13:00 Charles Booth: We Cool?

13:00 Charles Booth: We Cool?

Postby cbooth » 19 Sep 2013, 20:07

The venue - The Dram House is a collection of various bars/performance spaces over several (somewhat labyrinthine) floors. Since the shows were the main draw during the Fringe (all bars were right next to stages), the clientele was very diverse.

The performance area - My show was in ‘The Attic’ - a little bit of a confusing title considering it’s on one of the middle floors. It’s a long, white, wooden room with a heavily slanted ceiling and beams arching from the sides. It looks a bit like an upturned boat. Fantastic for intimate and atmospheric shows ranging from comedy to theatre. The low ceilings and triangular shape helped with projection enormously.

There’s a backstage area/storage space along a mini corridor at the back, which is great for not only having somewhere to go in between scenes but also to keep the space very cool and airy.

The team of staff at the venue - All the members of staff I encountered were really nice and supportive of the shows. They helped out with the tech set up and the get out, answered any questions we might have and their cleaners washed the floor in The Attic. Other than that we were left to our own devices.

How you advertised your show - Combination of:
- Fringe brochure
- Postering all around The Dram House and a number of other PBH venues
Flyering on the Royal Mile for at least an hour in the morning before my show and a couple of hours in the afternoon (unless I could find a useful excuse to let myself off the hook)
Exit flyering other PBH shows with similar audiences after getting the performers’ permission

It’s difficult to tell exactly what brought the audiences in (short of handing out market research surveys as they exit) but probably flyering on the Mile before the show as well as having a solid promotional image probably had the most impact. I noticed word of mouth really helping the numbers out in the final week.

Having greater flyering discipline and a few more hands on deck probably would have helped me out. I’ll remember that for next time. I also did not need the hundreds of posters I ordered by any stretch of the imagination (even if they were on special offer!)

How your shows went in terms of audience numbers - Hugely variable. Smallest 4; Largest about 35. Overall I was fairly happy. Mid-week slumps were to be expected but in some cases they were more appreciative and vocal with their laughter than the larger but more leaden weekend groups. For some reason, Sundays seemed to be my best days both in terms of numbers and warmth of response.

Your show itself - Overall, after tweaking a few things, I was very proud of the show. For my first ever one-man show, I think I delivered a really sophisticated product. Character comedy can be especially tricky with Edinburgh audiences who don’t quite know what to expect and what bracket of their understanding to file you under. Some audiences barely cracked a single smile; some almost wet themselves.

I learnt to take all reactions, good and bad, with a pinch of salt. I won’t debase my next show by broadening it out just for the sake of pulling in more punters but I will try to put in a few punchier and more accessible scenes in early on in the running order to get the crowd on side quicker.

Buckets - Very variable like the audiences but the buckets exceeded my, admittedly very low, expectations. I didn’t get anywhere near breaking even, but I didn’t expect to, and I put a sizeable dent in the costs.

Technical set-up at the venue - The space is really great by PBH standards. Reliable sound system, decent wash of light across the stage, excellent backstage area.

Small drawbacks were that one LED light kept switching colours randomly throughout the shows (although some audience members told me how much they loved the ‘creativity’ of having a different colour for each scene!) Also, we couldn’t take the lights up and down, which is a bit of a pain for sketch comedy. I learnt to work round it after a couple of shows though.

Admin & Communication process (between Free Fringe, Captains, Venues and you) - I was the VC for The Attic. We had a few minor problems with drinks and rubbish being left lying around backstage and in the audience. One mic got smashed and stopped working entirely; the replacement I bought was also dented out of shape after two days but soldiered on.

In general, groups were great at getting back to me, but if I was to do the job again next year, I would make sure to be a bit stricter with the ground rules from the get go. I don’t know who was responsible for the rubbish and the mic collisions, but it wasn’t fair on the other acts.

Any other learning points for anyone involved - I agree with a lot of Renata’s points (see 11:45 Boy Who Cried Wolf show report). Navigating the Dram House isn’t the easiest thing but we managed to help out other shows just after our acts by standing at the front door, ready to direct people (to the shows they wanted to see, not ones we wanted to force them to). I think that incorporating that task into the agreement for the PBHers in that venue would be a good idea; that way no show feels like their audiences are getting lost en route. It’s also a great way to entice people in to see a show who are just browsing.

My main criticism of the venue would be having a performance space next to the main bar. I realise it’s a good way to squeeze all we can from the venue space, but it does leave the Dram House as a whole severely lacking in a standalone bar, which could serve as an excellent place for potential punters to meet up, relax, peruse the schedule of shows on offer. Also, I’d love to have somewhere in my venue to go to after the day’s performance is done.
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