By Richard Lawrence-Allen
The best way to serve a client is to have your finger on the pulse when it comes to what is going on in their given industry at all times. This allows you to shift your approach based on trends and changing tact as and when is necessary. Just as RSVP is conscious to do this with our commercial clients so that the quality of training for our staff remains at the highest level, our in-house agency, RSVP Artists, does the same for our staff to forward their performing careers.
There is no place quite like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival when it comes to experiencing exciting new theatre and seeing what the theatrical landscape of the next year looks to be shaping up like. With this in mind Charlie, our Head Agent for RSVP Artists and her fantastic assistant, Laura, headed up to Scotland ready to soak up as much theatre as they could.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh Fringe Festival or simply The Fringe, as it is also known, is the world’s largest arts festival, spanning over 300 venues across the city. The Fringe was established in 1947 when eight theatre companies turned up uninvited to the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival. Their aim, one can suppose, was to take advantage of the audiences and publicity that the official festival brought to the city. The Edinburgh International Festival was a city-wide event was set-up up to provide a platform for enriching the cultural life of Scotland, Britain and Europe in the wake of the Second World War. While the International Festival made use of the city’s largest venues, the eight uninvited companies took over several smaller, alternative venues in and around the area to house their own productions concurrently.
Two aspects of the 1947 Fringe event remain to this day: no official invitations are issued to companies to perform, and the use consistent of unconventional venues and performance spaces. Groups have come back every year to perform “on the fringe of the Festival” since 1947; however in its early days little was recorded about The Fringe. Originally known as the “Festival Adjuncts” or the “semi-official” festival, in 1948 Scottish playwright and journalist, Robert Kemp, was credited for coining the title “Fringe” which has stuck ever since.
By the late 1950s The Fringe was already attracting hoards of artists each year, and with more and more formal organisation put in place, it was rapidly becoming the “official unofficial festival”. The scope and size the Edinburgh Festival Fringe grew exponentially and it is now the dominant event in every theatrical calendar each year. The Fringe attracts theatre companies both new and well-established, stand-up comedians, performance artists and more, as well as producers, theatrical agents (such as RSVP Artists) and theatre programme managers looking for the next big hit.
The Fringe has been the starting point of shows and artists that have since gone on to become huge successes across the country and all over the world. Renowned writer/performers including Rowan Atkinson, Steven Berkoff, Eddie Izzard, Jo Brand, Stephen Fry and Tim Minchin all cut their teeth at the Edinburgh Fringe. Tom Stoppard’s famous Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead saw its first full-version performed in the 1966 Fringe. In more recent years, the incredible Phoebe Waller-Bridge premiered her one-woman show Fleabag at the 2013 Fringe at the Underbelly; an idea which has exploded and taken over the world earning Phoebe a plethora of well-deserved awards.
With countless shows to watch and only a few days in which to catch them, Charlie and Laura had a hard time deciding which show to choose. One of their highlights included The Dolly Parton Story, a show-mentary exploring the incredible career of the titular musician and undeniable legend, Dolly Parton, featuring passionate renditions of some of the songstress’ most notable hits by performer Hannah Richards. Also of note, was Lucy McCormick’s Post Popular, a humiliating exploitation of power and purpose through a concoction of dance, song, absurdist art and minor breakdowns.
Perhaps the show that excited our intrepid talent agents the most was The Good Scout by Glen Chandler (the writer behind the famous TV series Taggart), from Glen’s own production company, Boys of the Empire (BOTE) Productions. This play features a former client of RSVP Artists and one of RSVP’ very own account supervisors, Lewis Allcock. Needless to say, Charlie and Laura were very excited to see Lewis in action!
Inspired by true events, this show tells the story of a group of British Boy Scouts and Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youths) in the 1930s. Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement and Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s Foreign Minister met in 1937 to discuss the Boy Scouts and the Hitler Youths learning from one another in exchange trips in the service of cross-cultural understanding. The Good Scout explores this idea by following a Boy Scout troop in Basildon as they play host to a cycling party of Hitlerjugend. This dark comedy-drama investigates themes of espionage, scout’s honour, forbidden love and sexual exploration.
Charlie and Laura have not stopped raving about The Good Scout since seeing it, and it has already received a great reception in Edinburgh, so make sure to catch it if you can. The Good Scout will also transfer to the Above the Stage Theatre in London this Autumn.
Charlie and Laura had an incredible time at The Fringe and are now prepped for a great theatrical year ahead until heading back in 2020!