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Eight Steps Q&A: Oliver Forsyth

By | Published on Sunday 28 July 2019

Writer, actor and Artistic Director of Smoke & Oakum Theatre, Oliver Forsyth, offers some tips on how to get the most from the Edinburgh Festival, in eight steps…

1: Beyond posters and reviews, how do you suggest people pick shows to see at this year’s Fringe?
It’s a tough one, but I always get swayed into shows based on a good, old-fashioned flyering pitch. If the person talking to you can get you interested or get you laughing, then the chances are they can do that on stage as well. Anyone can have a good poster.

2: What tips have you got for people trying to see as many shows as possible in one day – how can you power through?
Plan your goddamn meals, people! No one ever munched their way through a plate of nachos with two pints and then thought, “Let’s go concentrate in a dark room for 60 minutes”. If you want that elusive seven-show day, then bananas, mixed nuts and water are your friends. Sounds unbelievably boring though.

3: When people are reaching peak Fringe, what tips do you have for chilling out during the Festival?
When I’ve gone up as a punter, I often take the first flyer I get given and then pretend I’m selling that show. All of a sudden no one talks to you, sits with you or bothers you. Works a treat.

4: What things do you think should be on every Fringe-goers Edinburgh Festival bucket list?
Couple of years back we climbed onto the roof of the union and hugged the dome. While that was obviously quite stupid, it also felt like a tick in the box. Don’t tell The Pleasance though, they’ll be fuming.

5: Beyond the flyer, what tips have you got for performers trying to get people into their shows?
Not the most helpful advice, in fact it’s painfully obvious, but making your show very good will go a long way. I think it can be easy in the chaos of Fringe to start prioritising all the noise around the Festival, rather than the work. Make something excellent and people will come. I hope!

6: The Fringe can be great for finding a new audience. What tips would you have for staying connected with that new audience beyond Edinburgh?
Put something new, and good, on as soon as possible afterwards. Then bang on about it and, if they liked the first piece, they’ll come back.

7: Performing at the Fringe is partly about building a network. What tips have you got for people looking to make connections in the industry?
Don’t stay in. It’s only one month, go out, meet people, see their shows and don’t just hunt around for ‘big’ people. Anyone you meet there could be running Paines Plough in five years time, so be nice.

8: How would you recommend performers stay healthy during all the Fringe madness?
Absolutely no idea. If you find out, tell me!

Oliver Forsyth is Artistic Director of Smoke & Oakum Theatre and writer of ‘Such Filthy F*cks’, which was performed at Pleasance Dome at Edinburgh Festival 2019.