DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008

DarkChatLogo-full DarkChatLogo-full


DARKCHAT were up for the first week this year and the audiences seemed smaller than later in the month. Is there a pattern to when the biggest audiences arrive?


That’s completely different from our experience. We were MOBBED (as you saw) until 14th August when the Edinburgh schools went back, after which the numbers were manageable.



How important do you think reviews are to getting an audience?


For me, probably not much, as CK is the only thing like itself, if that makes sense. Nobody else is offering free family Scottish dancing workshops whereas loads of people are offering overpriced comedy J - so people will come if it’s what they want, and stay away if they don’t. But a good review does no harm! I didn’t approach any reviewers with a view to a visit due to lack of time and inclination and the show does kind of sell itself, but as other shows were getting reviews I started to feel left out so I’m glad you guys came along! If you came on a Friday (which I think you did) it would have been my colleague Dawn Claire you saw leading the workshop, not me. She did the Fridays to give me a day off!



We loved the show. Did all go smoothly or did you have some mishaps along the way. ( Feel free to share any amusing incidents).


It was fine. It’s my day job – I do this sort of thing ALL THE TIME. Capricious PA in the Counting House, and the room being so small, hot and dark (and the preponderance of buggies which had to be lugged up three flights of stairs) livened things up. The only real spanner in the works was when whole nurseries turned up unannounced, with about three adults to about twenty children. As you will have seen, every child needs an adult’s hand to hold, so 20 children would need 10 adults, which they didn’t have, so all these extra children tended to stand around looking confused as they didn’t know what to do. I worried that this may have detracted from the enjoyment for the families. A reviewer came one day (not from DarkChat I don’t think) and ended up helping me out with a nursery full of loose cannons so I don’t think she ever wrote the review!



How did you spend the rest of the day?


In school holidays – lugged kids out of bed and into town on the bus. Two CK sessions. Lunch at Fringe Central, then as many 2 for 1s and previews, or free stuff, as we could cram in, fliering punters along the way. Got a couple of nights out to see ‘adult’ stuff when I could get childcare.

In term time – did school run. Two CK sessions. Then went to free shows in the afternoon until school pick-up time, fliering punters along the way… then tea, homework, bath and bed!



Was it tough organising this show in Edinburgh  for a month?


No. I live here and it’s my job!



How did reality change from your expectations?


Not at all! But a few more generous donations would have been nice. Still it’s billed as a free show, so nobody should feel obliged to donate.



If you had done it before how did 2013 compare to previous festivals?


About the same as 2012, although I was better prepared as I had already done it in the Free Fringe Festival. In 2012 I agreed to do only 10 sessions, which quickly grew to 19 as we were MOBBED which I hadn’t expected. This year Alex persuaded me to do the full run, so it was slightly less crowded as we spread the punters over 44 sessions, not 19.


In 2010 I did it in the ticketed Fringe (not being aware of the Free Fringe) – I managed to sublet a venue from another group. But it wasn’t very central so not so busy, people had to buy tickets and so were less likely to take a chance, and I was just out of hospital having had meningitis so wasn’t at my most switched-on.



Money is always a talking point in Edinburgh . Without being rude, do you make any/much money from these shows? What are your biggest expenses?


I broke even plus a wee bit .Biggest expenses were inclusion in the Fringe programme and getting badges printed – I gave the children a badge in exchange for a donation to avoid people just walking out without paying (as they did last year). But the badges cost 20p each to produce, so that was 20p off each donation.



What made you offer Ceilidh Kids as a free show?


Being unable to afford a venue! Plus I believe in the spirit of the Free Fringe Festival and think tickets are overpriced, and I want families to dance whether or not they can afford expensive tickets. Since I live here and do this all year round (though not for free) it’s good advertising – people may come on spec if it’s free and then decide they like it…



DARKCHAT saw 53 shows in a week and without a variety of 2 for 1 offers and the Free Fringe we couldn’t have afforded to see so many. What are your thoughts about the current pricing structure?


Totally agree – my children and I saw 19 shows for free, on 2 for 1s or previews – we couldn’t afford anything full price and we still spent a fortune. I think tickets are WAY too expensive but looking at the cost of the venues I see why they’re that high!



We thought the standard of shows this year were higher than ever. Assuming you had time to see other shows what were your favourites?


This Was The World And I Was King.


Gilbert and Sullivan – the Musical.


A Cut in the Rates / Grey Matters.

Bonk (which I saw with my husband, not my children!)



As a local what do you feel about your city being overrun for the whole of Edinburgh?


Love it, love it, love it! I feel like a party host for a month!



And finally, how have you relaxed since the festival?


Er – gone back to my day job? So more leading family Scottish dancing workshops, classes, parties etc…

Doing it for the kids


Third up we spoke to Caroline Brockbank.


 Caroline organises Ceilidhkids a fun (and free) way to entertain and keep kids fit, leading to nominations for Best Free Show and Best Childrens show