20:20 The News At Kate 2013: My Professional Opinion

20:20 The News At Kate 2013: My Professional Opinion

Postby KateSmurthwaite » 20 Sep 2013, 17:09

Ciao Roma is a really fantastic venue. My third year here and second as venue captain. Seats 70-80 plus room for quite a few more standing at the back and even sitting on the floor at the front. Staff are very helpful and friendly and the venue greatly appreciates if their food can be plugged by performers. Audience and acts (and all Free Fringers if you ask) are given 10% off the excellent food. On weekends it can become crowded around the entrance and the only place for people to queue is outside which is not so much fun if its raining though no-one complained. It is important to manage the crowd to stop them queuing down the stair and clogging up people leaving the previous show. We were full seats-wise most days and had standers a few times too.

The room is long and fairly narrow so acoustics are ok but not brilliant. Clever rigging helps. Sight lines are also not perfect, so any performance where floor movement/mime was an issue wouldn't be right. But most sketch and stand-up would be fine. There is a back door behind the stage end leading to toilets and an exit which can be used for costume changes. There is also a cupboard which can hold props though I didn't use that this year.

Health and safety visited at one point and advised that the chairs in the venue should be tied in rows. This wasn't really possible since several acts had been rearranging the furniture to suit their specific needs. It also wasn't clear how health and safety would be improved. I did buy some cable ties but their use ended when...

Halfway through the run a burst water pipe meant that four shows (not mine) were forced to take an unscheduled day off. Staff and acts pulled together to mop out and ensure equipment was not damaged. Buckets and a hasty rearrangement of the fortunately-not-all-tied together chairs and we were back up with and only slightly reduced capacity. By the following day normality was restored.

There was a problem with one of the shows after mine. Chairs were broken, broken glasses and large amounts of litter left. I saw the venue at the end of my show, tidy, and came in to verify the following morning that the mess had appeared overnight so earlier shows were not responsible. Initially one show suggested they would respond by "checking with the venue who's job it was to clear up", I pointed out that they were responsible for their own mess and for a few days there seemed to be some progress. Then one of the mics and one of the mic clips were damaged and bread(?) and broken glass, etc found on the floor again. This time no-one would admit to being responsible which (as venue captain) was infuriating. If anyone can shed any light it would be greatly appreciated. Broken equipment needs to be replaced or repaired. It is not fair on the others if this doesn't happen.

At the start of the run the upstairs of the venue was being used for cabaret shows in the back room. It wasn't a big issue, no noise bleed but I didn't much appreciate having some idiot in a top hat singing while my flyerers were trying to talk to people. After a few days the venue decided they were a nuisance and booted them out. I think the moral of the story being - don't be a nuisance to venue staff.

The manager expressed to me some preferences for the sort of acts he would like more/less of next year. Please get in touch with me when scheduling and I can discuss. We ended the run by buying/making a nice framed collage of flyers and presenting it to him which he greatly appreciated.
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