Tag Archives: edinburgh festival fringe

EXIT EDINBURGH 2013

We’re baaaaack! Yes, “Desperately Seeking the Exit” is back on US soil after kicking arse at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. With great press, sold out houses, special events and a slew of 4-star reviews, it was even better than last year. Whew!

I really didn’t know how EXIT would do in its second round in Edinburgh. After all, this years’ festival was officially the largest Arts festival in the world to date – hosting 45,000 performances of 2,871 shows in 273 venues across the city. Uhm, that is A LOT! But somehow, EXIT managed to find its way and audience. 75% of the 21 performances were standing room only and we often had to turn people away (which is a good problem to have). Most of the attendees were there from word-of-mouth … not only from last year’s run, but from hearing about the London run this past winter. Many people simply stumbled upon it due to the venue I was in with comedy-seekers literally just popping in to check out the show.

The Counting House

The Counting House is a large bar complex made up of four venues, connected to a beer garden and another popular pub. I would gladly return to it, even though I fought with the sounds of the band and clicking bottles in the beer garden below the window of my very hot venue.

It was great to meet up with so many fellow performers from last years’ Fringe, as well as new friends I made in London and at the Adelaide and Brighton Fringes where I performed the show this past year. Everyone is so supportive of each other and we don’t even blink when asked to see the same show again and again because some important reviewer is in the audience that day. I think one of the best things about doing the Fringe, is seeing others’ work. I am almost always moved to tears at the sheer creativity that goes into these kinds of shows. Most shows are an hour long, so I squeezed in about 2-3 shows a day starting at 10AM and going until 2AM. Plus, doing my show every day at 6:15PM. I lost some weight, crediting the “Fringe Diet” and the many hills of Edinburgh. I highly recommend it!

Alan's Yard

I stayed with my old pals Alan and Victor who live in Edinburgh and treat their guests like hotel guests. The flat is only a 30 minute walk to my venue, but I did learn to master the bus system to save my energy. It was nice to come home to some paella cooking on the stove every so often and I treated them to a proper Yankee BBQ on my last day.

The show received three 4-star reviews and was named Top Five Solo Shows by Fringe Review. I did an interview with the BBC, spoke on a panel about World Fringe festivals (having now participated in five) and learned about the American college touring circuit which is the next phase for EXIT. Not only can I perform the show at these colleges and universities, but I can also teach. And this means an income doing something I love to do. I’m doing the show in Buffalo the weekend of October 18 on the same weekend as the National Association for College Activities is having a big convention. Here I plan to land a booking agent, and it’s also going to be fun to bring the show “back” to Buffalo. I actually did the first workshop/reading of EXIT in Buffalo about 18 months ago! So much has happened since then. Kind of shocking to think that EXIT has now played on three continents in 10 cities in about one year. Oh! And I just added a performance of EXIT in NYC at the Triple Crown on Sunday Oct 13 at 8PM. Pay what you may, as always!

Madonna’s birthday landed on the third weekend of the show, so I threw a spontaneous birthday bash in the middle of the three shows – complete with cake, candles, balloons and streamers that magically appeared; getting 50 people to sing “Happy Birthday” to the Material Girl. If I do EXIT again next year, it will only be for that weekend and will absolutely have a Madge party. There is also talk of showing the DVD of the musical in Edinburgh one night, and a pop-up-drive-in theater where I might show the original film. We will see!

The Wee Stage

The good news is that EXIT has reinvigorated an interest in the musical Desperately Seeking Susan which my lawyer and I are working hard to get published and licensed by 2014. We hope the show will then be performed by regional theaters, UK tours, colleges and high schools. It has taken a long time to get this far with the musical. Working with pop stars is not easy.

One of the highlights of the Fest for me was the crazy event I created called the Critical Mass Tomato Toss.

Set up in a large park in Edinburgh, performers who received rotten reviews were encourage to throw rotten tomatoes at the poster-sized faces of 33 critics. It was a hoot! Most of the supplies and printing were donated and we collected money from the roughly 40 onlookers and participants which went to the local homeless charity Streetwork. “Making something good from something bad” was the slogan…and it was a total blast; ending with me dumping a HUGE bucket of tomato-goo over my head (think CARRIE). The event got some great press and will definitely be back next year. And maybe  every year. Ironically, The Scotsman (who gave EXIT a 1-star review last year) asked me to write a piece about the Toss for them!

The 2013 Edinburgh Fringe was one of the highlights of the year, and I cannot wait to go back. I’ve been asked to direct and develop three shows – one from the US and two from London. I’m not sure if I will be doing a new show next year, but there is some talk of Hollywood Nurses (the play I cowrote with Sheila Head) making its way to the Fringe in 2015 direct from Manchester. This. Would. Be. Awesome.

In the meantime, I’m back in NYC working hard on the novel version of the show, which a publisher in London is keen on publishing. I will be running my Edinburgh Fringe Starter Kit workshops this winter to help folks get ready for next summer’s Fringe and I hope to perform the show a few more times in NYC and hopefully get chosen for the Orlando Fringe in May. If you haven’t already “liked” the EXIT Facebook page, please swing by and give it a click. This way you’ll get updates that are a lot shorter than this. To date, over 1,700 people have seen the show on three continents, and we hope to double that this year – alas, one or two continents will suffice. : )

Finally, thank you gentle reader for your support and encouragement these past 18 months. It might be a solo show, but it’s nothing without an audience and readers like you. The tide is high … let’s get into the groove!

xo Pete

EDINBURGH

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G’day, Australia! Cheerio, London!

Just finished a 2-week run of the show at the Adelaide Fringe, which is the largest Fringe festival in the Southern hemisphere – hosting over 900 shows from all over the world. It was hot as hell (average temp 103) and the city was bustling with a number of other festivals. Getting the word out seemed easy at first, as I did several radio interviews from the States at the ungodly hour of 6AM (time difference is 27.5 hours ahead in Oz). But getting the word out there was more of a challenge as there was just so much going on in Adelaide. It’s a busy city in the summertime. And did I mention HOT? But such a beautiful part of the world – even if it takes about 28 hours to fly there. Don’t get me started.

Austral Hotel where the show was.

When I arrived at the show’s venue The Austral Hotel, the show posters and flyers were all over the place. Note: A “hotel” in Oz is simply a bar with more than one floor. No one stays there unless they pass out in the bathroom. Which is entirely possible at this very popular bar on the main drag of the city called the Rundle Mall. I thought with all of the foot traffic and posters that EXIT would be packed every night. And it was. For the first 5 nights. Then the 4 & 5 star reviews started coming out, and less people came in. Weird! Sometimes I played for 6 people; sometimes 50. But mostly, under 10. Which was a disappointment. Then when the festival was over, the show was named BEST COMEDY by the big paper there, The Advertiser. WTF?!

BEST COMEDY ADL FRINGE!

I met some amazing artists and saw brilliant work. Every show was a chance to refine the material as I readied EXIT for the next stop – LONDON. I discovered new bits, new moments, and new ways to connect with the audience to keep the show fresh, fun, and conversational. The feedback was fantastic and I am definitely glad I did this festival. But, I doubt I will be coming back to Adelaide. As lovely a city as it is with its Botanical Park and Gardens and rowdy people, the audience for a show about a musical is pretty small there as they don’t really “do” musicals in this part of the world. Maybe that’s a good thing?

The show will be playing at the Leicester Square Theatre in the heart of Theatreland every night for 3.5 weeks starting April 24. On my two “off” nights, I will be doing the show at the Brighton Fringe, which is an hour train ride south of London. It’s sure to be quite a workout – not to mention that I will also be teaching my Flying Solo workshops twice a week at the Actor’s Centre in London. But I am looking forward to being produced (by Kat Portman who picked up the show after seeing it in Edinburgh) and to seeing how it goes over there … and of course seeing all my mates.

I’m also doing a special “Be My Little Britain” performance of the show on April 14 at 7PM at the Triple Crown. At this show, the audience will be transported to London (and become my “Brits”) so I can try out the London version of the show which is somewhat new – opening with a video montage from the musical plus about 10 minutes of new material. Tickets are the usual “pay-what-you-can” and if you cannot make it and would like to support the show with a completely tax-deductible donation, please go to my Fractured Atlas page. Any amount is greatly appreciated and will be thoughtfully utilized as we take this little show to new heights.

The show has not even been running a year and yet it seems like forever – but the good kind of forever! Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement. I  hope to make you proud in the coming months. : )

xo Pete

DSE LONDON POSTER

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Buffalo Rocks!

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to perform two semi-staged readings of the show in Buffalo in two different venues for two very different audiences. First for students (many from my simultaneous Writing for Actors workshops) at Buffalo State College and then at the hip Alt Theatre.

All I can say is, “Bring back the out-of-town-tryout!”

It was so exciting to give the show a whirl in front of an audience. You can rehearse all day long, but without an audience, you really have no idea if your show is working or not. In a solo show, the audience is the second character. What do they respond to? What do they like? What are they confused by? What do they want more (or less) of? These questions were all answered by very eager and supportive audiences.

What did I learn? Well, the show is funny. And that was a pretty important goal for me. So funny that holding for laughs probably adds about 2 minutes to the show. But the human aspect – the personal journey within the story also affected people very much. Awesome! But, this is where it gets tricky. The show needs to be 60-minutes in Edinburgh due to a tight schedule – not only for the venue, but for the audience who makes great efforts to see as many shows as they can. The show can be 65-minutes for the May run in NYC, but I need to cut about 10 full minutes of material. This is also called “murdering your babies.” Where is that merciless red pen?

Thanks to the feedback in Buffalo, I have a good idea of what to cut; but also, what to add or clarify. I learned that diction is vital. Water is a must. And the silences in the show are just as important as the rants. Also, throwing bags of British crisps at the audience creates a feeding frenzy that adds a whole minute to the running time. CUT!

In the next four weeks before opening, I’ll work with my director John Clancy on editing the show down and finding all the beats and moments. In addition to that, 500 postcards have been ordered, interviews with press are on the way, plans for my Rockethub crowd-funding campaign are moving forward and this writer has to put down the pen and become the performer.

If you are doing a new show, try the thing out. Small clubs, in front of a friend, anywhere you can before you open. Funny, this is exactly what we didn’t do with Desperately Seeking Susan. Next time, we must try out a new show in Buffalo! xo PMM

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Get Into The Promo

Here’s the promo, directed & shot by the talented Todd Rocheford. Voice-over recorded at Lotas Productions.

  • The promo contains over 1,700 individual photos that were edited together to make them “animate”
  • Prep time: 12 hours of writing, printing, cutting, model making, story-boarding, and snack eating
  • The actual shoot took 12 hours of painstaking small moves
  • Editing time: 10 hours
  • No West End theatres were actually burned in the making of the video
  • Look closely at the reproduction of the original horrendous review from The Daily Telegraph. It says it is written by “Charles Spencer – Theatre Snob.”
  • Godzilla is holding MiniMates of Susan and Roberta. These mini models are very hard to find these days.

… all of this prep and time for one-minute of fun marketing. Enjoy!

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Start the Presses

For Immediate Release:

Debbie Harry/Madonna Musical Disaster Dissected

DESPERATELY SEEKING THE EXIT

** Directed by Obie Winner John Clancy **

Site-Specific Production Begins May 3

Writer/Performer Peter Michael Marino presents a comic autopsy on his  $6 million West End musical fiasco Desperately Seeking Susan in DESPERATELY SEEKING THE EXIT.  Directed by Obie Award winner John Clancy, performances of this site-specific, solo tell-all comedy begin May 3 at the Triple Crown Underground. The American premiere will be followed by the UK premiere at Manchester, England’s Taurus Bar (presented by Vertigo Productions) and a run at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

In 2007, American playwright Peter Michael Marino wrote a musical based on the film “Desperately Seeking Susan” featuring the music of Blondie. It opened on London’s West End…and closed a month later. DESPERATELY SEEKING THE EXIT offers a behind-the-scenes peek at how this £4 million musical was made and unmade: hatching the idea, deals with MGM, Debbie Harry and even Madonna; the workshops, the previews, the scathing reviews and the closing night. Once you’re in, there’s no way out!

Peter Michael Marino is a writer, actor, director and teacher. He received the 2010 and 2011 Backstage Reader’s Choice Award for Favorite Comedy Teacher for his acclaimed “Flying Solo” classes at The PIT. He also received the Back Stage Bistro Award for his cabaret spoof, Lance Jonathan: More About Me! He is the co-writer of the lesbian pulp homage Hollywood Nurses. He has directed and developed shows with Delilah Dix (Ars Nova, Laurie Beechman Theatre and Edinburgh Fringe), Mark Giordano’s Mad Man (The PIT), Sheila Head’s Head Games (IO West, Ars Nova), and Alicia Levy’s Chickapalooza (The PIT, Ars Nova). As a performer, he appeared in STOMP for five years off-Broadway and on tour, as well as in numerous regional productions and workshops.

John Clancy is an Obie Award-winning director, playwright, and a partner in Clancy Productions, an acclaimed international theatrical touring and production company. He is the founding Artistic Director of The Present Company and a founding Artistic Director of The New York International Fringe Festival. He has directed six Scotsman Fringe First winning productions at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, including Americana Absurdum (Brian Parks), Cincinnati (Don Nigro), Horse Country (C.J. Hopkins), screwmachine/eycandy (C.J. Hopkins) and his own Fatboy.  Both Horse Country and Cincinnati went on to win The Best of the Fringe Award at the Adelaide Fringe in 2004. In 2002 he received a Glasgow Herald Angel for excellence in direction at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. John was awarded The New York Magazine Award in 1997 for “creativity, enterprise and vision”.

DESPERATELY SEEKING THE EXIT runs May 3, 4, 11, 17, 18 at 7PM & May 10 @ 8PM. Tickets are “Pay What You May,” available on a first-come, first served basis; no advance reservations will be taken. Triple Crown Underground. is located at 330 7th Ave at 28th St, accessible from the 1 train at 28th Street. A full bar is available. For more information, visit www.SeekingTheExit.com.

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WE not ME

Someone recently asked me why I refer to “we” on my blog posts when my show is a solo comedy. Well, it takes more than just one person to make things happen. I consider everyone who helps out with the show as part of the team. Without these talented people, I would be up much later at night …

Jonny Fido – who created the logo and postcard for the show. I brought Jonny an idea and he ran with it and helped to really “brand” the look and feel of the show.

David Rodgers – who did the photos for the show ranging from me in a tux, to me in a T-shirt … all being pelted with tomatoes. David is a genius and helped bring out my playful side that normally hides from the camera.

Jim Kennelly – who generously lent his recording studio at Lotas Productions for me to record the voice-over for the stop-motion trailer we are creating for the show. Jim is not only the sweetest guy on the planet, but he knows voice-overs in and out and was very helpful in making it sound just right.

Todd Rocheford – who is working with me on the stop-motion 1-minute trailer for the show. I met Todd when he videotaped a show I directed, and then I realized that he was much more than a cameraman. His ridiculously fantastic editing and video effect work has constantly blown me away and I am honored to work with him.

Marlo Hunter – who has provided tons of support and information regarding crowd-funding and fiscal sponsorship. I met Marlo at Williamstown decades ago and I was instantly smitten. Marlo has become a force of nature and is always there with advice and a smile.

Sheila Head – who jumped on board to direct and develop the show way back in 2008 when I thought I had a show, but really just needed some therapy sessions. Sheila has always been there both as a friend and a creative partner. Although she is not directing this version of the show, her support remains unfaltering. I wouldn’t be here without Sheila.

John Clancy – who has been there from day one with the development and direction of this version of the show. John is patient, kind, and brilliant. He knows how to make a writer/actor feel good, as well as possessing a keen ability to focus the material and make it all a fun learning experience.

Of course, my friends and family are always a part of this team as they patiently listen, advise, and most of all give me the courage and encouragement to make this all happen.

Thanks to all of you. xo

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We Have a Venue

After an extensive application process and waiting for four long weeks, I’ve been accepted in the Laughing Horse Free Fringe at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Whew. Note: the application isn’t free, but my show will be … that is, until I pass a bucket at the end of each performance in the hope that folks will drop their hard-earned pounds into it.

The show will be performed at Baxters, above the Edinburgh City Football Club every night at 6PM from August 2-26 in an intimate 60-seat theater — sandwiched between the two biggest gay bars in Edinburgh. Which is kinda perfect since it’s a show about show biz with references to Madonna, Blondie and musicals. And – BONUS – the venue is only a 15-minute walk to my flat.

Now, on to submitting all of my materials to the festival which will include the logo, blurbs and photos. Later this week I’m laying down the audio track for the 1-minute stop-motion trailer I’m doing with Todd Rocheford, and then the photo shoot which involves a tuxedo and lots of tomatoes with photographer David Rodgers. Good times.

This is really happening. Better start to brush up on my Scottish.

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Welcome to the Exit

Thanks for stopping by, mate. This here is the official blog for Peter Michael Marino’s solo comedy “Desperately Seeking the Exit.” Swing by every so often to follow the journey of this show about the making of a West End musical based on the American movie Desperately Seeking Susan, featuring the music of the American band Blondie, and the shared English language that got in the way. Performances begin in NYC this May in advance of its month-long run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August.

The tide is high, but I’m holding on.

 xxx Pete

www.SeekingTheExit.com

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