Interviews with NYC's Indie Theatre Directors

Best Advice?

I’ve been fascinated by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for years. It’s one of those bucket list items for me. But I’ve been warned that directing there was unlike directing anywhere else. So, inspired by Articulate Theatre Company member Katrin Hilbe, and ATC friend Joan Kane, I decided to reach out to a few “Fringe-Bound” directors and find out just what goes on ‘across the pond’ in the pressure-cooker theatrical event known as Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Some of these directors are old hands at EFF and some are first-timers. Read on to delve into the minds of these Festival Directors! — Cat Parker

MEET THE DIRECTORS: (click on the names for bio and show info)

Katrin Hilbe
Martha Wollner
Joshua William Gelb
Joel Polis

Joan Kane
Scott W. Slavin
Luke Tudball
Antony Raymond
John Clancy

Jessi D. Hill
Cindy Sibilsky
Peter Michael Marino
Padraic Lillis

CP: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about taking a show to EFF?

Joan: Go with a show you really like. You have to promote it yourself a lot, from podcasts to handing out flyers to seeing other people’s shows. You have to really believe in the show you are doing. When you are giving someone a flyer connect with them on a personal level, tell them what your role is in the production and why you think they would enjoy your show.

Katrin: Allow yourself to be overwhelmed in a good way. Not to feel threatened by it (or only sometimes), but consider it an incredible wealth that you can share in. Don’t let yourself get disheartened by reviews that seem harsh, unfair, or both. Chances are that the next one will be a 5 star. It is truly a crap shoot. Also, don’t let yourself get disheartened by small houses, as chances are you don’t have a UK star or much other help. Build networks. Talk to anybody, be open, be flexible, have fun. It’s addictive.

John: Don’t go unless you really love your show and won’t care if very few people see it.  It’s expensive, it’s exhausting, so only go if you’re going to be happy to share your work with whoever shows up.  It’s not so much about selling out and getting raves as it is about meeting people who share your aesthetic and building those life-long relationships.

Joel: Relax, it’s all going to be fine!

Cindy: KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Coming from the big budget musicals, I understand the desire to go bigger, brighter, more glittery, but stripped of all of that a good show and good story will still stand, maybe even better. Practically, take care of yourselves. It’s a long month and it takes an marathon runner stamina in terms of protecting your voice, body, health, and sanity.

Joshua: Make a shower schedule and stick to it, which is particularly pertinent for us, given that there will be 12 of us staying in an 8 room flat equipped with one shower. See everything. Meet everyone. Don’t let your cast drink too much. But don’t police them too assertively.

Luke: “Don’t miss the little things, sometimes they can be much bigger than you think.”

Scott: “Who cares what happens to your show? You’re going to Scotland!” Because of the financial, time, and energetic commitment of participating in the Edinburgh Fringe, sometimes my focus can get too production-focused for my own good. It’s wonderful to step back and realize, “Yeah, whatever happens, I’m still going to spend a month in Scotland! How many people on this planet ever get a chance to even say that?” It puts me right back into the blessing of this whole experience.

Martha: To ‘Gird your loins’! I think director- producer John Gould Rubin told me that!

Anthony: Best piece of advice I’ve been given about taking a show to Edinburgh is to do a liver detox before and after.

Jessi: See and support as much work as possible. Have FUN!

Peter: I’m just gonna give MY advice which is based on most of the advice I got when researching the Fringe – Have a great show and know why you are going. What do you want to achieve? Why are you going? Also…your show can’t just be good. It must be great. I mean, it can be good, just plain ole good — and you can have  a lot of fun with it … or be totally miserable, while losing a lot of money. But, if it’s great and you’re really are passionate about it, you’ll get rewarded. I went there to get international press. That was my goal with “Exit.” I achieved that goal before I even took off from JFK. I hired a press rep over there who really got “me” … and the show … and we had a ton of press way before the Fest even started; and a lot during the festival. AMEN! But, I had to follow up with every reviewer and article writer. I had to make time to meet them – and I am glad I did! I followed and retweeted their tweets. OMG, Twitter is HUGE there! I learned how to be a good Twitter person in 4 weeks. You have to eat well. You have to rest in a comfortable flat. You have to network. You have to see as many shows as you can. See shows! Meet people! You have to get to know everyone at Fringe Central and swing by there every day. You must! They are so helpful. If you  can’t do that … just do a great show every day and know what you want to get out of it. I think that applies to anything. You don’t have to go to Scotland to start doing that.  Also, don’t be a dick. It sounds crazy, but if you’re even the slightest amount of being a dick there –  you’ll have to work much harder. Don’t be a dick. In Edinburgh or anywhere. Please.

Check out the responses to these questions for more info:

Have you been to the Edinburgh Fringe before?

What are some changes you’ve had to make to your production in order to take it to festival?

What makes it worthwhile for a director to have a production at the festival?

What surprises/challenges have you faced during the process?

In such a dense field of theatre, how do you get your production to stand out?

Bonus question – what one food, drink or establishment do you look forward to trying/visiting the most?




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