Other Voices Spoken Word Cabaret

Other Voices Spoken Word Cabaret

Postby fayroberts » 16 Sep 2013, 09:48

Firstly, the figures:

Total Audience: ~550
Average Audience: ~29
Largest Audience: ~50
Smallest Audience: ~15

Total Door Take: ~£680
Average door take: ~£35
Largest door take: £52.50
Smallest door take: £8.45

Average door take/ head: £1.27
Largest door take/ head:
Smallest door take/ head: £0.56

Average number of "stars" from critics:
Largest number of "stars" from critics: 5
Smallest number of "stars" from critics: 3
Number of reviews: 6 that I can find online! :)

The Venue

The Banshee Labyrinth is a goth pub/ club a couple of minutes from The Royal Mile. Despite a slightly unprepossessing exterior, and audience's tendency to get lost inside it (the clue's in the name!), it's the kind of place where, having found it, you're keen to stick around - for the ambience, the comfort, the sheer variety of shows on display, the centrality of it, the food, the drink, and the reasonable prices. It's very easy to direct people to and is wonderfully close to the main flyering drag.

The Performance Area

We were in The Banqueting Hall (the pool room the rest of the year). It has room for about 30-35 freestanding chairs, plus padded sofa-things around the sides of the room, giving room for about 14 more people at the sides (and four more at the front of the room, behind the performer, if necessary!). There is a "grille" gate at the back, which stands open permanently. Outside is a dimly-lit corridor with sofas, tables, bar stools in one corner, torture equipment at the other end, and - for the first time, I believe, this year - an air-conditioning unit.

Advantages: The one room that can be reached without stairs, it is the only one that is vaguely wheelchair accessible. It's self-contained, atmospheric, and easy enough to light and decorate in short order. The size and the layout makes 15-20 looks like a decent enough crowd, and 30 is "full" and feels very satisfying. The narrow entrance/ exit makes it easy to shake a bucket at people in close proximity... :)

Disadvantages: The room is small, and dark, and needs extra lights brought in to make it into a theatre space. Noise from people talking in the corridor outside (or in the bar seating space) is impossible to block, filter, or turn off, and increases as the evening progresses.

The Staff

Wonderful. I cannot say enough nice things about them. Once you'd made yourself known and were polite/ friendly to them, they'd do all sorts of lovely things to help make the time and effort there go smoothly. There was an awkward point where they had to tell performers repeatedly not to put flyers on the tables as they would become saturated with beer and become laminated to the table. They encouraged us, however, to put as many posters on vertical surfaces as we liked and welcomed the innovation of flyer stands that we brought in to combat this issue.

They set up the room (lights, sound, chairs) before the start of the run of shows in the venue, and cleared down in the evening.

How We Advertised

Big Fat Fringe Brochure; flyers; a couple of large posters in the venue itself; online (various, including specialist spoken word sites); lollies with stickers on them; the Free Fringe brochure; the Free Fringe Spoken Word flyer/ mini-brochure; swing-sign outside the venue; Free Fringe Spoken Word website; our own website; business cards; cross-promotional events; social media such as Facebook and Twitter. http://bit.ly/othervoicespbh

It was disappointing to discover that someone was taking our posters down from inside the venue. There were (fairly consistent) rumours as to who this was, but this is probably not the forum for such accusations...! Luckily it proved more of a bonding experience for those who found themselves censored in such a way (mostly spoken word, as far as I could tell), and we set to replacing them where budget permitted.

Audience Numbers

See above - generally filled the (admittedly small) space.

Our Show

Our show consisted of a cabaret of changing but regular cast members, different special guests every day, and the same host. All of the cast members self-identified as female, and this year all of the special guests were drawn from groups which are under-represented on the spoken word scene - female, queer, disabled, or spoken word artists of colour. The notion being to demonstrate that there are stories not being heard by audiences that are different from the straight, white, cis-gendered, non-disabled, male perspective, and talented purveyors of those tales who may have been marginalised and therefore not exposed to audiences as much as they deserve.

We dressed the space to a certain extent - draping sumptuous-looking cloth and fake candles about the place, using performer name cards on a stand, plus banner and costume to make this a reasonably theatrical experience with a somewhat music hall/ burlesque vibe.

The show appeared to be well-received - see stars above. Lovely audience feedback and repeat custom from quite a few punters. We did better this year than last year - having built up a reputation on the local scene and in Fringe-goers from the previous year, and also having organised our guests in advance. When guests dropped out (and we only had a few do this inevitable thing!), we were able to cover reasonably well! :) It was more enjoyable due to what we'd learned (not) to do from last year's experience.

Five star review from ThreeWeeks:



See above - We took ~£680

Technical set-up

The venue provided two microphones, sound desk, speakers, and rows of chairs. We provided spotlights with coloured gels (which were used by all performers in that venue, with some lovely effects! :) ) to further light an otherwise quite dark, stark space. We were very fortunate in that the sound equipment was all set up for our use and allowed people to play backing tracks and sound effects where applicable, with the minimum of technical knowledge.

Admin and Communication

Our Venue Captain, Matt Panesh, was generally on hand to assist and support, and had an excellent relationship with the venue, as far as I could tell! :) As the Spoken Word Director, it's hard for me to be objective about this, but I reckon our communication with the administrative aspects were pretty good! :D It was useful to be able to have the Banshee briefly after get-in to meet with most of the Spoken Word community who were in Edinburgh at the beginning of the run in person, and the get-in went ludicrously smoothly! :)

Anything Else...

Putting the effort into building the Spoken Word section into a mini-community really helped, and the Banshee fast became, yet again, the focal point for this, being a great place for people to come after their show (whether there or in one of the other venues), knowing there would always be someone from the community there to talk with and share both the highs and lows of show and marketing, as well as sharing best practise and cross-marketing.

It was great to be able to support this community vibe by giving feature and open mic slots to people to be able to promote their shows.

In closing: we had a great time and it was brilliant to be back with The Free Fringe, and back at The Banshee Labyrinth again.
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