You gotta get a gimmick

I’m very lucky in that our cast and team are more than up for flyering. They know that their performance is better with an audience, and thank goodness they are prepared to work for it. However, a lot of theory has gone into our flyering strategy. No joke, we’ve spent workshop sessions role playing potential scenarios and discussing what worked and what doesn’t. Most of it is pretty obvious stuff (don’t touch people, it’s just not nice) but I think it’s important to remember that it’s far easier for a show to make a bad impression than it is a good one. Here’s what we’ve found:

RULE 1

Never stick the flyer in someone’s face. In fact, try not to give them the flyer at all. It’s just there as an excuse to talk to them. If they don’t want it, they don’t want it. A simple smile and farewell is more likely to change their mind than jamming the leaflet in their hand.

RULE 2

Be nice. Our most valuable asset is our cast and it’s important to show audiences that. At the end of the day they are the best ambassadors for the show. “Charm the pants off them” as one of our boys put it.

RULE 3

In the immortal words from the musical Gypsy, if you’re out on the Royal Mile you’ve gotta get a gimmick. In a sea where there are more people flyering then there are punters taking the flyers, you need to stand out. The difficulty is striking the balance between catching peoples attention and looking plain desperate. So for us nudity, swearing and harassment were off the agenda, though you can certainly catch quite an eyeful if you’re out for a pleasant stroll around the castle.

Instead we’ve branded ourselves with t-shirts and bright fluorescent orange bags. They’ve quite recognisable, it amused me to see one poster on the Whats On Stage forum mentioning they’d seen them out and about. The Love Perfect Change t-shirts are quite fetching, but I have to admit the pink Jet Set Go! ones do have a Mr Blobby factor to them. Instead we often send the cast out in their air hostess uniforms with suitcases in tow. A mini parade that seems to draw a lot of attention. We don’t let them hold flyers though, if my days working in Disneyland have taught me anything it’s that you’ve got to keep the mystery, the magic, alive.

What was bizarre is that we had a chap waiting at the stage door (well, Portakabin exit) today, sporting one of the exact same fluorescent bags and marker pen in hand. He wanted it signed to take back home to Holland. I have a photo which I’ll post here shortly, but it was quite charming to realise we’d picked up a few fans.

In fact – knocking on virtual wood – things so far seem to be going rather well. Today marks our fifth consecutive day with a full audience which I never imagined this early in the run. What’s more is the response after both productions has been extremely kind. The only thing we’re waiting for now is reviews. Watch this space.

It’s briefly stopped raining so I’m going to grab my chance for a quick exit. Let’s hope the sun starts to shine, although watching Sa Choom in George 1 today I couldn’t help but have that summer feeling. It’s pure feel good fun, and really quite wonderful.

Until next time,

Luke Sheppard

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About Luke Sheppard

Luke recently finished working as Assistant Director to Sir Jonathan Miller on his production of Hamlet at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol. He was part of the creative team for the MTM award wining show Force 9 1/2 at last years Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Theatre Workshop), and returned as Choreographer for the London revival as part of the Perfect Pitch Festival (Upstairs at the Gatehouse). He has since worked with Peepolykus developing a musical at the National Theatre Studio. Luke is an experienced workshop leader and works with several children's theatre companies. He set up the musical theatre company Take Note Theatre and will direct both of their productions at this years Edinburgh Fringe.

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