Once Upon a Time (in Space): 17:30

Once Upon a Time (in Space): 17:30

Postby Jonny Sims » 10 Nov 2012, 10:56

WhyNot is a nightclub most of the year, and still functions as one on certain nights during the Fringe (I think they were Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays). It's down some stairs in an alley between Rose Street and George Street in New Town, which makes it a bit hard to find if not properly signposted, but we found having someone standing either end of the alley about 15 minutes before the show was good both for directing people in and for last minute promotion. The only issues we found with the nightclub aspect of it was occasionally a very faint smell if it had clearly been used the night before, but other than that it was fine.

Performance Area:
The performance area was the large central dance floor of the club, with three large raised boards acting as a stage and chairs set up through the rest. This meant it could accommodate a good number of people easily - the most we got were somewhere between 50 and 70, who fit in easily, although getting an accurate measure of audience size was tricky due to much of the seating being in alcoves. There was a small area of the club behind the PBH banner, which gave us a more than ample backstage area.

Venue Staff:
We had few direct interactions with the venue staff, as most of that was done through Rob, our excellent venue captain, but when we did they were helpful, polite and accommodating.

We were mainly flyer-based in our advertising, using our relatively large number of people (7 band members and usually a couple of friends) to get as much coverage as possible, mainly focused on the Royal Mile. We tended to flyer in costume, as this clearly established our presence on the Mile and increased our passive visibility, as well as establishing the aesthetic of the show to potential audiences. We did have posters, but beyond a few shops and cafes there were few places we could put them up with any permanence – in the end we used most of them as post-show donation rewards. We were quite a niche show, but among that niche (ie. nerds) word seemed to spread nicely and by the end we were getting relatively large audiences, much of which was repeat or recommended custom.

Audience Numbers:
Overall good. It was very contingent on both the weather and the weekday: Saturdays were easily the best, although the whole latter part of the week was far better than the Monday-Wednesday lull. Nonetheless, we started with quite low numbers of about 10, but successfully built our audience across the course of the Fringe and by the end were reliably getting around 30, with numbers swelling much higher on weekends. This is in good weather, if it was rainy we tended to get a few additional shelterers, although some who would otherwise have seen us came on other days. This was a mixed blessing, as while those seeking a dry place to wait out the rain did boost audience numbers, they were less likely to enjoy the show, as some people aren't huge fans of sci-fi, folk-music, or prose storytelling, and our show was composed mainly of these three elements.

The Show:
The show went brilliantly. It was mainly live music and storytelling, so the limited staging was no problem at all. Of those who were naturally inclined to like our brand of entertainment, they seemed to absolutely love it, and even those who came up and told us it “wasn't usually their kind of thing” did so in the context of saying they'd had fun. We got some lovely reviews (mainly from people who were not our core demographic) and overall, it was far more of a success than could have reasonably have been hoped for. There's little that needs changing of the essential format, and we fully intend to keep the show style when we bring up new material next year.

The Buckets:
The buckets were largely good, although we had an advantage as we were selling CDs, which substantially increased donations. We found the best way to do it was not to say “we're selling CDs for £5”, but instead to pitch it as “if you donate a fiver, you get a free CD”. Non-CD donations were Ok, although it's hard to get a feel for them as they were largely subsumed by the mechandise-based donations. We also offered posters for people who donated £3 later in the run, which also worked. Would STRONGLY advise acts to have small donation reward merchandise, even if it's just a badge or a poster.

Technical Set-up:
The PA system was excellent and we never had a problem with it. Aside from that there was little in the way of available tech, but as a tech-heavy band we brought most of our own gear. It had no issues interfacing with the venues PA system and we periodically lent a mic stand to one of the other shows, who took good care of it, and generally there weren't any tech problems on the venues side (though our own equipment grumbled once or twice).

Admin and Communications:
Everything seemed pretty good from our end. We were mostly self-sufficient, so didn't have much need to utilise the admin/communications aspect of the PBH Free Fringe, although we found the general meetings very informative and tried to attend PBH stuff where possible. Our venue captain, Rob, as mentioned before, was excellent and very helpful, and did great work organising everyone and guiding us through one or two early teething problems.

In general, very positive experience which we hope to repeat next year.
Jonny Sims
Posts: 2
Joined: October 2012

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