So this year, while the Bunbury team was up in Edinburgh for the Fringe, we got posed quite a few questions by performers and other reviewers alike. Questions like ‘who are you guys, I’ve never heard of you’ or ‘were you at Meet the Press the other day?’ This blog is an attempt to clear up some of the things we get asked.
Who is Bunbury? I’ve never heard of you.
Bunbury is an arts-and-lit magazine dedicated to showcasing the best in art and writing from around the world. We have a wide remit. We will feature poetry, short stories, art, photography and interviews with all manner of creatives. We do not choose what to feature based on arbitrary parameters – basically, if it is something that has been created with a passion and love for the craft, we will feature it.
We have also been up reviewing shows and interviewing performers for the past five years. We know a good show when we experience one. The team at Bunbury is comprised of writers and performers with a passion for what is happening is Edinburgh during August so we know what to look for and how to put this across to readers of reviews.
What we sometimes like to do is make ourselves known to performers before the show we are about to see to try and build something of a rapport. This can help put both us and the performer at ease and dissipate any tensions. In one show (not naming names or giving years), one of us was in a show where the performer pointed out that we were in reviewing, asked who we were reviewing for, and then pointed out that our marketing was shit as they had never heard of us. This created an unprofessional tension in the room that was really beyond the pale.
This year, we also had a few performers reject a review as they had never heard of us. That is absolutely fine – it is the prerogative of the performer but why would you reject free publicity?
Why are you not accredited with the official Fringe Media? Maybe more performers would have heard of you?
Maybe they would, yes, but that is not a route we want to go down. We are proudly independent and free from obligations to write, say and see particular things. When we set off each morning we are in Edinburgh to see shows, yes, we have something of an itinerary but we are more or less free to see whatever we want. This leaves us open to taking a punt on a show for which we have just been flyered, meaning we see things we would not expect to see, which has lead us to seeing some of the most exciting things at the Fringe. Essentially, we are not there to see particular things to fulfil an arbitrary quota of seeing x amount of comedy, y amount of theatre and z amount of comedians that the wider public have heard of to draw more readers to the magazine to satisfy advertisers.
Once again, we are proudly independent, operating on the outskirts of the mainstream and the norm, helping to showcase and promote performers that want and need a spotlight, in a way that is alternative to the norm and more accessible to people, which is the very essence of the Fringe in the first place, is it not?
Why do you not stay for the entire Fringe?
Yes, we do not stay for the entire 3-ish weeks that the Fringe is on for. That is because, essentially, we can’t afford it. We do not have the luxury of being able to take a lump sum from an advertising contract payment – we are non-profit after all – and pump it in to accommodation, travel, food and all the other costs that the Fringe incurs. Our team pays for it out of their own pocket which means we can only stay for a limited amount of time. However, while we ARE there, we work and work hard. For example, this year, 2018, in 5 full days one of our reviewers saw 45 shows.
So yes, we may arrive later on some years, or leave early other years, but we stay for exactly as long as we can and cover as much as we feasibly can. We do it on our own for as many people as possible and we never, ever need a lift to the station at the end.
Did you go to Meet The Press?
No, as I said, we’re not officially Fringe-accredited media, and even if we were, we wouldn’t go. No interest whatsoever in getting involved in the politics of the circus. We’re there to enjoy ourselves, not dance to someone else’s beat. We don’t go merely to sit in judgement of hard-working performers – we are there to make friends, join an ever-widening family and help promote and publicise excellent shows. We give support, stop for a chat – put money in the buckets which, from what we hear, most reviewers also do not do. We also have our own thing – the Bunbury Interview packs, a little present to the performers for all their hard work.
And we are aware of whisperings that other reviewers talk about us behind our backs and we’re glad. It means we’re doing something right and we don’t care for the negativity of others.