Banshee Labyrinth, Chamber Room, 2:00-3:00pm - Ben Target

Banshee Labyrinth, Chamber Room, 2:00-3:00pm - Ben Target

Postby Ben_Target » 10 Sep 2014, 13:45


This was my first year performing at the Banshee Labyrinth and it was a wonderful venue to be at. The venue is well run, characterful place that is a genuine labyrinth which creates a sense of curiosity amongst audiences and for it's warmth see it subsequently well loved. This year it appeared to be a hub for spoken word artists and had a lively programme to suit a myriad of tastes. I was delighted to do my show here and would be delighted to return.


The Chamber Room is a great performance space in the basement of the Banshee Labyrinth and it was a lot of fun to do my show here. It is entered by audiences down the stairs to the right of the venue's front doors. The set up is so that it can host small bands throughout the year and as such can accommodate shows that require certain tech and lighting requirements. There is a tech booth in the back right corner of the room to operate sound and lights, an overhead projector, a projector screen which can be lowered or raised electronically using the operating switch to the left hand side of it and also a lighting rig with simple yet effective lights which can be manoeuvred carefully and quickly by hand. The room has two cooling fans which can be switched on in show intermissions but I found to be too loud to use during a show. There is also an air-con unit stage left which is on throughout the day. The stage is about 500cm wide, and 200cm deep and raised up by 30cm. The room seats about 55 people in theatre style non raked seats and also the couch hidden in the fire place stage right. There are two TV screens left and right of the projection screen which can be synched to what is being shown. Noise from the corridor outside the room can be shut out using the fire door. There is a performer's entrance at the back of the room which leads to a corridor where the staff room is. The venue staff requested performers dissuade audiences from using this portal.


The staff were universally excellent, friendly and extremely helpful. Ed the owner of the bar is greatly experienced and a generous host, offering his assistance with any technical set ups or issues and often at the drop of a hat. Although extremely busy and keen that performers learn the ropes of how to operate the tech desk, lights and projector for themselves, several other of the staff were on hand to assist when asked kindly. Despite offering assistance, the venue was set up by the team of staff, and also packed away at the end of the fringe. Performers were also allowed to stash flyers and carefully packed boxes of props in the staff room which was a real blessing. I felt very supported and cared for and it was an agreement amongst several performers to tip the staff daily or at the end of the fringe from our buckets as a show of respect.


The venue staff allowed performers to place their posters and flyers around the venue on most wall spaces. Despite causing surface damage on some of the walls, they were generous in allowing it to continue as they declared they would do a touch up repaint at the end of the festival. There is also a good space to store the Wee Blue Book in the window to the right of the front door.


Numbers were good this year, and with so many strong shows in the venue in meant that it felt like a hub of audience activity for the Free Fringe. The audiences were generous, interested and would often listen to recommendations to go and see other shows in the venue.


Buckets were good. The stronger the performance, in general, the more in the bucket. I was able to earn enough to cover my food each day. It is hard to tell but audiences seem more accustomed to giving a £5 for a show they enjoyed.


There were very busy periods during the fringe, and asking the audience politely to queue outside the venue and up the pavement of Niddry Street often helped in making sure those leaving the venue could get out safely before allowing the fresh audience to get seated. Sometimes it rained so it was important to avoid keeping an audience queueing outside for too long. As there are three venues in Banshee Labyrinth, it was important to have three separate areas for queue forming. The Banqueting Hall queue can stretch down the corridor to the right of its door, the Cinema Room queue can go from its door along the corridor by the toilets and the Chamber Room queue can go outside. Often performers would encourage audiences to sit in the bar area or the downstairs seating area, get a drink and read the Wee Blue Book whilst they were waiting for the show. Performers also assisted each other by announcing when a show was about to begin and directing audiences to a specific space.


It was a hugely enjoyable fringe and largely this was down to the hard work of PBH and his team in having a venue which was well managed and friendly, the amount of stress experienced across the fringe was significantly reduced because of this. I would definitely come back to Banshee Labyrinth Chamber Room again and would be delighted to do so.
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