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A Glass of Nothing Theatre

How to get the best from the Brighton Fringe

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Beth outside The Theatre Box a week or so before we started our run

To my surprise, I was recently asked if I had any advice for putting a show on in the Brighton Fringe, after A Glass of Nothing went down so well. So I thought I’d share some learnings here.

Back in 2010 my pal Matthew Pollard and I took a show called This Concert Will Fall In Love With You, to the Fringe. Although that show was a success, here’s what Beth and I did differently this year (having learned from this earlier experience). I should warn you that some of these practical points are statements of the bleeding obvious:

  • Venue is vital – earmark your venue ahead of time. Beth visited The Warren’s Theatre Box last year and loved it. So we knew where we wanted and went out to get it. By attending  the Brighton Fringe venue pitch presentation some time before the official launch, we were able to corner the lovely Otherplace people behind The Warren and  secure a slot at the Theatre Box early. Knowing where we were going to be doing our thing in advance was hugely beneficial both in early rehearsals, and when I was finishing the script. Due to The Warren’s good organisation our shows had great publicity, and attracted reviewers. The venue was easy for people to find when they came to the show, and was close to Brighton Station.
  • Trusting the people you work with is all important – Beth and I are an unusual team in that she is my stepdaughter. The fact that we know and trust each other is a great platform to start work, especially something potentially risky. In my previous experience This Concert Will Fall In Love With You I was similarly blessed by having a collaborator Matt, who I completely trusted too. Without trust I’m not sure how you can do it.
  • Getting an audience – putting on a new show is a risk. Luckily the four people involved all had different friend groups and were all based in Brighton, so we had quite  a few friends and acquaintances attend our shows. But there were also a good number of people who none of us knew. Being in the Fringe programme  is a must (although I don’t find it the easiest publication to navigate). Also being online with both the Fringe and Otherplace websites, and using social media, old fashioned flyers and posters all contributed to winning an audience. The combination of this somehow resulted in us filling our house for three mid-week nights.
  • Own your own definition of success.  I think it is important to know what success looks like for you as a person or a company. For me, as a pessimist, it was if we could get more than an audience of 25 people each night. In reality we managed 60-70 a night. But once the ticket sales  crept past my pessimistic low I was able to focus all my neuroses on what was happening on stage. For the four of us involved in A Glass of Nothing, it was highly successful. As well as the play itself winning four-star reviews, and warm acclaim from the audiences, Kitty got an agent, Dylan was able launch himself as an actor, and Beth showed herself as the truly fine and courageous comedy actress I know her to be. For me, as writer, it was a much-needed confidence boost too.
  • Don’t let it stop there. This one is all important. Don’t let it all end with one run. We are in discussions with a director to work with us on its next staging. Brighton Blonde Productions will definitely stage this play again, and work on new ones.
  • Just do it. Finally I think if you’re ho-humming over whether you should do a Fringe show or not, if you believe in your ideas I say just go for it. There’s no learning curve steeper than staging your work in front of a paying audience. Of course it is a risk, but one that makes you feel alive.

 

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A Glass of Nothing Comedy Theatre

Rabbiting about The Warren

Beth and I went to the opening of the Warren theatre complex. A fabulous and buzzy atmosphere, good beers, and the unmistakable Fringe vibe. Frankly we’re buzzing too after seeing The Theatre Box where our show will be held. It is red and strangely compelling. And that’s just from the outside. Sipping a pint of East Coast IPA, and looking at the various venues and people beginning to stream in, I began to feel excitable.

I’m very confident about the show at the moment. Being a neurotic, I’m trying not to over-analyse this in case my tranquility collapses like a house of cards. But it is an empirically verifiable fact that tickets are already selling like rather toasty cakes, with our last night looking particularly healthy. And rehearsals are excellent: this play is a living and breathing entity with its own soul and momentum. All that and laughs too.

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In rehearsals, interesting how progress happens in fits and starts. A great surge of progress can be made in one day. An onrushing deadline and the prospect of public humiliation certainly focuses the mind when it comes to learning lines. I know both Beth and I have had ghastly being on stage having no lines type dreams. At least Beth will be on stage, with Kitty and Dylan. I’ll just be twitching in the front row.

Beth has a complex, multifaceted part and in the last week suddenly the strands of the character fell together into one convincing and hilarious whole. It was a privilege to see this happening. I can’t wait for the play, and Beth’s role, to be unleashed on the world.

A Glass of Nothing is on 17th 18th 19th May, at 8:30. The show runs for an hour, and we should be done by 9:30-ish should you need to escape the fleshpots and temptations of Brighton early. Here’s a wee bit about us on Brighton Bites Reviews Hub.

And here’s the obligatory ‘tickets from here’ link. 🙂 Please come…

 

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A Glass of Nothing a writer's life Actors Brighton Fringe Comedy

A Glass of Nothing – update

So, this play then… ‘A Glass of Nothing’ Its first staging will be at The Warren, Theatre Box, Brighton on Tuesday 17th, Wednesday 18th, and Thursday 19th May. I will be obviously trumpeting this from the rooftops before it happens.

To give you an idea of what it’s about, here is some blurb:

Have you ever watched an actor on stage drink from an empty glass? See how she wipes her hand across her mouth and belches appreciatively.

When a young woman’s life is blighted by no money, no job and no one to love, what choice does she have but to drink from a glass of nothing? But what really is in this glass? Not nothing, oh no. It’s brimful of imagination and fizzing with dark comedy.

Beth Symons plays our heroine, gulping from a glass of nothing to transform herself into anything she desires. Tonight she is the most beautiful woman in the world, a woman whose love life is a tapestry of intrigue and excitement, whose career ascends to dizzying heights…

But what happens when her imagination invites argumentative, wrong-headed people on stage who refuse to follow her script? Watch as Beth battles to keep her vision pure, and stave off the dangers of self loathing and the banal challenges of life in a rented room.

Dare you join her in a glass of nothing?

The play is a three-hander. Beth, who I am writing it for, is pictured below. Beth and I will be auditioning for two parts ‘1F 1M’ starting this Thursday. Through her networks Beth has arranged for several people to audition over the next few weeks. We’ve booked a room and (among other things) will be asking people to read a snippet of early dialogue (which still needs a bit of polishing). As the dialogue is pacy we’re obviously looking for good timing.

I’m still working on to complete the first draft, which will then be thrown to the actors to see what works, what can be funnier and so on. I am fairly pragmatic about all this. The play has a strong structure, and in my, um, vast experience (of having a few plays performed in fringe theatres) I want the play to work as a drama as well as making people laugh. If the story intrigues people that’s a real bonus. I also like a disturbing current to flow through the narrative so the funny bits sparkle.

Beth’s part will call for bravery. She is going to have to be a complete vamp at times. We have been looking at everything from Burlesque dancers to the amazing Eartha Kitt for inspiration. When people are playing a comedy grotesques is that you can’t do anything with self-consciousness. It communicates itself to an audience, and they start squirming on your behalf. And we can’t have that!

I’ll let you know how the auditions go…

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