Ashley Frieze – Debrief Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Big fat headThis year was Ashley’s 9th fringe. He kept a blog before arriving in Edinburgh one of which his guide to flyering has been read widely. In the first of a series of interviews with acts from this year he gives his thoughts and opinions.

What are you overall feelings about the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

Highly successful artistically and in terms of audience. I did a lot better than I thought I would, with only 2 or 3 shows that were a bit of a let down (solo show, at least).

Critically… well, I may as well not have existed as far as the press were concerned.

Talk us through some of your favourite moments?

I had a couple of shows where people were on side from the first moment, and they were electric. Some people stopped me in the street to say they’d seen the show and were sending people to come and see it. That always feels good, and hasn’t happened in years.

How well do you think your show went?

A solid year. I felt like I’d gone up a notch in what I could deliver.

What did you think you learnt from the experience?

I learned that you need to collaborate well with the shows either side of you at a free venue. I learned that paying flyerers does work and will get you a large audience, though you still need to flyer personally, or with really clued up people, since you need people who have come because your show is on, not just because a show is on.

I’m thinking that PR companies may be a sensible investment. Why make extra profit if you can divert some of it into a company who may get you some press attention you can use after the festival.

What would you differently next time?

Would consider a PR company. I would make my show shorter, so I don’t feel like I’m cramming it all in under a time budget.

What was your biggest challenge this year?

Physically setting up and clearing down the show was demanding, especially in a room with more complicated sound than before, and with a distance from performance area to storage area.

Coordinating with the show afterwards had a few challenges, but we got there in the end.

How do you think the fringe could be improved?

Reviewers need to get off their arses, read press releases, cover the free venues, and not just review the shows which they’ve already heard of.

As someone who followed cockgate extensively what were your thoughts?

The acts who have paid huge amounts of money for futile posters should not do it if they can’t cope with the idea that someone might draw a cock on it. This idea that we’re all very serious and professional should only be adhered to when dealing with the logistics of the Fringe. A sense of humour about the human circus that Edinburgh becomes is essential!

Did you have any experiences that made you think “only at the fringe?

Dead Drama Student No. 131254

Watching a bunch of students walking in slow-motion down the Royal Mile, without irony. Seeing pile upon pile of students acting dead on the Royal Mile, without irony. Hearing heaps of posh 20 somethings trying to dissect shows after the fact, having missed the point of them entirely.

What were your favourite places to drink, eat or hang around?

For a good coffee Kilimanjaro on Nicholson Street. For good cheap healthy evening meal Red Box Noodles, on West Nicholson Street. Sitting for a quiet drink and food Bar 50 on Cowgate. For the challenge of not throwing up at the stench of sick – The Hive. For cheap coffee and snacks – The Global Deli on George IV Bridge. For sitting and relaxing – the doorway of 2 India Buildings on Victoria Street. Just sit on the steps like an outcast.

Did you keep any souvenirs or mementos of your two weeks?

I kept a few badges from shows giving them away. Also I took about 200 of my own flyers home with me. They get used as bookmarks over the years. Maybe one day I’ll make a scrapbook.

You can follow on Ashley on twitter.

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