Thursday, August 05, 2010

On Not Quite Being A Ninja

In what is fast becoming a theme of my Edinburgh Fringe the show I was due to review today decided that they were not open to the Press yet. Which is nice in as much as it has created a second day in Edinburgh with no real work commitments but not so nice in as much as I can see the build up of shows I must see in the next few days coming to hit me round the head and chastise me for not using my time more wisely.

Before I discovered this, though, I'd decided that I use a free afternoon to try a bit of the Theatre Ninja malarky. Back in London (see how I talk, when I have only been away from London for 48 hours) I'm very fond of Audience Club, which works in a similar producers papering shows type way. Thus when I found out about Theatre Ninjas (even though the use of the word 'ninja' worries me, given that ninja is not exactly a word which trips off of my tongue) I was rather excited. And then they had an iPhone App too! Glorious!

I suppose the main thing that is different about Audience Club and Theatre Ninja is at no point is there any exchange of money for the latter. There's a £2 administration fee for an Audience Club ticket whereas free means free with Theatre Ninja. And did I mention - it has an iPhone App? And there is both the joy and the rub (the fee, not the iPhone App which is a little basic but nonetheless a thing of glory). Getting a ticket for an Audience Club show is as simple as ticking a box, paying a couple of pounds and turning up at the required Box Office and collecting your ticket.

With Theatre Ninja there's a bit more work. Mainly - you can't guarantee a ticket for the show. Helpfully you're told how many freebies there are but then it's up to you to do the leg work. Which, looking at today's list, varies show to show. At some it's a case of turning up at the Box Office and quoting the correct word, at others in no circumstances must you approach the Box Office, instead having to find members of Theatre Ninjas or elaborately dressed members of the production team outside the venue.

I'm going to record this here now just because I'm interested if my thoughts on the subject change over the next few weeks. Because whilst I know Edinburgh has different rules to theatre going than elsewhere (like the QUEUING; three shows in, I'm beginning to be wistful about allocated seating already) and that often picking up shows when you least expect to is part of the magic of the Fringe, on realisation of how Theatre Ninja was going to work I had some doubts. I like structure! And planning! And knowing - with enough scope for a detour to a show or a drink in a pub - what I'm doing. There's also a little bit there where I have to know what I'm doing - I've got a review schedule and, more damningly, a review writing schedule. And now - here I am being made to work for my (possible) freebie. [With that sentence if Edinburgh did awards for most curmudgeonly not-21-any-more blogger I'd win it]. Which is not to say that I don't expect there to be some sort of trade off for a freebie, but that I'm interested why charging a nominal fee and guaranteeing tickets wasn't taken up. [Maybe most notably because the subtext of this paragraph is that I'd have been willing to pay it].

In practice my doubts about the ticket collection were somewhat appeased when I turned up for Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade, located a man in a Theatre Ninja t-shirt reasonably quickly and said the magic word. Pretty much painless. And free! Ah, the rush of theatre going joy.

[Edit: It occured to me as I was walking down Princes Street in search of somewhere to go to the loo - as you do - that there's a time element for Theatre Ninjas in the way there isn't say for Audience Club. By this I mean the majority of shows which come through the Theatre Ninja site do so at the last minute, whereas it is the minority for Audience Club which do this. Thus having a cut off point of, say two hours before a show for 'booking' your ticket might not work. I'm thinking aloud here - if that is what you can call writing on this blog - but I may ponder on't]


Val said...

I have that App too, and was looking at that offer. It sounds a great idea but I'm not sure I could risk any of my limited time up there by chancing getting a ticket, even for free. Great to hear how it's working though

Corinne said...

I think that's another very good point - really it only works for people who have lots of time/ or are hanging around for a while. So mainly people who are doing shows here.