Did you know the discount deadline for registering for the Edinburgh Fringe is March 13th? It sure is. To get you inspired, David William Bryan, the prolific one-man show machine, sat down with us to share how he prepared for his Fringe run in 2018.
In Loyal Company is your second self-produced solo show. What did you learn in 2017 with Trashed that you applied to In Loyal Company in 2018?
With Edinburgh 2017, I observed as much as possible so when I left I thought,
What I need is a product that is such an easy sell that I can market it to a reasonable level.
As soon as I heard my Great-Uncle’s story, I realised I could market it as a WWII play. I put every well-known WWII film post on the wall, looked at the common elements: the moody sky, a guy looking up into the distance. I did the artwork before I even wrote a single word of the play. Then I wrote the play and began to market it and that was it.
The story was a different challenge. It involved a lot of research. I was very systematic and researched each section. I knew based on a previous Edinburgh show that I have 20 A4 sides to get from the beginning to the end. So I have four sides of A4 to get from point A to point B. It’s a lot easier to sit down and write four sides of A4 than it is to write a whole play. You are making a lot more naturally driven. You don’t mess around.
In Loyal Company is five years in an hour. It has to move and the pace has to be set early. You can’t jump to a quick pace. It is very systematic and strategic, not only to fulfil me artistically but to produce a product that will be the easiest sell ever.
David William Bryan: Lessons from the Fringe
In Loyal Company was a total sell-out show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018. Did you have to flyer up and down The Mile?
I believe in the Fringe going paperless in the long term. My least favourite thing about Edinburgh is how it destroys the city every year. If the Fringe goes paperless, the result of that is a cleaner city for the residents and would ensure the longevity of the Festival. It also makes the market amongst performers more efficient and competitive.
Flyering is a completely inefficient way to sell your show. To stand in the rain with a bit of paper, giving it to someone who doesn’t really give a shit. And that costs you £10-15 an hour if you get someone else to do it. Whereas thousands of people could have seen that in the same amount of time and you could have targeted it to the right person.
I am not say that flyering doesn’t work if you have got an army of people. Your best bet is to get out on the street and drag people in and win that battle. What I’m saying is:
Why do we need 10,000 bits of paper? Why can’t we just improve our communication skills and have one laminated flyer and people can take a picture on their phone.
I started earlier than everyone else and didn’t pay someone else to do it. Having pre-sold 40% of my tickets, digital marketing and word of mouth did the rest. We sold out 30 shows without any flyering.
What’s it like being away from family and friends for such a long period?
I go through different periods, really but my dad was in Edinburgh the entire time. Because of the family nature of the show, I wanted my family to come along and get involved.
It is important to spend time with my mum and dad. My dad ended up having a stroke just before Edinburgh, but I went, “We’re still doing it.” and I took him. He was there on his crutches. He was out every day talking to people about the show. It was brilliant having them there the whole time. I just wouldn’t be there without him. It was tricky but we got through it.
My girlfriend is the most supportive person in the world. She is at every show she can make it to. I am incredibly lucky.
If you want to learn more about David, stay tuned for part 4, Going on tour with David William Bryan.
See in ‘In Loyal Company’ on tour:
- March 1st – Saddleworth Live – Greater Manchester
- March 8th – Dorchester Arts – Dorchester
- March 16th – The Atkinson – Southport
- April 13th – Market Theatre – Ledbury
- April 27th – Everyman Theatre – Cheltenham
- May 11th – Corn Exchange – Wallingford
- June 7th and 8th – Swallow Theatre – Dumfries and Galloway – Scotland
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