Edinburgh Fringe

I've been lucky enough to work at the Edinburgh Fringe with Assembly Festival for two years now. You can find details on my roles and experiences down below.

Technical Stage Manager, The Front Room - 2023 

Building The Venues

Assembly Rooms and George Street are some of the last venues to be built for Assembly Festival, so for a few days, myself and the rest of the Rooms team helped out other technicians in building their venues. I worked with technicians from The Crate (a replica of the previous year's Powder Room, which was itself a mirror of the Front Room) and the Box (a similar venue to the Front Room) in Assembly George Square Gardens. Following this, Assembly gained access to the Assembly Rooms site, and I assisted technicians and Stage Managers in all internal venues (Music Hall, Ballroom and the Drawing Room) in laying stage deck, assembling truss, rigging lights and speakers and cable managing the necessary power and data lines.

Once the Front Room was made available for technicians, I led the build alongside the other Technical SM, working alongside production lighting and sound technicians to build the venue to spec. This involved configuring lighting and sound desks, building the venue control position along with taking responsibility for the venue for the entirety of the Fringe period. 

Supporting Companies During The Fringe

Once the venue was built, my co-worker and I worked with the incoming shows to technically realise them. This included programming lighting, modifying QLab files to work with the venue sound system and ensuring companies had enough space to store all of their props and furniture.

Over the run, I operated roughly 54 hours of 5 shows including :

During technical rehearsals, I also supported other shows in the Front Room by programming lighting and sound, as well as helping their operators get up to speed on the equipment in the venue. These were Breaking The Castle, Alison Skilbeck's Uncommon Ground and My Father's Nose.

Tearing Down Venues

Assembly's George Street site has to be torn down within 2 days due to council restrictions, so immediately following the last show, myself, the other Technical SM and production electricians worked on tearing down the venue as quickly as possible, while still making sure all items were stowed correctly and safely for transport. Within an hour, all of the rigged fixtures and speakers were off the rigging, and within 3 hours, all seating and technical equipment had been moved out of the venue.

Following this, I assisted other Assembly venues in their de-rig, primarily Assembly Rooms, Assembly Hall and the George Square Gardens. The Rooms was handed back on schedule as a result of the work from the entire Rooms crew, with Assembly Hall reaching completion within the following days.

With new challenges and some familiar faces, this Fringe was even more rewarding than the last, and I'm looking forward to next year's festival immensely!

The 2023 Assembly Rooms Crew

Technical Stage Manager, The Front Room - 2022

Building The Venues

In the run up to the Fringe, I helped build some of Assembly's Venues in both the New Town, and the Old Town of Edinburgh, such as their George Square Studios, the Gordon Aikman Theatre, and the Ballroom and Drawing Room inside the Assembly Rooms complex. This required lots of manual handling over successive days, coordinating with other members of the technical team, production lighting and sound engineers, as well as assisting production riggers to help erect a large truss around two chandeliers in the Assembly Rooms Ballroom.

In the Front Room, I was part of the internal build, including laying dancefloor, arranging rostra, hanging drapes and rigging lighting and sound equipment. The end result was a venue built to the plans made by Assembly ahead of the festival, and it was welcomed by companies that the venue was as described when they arrived.

Supporting Companies During The Fringe

When companies arrived at the venue for the first time, I was their main point of contact, answering questions about processes and the venue itself. Having built the venue, I had to defer questions to management relatively few times, and I was able to give quick responses. I ran technical rehearsals, with my level of input depending on what the shows needed. In some cases, I programmed lighting and QLab cues for the company, other times I would get their operator up to speed on the desks and software we used before allowing them to use the time as they wished. All the companies were pleased with the outcome of their technical rehearsal and were content with the technical support provided throughout their run by myself and the other technicians attached to the venue.

I operated roughly 80 hours of performances of 6 shows including:

The other shows in the Front Room were Earwig, FOOL MUUN KOMMING! [BEBGWUNDERFUL/YESYES/ HI5.4SURE.TRULUV;SPANK SPANK:SOFUN_GRATE_TIMES], Marrow, and Kate Butch: Wuthering Shites. I provided technical support and the tools them and their operators needed to produce their shows to the highest standard.

Tearing Down Venues

After the festival was over, we entered a rapid teardown period. For the street where the Front Room was situated, we had roughly 46 hours to remove all of the equipment and reopen the road. I helped derig the Bijou and Powder Room venues, sorting lighting fixtures and speakers, along with their cables, into the correct cases from our suppliers, before doing the same for the Front Room. Following the Street Get Out being completed, I was part of the team that helped dismantle the Ballroom venue, removing bolts from stage deck, and supervising telehandlers when we needed to move those pieces of deck through a public area. The Assembly Rooms venue was handed back on time as a result of the monumental team effort from techs and crew from the six venues.

Once this was completed, I was reassigned to Assembly Hall to assist with their get out. This involved fixture derigging, re-rolling dancefloor, packing up stage deck and carrying it into the truck for transport, and assisting wherever needed to move large cases as part of a team of crew carrying things down the large stairs at the front of the venue, This venue also got completed before the deadline for handover back to the University of Edinburgh and the Church of Scotland. 

This was my first year at the Fringe, and it's definitely something I want to make a regular fixture of in my year! Thank you to Cat Neufeld and Ben Treby for being excellent Production/Venue Managers, and for the entire Rooms crew for making the whole experience incredible every single day.

Assembly Fest 2022 Staff Photo

The Assembly Rooms Crew 2022