Emily Smith managed to catch up with Simon Lyshon, Co-founder of Engineer Theatre Collective and performer in Missing, after they recently crowdfunded their way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The team behind Missing managed to raise £890.
Here Simon tells Emily how they found performing at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Although the Edinburgh Fringe Festival runs for just under four weeks, it takes close on a year for any company to fully prepare for. Having founded our company from small beginnings in November 2012, we knew we had to make serious time. After mounting our debut piece, Missing (an original, devised work about missing people in Britain formed from interviews gathered by the cast) for a short run in November, we applied to the Scottish Daily Mail Edinburgh Festival Fringe Award in early 2013. A month later, were delighted to find we had been announced winners.
We were lucky to secure further backing from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and soon had almost all the funds needed to mount the show and to house and feed our cast, however…we had no set, no costumes and seemingly nothing to buy them with. This is where Crowdfunder came to the rescue.
Launching a campaign for a target of £750 we were amazed to reach our target in just under a week, exceeding this and reaching a total figure of £890 by the end of the campaign. These funds allowed our set designer, Sarah, to build a sturdy, adaptable set which could be transported up on the train to avoid large costs. You can imagine our excitement when we got off the train at Edinburgh Waverley with our total team of nine, set in toe and the whole festival ahead of us.
The show opened smoothly on the first day of the Fringe and, to our surprise, to a large audience. Having been up to the Festival several times before and seen a full range of sell-outs to flops I knew how hard and potentially risky this might be. However, from a strong start our audiences stayed steady and gradually began to build. By the end of the first week we were selling out and our reviews, for the majority, were glowing. The Fringe is a tricky balance between very hard work and the most outrageous party you can imagine. Every minute of the Fringe it feels as if there is something absolutely brilliant taking place just around the corner that you are potentially missing out on. To sustain this for a whole month takes some serious resolve and plenty of multivitamins.
With the whole cast flyering each day for audiences and absolutely no guarantees there was enough to worry about without our finances being a concern. Thanks to the funds from Crowdfunder we had a little extra on top of our target which helped us to more comfortably feed and take care of everyone. This is something which has results which are hard to prove, but made all the difference. By the end of the festival we had received three five star reviews, five four stars (including the Scottish Daily Mail, The Stage and Three Weeks) and sold out around 74% of our run. Without a platform like Crowdfunder I’m not sure this would have been possible.
We are so glad to have helped and we think it’s fantastic that you had a great time and got so many reviews. Below are comments from a couple of saw your performance at the Fringe:
“It was a pleasure to see Engineer at the Fringe and the whole company deserves to be hugely proud of Missing. the audience reaction and the press notices and tweets said it all. On both the nights we came, the house was virtually full and completed riveted by the performance. No pins were dropped – we would have heard them. We think you have really put Engineer on the map and on the radar.”