Fringe Wind-up: Lessons Learned - Part 1

The 2010 Capital Fringe is completed. It was a very successful launching pad for Pushing Boundaries. As I wind up the fringe paper work I am thinking about how the "lessons learned" at this Fringe will support my efforts to take Pushing Boundaries further into the world.

For this post I have summarized the lessons.
I plan to write more on a few individual topics in the next week. Hopefully these lessons will open a discussion and you will share some of your experiences.

1. Five performances gave me a chance to really hone and play with the story as I went along - and to catch the nuances of the responses from shifting audiences. At the start I had a cluster of three performances within 5 days - the other two were spread out - a week apart. Clustering keeps the performing energy high - which is a plus. For the last two - while there was time to rest - I had to pump-up the energy for each performance. In future - I will try to work out a clustering - for the entire run of the show.

2. A Fringe is a fantastic chance to see a wide variety of forms and media, to meet new people, and to re-connect with old friends and colleagues through our marketing work. (Here's another way Social Media came into play.) A Fringe is a wonderful opportunity to see, experience and learn from the work of others - next time I will extend myself more to see a wider variety of performances. I know it will be worth the effort.

3. Goethe Institut - Mainstage is a sweet venue. It is comfortable, upscale, has a wonderful sound system and acoustics with excellent and helpful sound techs.And, it is Air-conditioned. Big lesson here. Consider the climate during the run of a Fringe. Washington in July can be miserably hot and humid and it WAS. I know that in future, even if I have to pay more, I will give attention to getting an air-conditioned venue in a possibly HOT spot.

4. Keta Newborn, the Stage Manager for Fringe performers for the Goethe Main-stage, was terrific. She was totally professional, kept me on cue, helped me re-vamp some of the staging, taught me tricks with my head-set and saw that everything ran smoothly - even to evacuating the building when a fire alarm went off just as the first performance was ending. You are on new turf so get to know and value the folks assigned to work with your venue. Their experience will be invaluable.

5. Check out your venue ahead of your performance. If possible see someone else's show there in case their set-up or staging will help you improve or change your plans. There is no substitute for sitting in the audience to see what happens in the space. It can help you avoid problems. By doing that - I noticed a few glitches that caused me to adjust my entry, add recorded entrance music, and make alternate sound arrangements. The Stage Manager helped me solve these problems - and all went smoothly for my performance.

6. Marketing Tools: Old style paper marketing tools - cards and posters - are part of the plan. Tack up posters where you can, hand out cards, and mail cards if you have local lists Make a program. It is also part of your paper-marketing. This is your chance to tell people something about the show, about the performers, give appreciations to those who helped, and advertise upcoming events. If you are local, perhaps you could sell ad space.

7. A guest book for people to sign with email addresses is a valuable take-away. A friend sold CDs for me at the entrance desk and kept the guest book. Many thanks to my friend storyteller Cricket Parmelee who was homeric - she was " crew" for three of the five performances. Being in your home-city is an advantage so far as enlisting help but when out-of-town perhaps you can hire a student or local storyteller to assist. Don't wait until the last minute to Twitter about it, or check with local organizations.

Now that I have mentioned Twitter - that opens the discussion of Social Media.
Will cover that in Part 2.

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