Sunday, 20 July 2014

Edinburgh Previews, the story so far

The 2014 flyer begins life, designed on a train to London at 4.45 in the morning. It improved.

I'm experiencing the rarest of things today, a day off. We haven't even gone into town to the shops, I've just had the whole day to myself, slobbing on the sofa reading Facebook and updating the blogs. After a week which has seen me in Cradley Heath (Sat), Leeds (Fri), Dorset (Thu), Halesowen (Weds), Greenford (Tues), Crystal Palace (Mon), Sheffield (Sun), Beverley (Fri/Sat), it's been a bit of an unbroken slog of travel, gigging, schools, and more travelling. So, with time to think, let's look at the Edinburgh Fringe previews I've done, and see what needs to be done before Edinburgh begins for real in (gulp) 10 days.

I've had a look at my past years' Edfringe Previews diaries, and they're always fun to read. At this stage in 2009 I was about to try out a piece of material called Silent Movie which I don't remember even existing, let alone it making the final show. In total I did just 6 previews that year and went on to have a massive hit with Goes To Hollywood.

At this stage in 2010 I'd had 3 reviews already for my Preview shows, which may have contributed to what on to be our best selling show to date, On The Telly. I also still owed the Gilded Balloon money, which thankfully isn't the case this year. And in 2012, after a year off, Boo Lingerie had a 6-date preview schedule, so well organised I drew a map (thought the first of a two-night run in Harrogate was so disastrous I'd forgotten all about it. There was even a reviewer in, whose comments I didn't circulate widly. It got better the second night). At Edinburgh, Boo Lingerie went on to suffer The Olympics Effect but otherwise turned out to be a successful show.

Of course nothing compares to the preparation that went into 2013's Socks In Space. I'd dreamed up the theme and the title before the previous year's Fringe was over, started previewing material at the Leicester Comedy Festival in February, and by August had tried and dropped an unprecedented amount of material after introducing SIS sketches into the touring show from the Spring onwards. By this stage in 2013 we'd only just written the Alien routine and some of the best gags of the show. It's no coincidence that, by the end of August, we had my favourite complete show ever which, following one of our busiest touring years, makes it our most-performed of any single show. 

Nice preview for July 23 show in Manchester. Spot the deliberate error?

So, what of ...And So Am I? Well, I made the deliberate decision to not start preparing as early as Socks In Space, knowing that most of the best stuff had come together in the two months before Edinburgh. And indeed when I booked some of our spring gigs, we were using the working title ...Do Art (Brighton bore that title, as did last week's Leeds Carriageworks show). Here's a breakdown on the preview shows so far:

May 14 - London Camden Head. A "pre-preview" 90 min show, mostly Socks In Space, but with an attempt to do 45 mins of new stuff. A mess, well received by a big crowd.
June 11- London Camden Head again. 90 mins again, improved new material, much smaller crowd.
July 4 - Old Joint Stock, Birmingham. First proper preview (45 mins of a 90 min show) goes excellently (see blog).
July 6 - Ward End, Birmingham. Tiny crowd, more of a rehearsal than a preview.
July 9 - Bedford Fringe. 60 mins, mostly Socks In Space, new items go well. Last appearance of Les Mis.
July 13 - Sheffield New Barrack. Another tiny crowd, War song makes its debut, gets best laugh of day.  First tryout of Macbeth.
July 18 - Leeds Carriageworks. Best preview yet. Hev was there and gave very good feedback. Only did 45 mins of new show (as part of 90 min set) but all gets thumbs up from sellout crowd.
July 19 - Cradley Heath. A washout. 6 people in the audience, so again more of a rehearsal than a preview.

To come we have Cardiff,  Manchester, and Market Harborough, then it'll be Edinburgh time. So we'll have had about 10 previews, half of which might include the whole show. Saying which, I realise this tells me nothing. It will be fascinating to see what shape the show has taken when the next 6 weeks have passed. 

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there.

July 11 - Beverley Puppet Festival 
July 13 - Sheffield New Barrack Tavern 2pm
July 17 - Larmer Tree Festival, Wilts
July 18 - Leeds Carriageworks
July 19 - Cradley Heath Comedy Festival
July 22 - Comedy Den Cardiff
July 23 - Taurus Manchester
July 24 - Leicester Ship Of Fools
July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm - Edinburgh Fringe 2014

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