General Overview

General Overview

Postby kevin short 9 » 28 Aug 2014, 15:04

My experience of PBH’s Free Fringe this year: As venue Captain, I did what I could to prepare the venue. I supplied a performance light, an A-Board for outside the venue, dustsheet for the venue to cover their various stock and other items. Also, left my guitar and music stand for general use. I did what I could to meet the various artists, but there was quite a turn over, and some I didn’t get to see as I was doing another show at their performance time. Generally, however, I think the whole season went fairly smoothly, though the owners were not wholly satisfied with the scheme of things. Even though they had been asked to clean up after each performance, a couple of the acts left the space in a mess, and the fact that the Wee Blue Book came out so late, didn’t make for a good first week. However, in the end, I think they were pleased that audience numbers improved. My visits to other PBH Free venues was varied – one comedy duo were having guests from the other Free Fringe (a policy I know is not supported by PBH – yet one I personally have no problem with – especially as the guests in general were better than the hosts!). Another venue, which I was doing a non-PBH show in, had teething problems too – one being, there were no lights – I did actually put up two halogen lights for the companies, to help, but eventually, the venue owner changed the venue space so they could have a little light at least – not ideal light, but some. Also, some of the acts programmed there did not seem to be suitable for the space – Chalkys Nightclub is essentially a Cabaret Space – yet, the acts were of a mixture of anything but cabaret – perhaps a little more research into spaces may not go amiss. However, I saw a couple of great PBH shows, and a few terrible PBH shows – its hit and miss, as is the Fringe in general. Then, there was Kate Smurthwaite! On the very last day, as I stood outside my venue announcing my show started in five minutes, holding up some flyers in my hand, a voice rang out: ‘You should handout the Wee Blue Book!’ Despite my polite insistence that it was my last show and we had run out of the Wee Book, and my last show on this last day of the festival started in 5mins, I was subjected to a barrage of pro PBH propaganda, told that I would be reported, and asked why I couldn’t run down the road to get some more Wee Blue Book because she didn’t want people not attending her shows because I’d failed to handout the Wee Blue Book. Having heard enough of her self-important rantings, I politely told her to get on her bike, and ignored her in order to prepare for my show. People inside the venue overheard it all, and they were appalled at her rant and language. I quickly forgot about it, and got on with the jobs in hand – doing my show, and preparing to do the get-out.

However, a little while later, after I’d watched a very enjoyable Max Scratchmann show at the Labyrinth, I returned to my car to get flyers and promotional gear for my other non-PBH show, and lo and behold there Miss Smurthwaite was again – with a pained look of self-possessed dismay she said: ‘Is this your show?’ …Yes, I replied….and her second rant of the day began! My show in question was ‘Deep Throat Live!’ A title she took utter offence to, for reasons too personal and too naively labyrinthal to go in to, but suffice to say, with a Deep Throat Live advertising flag on my back and an innocent Willy Hat on my head, I was in no serious-looking state to tackle her incessant second rant of the day. After, a few weak attempts to pacify her, and a few polite suggestions that if hers were the views of the future fringe we would all be in trouble, I respectfully wished her good luck with her career and bade her ‘Goodbye’, promptly hurrying up the street to get on with the job in hand. I probably got a distance of 20yards away, when I heard her yelling at the top of her lungs; “You F**king Scumbag!” All heads turned but mine. I wasn’t going to be subjected to a third grilling. Perhaps Miss Smurthwaite’s plan of attack, is find them at their weakest moment and go in for the assault. However, I am too long in the tooth, and have been attending the Festival too many years prior to her arrival to rise to the bait. All I will say is; I hope never to cross her path again, and put a warning to all Fringers – whatever way the future of the Fringe goes, don’t let it be the Smurthwaite way! Yes, the Fringe should be dangerous, but some are dangerous for all the wrong reasons.

As for PBH’s Free Fringe, I think it a fantastic invention; it is now just in need of some professional organisational honing to make it a true successful alternative to all its commercial and Free Fringe adversaries. Ethos is all, the spirit too, and this seems to be at the very core, so with a little more nurturing the Free Fringe will reinvent the Festival, just as the early companies of decades ago did. My view of the way forward is slightly different, but I will always respect the beginnings of the Free Fringe, and so; Onward!
kevin short 9
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Joined: August 2013

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