Although most of us have spent our summer away from the Bubble, Mermaids has been holding down the fort in order to prepare for this year’s Fringe Festival. In fact, people like Fringe Rep Lottie Barker have been working with these productions since January to sort out the oh-so-fun insurance, payment, and publicity details. In between all of that, she managed to squeeze us in for a chat about the upcoming festival.
AB: How has Mermaids been involved in the Fringe this year?
LB: This year we have a great selection of St Andrews talent from improvised comedy to student writing to Shakespeare. Mermaids has funded four shows: Giulietta, Newton’s Cauldron, Wolf Whistle and the Temptation of St Anthony. We are also helping out The Merchant of Venice and Blind Mirth.
How long have you been prepping for Fringe this summer?
Fringe directors, producers and actors have been back in the Bubble for the last two weeks, rehearsing up to 10 or 12 hours a day and then building set and props on top of that! It’s been extremely busy but their hard work is about to pay off. Last week flyers and posters arrived in St Andrews, and we’re excited to see them around Edinburgh.
How does participation this year compare to past years (in terms of shows and students)?
Last year Mermaids sent Angels in America and The Tempest and helped out Goddess of Walnuts, The Revue, Matt Gibson and Blind Mirth.
This year, Mermaids managed to fully fund and offer guidance to a larger variety of small shows. We also encouraged each production to not only have a producer and a director but also a publicity officer. This has given more students the chance to take on a role behind the scenes and learn about the workings of a production at an internationally renowned festival. This year also sees large casts made up of first years to recent graduates. We hope that the team attitude between shows and a student presence in the audience will create a St Andrews spirit at the Fringe.
Are you performing in any of the plays?
No, I am not performing. Whilst we are in Edinburgh I will be helping each show with flyer-ing duties on the Mile as well as checking up on ticket sales and production budget spending. I have also hired a guillotine (or paper cutter!) You’ll probably find me in Fringe HQ for shows cutting out reviews to staple to their flyers.
Have you gone to the Fringe before? Is this your first time working the event?
I’ve only been to the Fringe once before! I came up for a weekend last summer and squeezed in as many shows as I possibly could (including all the Mermaids ones of course). When the applications for Fringe Rep came around in September I knew this would give me an opportunity not only to be at the Festival again but to help represent the wealth of talent that St Andrews has to offer. I’m very excited to be working in Edinburgh this August and hope this is the first summer of many that I will be up here.
What to you makes Fringe unique as a festival? (Aside from being the world’s largest arts festival!)
From chats with production teams and actors as well as my own experience, I would say it is the sheer volume and variety of performances that you can see in a day. In the morning you can be eating breakfast whilst listening to Shakespeare, at lunch you’ve seen a student written drama piece, in the afternoon you can squeeze in some A cappella and in the evening sit down to a professional comedian. For St Andrews students in particular it is a unique opportunity to get themselves seen by a wider audience than the Bubble and get some feedback from external reviewers on their direction, writing or performing. It is also a chance to meet a community as equally passionate about Performing Arts and make a variety of new friends or possible future colleagues.
Can you give us some fun facts about Mermaids’ participation?
The shows that Mermaids send to the Fringe are funded by the money raised from Christmas Ball. So thank you to everyone who came along last November – you have helped us get here!
This will be the premiere of Newton’s Cauldron, a play by St Andrews grad Tim Foley.
Mermaids shows will be performed over more than 60 hours at the Edinburgh Festival (no excuse to miss them!)
If you’re in Edinburgh this weekend check out Giulietta on Friday at 12.35 at The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall. Wolf Whistle and Newton’s Cauldron are both at Paradise in the Vault at 4.15 and 5.45 respectively. Tickets for the shows can be found here.
Blind Mirth plays August 11-16, 18-23
Temptation of St Anthony plays August 18-23
The Merchant of Venice plays August 18-23