EDINBURGH FRINGE: A LOOK AT KATIE WALKER’S EXPERIENCE

Here in the heart of our eighth Edinburgh Fringe, we’ve been learning more about Katie Walker, ITI’s Global Marketing Manager since May 2015. In addition to her experience with theatres and production companies – from the West End production of The Lion King, to house and show marketing for Southwark Playhouse and Stage Entertainment – Katie boasts an enthusiastic 12-year relationship with the biggest arts festival in the world…

Why do you like theatre, particularly interactive theatre?
I’ve always embraced live entertainment, whether that’s theatre, dance, music or comedy. As a child I enjoyed regular visits to West End musicals, but it was visits to Edinburgh Fringe and the National Student Drama Festival during my A-Level studies that turned my hobby into an ambition. Seeing a huge amount of really varied shows in crazy contexts opened my eyes, developed my critical skills and started my passion for interactive shows. When I look back at 20 years of theatre-going, it’s those productions that have had the biggest impact on me. I get really excited when a show is in an unusual location, or involves the audience, or when the performers outnumber the audience. Part of the reason I love theatre is that I’ve got an overactive brain that only seems to go quiet when I’m in a dark room being entertained! Although I’m a marketer and embrace rapidly changing technology, on a personal level it can sometimes feel like it isolates people, and so the experience of being in an audience and watching something live becomes even more special. I love that theatre has to constantly reinvent itself to retain its audience and for me interactive theatre is at the forefront of that.

What was the show that has influenced you the most?
Edinburgh Fringe is like an annual pilgrimage for me and I always return feeling inspired. I love Les Enfants Terrible’s style and try to catch their work each year; for light relief you can’t miss Sammy J and a highlight from 2014 was Naked in Alaska. I have 11 scrapbooks full of flyers and notes taken at shows I’ve enjoyed! In London I’ve told countless people about You Me Bum Bum Train – don’t let the name put you off – it’s astonishing! It’s almost impossible to get tickets but I volunteered as a performer a few years back just so I could be involved and see what it’s about. I should also mention a little musical called Dark Angels that I performed in once; it was my Edinburgh debut, in fact. It was written and directed by my school drama teacher Dan Hyde and without him and that experience I don’t think my career would have gone the same way!

This is your twelfth year at Edinburgh Fringe. You’ve been here with different productions and this time with ITI. Tell us about your EFF experience and what you like the most about the Festival.
I’m glad that I’ve been to Edinburgh in almost every capacity – as a performer, stage manager, director, producer, promoter, scout, marketeer, FoH worker, Box Office worker and company manager to name a few. These different experiences mean that I have empathy with all aspects of putting on a show and this experience informs everything that I do. It’s been interesting visiting Edinburgh for so many years in a row because you notice trends and changes such as comedy overtaking theatre, more interactive shows happening each year, the growth of free fringe, and so on.

Why do you like working at ITI?
My role is really varied so every day is different. In one week my workload could include a photoshoot with Pudsey the Bear for Children in Need, writing a marketing campaign for our London residency at Amba Hotel Charing Cross, and organising promotions for performances in parts of Australia that I hadn’t even heard of before… working for ITI has been great for my geography skills! I love the global nature of the role and how busy it keeps me. Marketing is full of small successes such as seeing your adverts on the tube or picking up a flyer you created – for me that’s really satisfying!

 

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How do you think the audience in Edinburgh will receive ITI’s new show, The Wedding Reception?
I’ve loved seeing audience reactions! Reviews from Brighton and London were great and they’ve been equally good here. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy an interactive comedy that comes with free cake!

What do you like the best about the new show?
One of the challenges of this type of show is balancing the comedy with having believable characters that the audience cares about, and I think the writing team for this show have achieved that really well. Audiences go through every emotion watching this show but mostly, of course, they laugh (and there may even be dancing at the end!).

 

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What are you excited about that is coming up?
Developing The Wedding Reception for sure: after Fringe it’s doing nine weeks in London plus some UK touring before hitting Australia. For Faulty Towers The Dining Experience it’s that I’ll be part of the team keeping it on constant tour around the world, as well as in its fourth year in London’s West End. And we have some new projects coming up that are great – you’ll have to wait to hear about them!

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