Cerys' show 'Sportsperson' is on Daily 4.40 at the Wee Room at Guilded Balloon Teviot. In the Q&A Cerys talks about the show, selecting a venue, pricing and promotion considerations as well as acts they recommend and look forward to seeing at the Festival.
What's Sportsperson about?
Sportsperson is a show about neuro diversity, gender querness and fitting in. It's not a pro-sports show, just about my experience of playing sports as a non-binary person.
And in terms of fringe, have you been many times before either performing or, or as a visitor?
So the first time that I went to the fringe was when I was in sixth form. So like after GCSEs, when everyone in my school was going to Ibiza or places like that, I dragged all my friends up to the Edinburgh Fringe. So I came for the first time when I was 17, and then 18 as a visitor, and then as a performer. I performed for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2007. Then I came up with a group of friends and we did like a science improv show. So I was up for a week as part of a revolving cast. And then 2018 did like a split bill science/Stand Up Show, which again, revolving cast did a week and then 2019, I did a full run split bill show with the comedian Rachel Wheeley. So this is my fourth time performing.
How does it generally compare with other festivals?
This one is obviously much bigger a lot of the other festivals that I've been to, and I've done a lot this year developing the show like Guilford, Bedford, Brighton, Leicester, Coventry, Machynlleth, Aberystwyth. I feel like a lot of those shows are about taking your show to the audiences that you've kind of already established.
I think the difference between Edinburgh and some smaller festivals is that you can build and find an audience whilst you're here because there are just so many people and there are so many people looking for things whereas other festivals in other cities, I think people are maybe less aware that there's a festival happening and so there's a lot less like people walking up on the day coming to see a show but they don't really care what show and there's a lot more people looking for specific things or because they know you and they're excited that you've come to their city.
How does it compare with gigging in general?
In terms of general gigging, like doing an hour every single day, that's that's not how general gigging works. Normally, it's like 5-10 minutes, and I normally only do maybe one or two gigs a week if that. So it's just much bigger.
Given the cost of putting on a show, was there any hesitation in doing it?Was there any hesitation in doing it? Yes, It's just so much money. I'm really lucky that I'm working with a production company. And my agents are, like, contributing a lot to those costs. But yeah, I was apprehensive. And then there was a big question of like, whether or not this is a good year to do it. Because with everything that's been happening in the last couple of years, like we weren't really sure what the fringe was going to look like, would it make more sense to wait a little bit longer, and let the fringe re establish itself? So it's quite a big hesitation spent a really long time thinking about where what kind of space we wanted to be in?
So which venue and how big is the capacity? Was that straightforward decision?
So I am performing Wee Room at Gilded Balloon, which is 50 seater, it was not a straightforward decision. We got very lucky with this room on at 4:40pm, which I think also is a good time for a debut show got very lucky with the time as well. And basically what happened is that my agent had another performer who was meant to be in this room at this time, he has a really good relationship with Gilded balloon has performed with them for many fringes, and has an established audience in Edinburgh, normally does really well. And then she got a recurring role on television, and so wasn't going to be able to do the festival.
And we were able to pitch them, you know, this person that you've worked with and really liked for for years can't do anymore. Maybe you should take this complete, unknown.
Did you have to push yourself to try and get something bigger than you might have been comfortable with? Or did you kind of play it safe? And kind of was was the only upfront cost and issue in that?
There was not a straightforward decision because there were lots of other options like things that were earlier in the day, or things that were a bigger capacity that we didn't think that we could sell. I thought we were being cautious, but I think we were not kind of cautious enough with the room that we're in. I think the price is maybe a big problem like I was excited to be to be part of Gilded Balloon now I'm excited to be a part of Gilded balloon. But I worry that because I am a relatively new face to a lot of people, it's quite a big risk to spend more than 10 pounds on a comedian that you don't know. And I think that's something that I'll think about in future years, whether or not that's like an appropriate price for my show.
I thought we had found an appropriate room. And then I've learned a lot during this fringe about where in the fringe maybe I'm better suited, or I'm best suited? Is that something to think about for future years? If we decide to come back up? Again, I don't think the upfront cost was an issue in my decision, because I just sort of knew that I was going to be spending an enormous amount of money.
So when you decided on a ticket price, did you have a gut feel? Or was it researched or off the cuff?
In terms of deciding ticket price, we basically went for the cheapest that we possibly could, which was constrained by the venue because they obviously have, you know, their costs that they set based on how much they need to charge and all of the other shows that they're running and things like that. So it wasn't a researched or off, off the cuff decision, we kind of knew that we were gonna go for the cheapest, which I don't know, I think it's maybe because I'm older now. But I kind of feel like five pounds. That like is the appropriate amount, which my show is obviously more more than that. So we've done better on like two for one days and the Pink Wednesday. But yeah, that's something to think about a future years.
In terms of getting people in what's the main promotional strategy? Are you very much kind of old school flyers and things like that? Or was there much more of a focus on social media
We are doing lots and lots of flyering, we're working with a really great flyering team. So I'm out flyering every day. And then we've also got some some great people who are helping us with the flyering trying to get the word out more. Done a bit of social media stuff. I'm not great at social media. I'm just sort of hovering on Twitter waiting to see the posts of people like Oh, I'm up to Edinburgh Fringe, what should I go see, try to plug people shows that way. And then quite lucky to be tapped into the like, theatre queers network here at Edinburgh. So that meets once a week. And it's nice to go and meet a bunch of people. And we like swap flyers and things.
So I'm giving out lots of flyers for trans and non binary shows after my show. And we can kind of, you know, spread the word amongst ourselves, Makes, it flyering, a lot of shows which have like similar themes, or we think will have similar audiences. And hopefully, that's been effective. So those are our, our main promotional strategies.
So other than yourself, obviously, what one act would you recommend to everyone to go and see?
In terms of acts that I would recommend to everyone, so I kind of feel like should tell y'all to go see Joz Norris' show Blink, and with full disclosure that just says that Joz is my Director. But I've seen some really great stuff. So far, I think you should all go see Jen Ives, or Sam Nicoresti or both of those people because they've got really, really good shows as well. So there we go. There's three acts, other than myself that I would recommend to everyone.
And you yourself, kind of what are you most looking for? What are you most looking forward to see?
Well, I've seen a bunch of stuff already. In terms of who I mostly called to save the university stuff already, but I've got some tickets for later in a month. So Andrea Spisto is up for a week, and I cannot wait to see Andrea new show, I think it's gonna be really exciting. And I've also got tickets to see Celya AB when my partner's coming up for a week. So I'm basically having to wait for her to come up to go see all the shows that we've kind of excitedly been talking about, which is a bit frustrating, because I'd love to go see them now.
In terms of kind of how you prepare, are you kind of very nervous beforehand, are you cool, calm and collected or is the whole day taken up with thinking about the show?
So like, I can't go see anything before my show. I feel quite lucky that my show is at 4.40 Because I can have like a very leisurely morning and then go out and do some flyering and do my show. And then I can go see as much stuff as I want, but I can't see anything shorthand. And, and then normally takes like, got quite a lot of props and stuff. So we've got like a 20 minute pack down. Which is good. It's a really good thing about goodwill in the fact that they're doing like less shows and it means that the they have done in previous years we've got slightly more get get in and get out time and things are like less rushed can be a bit more careful. And that 20 minutes when pack stuff down is really useful and then maybe have like a five or 10 minute debrief with tech, my tech mission and if my producer was there and that kind of thing.
So normally, by that point, I'm kind of, you know, ready to go see stuff so that I think I need a very long run up or I'm a bit useless and I can't really do anything. But as soon as the show's finished, the show is finished. And that it has been the case for the shows that have gone really well and the shows that have not gone as well so far on the run.
I think there are shows that haven't gone quite as well but I've been able to switch off and go see other stuff and then maybe have dwelled on it a little bit later, but I think I've been alright moving from my show to becoming an enthusiastic audience with other people's stuff.
My show sportsperson is in wee room in Guilded Balloon and it's at 4-40 and it would be great to see you all there.