Fringe Focus: Guildford Fringe

My guest for today’s Fringe Focus is Nick Wyschna, artistic director of the Guildford Gringe Company.

We spoke shortly after the “rule of six” government announcement, and a couple of days before I watched Pinocchio Gets Wood.

How has lockdown been for you?

It’s not just frustrating. It’s deadly. Impossible to plan ahead without knowing the rules. But, the positive side has been having time to reflect on what we want from life. What do we want to achieve?

So we won’t be working seven days a week anymore, and we will drop our activities that don’t make money. There are just two of us in the company. My wife Charlotte is general manager, she has been furloughed but it is very tight, financially.

We’ve been doing the fringe company for eight years, I also have comedy clubs and a staff agency. Watching our reserves disappear has been hard.

Let’s talk about the Guildford Fringe.

I’m the artistic director and managing director. We have done lots of live streams over lockdown: fully staged, rehearsed like a normal show.

Now we are going back to in person events. Griffin and Jones, who are comedy slapstick magicians, are on this week. We are doing our Christmas panto in Godalming, and our adult panto at the Star Inn. We will be running at about 33% capacity with the social distancing.

What about the digital theatre space…

I’ve been watching a lot of comedy. I also enjoyed Hamilton a lot better than when I saw it live. Maybe because you can see their faces up close.

As a creator, it is tricky, with a new set of skills to learn. I got some professional TV software to manage our shows, but they can still go wrong. We had a live cabaret where two videos just wouldn’t load. You just have to be honest with your audience. We’re all learning.

… and Pinocchio Gets Wood?

We haven’t done the adult panto online before. The back room at the Star Inn is usually packed out with a crowd with their drinks, having a good time.