“Did you get the invitation?” and other Fringe-season faux pas
I’m finally getting to the point where I know other artists in my stop-over cities, and by “know” I mean they’ve been a Smut Slam judge or I appeared in one of their gigs and at the very least we’re friends on Facebook. It’s also coming up on Fringe touring season, has been for a month already, actually. This means that the steady trickle of event invitations on FB is starting to become a stream, and when Brighton Fringe hits in three weeks, we’ll all be drowning in the stressful convergence of two vast rivers of theatrical output and social expectations.
In the interest of managing expectations, avoiding hurt feelings, and generally being transparent about how I integrate the arts with my personal network, I would like to share my personal etiquette around EVENT INVITATIONS.
When I have an event…
I will invite you, if you’re in the area. This invitation carries no expectations with it at all. You can decline, mark “interested”, mark “attending” and then not attend, or show up and that’s okay.
If we are friends and I know that you’ve seen my work, I may drop you a private message and ask you to share with your people in the area. I try to ask selectively, making sure that we’re in the same wheelhouse, you know, you’re not a kids’ clown or choral singer.
If we are really good friends and we’ve talked about my show or event before, I may drop you a private message and ask you to come to opening night for moral support, or whatever, and I will offer you a comp. But I will not take it personally if you can’t.
If we are reasonably well acquainted and I know you have an event going on too sometime soon, I may suggest a comp swap. I firmly believe that artists are not each other’s target demographic, and I don’t expect other artists to buy tickets to my shows. We are all broke. I do not expect comps—so please feel free to turn me down!—but I appreciate them.
If I ask to swap comps with you, and you agree, I will make every effort to attend. If you ask to swap comps with me, there is a possibility I may not be able to attend your show. Whoever initiates the comp swap convo needs to be really committed to coming.
When you have an event …
I do read the event listing. I am very assiduous in my attention to invites that come in through Facebook. I will mark “interested” if I’m interested, and will only mark “attending” if I am really planning to attend OR if it’s part of a festival-wide campaign to attend each other’s events and boost the FB algorithm.
If you direct message me with an invite that does not mention a comp, I will politely decline. I may have had other valid reasons, but the sales pitch is one of them. (See the bit about not being each other’s target demographic.)
If you really want me to attend for some particular reason, DM with that comp offer and explain that you really want me there.
I only recommend shows that I have seen, if not the actual show, then something by the performer. Keep that in mind when you’re asking me to promote your show. I’ll need to see it or you in action first.
Out on the Fringe…
I will never knowingly flyer another artist, with the purpose of getting them to buy a ticket to my show. (I may hand them a flyer as a sort of business card, though, if they ask for one.) If I find out mid-pitch that you are a fellow fringe artist, I will hurriedly take my flyer back and apologize, saying something like “let’s save our paper for the punters.” You are welcome to keep an accidentally bestowed flyer if you like it, or you really want a reminder, but please don’t then favour-shark me into taking one of yours. I don’t want it. Tell me the name of your show, and if I want to know more, I will ask. I expect the same in return.
If I ask, “have you seen my show?” it is NEVER meant as pressure to see it. Usually that is me trying to either avoid spoilers OR figuring out what background information you need, if we are talking about our shows or audience responses or whatever.
My hierarchy of interest, separate from any personally connection I may have to anyone involved in the show is as follows:
Solo theatre > storytelling > variety shows with a strong MC > everything else
Fringe festivals are and have always been my chance to study up on my craft informally. I want to see shows that are close to my wheelhouse first. These are my classrooms.
I have given myself permission to not see any shows at festivals, if that’s what I need to stay balanced. My fellow EdFringers know what it is to run a show back to back to fucking back, for a few weeks at a time; even smaller festivals and shorter runs can take their toll. We all have promo to do, and I personally can’t really see a show for two hours before I’m on or for one hour afterward.
Take into account recovering from travels, getting some groceries in, and trying to get some sleep, and you can see that sometimes… we run out of time. That has to be okay: show first, self-care second, then everything else.
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