.
- Learn to speak in complete sentences. When someone asks you if you're in a show, don't say "EDGES, here's a flyer." Say: "I'm in EDGES, down at Venue D, at the MAI. It's an awesome kinda musical and our next show is at 7:00 tonight, did you get a flyer already?" (I also ask if people want a flyer, since they often end up with seven for the same show, or they don’t actually want it, and it gets trashed.)
- Fringe it! Don't just show up to your show and leave. Volunteer, hang out at the beer tent, and see shows.
- Fringe it shamelessly! At the end of shows, performers will often plug other shows. Shout it out! (This is where complete sentences come in handy.) When you're volunteering at the box office, mention your show to every person who comes by to get tickets. When serving a beer, ask if they've seen your show. It usually takes seven "no's" to get a "yes". At least, when they hear something seven times, they can subconsciously start to think it's good, regardless.
- Get your cast involved. It takes a village to put on a Fringe show, so encourage your cast to volunteer, see shows and hang out at the tent. Come up with your show’s ten second pitch, so everyone involved can be sending the same message.
“EDGES: A Song Cycle” was such an interesting departure from what we showed in “Reefer Madness: The Musical,” but it’s been so rewarding to see our audiences come to the show with an open mind and enjoy this different style. Especially with all we went through in finally getting this show going at the 2011 Montreal Fringe, we thank everyone for their great support! For those of you who’ve been missing the slightly inappropriate humor, the big group numbers, and the smell of Mainline, we’ll be back in September with a fucking great show: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
To find the rest of the blog and all the articles about the Fringe, this year, click here.