OUDS at the Edinburgh Fringe
The 2018-19 committee is compiling a Guide to the Fringe from people who have done it before. If you have been to the Fringe with a production or as an audience member before, we want your feedback! Please fill in the form here.
A great many Oxford production teams choose to put on shows at the Edinburgh Fringe each year. This page will provide you with suggestions about how to make your trip to the Fringe a success, although it should not be taken as comprehensive. You should consider this advice in conjunction with the advice we give to all those putting on a show, which can be found here. It is also worth talking to teams that have done the Fringe before, since it is a unique experience that offers its own set of rewards and challenges, and it's therefore important to be as prepared as possible before you get to Edinburgh.
WHat's different about the Fringe?
The Edinburgh Fringe festival is a month long festival that sees productions from across the globe, created by professionals, students, and amateur theatre-makers alike brought to every space in Edinburgh that could reasonably (and sometimes unreasonably...) be turned into a theatre. Each venue will have a whole programme of shows in it, usually backed up throughout the day into a schedule that may run from 10am to 2am the next day, and sometimes even later, in the busiest venues. This poses a whole range of challenges to the technicians on the team who have to run a get-in and get-out every day, where all the set and props are moved into the space, as well as often refocussing LX. Technicians should get in touch with TAFF if they have any concerns or questions.
Marketing a show at the Fringe is also very different because although most people in the city are there because they want to see theatre, they have so much to choose from that it can be difficult to find an audience. Frequently, a production will wake up with 1 or 2 tickets sold and have to find its audience for that day’s show that very day - lots of tickets are booked on the day of the production. You have to tailor your marketing strategy to this kind of arena which is very different to marketing a show in Oxford. If you have questions about this in particular, please get in touch with the treasurer.
Going to the Fringe as a director, producer, and actor is also very different - it requires some planning for accommodation for cast and crew as well as planning when and where rehearsals will take place, especially if you haven’t had a run in Oxford before you go to Edinburgh. Planning for this must start early. Additionally, the search for a venue is much more difficult in Edinburgh than it is in Oxford as there is a much wider range of spaces, and this search must begin much earlier too. Information on the timeline of a Fringe show can be found at the Fringe website. There are also often other expenses like insurance to be thought about - details of this kind of expense can also be found at the link above.
The Fringe is an excellent experience for any theatre-maker, but it’s also something that should be put in your annual calendar even if you take drama as a spectator sport. The city is filled with art, culture, and like-minded people, including opportunities to network and attend workshops, making it the ideal stepping-stone for those who want to enter the industry professionally.
HOW DO I GET INVOLVED?
As a producer or director, you will need to find a team much earlier than usual. You should use the website linked above to do this and refer to the Guide to the Fringe as it becomes available. Ideally, you should have worked on a couple of Oxford productions before you look to take something to Edinburgh.
Next, the best and cheapest way to get involved in the Fringe is to apply to be the OUDS National Tour! This sees a production tour around the UK to a number of different venues, including to the Edinburgh Fringe. Applications for this open in Hilary term and as well as receiving £1000 in a pro rata loan from OUDS, the production usually receives a £2000 grant, making this the cheapest way to get to the Fringe.
As a cast member, you can get involved in the same way you do any other production. You should look out for auditions in the OUDS Newsletter, which you can sign up to here, and access the archives of here. If you have any concerns about going to the Fringe as a cast member, have a look at the Guide to the Fringe (due to appear Hilary 2019), and speak to the producer/director of the tour you are auditioning for. If you have financial concerns, see the details below on support for individuals.
Does OUDS fund Fringe shows?
Absolutely! OUDS knows that funding Fringe productions can be difficult. The most generous funding package goes to the National Tour each year, but pro rata loans are available for any show going to the Fringe, subject to application. Any production going to the Edinburgh Fringe is strongly encouraged to apply to be the National Tour.
One possible barrier to OUDS funding is the fact that Fringe shows often comprise cast and crew from outside Oxford. If you are intending to apply for OUDS funding, you must remember the we can only fund shows where at least 80% of cast and crew are members of the University. Funding shows where this is skewed heavily in the direction of either cast or crew, even when the 80% threshold is reached, remains at the discretion of the committee. OUDS encourages members to work with people outside the University, but this threshold must be kept in mind while building the team and during casting, if OUDS funding is to be sought.
Additionally, it can be very difficult to break even with a Fringe production, which means that OUDS funding offers may be lower, if the Executive Committee is not absolutely convinced from the funding bid and interview that the production will make money. All offers of funding are on a loan basis, and so OUDS must be careful to consider the risk of investing in each production.
What extra support is there for individuals?
The committee knows first hand that taking a production to the Fringe can be expensive both for companies and for the individual members of the cast and crew. At present, our recommendation is that members of cast and crew contact their colleges for support via a travel grant. For those who do not have access to funds like this, the committee of 2018-19 is seeking to put together a hardship fund which will be available to individuals going to the Fringe who would not be able to go without financial help. This fund will be formed of the remaining profits from graduating production companies, when they leave Oxford, since it is not permitted for companies to take funds generated by university drama outside of the university. If you are a graduating company and have funds you would like to donate to this fund, please get in touch with the treasurer.
Advice and support
The Guide to the Fringe, which will be available by HT 2019, will provide advice and support for both companies and individuals, from companies and individuals who have done it all before.