DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008

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Assuming you been to the Edinburgh festival before how did 2013 compare to others?


Each festival brings it's own challenges and highlights, it seemed to be over in the blink of an eye, but we had a wonderful time. To us because there was only two of us this year it probably seemed more frantic and quite tiring, but as ever the sheer standard of productions and energy of just being in Edinburgh itself meant that we were thoroughly entertained.



DARKCHAT were up for the first this year and the audiences seemed smaller than previous years. Is there a pattern to when the biggest audiences arrive?


For us it was fast and furious from the beginning, but we thought that week 2 was definitely when everyone seemed to arrive and the royal mile was absolutely packed! We had our best audiences that week and sold out for most days so we were absolutely thrilled.



"Father Christmas Needs A Wee" was (rightly) universally praised. Are reviews important or do Talegate Theatre now have a reliable fan-base?


Reviews are always very important to us, feedback is an essential part of theatre, be that good or bad! You have to get used to filtering worthwhile comments in this industry, things that will help you advance and take your production from good to great. We find that our audience are our best sounding board for this. As a young company we have been given so much support by our audience members and during the fringe in particular, it was their feedback that we were "glued" to particularly from the children themselves.



What made you select "Father Christmas Needs A Wee" as a project?


We had put our last big project 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' to bed and needed to look to the future. We wanted to sink our teeth into something that no-one else had done before and could take us to the next level as a production company. I remembered Nicholas Allan's books from being in primary school and always found them cheeky and on the right side of naughty which is exactly how our style of performance has developed. I found Nicholas' contact details and gave him a ring. It was a match made in heaven - or the north pole at least!



Was it an easy choice to bring it to Edinburgh?


We knew that the title would grab peoples attention and that the book itself had alot of kudos attached to it, as well as Nicholas Allan himself who is a very well known author. Our concern was that we knew it was always a risk taking a Christmas show to the fringe in August! We didn't know if people would "buy" into the idea, but luckily most people accepted that Edinburgh is a platform to showcase new and developmental work, so came along and took it in exactly the spirit in which it was presented to them



Do you think an audience of children is the hardest audience to win over?  


I certainly think that if they don't like something then they are going to be very vocal about it! Children's theatre has always appealed to us, simply because we do not believe that just because it is theatre for children that quality should be diluted in anyway. I think that children as our future theatre goers, are just as discerning as the adults that accompany them. If they are bored they will let you know it, but equally when they "buy into" the story it really does make the entire experience quite a magical one. This means as a performer you have to develop your skills of listening, being in the moment and being ready for anything.



Do you get nervous before a show and how quickly do you relax on stage?


I always get nervous as it helps to focus me . As soon as the how starts however it is easy to relax into it, if the energy you bring on is too manic the audience will be exhausted by you.



Does it take you long to relax after a show & do you analyse each performance?


I would say it takes at least a good hour to wind down, but there is no wind down time at the fringe! Its straight on the mile to flyer for the next show! We always analyse how the performance went, it's good practice for the next one and stops any issues developing further down the line



A month is a long time in Edinburgh. How did you survive the festival?


By being a bit boring and sensible! we eat well and slept very well, its a pacing game!



Money is always a talking point in Edinburgh . Without being rude, do you make any/much money from a critically and publicly acclaimed show? What are your biggest expenses?


Most  shows are an investment, as it stands Edinburgh for us meant a solid launching pad for a new piece of writing and to get public attention for a brand new show. We are only 5 years old as a company, so you have to find a way of getting yourselves known and finding out if you have something that people want, there is no better place than the fringe. So to honestly answer your question, not yet, but we are putting the wheels in motion to tour the production so further down the line you hope to make a return. Thats' the gamble!



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?


It really does vary venue to venue, some venues dictate how much your tickets will be, others have nothing to do with your choice. We believe in good value so our ticket prices were lower than other large childrens companies so everyone had a chance to come along. On our days off I would go to the half price hut and see what bargains were to be had.



What were the best (& worst) aspects of this years festival?


I always enjoy seeing a variety of theatre and how different companies are formed and managed. I think this is the best part of the fringe for me, being able to dip in and out of different experiences and met people from all walks of life. The worst part about this years fringe was trying to establish children's theatre in other peoples eyes as credible and getting the same level of awareness and support from critics and publications as other genres of theatre receive.



We thought the standard of shows this year were higher than ever. What were your favourites?


Two really stand out in my mind Matt Fordes "Political party" and Baby wants candy the improvised musical, they were simply outstanding with really amazing performers.



And finally how have you relaxed since the festival?


We haven't! It's straight into panto for us and development of a music video for one of the songs from "Father Christmas" you really have to keep the momentum of any project going, so whilst we probably slept solidly for two days, its back to work!



If you could change one thing about the festival, what would it be?


In an ideal world everyone would gain some kind of professional feedback and  industry advice on their show if they wanted it! But as you know yourselves, where can we ever find the time! But thank you for taking the time to come and see ours and we hope to see you at the next one DARKCHAT!




Top Toilet Humour

For a couple of years DARKCHAT founder members Carl & Kate were absent having children. Now their twins are 4 they are keen theatre goers (2013 was their 2nd Fringe) & suddenly Childrens' Shows are high on our priority of shows to see.


One of their favourites this year was “Father Christmas Needs A Wee” & we were grateful to receive this interview from TaleGate theatre.