19:25 - We've Become Mango: Wish You Weren't Here

19:25 - We've Become Mango: Wish You Weren't Here

Postby MangoLimbo » 20 Dec 2014, 01:19

This venue is a chain Mexican restaurant located in New Town. We performed a narrative-based sketch show there for the full 3 weeks.

The performance space is found by following stairs down to the toilets and turning right. This is behind a door which is not visible when you first enter. There is no raised stage which can prove a bit difficult for sketch comedy as some visual jokes get blocked but didn't seem to be a problem for stand-up acts. The ceiling is incredibly low so any raised stage would probably prove to be health hazard to anyone over 6 feet anyway. Quite a spacious backstage area was constructed with poles and a black sheet which was used to host both a tech desk (with nearby plug sockets) and enough room for props for all the shows performing there. There was also a door off this area which connected back round to the main entrance so you could even sneak in during other performances if need be. Cardboard was placed over the light nearest the stage in an attempt to focus it more on the stage. The room is easily closed off from the rest of the restaurant so there was no background noise or interruptions from people going to the toilet. There isn't a bar in the room but audience were allowed to take drinks down from the bar upstairs.

The staff in this restaurant were about as unhelpful as it was possible to be. It's hard enough having a Fringe venue in the back of a chain Mexican restaurant but they managed to make that even harder. It took us a good couple of days to convince them first of all to put a sign on the door down to the toilet indicating the performance space and the one they did put up simply said “comedy venue downstairs” when there was the possibility of at least using some PBH posters. The venue number sign outside was also obscured and we were forbidden from putting flyers on any of the tables upstairs or putting posters anywhere bar the actual performance space. It seemed the restaurant had a fundamental misunderstanding of the Free Fringe and treated the performers as more of a nuisance than anything.

New Town is a difficult place to attract Free Fringe audiences. We flyered mostly around Rose Street and George Street as well as just outside the venue. Most of the passing traffic at least at our performance time were either Edinburgh locals or tourists that had no interest in the Fringe. We did notice something very handy after the first few days of the run – Chiquito had placed an advert in the Wee Blue Book offering 20% off all food if you presented the book to the staff. We started to mention this to people browsing menus outside but it was difficult to see whether this had much of an impact on audience numbers. I'm not sure if this advert is a regular thing, it may not happen next year. It seemed clear after a while that our audience and the restaurant's customers were rarely the same people. Despite all this we're glad to say we never had a no show day and audience sizes varying from 5 to 35 with an average of 10-15. We are Edinburgh locals however and so a good contingent of these audiences were friends. Generally audiences seemed very satisfied and bucket donations averaged around £20.

This venue is certainly workable but requires quite a bit of extra effort.
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