Backstage at the Fringe: The Assistant Director

Opening a show in Edinburgh is a strange process. Because most of your ticket sales are through word of mouth rather than pre-sale, you have to do an awful lot of work to get an audience. This is especially the case with new writing, because no-one knows whether it’s going to be good or not (and there’s always a lot that isn’t). Rainbow has been fortunate in that it’s one of two plays being brought up by Sell a Door (who already have an impressive reputation) and is written by a Royal Court Young Writer, but we’re still out flyering for nearly six hours a day. And since there are only four of us, we’re all necessary pretty much all of the time. Our good reviews in ‘reputable’ publications undoubtedly help, but it’s still tough – we certainly aren’t seeing as many shows as we’d intended to!


Now nearing the end of the second week, the cast are exhausted. They do get one day off flyering each week, but they’re still beginning to feel the strain of being persistently enthusiastic and persuasive for hours before performing a very draining piece (for three monologues, it’s exceptionally active both physically and emotionally). As assistant director, my job now is largely to keep cast morale up, but since the director returned to London a week ago, I’m also responsible for noting the actors. They’re all well settled into the characters by now and so don’t need much, but that can lead to some things being performed in new ways to relieve the tedium. They use the markers we’ve established in rehearsal to keep their monologues running along the same lines, but there’s space in between to find new meanings, and I’m there providing an outside eye on whether they worked or not.


One day they had a wonderful show in front of a sell-out crowd including industry and reviewers, so the day after saw them put aside their nerves and really plan exactly what they were going to do with their character, making their performances far more considered and controlled. The cast has just been slightly shaken by one of them suffering bereavement, but they’re three very talented and very professional actors, so there’s no doubt that they’ll continue to give fantastic performances day after day, just as they have been.

PHOTO/ Sell A Door