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Fen Greatley has published 5 articles

Do you like plays? They do

Fen Greatley salutes genuine dramatic entrepreneurialism
Fen Greatley on Wednesday 19th October 2011
Photograph: Imogen Sarre

How many people can claim to have set up a business at our age? Not so many. Most of us graduate and moan about the lack of employers champing at the bit to take us on.Yet the former is exactly what recent English graduates Imogen Sarre and Olivia Edwards have done; and the latter may happen all the less because of it

How many people can claim to
have set up a business at our age?
Not so many. Most of us graduate
and moan about the lack of employers
champing at the bit to take us on.
Yet the former is exactly what recent
English graduates Imogen Sarre and
Olivia Edwards have done; and the
latter may happen all the less because
of it.
Following the massive success of
their first venture, Oxford Theatre
Review (OTR) - which has firmly established
itself as an integral part of
the Oxford drama scene since its inception
in 2008 - the pair launched
Ed Fringe Review (EFR) this year at
the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Based
on the same model as OTR, 44 lucky
representatives from the universities
of Oxford, Cambridge, Durham
and Bristol were invited to attend
and appraise any and all student
and Free Fringe shows across the festival
in August. Two student reviewers
were sent to each production on
the company quest to ‘find the real
Fringe’.
So well conceived and presented
was the business plan that these
innovative young ladies cooked up,
they secured corporate sponsorship
from RBS (the overall sponsors
of the Fringe itself), who are largely
to thank for the bright red jumpers
that quickly began to attract attention
across the city and became the
hallmark of the Ed Fringe Review
brand.
Indicators of the company’s success
this August are the statistics
that show that over 250 amateur
productions were reviewed twice
over, with over 70,000 page views
counter from over 15,000 visits to
the website over the three-week period.
In fact, such was the popularity
of the site that it couldn’t quite
handle the hits, suffering two days’
worth of downtime, its only glitch.
The winning formula led to much
needed media attention and critical
reception for many under-publicised
shows. Who knows how many
young stars are now in the ascendant,
rescued from obscurity by EFR
coverage? It certainly goes some way
towards providing relief from unemployment
- but that’s not all. Writing
for the team offers participants the
chance to showcase a palpable body
of work, with each user to be assigned
their own profile page containing
links to past contributions.
Reviewers are able to demonstrate
their writing skills and commitment,
controlling their own image
and making a name for themselves.
The question is, what’s next for the
team? Phoning from a Cambridgebound
car with Olivia, Imogen confirms
that replica site of OTR are being
launched simultaneously in the
EFR team’s constituent university
towns, providing a national framework
of student reviewing which
aims to enable many more to develop
skills and encourage dramatic
debate.
After Cambridge, they’ll be heading
north to Durham and then back
down to Bristol, all the while crashing
with various friends on their
mission (to which they’re dedicating
a solid year of their lives).
An interactive community will see
liaisons between branches, beginning
with an inter-university radio
script competition. The hope is that
ideas, traditions and practices will
migrate, each environment offering
something new. Oxford’s Cuppers
may see itself spread, while Cambridge’s
centralised ADC location
(with bar) may attract more covetous
attention. Durham could particularly
benefit, with untold numbers
of wonderful College performance
spaces unknown to people not from
that particular one, while info on
Bristol’s productions – usually limited
to the drama faculty – will be
better advertised.
The response to my one critical
question – how can inclusiveness
and accessibility be paramount
when they’re setting up shop in arguably
the most elite, privileged
universities in the country? - is honest
and considered; “A lot of universities
could learn from how well developed
[these ones] are.[They] need
to learn how it’s done well first.”
Spreading even further is most definitely
not off the cards, then, for this
ambitious duo.
Will the enterprise take off? Will
the Directors’ friendship last the
test? I hope so – we’ll have to wait
and see. One thing’s for sure: this
writer will be proudly sporting his
kitsch red jumper for some time to
come.
For more information on the
company, or to sign up, head over to
www.oxfordtheatrereview.com

   Following the massive success of their first venture, Oxford Theatre Review (OTR) - which has firmly established itself as an integral part of the Oxford drama scene since its inception in 2008 - the pair launched Ed Fringe Review (EFR) this year at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Based on the same model as OTR, 44 lucky representatives from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and Bristol were invited to attend and appraise any and all student and Free Fringe shows across the festival in August. Two student reviewers were sent to each production on the company quest to ‘find the real Fringe’.

   So well conceived and presented was the business plan that these innovative young ladies cooked up, they secured corporate sponsorship from RBS (the overall sponsors of the Fringe itself), who are largely to thank for the bright red jumpers that quickly began to attract attention across the city and became the hallmark of the Ed Fringe Review brand.

   Indicators of the company’s success this August are the statistics that show that over 250 amateur productions were reviewed twice over, with over 70,000 page views counted from over 15,000 visits to the website over the three-week period. In fact, such was the popularity of the site that it couldn’t quite handle the hits, suffering two days’ worth of downtime, its only glitch.

   The winning formula led to much-needed media attention and critical reception for many under-publicised shows. Who knows how many young stars are now in the ascendant, rescued from obscurity by EFR coverage? It certainly goes some way towards providing relief from unemployment - but that’s not all. Writing for the team offers participants the chance to showcase a palpable body of work, with each user to be assigned their own profile page containing links to past contributions. Reviewers are able to demonstrate their writing skills and commitment, controlling their own image and making a name for themselves.

   The question is, what’s next for the team? Phoning from a Cambridge-bound car with Olivia, Imogen confirms that replica sites of OTR are being launched simultaneously in the EFR team’s constituent university towns, providing a national framework of student reviewing which aims to enable many more to develop skills and encourage dramatic debate.

   After Cambridge, they’ll be heading north to Durham and then back down to Bristol, all the while crashing with various friends on their mission (to which they’re dedicating a solid year of their lives). An interactive community will see liaisons between branches, beginning with an inter-university radio script competition. The hope is that ideas, traditions and practices will migrate, each environment offering something new. Oxford’s Cuppers may see itself spread, while Cambridge’s centralised ADC location (with bar) may attract more covetous attention. Durham could particularly benefit, with untold numbers of wonderful College performance spaces unknown to people not from that particular one, while info on Bristol’s productions – usually limited to the drama faculty – will be better advertised.

   The response to my one critical question – how can inclusiveness and accessibility be paramount when they’re setting up shop in arguably the most elite, privileged universities in the country? - is honest and considered; “A lot of universities could learn from how well developed [these ones] are.[They] need to learn how it’s done well first.” Spreading even further is most definitely not off the cards, then, for this ambitious duo.

   Will the enterprise take off? Will the Directors’ friendship last the test? I hope so – we’ll have to wait and see. One thing’s for sure: this writer will be proudly sporting his kitsch red jumper for some time to come.

For more information on thecompany, or to sign up, head over to www.oxfordtheatrereview.com or www.edfringereview.com

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