Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Another show down. Two more to go.

The show went well tonight. Probably our best so far. I think (fingers crossed) we've hit a groove where we feel comfortable with our own parts, and confident enough toward each other to start freeing ourselves a bit more on stage.

The audience was still not great in number. But better than Saturday by quite a bit. And they seemed very into the show, judging by their response.

Fringe lessons I'm learning:

1. Marketing the show. Looking at how we described this show in our ads, we reveled a bit too much in the ambiguity, but not enough to make that a selling point. Mixed message. There are people explicitly looking for avante garde shows pushing boundaries who don't give us a second glance, while far more conventional shows attract their attention.

2. Word of mouth is huge, but so is location. I'm watching a LOT of people plan their days based on hitting several shows in proximity. We're unfortunately out on an island, near no other venue. Bad luck of the draw, but still something to remember.

3. Gimmicks work. A cute picture, title, or description of a show is gold. Not enough to keep them coming if your show stinks. But quite enough to attract attention early. We relied too much on a stylish logo that only makes much impact after you know the show.

4. We need a plan to follow up on whatever comes of early performances. If it's good, spread the word. If it's bad, find a way to spin it well, fix the problems and spread that word. Other than begging people to come see our show, we don't really have a strategy between opening and closing.

Anyway, I think I'm hooked. I'll be back to the Fringe next year in some way.

I saw another very good show tonight. A one man show called Goats. Hit the Israeli/Palestinian thing with such humanity and personal honesty. Told from the perspective of the author/performer's life experience as a young American-Jewish man tending goats to make traveling money in Israel. And a heck of a lot more interesting and insightful than that description can convey.

Last night I also managed to catch Everything and Nothing at the Same Time. Very innovative and fun. But it had some problems. I wouldn't put it in the same league as the other two I've seen (or with total lack of modesty, my own show).

Incidentally, that's three shows down (not counting mine), and zero attempts at political prostletizing on the part of the performances. I'm starting to change my opinion of the artistic sensibilities in the Fringe. Sure I've been cherry picking the performances I attend. But only to the extent that I'm avoiding the obvious political pablum (and WOW there sure are a few).

This is a great little festival, and well worth the time of anyone into live theatre. It's dirt cheap compared to an average night out at the theater in the Twin Cities. And the quality certainly varies, but I've had no trouble finding excellent shows.

The penultimate performance is tomorrow night. I hope those who saw it tonight liked it enough to talk us up like crazy. We need the help. After tomorrow we have only Saturday remaining.

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