Once Selected for the Showcase by the British Council
The British Council will contact you and let you know if your application has been successful. If it has then they will ask you to give them some additional information about your company and then they will send over a production company to meet you to make a promotional video for them to use as a way of introducing your work to the international delegates attending the showcase. To see examples of these videos then the one for Backstage in Biscuit Land is here and the one for TESTOSTERONE is here.
You need to then look back at your application and cast a critical eye over your budgeting and offer. Strangely, the British Council Showcase isn't really that different from a normal Edinburgh run, in that you still book your own venue and do all the same promotion you would normally do (though obviously the additional marketing of being part of the showcase helps vastly) and in terms of putting together your information pack you need to think along the same lines as you would normally for touring to UK venues. Your budget for touring internationally needs to be realistic - no one has any money anymore - and your offer has to stand out. Just because you're in the showcase doesn't mean the delegates are going to book you. It's no different to a normal run in that sense. There are many things to consider when trying to get booked, for example dance shows will always do well because there isn't the language barrier. If your work is text heavy then non-English speaking countries will need to know why their audience might want to come and see your show? In this case it either needs to be visually spectacular, or high quality work that is exceptional to watch and can be enjoyed even if you don't understand the language, or it involves challenging social and cultural norms in some way that can be utilised as an agent for change. Just like with UK tour booking, your work isn't necessarily going to be right for all audiences at all the venues you approach, so don't be disappointed if a delegate can't see you fitting in with their programming.
But there are ways to make yourself more enticing.
For example, the legacy of touring Backstage in Biscuit Land was that the venues we visited had to rethink their backstage areas. Funnily enough we didn't know this was going to happen when we set out to do the show, even though the title of the show suggests otherwise. The reason for this was that in theatres the front of house is accessible, but an assumption is often made at the design stage that wheelchair users will not be needing to access the backstage areas of the theatre and therefore backstage can often lack accessible toilets, dressing rooms and even wheelchair access to the stage. One of the legacies left behind from touring the show therefore was for venues to rethink the design of their buildings, creating a cultural shift in expectations that will hopefully make it easier for other performers who are wheelchair users in the future. With TESTOSTERONE we are hoping for the same kind of legacy, with regards to supporting trans audiences and performers, the issue of gendered toilets being an immediate conversation that springs to mind. If a show is likely to encourage a trans audience to the venue, how is the venue going to let this new possible audience stream know that they are entering a safe space that has considered their needs and is welcoming. Offering gender neutral toilets is an immediate action the venue can take that speaks volumes. Both front of house and backstage.
With the information sheet therefore (to be given out at the Networking Events, which I'll talk about in my next post) your budget needs to be reasonable, your information needs to entice and you need to have considered what you're offering to the delegates. After that it's pretty much a normal Edinburgh Fringe run. You'll be told when you can announce to the public that you're in the showcase and you are encouraged to do this with great aplomb... And rightly so. In a festival of over 3000 productions, a showcase that makes you stand out from the crowd is a massive boost, for the show you're presenting and for your future as a company. It's a big deal and the fringe is a lot of fun when the ride has been made this much easier for you. But it is a responsibility. You are representing, not just the UK culturally, but also theatre as a sector. We tend to want to impress and make a difference in the world as theatre makers, and this is an opportunity to do just that.