Crowdfunding Edinburgh Fringe shows seems to be on the increase this year

Poster lives up to the show’s title

Poster for show may not live up to its title

A couple of days ago, I posted a blog titled: £500 Ticket Price To See One Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Show This August, about a show being (with luck) crowdfunded via Kickstarter.

I got several responses from this. One was a Tweet from Sheepish Productions saying: “We’ll set our play up at someone’s house for £750!”

I replied: “You can set it up in my garage in London if you pay me £1,500 per show… If you crank up the bullshit a bit, you might get a blog out of it…”

Their response was: “Many thanks, much obliged. I’m currently feeding a 4 month old (baby) so will send some things across to you tomorrow.”

Sadly, no cranking up of the bullshit on the garage performance front ensued. But this, I discovered when I actually looked at their Sponsume page, was because they actually ARE prepared to put a show on in your home for £750.

Well, to be frank, I suppose I would be prepared to sing an hour of 28 consecutive national anthems in your home for £750.

It turned out that Sheepish Productions’ show was actually a play called Shadow On Their Wall about (their pitch says) “an impulsive man who battles with his inner demons. The play lasts an intense and spine tingling 40 minutes and is firmly within the genre of horror but also deals with issues of mental health and, therefore, by taking it to Edinburgh we hope to raise awareness of such issues.”

Sheepish Productions are Edinburgh Fringe virgins, something exposed by what the pitch then says:

“Unfortunately, as we have discovered in the last few months, taking a play to the Edinburgh Fringe is far from inexpensive. If we reach our target sum of just over £1,250 it should cover the cost of hiring the venue, registering with the Edinburgh Fringe Society and the majority of our publicity materials (i.e. flyers, posters and some very natty polo shirts). We’ve already had some great reviews and a Buxton Fringe award nomination for New Writing, so please help us on the road to Edinburgh and, in turn, help us raise awareness!”

If they can cover all the costs of staging a play at the Edinburgh Fringe for only £1,250, they should be running the country.

Jeremy Fletcher, aka Sheepish Productions, tells me: “Our crowdfunding attempts are making slow progress at present, but it is still early days. Hopefully, we’ve priced things reasonably given what is on offer.”

What is on offer are rewards for pledges which range from £10 – for which you get a credit in the programme and “a super stylish signed poster of the show” – to the £750 Hank Marvin option. This got me quite excited at the thought that the legendary guitarist had been got on board, but it turned out to be the rather more prosaic pitch:

It won Buxton New Writer Award

You too could have this in your home…

“How large is your living room? For the divine sum of £750 we’ll come and perform the entire play (complete with our own lighting and sound system and the chaps that come with them) at a mutually convenient time and date. Although you have to live within a reasonable travelling distance (i.e. a couple of hours) of Sheffield or be willing to attend a venue that we hire!”

Jeremy Fletcher told me yesterday: “I have Tweeted Richard Branson to see if he fancied this, but I guess he must have been otherwise engaged.

“Our theatre company was formed last year ahead of the Buxton Fringe,” he continued. “It followed a Belgian beer induced conversation between Gareth Watkins and me about him having a life-long ambition to act and, coincidentally, me having a life-long ambition to write for theatre. Amongst other things, Gareth has been a Deputy District Judge and a long term resident of Cressbrook in Derbyshire.

“I wrote the play with Gareth in mind. It was originally supposed to be 40 – 45 minutes of horror but, having been seen by a couple of reviewers in Buxton, they seemed to consider there was more to it. With hindsight, I’m not surprised that the reviewers took more from the play than I had originally anticipated. Whilst the play is far from being autobiographical, it appears that I did draw on some very dark times and feelings that I’d experienced in the past.

“I suspect this bit won’t be the stuff of blogs…” he continued, perhaps revealing he has not read many of my blogs…

“… but the dark times related to a wave of mainly cancer-related deaths of seven members of my immediate family – aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents – over a five year period from 1998 to 2003. Being an only child, the most brutal part was that my mum was diagnosed with cancer in 1998, aged 49, survived for five years (until her death in July 2002) with my dad being diagnosed with lung cancer six months later, dying in November of 2003 (aged 55).

“Hopefully, I’ve stopped short of self-pity, suffice to say that I’ve found writing to be enormously therapeutic and enjoyable.”

That, to be honest, had me hooked as the background for writing a play. I might go see Shadow On Their Wall at the Fringe this year.

To repeat, yet again, the late Malcolm Hardee’s oft-used and eternally-wise intro to unknown open spot acts at his clubs: “Might be shit. Might be good. Who knows?”

Nigel Farage in The Times today

Nigel Farage in The Times today after UKIP’s big election wins yesterday

But “Might be worth watching” is good enough for me.

Talking of which…

This morning, I woke up to a message saying that someone billing himself as ‘Assistant to Nigel Farage MEP’ – the leader of the UK Independence Party – would like to connect with me on LinkedIn. Of course, I immediately did.

I always enjoy encountering interesting people.

The Chinese saying “May you live in interesting times” is not always a curse.

2 Comments

Filed under Crowdfunding, Theatre

2 responses to “Crowdfunding Edinburgh Fringe shows seems to be on the increase this year

  1. Who are these divs who keep giving their hard earned to “crowdsourcing” producers not even for a cut of any profits but a sort of “we like you a bit” email. One zombie film has been “crowdsourcing” funding on the internet for so long that when I tweeted him “how do we know this isn’t a Ponzi scheme” he replied “look at my website”. I looked. Investors get signed posters, roles as extras but no cut of any potential profit – well, we all know there isn’t any profit but …that’s not the point. He freely admitted when I cornered him that there’s nothing to stop crowdsourcers being basically fraudsters. “It’s the dark side of what we do”…. expecting all this to end in an amusing court case one day… then again maybe people do want to give money a way to artists for no reason. I could put a paypal button on the Pear Shaped site for the mentally retarded but honestly … apart from the fact I’d feel too guilty … I’m in the business of trying to collect punters not money. Anyone can con people out of money. Conning them into turning up a filling a seat in a club – that takes talent

  2. ‘Who are these divs who keep giving their hard earned to “crowdsourcing” producers not even for a cut of any profits but a sort of “we like you a bit” email.’…

    I am.

    It’s not a business proposition. It’s not about tangible reward, and it’s certainly not an investment. It’s just patronage, and it’s what’s paid for a big chunk of the arts for thousands of years.

    But you’re right: one day I’m going to get conned. You know what? I decided 20 years ago – when I *did* get conned, by a man in the street with a convincing hard-luck story – that I’d rather be the kind of person who occasionally got exploited than the kind of person who never tried to help.

    [Disclaimer – I’m a theatre guy, and I suspect you’re thinking about comedy, so we might be at cross-purposes. Also, I’m one of the “couple of reviewers in Buxton” referred to in the blog. As far as this particular play goes, I thought it was a powerful piece about mental health with a couple of significant flaws; “might be worth watching” is a very fair remark, and I certainly want to see how it’s developed once it arrives in Edinburgh.]

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