With the Fringe Festival now just a twinkle in the rear view mirror, another chapter in Be Happy Theatre’s playbook has been closed.

As much as we’d love to rest on our laurels, give ourselves a pat on the back and have a nice sit down – there truly is no rest for the wicked.

Taking a Be Happy show on the road is often an intense, emotional roller-coaster – that some performers simply cannot commit to on a permanent basis. Of course, we’ve got plenty of mainstays that have been with the Company for a few years now, but these are often road-worn pros who understand the importance of mental stability and finding a sense of home, when one is away from their family.

homesick

Due to the transient nature of many of our performers and the term-based cycle of productions, the end of September is always a time of upheaval and regeneration. The talented amateurs and professionals, that make up the constantly rotating menagerie we have here, often need to make a move from the company at the end of a show.

 

middle-aged-peopleWith about half of our summer performers leaving for fresh pastures, we’ve got a sizeable number of places to fill for our Christmas show. As ever, we’ve got no idea what story we’ll adapting for this year’s Seasonal show – our cast sizes have been known to vary from as little as 8 to as many as 40.

 

The way we recruit our performers has not changed since the inception of the Company. We don’t have requirements or restrictions when it comes to age or previous experience. We simply travel around the country holding open auditions, with zero limitations. Attracting a wide range of performers for different disciplines, once we have reached a decent number of players, we’ll then begin to formulate a concept for the show.

 

Although we’ve had actors as old as 65 in Be Happy productions, this year we’re going to be targeting a slightly younger age for our new recruits.

Every year, young people go through seismic life changes inherent in growing up. Leaving primary school, a child goes from being the biggest kid in the school to the smallest. The teachers that they’ve grown to trust and understand have been left behind in a different town or village. At the start of a new term, they’re faced with the daunting challenge of building a myriad of new relationships, that will not only determine their social status but also they’re future well being for the next 5 or 7 years.

 

 

A similar, but perhaps more crucial change occurs when a generation of teenagers leave the Secondary School establishment and enters into the realm of adulthood.

The pressures of choosing between A-Levels, Vocational Experience or simply finding a job can weigh heavy on a young mind. Individuals, crowded by peers that have mastered the art of appearing in control, might struggle externalising their inner conflict – the performance of theatre and improvisation can help with this.

 

 

That’s why we’re making special effort this year to reach out to younger would-be performers, on the cusp of adulthood and in need of a life-changing adventure that could change their entire perspective on life as they know it.

 

For the first time in Be Happy Theatre tours, we’re going to be travelling around the South of England’s Secondary School and Colleges. We’ve developed a short-hand version of a show we ran 5 years ago and we’ll be taking a skeleton crew of 10 players out to inspire a new generation of actors.

Although colleges and schools often have their own Drama and Theatre productions, Be Happy offers teenagers the opportunity to realise a dream that some thought might have died decades ago: the dream of running away to join an acting troupe. By employing the use of cunning college marketing and advertising techniques that we’ve learnt from some friends across the water, we’re going to be trying our best to recruit as many fresh young faces to our cause as possible.

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The allure of travelling overseas to East Asia is potent, drawing thousands of young British people every year. We offer a slightly different Gap Year alternative. A year travelling Europe, working with professional actors, performing in a full-length show in some of the most prestigious venues in the Theatre world.

Once our motley crew of players has been assembled, we’ll be making a start on our Christmas Show. A time of year that can often be tough on our young performers, this year will be one that they’re not likely to forget. 

Some of our troupe have just returned from a long break in Edinburgh, they’ve been scouring the streets for talent (as well as performing the odd piece of street theatre). Be Happy have played at the Fringe many times and we know it can be a bewildering experience, even if you’re an experienced Festival player.

 

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to help you make your Fringe as smooth an experience as possible.

Organise Your Transport In Advance

edinburgh1Edinburgh isn’t the worst place in the world to get to (a clifftop theatre in Cornwall springs to mind!) but you will still need to organise your transport well in advance before you make the trip up. Whether its planes, train or automobiles – the city gets absolutely rammed during the festival and you’ll need a solid entrance and exit plan if you don’t want to end up trapped in traffic.

 

The road systems have a reputation for being a little tricksy, but thanks to the Google Gods, we all have GPS systems to get us out of any real binds. Make sure you have a passenger in the co-pilot position so you don’t get distracted by your phone – the last thing you want to be doing is dishing out your ticket earnings on covering the rental car deposit!

 

Most importantly, if you’re parking at the airport , do yourself a favour and book a parking space. Don’t get done over by dodgy dealers, Airport Parking Market compares all the options and covers security so you can find the best one for you.

Invest In Advertisement

fringe flyersOn to the practicalities of the festival itself – it is so important to promote your show. There’s nothing worse than spending weeks and months rehearsing your show only to face an empty room. Don’t waste your time and money, get out there and find some audience members!

 

It can be as simple as printing off some flyers at home. If you’re on a budget, find a friend who’s a dab hand at graphic design and get them to knock off something eye-catching.

 

There are dozens of performers on the streets every years vying for attention, so its crucial that you’re flyer will keep the punters interested enough to check out your show. Try getting dressed up in your costumes or even performing little excerpts of your show to entice people into grabbing a flyer.

 

Don’t be afraid to get into their faces either, part of the fun of the Fringe is that you can indulge in being a little outrageous – in fact the more adventurous you get with your marketing strategy, the more interested faces you’ll see with bums in seats come curtain call.

Prepare For Some Heckling

statler_waldorf_02_01Now you’ve got a packed house, you will most definitely be at risk of some heckling. During the Fringe people drink alot. Scottish stereotypes aside, the city is always full of tourists who have indulged in a few day time drinks.

 

If your show’s particularly avant-garde or happens to indulge in any long dramatic pauses, you may find your performance interrupted by an audience member who fancies a piece of the lime-light themselves.

 

At the Fringe, people tend to see the whole event as one big stand-up show – its up to you to figure out how to deal with them!

 

 

If you’re in the middle of performing a serious piece that has the rest of the audience intrigued, the best option is to simply ignore the offending person. The crowd will most likely take your side by either doing the same or even shushing the heckler. However, if you’re performing some comedy then embrace the intrusion and think on your feet.

 

There’s nothing more exciting for a crowd than a show teetering on the brink, it creates tension and, if you handle the heckler well, you’ll be well received by the end.

Have Fun!

This is the most important piece of advice we can give you. At Be Happy we believe that the act of performance should actively empower both the players and the audience. You’ve spent hundreds of hours rehearsing, so have confidence in your work and enjoy the act of performing!

 

Once the lights are up and your costume’s on, there’s little to distinguish a Fringe show from any other, so go out there and treat it like any other show. The reason why we perform is because we love to do it, let that passion shine and you’re sure to be a smash hit!…

shakespeareIt was Shakespeare that once wrote that:
 All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players
For the most part, I am inclined to agree with him barring the ‘merely’.

 

In this current age of modern technology and innovation, it can be easy to feel like your life is ‘merely’ one of billions in the world. But it is so much more than that.

 

At Be Happy we believe that in every waking moment of our day,  whether we are working, cooking a meal or simply talking to our friends – we are improvising. This doesn’t mean that we are lying or acting in some way.

 

Human beings are incredibly complex beings, all acting and reacting to each other in a matter of microseconds. The responses we make to conversations, the gait of our walk and the flavour of the food we prepare are all wonderfully unique and are made up of billions of microscopic movements and thought processes. In essence, although your life might dull or repetitive at times, we are constantly improvising in every aspect of our existence.

 

A great many of our performance pieces are created through the use of improvisation. It’s a wonderful technique that allows us to engage our imaginations and attempt to push the boundaries of our work. By going ‘off-script’ we are attempting to defeat the deceptive nature of traditional theatre and create performances that are borne out of our natural need to improvise.

Although our shows tend to stray from formal realism, there is an inherent level of it when it comes to using so much improvisation in the formula of our work. By juxtaposing our vibrant dance sections with minimalistic conversations based on improv, we aim to bridge the gap between performance and reality – showing our audience that there’s no reason why life cannot be filled with the joy of performance as well as unadulterated joy.improvisation

Of course, there is a risk-reward nature to improvising that reflects the risks that we take in our everyday lives. Even though we may stick to the same use of words in our day to day lives, outside forces are constantly influencing our style of dialogue and introducing new phrases can sometimes cause confusion. New languages can prove even more difficult to handle. Our performers come from a whole range of countries and so our performances reflect their unique cultures. Bringing together a group of people from different backgrounds can often leave to conflict, this is a key part of human life and one that we do not ignore.

conflicIt would be too easy to create work that celebrates the good parts of humanity. A 2-hour show of happiness and joy would be a beautiful thing, but it wouldn’t be a fair representation of our world as it is now. That’s why we try to balance the mood of our shows to take our audience through a range of emotions. Performance theatre is a wide-reaching platform and one that can be used to express a whole plethora of emotions. Conflict, anger and violence are things that exist in our world today. Even though it may be preferable to ignore the ugly side of humanity, we believe it is best to accept their existence so that we are best prepared to combat them.

 

We improvise every moment of our lives – so when it comes to meeting new people, or encountering a new problem have confidence in yourself and remember that:stage