Knees-Up Round the Organ

Knees-Up Round the Organ

Postby Luke Meredith » 16 Sep 2013, 14:47

- The venue - what sort of venue is it? Pub, Bar, Club, Restaurant... What sort of clientèle normally frequent this venue
An upmarket cocktail bar that also serves food. It has a reputation as a performance venue year round, mostly music and cabaret acts. This has significant benefits for shows, including the staff's expertise and willingness to help; the predisposition of their regular clientèle to come to shows; and the general layout of the place with the bouncers being terrifically helpful in organising the queues. It's tucked away behind Princes Street near North bridge and doesn't have passing trade but it is a destination venue and Edinburgh people generally know where it is.
- The performance area - stage, separate room, open air?
I was in the French Quarter, which is a separate room with its own bar and toilets, seating about 70. the room is divided by a descending staircase, so no obstructed view from the back, and I found this actually helped on days when I was half full as the majority would sit in the front part so it still felt full.
- The team of staff at the venue - did they assist the shows? Did the show get in the way of the normal business etc?
The staff at the Voodoo Rooms are just brilliant. Every single one of them was on side. Whenever anything did go wrong house lights blew one day and the sound another) they were straight on it to fix it. Putting on shows and serving drinks and food pretty much is their business, and I believe their takings were up on 2012.
- How you advertised your show - Fringe brochure, flyering, posters, word of mouth etc
I was in the main brochure and the PBH brochure. I also took a quarter page ad out in Scotsgay again. They offer an extremely good deal to Free Fringers and gave me plenty of editorial. I cross-promoted through my other show Magic Faraway Cabaret, as well as guest spots every night at other bigger shows like Best of Burlesque and Another F*cking Variety Show. I personally flyered every day around lunchtime and hired a flyerer for the hour before my show. The best spot I found was on the mile at the corner of North Bridge, as it was easy to direct to the Voodoo Rooms, close to the Tron to pick up PBH brochures when I ran out, and busy but not completely packed. I also double-sided my flyers, making them leaflet quality (so no VAT) and A5 to fit all the information. The only posters I put up were in the Voodoo Rooms and Tron Kirk, which seemed to be enough. It is also possible to go into the main bar and let customers know your show is about to start, although obviously leave the diners alone. As long as you don't hard sell them, you will definitely pick up a few curious members of audience.
- How your shows went in terms of audience numbers - solid numbers every show? Did it vary by day? Affected by weather?
Varied from half full to full, with numbers increasing steadily every day, with the exception of the last Monday and Tuesday which I assume was because of half price days elsewhere. The weather was fairly constant, with little rain this year so not much affected at all.
- Your show itself - what worked, what didn't work, what needs to change
Very happy with my show, which got a 5* review and fantastic Twitter responses and audience reviews on the Edfringe site. One thing I ditched at the beginning was the clipboard I was passing around to get audience suggestions and emails. It stilted the end of the show and, unlike London audiences, I didn't get a single person giving me their email so felt it wasn't worth it.
- Buckets - we don't need accounts, but how were the donations to the buckets - bad, good, generous
I had one day that was terrible near the beginning, but generally good buckets, with the last Sunday being particularly successful. A few shows took the last day off and I would strongly advise against this as it was easily my best day. Between my two shows this year I turned a profit so pretty good for me.
- Technical set-up at the venue - what worked, what didn't work, what needs to change
Technical set-up was a PA with iPlayer input, 2 speakers at the front, 2 mics and 2 upright stands. The PA was right next to the stage so very easy to operate during the show. The bar is along the wall stage right, usually one bartender alone. The stage runs along the length of the back wall, facing the entrance, about 3' depth x 12' length x couple of inches high, with handy banquettes behind it where you can set props. The wall behind is mostly curtained windows so would be difficult to pin anything onto except the PBH backcloth.
- Admin & Communication process (between Free Fringe, Captains, Venues and you) - what worked, what didn't work, what needs to change
Glasses have to be cleared from the floor between shows, which often held up the audience being allowed in. It would greatly help changeovers if everybody would ask their audience to return glasses to the bar at the end. Also some days the space was empty without days off advertised, especially on the last Sunday. These could easily have been filled if we'd known about them so please, please, check whether your show is advertised as being on in the PBH brochure and if it is, either do your show or make sure the slot is filled.
- Any other learning points for anyone involved - what worked, what didn't work, what needs to change
As has been pointed out before, while very grateful for the storage cupboard, it gets very cramped and chaotic during the run. Extra shelving for the flyers would be helpful and something to bear in mind for next year. Generally, the Voodoo Rooms is a superb venue, allowing lots of promotion, great tech, super helpful and friendly staff and with a good reputation for quality shows.
Luke Meredith
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Posts: 17
Joined: June 2010

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