14:45 Thirty Dancing

14:45 Thirty Dancing

Postby Sophie Steel » 25 Oct 2012, 11:37

The venue is a bar/night club in the basement of the Hudson Hotel. The hotel bar and restaurant upstairs is rather classy although from what we were told at our briefing, the weekend night club clientele are less so! Although the club is accessible via the hotel, the designated entrance was through a side door which was unfortunately positioned by several large bins. Not the most glamorous approach. It is a good trek from the Royal mile which can be seen as an advantage or disadvantage - far away from the main heart of the festival / less competition as fewer venues nearby.

The club is a long, narrow space which widens out slightly at the far end beyond the bar. This is where the performance area was set up with about 5 rows of chairs and benches accommodating up to around 50 audience members. There is no separation between you and the front row of the audience so depending on the style of your show this can be tricky or an advantage. There is a useful nook upstage right which was used as a backstage area. It wasn't curtained off in anyway so it wasn't possible to be completely hidden before making an entrance. The only access to this area is via the stage so you can only get back there once the previous show has finished. The wall behind the audience is mirrored which can be rather disconcerting when you keep catching sight of yourself looking more than a little ridiculous in a tutu and heels. The club is also warm. Very warm. There were a couple of industrial sized fans which were put on between shows but they are far to loud to keep on during the show. I saw more than one audience member gently nodding off in a corner and I'd be surprised if many audiences stuck around to see more than one show in a row. I was certainly always glad to get back above ground level for some fresh air.

The staff at the venue were all very friendly and helpful, providing drinks, answering questions and usually being game for joining in the audience participation moment of my show.

I didn't advertise my show as well as I could as I was also producing and performing a theatre piece elsewhere which had taken up most of my time and energies prior to the festival. I missed the deadline (and din't want to pay) for the festival brochure so I was relying on the free fringe programme and my own flyering. I usually spent about an hour flyering before the show, along nearby Rose Street where the was usually a good deal of through traffic, although because of the timing of my show, a lot of these people were locals on their lunch break. I also spent some time at the half price ticket hut. I usually flyered in costume (tutu & gold stilettos) which inevitably draws a certain amount of attention to yourself, especially that far away from the madness of the Royal Mile. Thankfully the weather was kind so this was possible most days. I also exit flyered my other show and The Gentlemen Bears (on immediately before me) kindly gave me a name check most days. I did my best to promote the show via the usual social networking sites, facebook and twitter.

My audiences varied a lot but considering my lack of advanced promoting I was pleasantly surprised. I had to cancel the show once due to lack of audience but the rest of the time I had anything between 2 and 50+. Usually I probably averaged around 10. The final performance was a sell out with standing room only! Generally weekends were busier than midweek but not exclusively so.

The show went well, even if I do say so myself. I very much had a target market in mind but I was surprised by some of the audience members I got and who seemed to particularly enjoy it. I had some great feedback as people were leaving and a few unsolicited audience reviews on twitter. I made some very slight changes during the run but only to make the show a bit slicker and improve the timing of some of the jokes.

I had money in the bucket everyday. The biggest audiences weren't necessarily the most generous. Takings each day ranged from £10 - £90.

The technical set up at the venue was basic but generally adequate. There were 2 mics and 1 mic stand which were controlled from a small desk set down stage right. This is where ipods could also be plugged in. I used a CD for music as the audience arrived which was a bit more tricky as the DJ booth was in a cage to the side of the audience. Unless you have someone to tech for you, you have to hit play / pause in full sight of the audience. We started the festival with 2 stage lights but these didn't survive long. There were some attempts to find replacement bulbs but eventually we resorted to an Ikea uplighter attached to a pillar with gaffer tape. Not ideal. The general lighting in the venue was dim so we just had to make do with what we had.

Beyond the initial briefing, I didn't have much contact with Free Fringers, other than the shows either side of me. Things generally ran well but there was a moment part way through the run when we ran out of FF programmes and were unsure how to get more. I popped into one or two other FF venues and managed to pick some up for my own purposes and after a few days a fresh batch appeared.

All in all I had a great festival and enjoyed performing on the Free Fringe for the first time. I know some people found the festival difficult this year but it's always going to be hard work and as far as I'm concerned, you get out what you put in. In future I would make sure I worked harder at promoting the show in the run up to the festival and make more of an effort to get industry people along etc. I would also spend a bit more time out on the streets trying to get people in. Otherwise I'm very happy with the audiences I got, money I made and feedback I received. Thank you PBH & Hudson Hotel for making it possible!
Sophie Steel
 
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Joined: October 2012

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