Celebrity 9: Internet Power

Media, The Arts

There was a time when you’d slap a few handbills on the wall of the theatre and wait for passing drunks to fall into your auditorium. In the last few years, though, theatres have grown wise, posting clips and storylines on the internet to promote their plays.

We can’t do that. We’re fringe. We haven’t built the set yet. We’re just getting the costumes sorted out (yes, no expense spared!). We’ve done postcards, handbills, posters – and crucially, social networking. We know that even if we can’t film a chunk for YouTube we can at least tell friends who are curious enough to come along. And we’re on sites like the London Fringe Festival, here,

Crucially, although it’s a small space we know our venue has something a lot of fringe venues lack – atmosphere. I think the traditional description is ‘intimate’ ie you WILL get to know the person next to you. Recently I walked into an upstairs pub venue which looked exactly like the upstairs of a pub – and that was AFTER the lights went down. Now, if you’re Al Murray, Pub Landlord that’s great, but if you’re putting on a show about pirates it’s not so hot. Luckily the play was so good that after a few minutes nobody minded.

So, social networking has transformed the promotion of plays. And now big West End shows can be see live at cinemas, which is a surprisingly effective way to catch up on a play you missed.

The internet is allowing us to choose our audience with laser precision, pinpointing the people who actually appreciate the heads-up on a cheap night out. This is the opposite approach to advertising I highlighted in ‘Paperboy’, when I recalled seeing a Victorian ad showing a woman holding what appeared to be a fireplace. The caption was ‘If you love her this Christmas you’ll buy her a grate.’ A tad more desperate, I feel.

So, no grates then – just a show!

Victoria Jeffrey, Neil Burgess, Mark Martin & Lucy Clements star in this libellous comedy of big stars and bad behaviour. Nov 23 – Dec 4 (Nightly 7:30pm, Matinees Sat 4:00pm, No perfs Sun, Mon)

The Phoenix Artist Club, 1 Phoenix Street, London, WC2H 0DT. (Off Charing Cross Road next to the Phoenix Theatre) Tickets: £10. To book telephone 020 7836 1077 or email: maurice@phoenixartistclub.com
(+50p CC bookings)

‘Celebrity’ is part of the London Fringe Festival