Well the Ottawa Fringe Festival finished on Sunday and, finally, I’m starting to recover the energy I expended watching theatre, writing about theatre, meeting interesting people, and drinking in the beer tent. Getting home at 3:00 a.m. has been pretty much routine over the last couple of weeks. After awhile that kind of excess begins to take a toll. Of course, in the end, it was all totally worth it. In fact, the quality of theatre was actually a lot higher than I expected. I will definitely be attending in 2010.
Next year I’ll be a little more ambitious and write a lot more. I saw 16 shows this year but only reviewed three of them. I decided to start small since reviewing theatre for an established publication was a new thing for me. The feedback, however, has been overwhelmingly positive so expect more articles from me at (Cult)ure magazine and possibly a few other online publications.
I would like to mention,just briefly, that throughout the festival, I heard complaints from a few artists about how little coverage the Fringe was getting in the mainstream media. While I understand the frustration of these performers, waiting and expecting the newspapers, radio stations, etc. to cover your show is simply not a very good marketing strategy. If the conventional/mainstream media are uninterested in your Fringe show, it makes more sense to take your pitch elsewhere.
In future, I would encourage these artists to contact and pitch their show to online publications such as The Wellington Oracle, (Cult)ure magazine and others. These publications get a lot of traffic, which can be used to get bums into seats.
This new form of media is a powerful tool waiting to be harnessed. It takes effort but it is effort that will be rewarded. Also, in the 21st century, if you have a Fringe show (or anything else that you are promoting) you should also have a blog, a Twitter account and, I hate to admit it, a Facebook page where you talk about and promote your show. A funny thing about all media is that activity generates activity. If the online world is buzzing soon the papers, radio stations, and local television will be as well.
Given this fact, it makes a lot of sense to spend less time on handbills and postering and more time on social media promotion. Then go work the beer tent to generate as much word of mouth you can for your show along with your blog facebook page etc. If you put this kind of effort in, good things will happen I promise.