Molly, the co-writer and director/producer of 'A Very Brexit Musical', describes the process of taking a show to the Fringe.
If I were to describe our Edinburgh Fringe experience in three words, they would be hectic, stressful and fulfilling. After our debut run in November 2017, I, perhaps naively, thought taking A Very Brexit Musical to the Fringe would be a breeze. We’d already done one run, surely all we needed to do was pack it into a van to take up to Edinburgh, right? Wrong! The process started not long after we finished our Cambridge performances, when, on the first of January 2018, we submitted our first venue application. This involved compiling all the existing information about our show into one of our favourite Google Sheets, alongside editing the script down to its current 1 hour run time. Three months later we got our first response, and then slowly but surely 2, 3, 4 more responses found their way into our emails. Each of these offered different combinations of dates, times and spaces, and it was then up to us to decide what we thought would best suit the show.
We were fairly determined to lug our centre-piece Brexit bus up to Edinburgh, which had been such an important part of our bid when we applied to Cambridge’s Brickhouse Theatre Company in July 2017, and again when we applied to Fringe venues this year. Consequently, storage space and longer get-in times were crucial for us. We have ended up in a wonderful Just The Tonic venue, in which we are able to use the bus to create additional backstage space as well as bring colour and perspective to the stage. This of course would have been difficult to plan without a trip to the venue itself, which up until April, had only been viewed on some very complicated floor plans! This called for one thing and one thing only: a trip up to Edinburgh… in exam term! Well, we thought it was an excellent idea, and so Peter (Technical Director), Anthony (Co-Writer) and I piled onto a 5am train and headed north for a whistle-stop tour of what is going to be our home for the whole month of August.
Once reassured that we could take at least some of our beloved bus up to Edinburgh, we got on with the casting process back in Cambridge. Over three days, we saw so much talent! It was both incredible and humbling to see so many people excited about the show and wanting to be a part of the action. One of the hardest parts of being Director/Producer is whittling the numbers down to fill the roles available, but it has to be said, we have found ourselves with a group of 25 committed, creative and hard-working people, who are going bring smiles to a lot of faces when we take to the stage in less than three weeks.
Alongside organising the obvious components of a show, we then found ourselves up against even more challenges that we had ever even comprehended. Copyright. Insurance. Contracts. Tenancy agreements. You name it, and I can guarantee we will have learned how to deal with it at some point along the way! Taking a show to the Fringe is in no way an easy ride. For the last three months we have spent at least 2 hours a day negotiating all of the different logistics that have allowed us to take A Very Brexit Musical to Edinburgh. If university hasn’t taught me to be an adult, then this certainly has! Who’d have thought I’d exchange letters with David Dimbleby? Or spend three days negotiating the cost of trailer hire? Or send 107 emails to different media providers? It’s been a full-time job to say the least, and not one I could have done alone. At a number of points, taking A Very Brexit Musical up to the Fringe could have been a big, fat no deal for us, and I therefore want to thank a number of key individuals, who we definitely couldn’t have managed without!
Firstly, Helena, who has managed the publicity campaign so efficiently, and who is one of the main reasons we have sold so many tickets in advance of arriving in Edinburgh. To Sam and Rosa, who have supported us throughout the casting process and our initial Cambridge rehearsal period. They have had a big creative input, which has kept the show looking so fresh. To my family, for offering all kinds of support, including cooking for 25 people during our final week of rehearsals in Norwich. And my final thanks go to my two boys, Peter and Anthony! You have both kept me sane and continue to offer so much knowledge, which has allowed for a number of incredibly crazy ideas to come to life. Anthony, you are a musical genius and I am so happy you shared my enthusiasm for writing this show.
Edinburgh, we are coming for you, and I can’t wait for everyone’s hard work to pay off when we undoubtedly have beaming audiences. EU all deserve it! And, yes, the script is full of puns like that.