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Want to take a show to Edinburgh and survive?

“I am firmly convinced that everyone should take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe at least once in their lives…Performing at the Edinburgh makes you a better neighbour, better teacher, better friend, better parent. For a few it even makes them better performers.”

That’s playwright, Mark Ravenhill making a joyfully upbeat case for the transformative power of Edinburgh as a learning experience in the foreword to Mark Fisher’s useful and engaging new book The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide.

This summer thousands of companies, collectively involving at least 21,000 people, will be in Edinburgh to present upwards of 40,000 performances. Youth Theatres, community groups and drama schools will be among them. And there will be a few secondary school teachers leading enthusiastic school and college groups too. Shrewsbury School, for instance, has taken several very successful musicals to the Edinburgh Fringe in recent years. And Milford Haven School wowed Edinburgh Fringe audiences last year with Macbeth which they’d worked on through the Shakespeare Schools Festival. So lots of development and learning for lots of people.

But if you are an Edinburgh virgin you need advice because there are plenty of challenges (such as how to get your audience into double figures or how to get in and out of your venue really slickly) and Mark Fisher’s excellent book takes you right through the whole process.

Fisher, Scottish arts critic and veteran Fringe man, explains how the festival works, who does what and what you have to do to get your show there. He gives down to earth advice about different sorts of show, funding, marketing, transport, accommodation and more with lots of inspiring quotes from people who have done it.

One very sensible recommendation in this ‘can-do’ book is that anyone who is considering the ‘madness’ of Edinburgh should plan well over a year ahead and attend the Fringe as a dummy run or research trip the year before. Otherwise, he contends, you will have little or no idea of the festival’s size and scope. It is, he says ‘the most exhilarating place on earth’ but ‘surprisingly manageable’ if you ‘stay focused and take it one step at a time.’

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