6pm - Who Are Your People? Spoken Word

6pm - Who Are Your People? Spoken Word

Postby MattMac » 17 Sep 2014, 15:12

Who Are Your People?
Venue - Cloud and Soil Rooms, Compass Room, 4 Picardy Place
Strand – Spoken Word, Solo show
Time – 6pm-7pm

The venue is an excellent well apportioned space in the East End of Edinburgh. Comprising a large downstairs venue, with ample seating for between 24-30 people, the room is compact enough for it to feel full at 15.
There is clear line of sight to all audience members, which for a spoken word performance is pretty essential.

The room is laid out with rows of benches comprising the seating, and this works very well for almost any type of show. It does also go someway to spreading your audience out nicely, again a benefit for spoken word performances.

There was a PA system along with two mic stands and suitable mic capability, however I found that 99% of the time the room was sufficient that my voice carried well enough. It was nice to know that it was there if I needed it, however. The main issue in terms of sound was that the Chalky’s venue next door would let out at a time before I had finished, and sometimes the patrons were not as quiet as they could have been. Perhaps some signs in the windows next year to indicate that silence would be appreciated would be good.
Also, the fire exit door for Cloud and Soil is at the bottom of the stairs leading to Chalky’s, and while it only happened once, I did have to break the show because a group intending to see the show in Chalky’s knocked repeatedly on the door to Cloud and Soil. Some sign indicating that this is not the right door would be appreciated.

The staff in the Cloud and Soil were incredible. I found them very willing to answer any questions that I might have had, and with exceptional patience for people running around like maniacs all day and all night. I would very much hope we get this venue again next year, as the atmosphere seemed excellent.

The show is a standard solo spoken word performance, and the venue and room space and size was pretty perfect.

My audiences in the beginning of the month were not brilliant, but there are a couple of important factors for that:

- it was a brand new name (having been 4 Picardy Place in 2013 and Fiddlers’ Elbow prior to that), so trying to direct people may have been problematic.
- trying to convince people to attend a free spoken word show is difficult enough at the best of times, and given that I hadn’t been organised enough to get flyers BEFORE the start of the month, and the first two weekends were oppressively rainy, my early low numbers were understandable.

However, this changed in the middle week, and numbers were up, and while they slowed a little in week three, the overall attendance was very good, and the takings from the bucket more than covered the cost of my posters and flyers, and my contribution to the Blue Book.

One thing I would say for any spoken word show – have merchandise. Whatever format you can arrange, having things for sale will make the Fringe eminently more profitable for you. I started out with 70 copies of my pamphlet and by the first week in September I had sold all of them.

A lot of my audience came from the Blue Book, which is always the most secure way of getting audience if you’re not necessarily well known or of as high a stature as some performers. Flyering is a difficult game at the best of times, but I’ve found that exit flyering shows of a similar nature can attract a good audience.

What I would say is that the venue has the functionality to have an over head projection, which, certainly for a spoken word show, I would recommend using. As I progressed in the run, I felt that I would have benefitted massively from having written the show to incorporate it.

Also, a spoken word show that far from the city centre is always going to be in difficulty for audience, especially if stretched over the full three weeks. (Of course, this could be the perspective of a naïve and unknown performer, and more seasoned/better performers may find that to be untrue.)

My main bug-bears with performing on this particular run was that the shows on before me in both the second and third week seemed to lose sight of the need for them to finish on time, and I would turn up to find members of the cast still milling around the venue tidying up, and with props still in the middle of the performance space.
While I understand that the show in the second week had an issue with the venue that required some consultation of the room with the manager, and they were very good about apologising for the occasions when the did over run – the show in week three seemed to have a very limited awareness that they were affecting the run time of a fellow performer, and I had to drastically change the performance of my show to accommodate the time that I was left with. The show was crafted to fit perfectly in the time I was given (6pm-7pm), and the show before was due to finish a full quarter hour before I started, and the show after a full quarter hour after me.
I will acknowledge that I did over run a couple of times, but this posed less of a problem for the show after me, as there was literally nothing other than myself on stage at the time, and it was much quicker for me to get out of the way.

The second issue I had was that the venue space off to one side was left almost constantly in a state of disorder, with half empty drinks cartons, bags, luggage, props, and stuff just piled on the tables. Now, I understand the need that theatre performances have for green room/storage space, but the tables were not hidden from the audience, and so the overall effect was to make the room feel untidy and cluttered, and this probably affected the audience as much as it did me, on at least three occasions, I took a black bag of rubbish, from the room and took it away. Additionally, most of the shows that were on seemed to have forgotten to take away their own flyers once their run was completed, and again I took at least two bin bags worth of excess and abandoned flyers away from the venue – and flyers for non –PBH events that were left scattered across the table that I attempted to set aside for PBH flyers.

Other than those two, relatively minor issues that only affected me and my OCD, the venue and the run were excellent fun, and I’m really looking forward to the future.
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