On the fringe of the Fringe

 1 February 2011

Andy Field is co-director of Forest Fringe, an independent mini-festival that takes place during the Edinburgh Fringe. He spoke to Creative Choices about striking out on your own.

"The Forest Fringe is a miniature festival within a festival. Myself and my fellow programmer Deborah Pearson were given this space by the Forest Cafe. They wanted a theatre festival for August, so they gave us the opportunity to programme it."

Finding out what role fits you

"I started out at Edinburgh University, at the Bedlam Theatre just opposite here, which was a student-run theatre. I started off writing plays and realised I didn't actually like it that much. I started directing a few plays and still that wasn't quite right. So I started to do much stranger things that were a weird hybrid of the two.

"The independence of the Bedlam Theatre was hugely useful in terms of the transition between going from university to trying to make work in the real world."

Getting noticed at the Fringe

"Whether you want to be free and democratic and shy away from rabid commercialism, you still have to work incredibly hard and be very business-minded."

"Edinburgh is so oversubscribed in terms of the number of shows that are on and the number of attractions there are for people to see. We really had no idea what it would be like, whether we'd actually be able to be recognised, to be seen.

"We've brought a bunch of artists that we're interested in from across the country and Greece and France. They've all sort of rolled up here and we've put it on.

"A lot of the work that we're doing here is shorter pieces, only two or three nights, a lot of strange and experimental forms and installations and other one-off events.

"We've just been blown away by people's enthusiasm. The response has been incredible. We've had sold-out audiences and people returning again and again, people just rolling by and saying 'Oh, I've heard about this, it sounds great!' It's been really encouraging."

Learning from big organisations

"This is the first opportunity I've had to programme a place. Before that, I worked at Battersea Arts Centre in London, which was a great experience for coming up and doing this.

"Battersea Arts Centre is on a completely different scale to something like this, but nonetheless it teaches you a lot. Whether you want to be free and democratic and shy away from rabid commercialism, you still have to work incredibly hard and be very business-minded."

Finding your focus

"I always felt lost, not necessarily sure what I wanted to do or where was the best place to do it. I found that the best thing to do was to go out and find people who were doing things you like, and then try and learn from them. I think that would be the strongest message, to really get stuck in."

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