"How to succeed at Fringe Festivals on your own terms. ". After reflecting on day 1, I changed the original title which was "The Filthy Guide to the Edinburgh Fringe" to this one because it seemed to reflect better my invitation to a fresher conversation about having an authentic Fringe experience as a theatre maker that wasn't just about "playing the game" and becoming  a winner.

Some members of the group talked of having lost a lot of money at past Fringes in Edinburgh and others about finding the whole experience paradoxically exciting but also stressful.

The Fringe is a game, with rules for success, but, over the years, I have met theatre makers who have decided their Fringe on their own terms, buy making their own game, but questioning the fixed way of things and doing things their own way. here are a few examples that came up during the discussion:

- not playing the whole month

- playing just a few days

- bringing new, work in progress to the Free Fringe or even finding a non-Fringe venue and simply being a successful part of the month (without losing thousands and still finding audience

- not flyering, paying others to flyer and focusing totally on the work

- deciding which, if any reviewers come

-not reading reviews during the fringe, just focusing on the work and the joy of creation and realisation

- not going at all!

- only going if there is funding in place (we had examples of applying to Northern Stage and going with a stable of shows with PR and other support in place  or with HOUSE

- connecting with others in advance to reduce costs (for example where six solo performers live in a house together, reducing overall rent and also not living alone!)

It is we who define what success means and it is dangerous to surrender to the narrow measures of money and audience usually touted by venues and PR people. Never lose your rootedness in creation of your work!

What you don't have to do is...

- slavishly follow the advice of venues

- have a fringe based on fear and copying others

- be competitive and focused on winning at the expense of others

- allow all and any reviewers in if you don't want that

- compromise your work if you don't want to

The Fringe has become very gamified but you don't have to be a surrendered victim of that game. You can make your own rules and even create your own venue. One example was a hot desk meeting space which a performer turned into a venue at short notice with the help of the venue itself. (It was called The Melting Pot).

This was a very "real" discussion about holding your own as an artist in a trade fair fringe. It requires self-belief, peer group support and faith in your work.