The Frank and James Secret Hour - 18:45 Pilgrim

The Frank and James Secret Hour - 18:45 Pilgrim

Postby JamesDunn24 » 11 Nov 2014, 16:35

The Pilgrim – a quite trendy bar off Cowgate. Quite popular with locals and its location does mean access to a lot of footfall. However, the venue does suffer from not having an obvious entranceway – the main door is located up an alleyway – and due to the lack of any notable sign post on the venue it can be sometimes be missed. We countered this by flying directly outside the venue and offering immediate directions.

The performance area is a curtained off section of the bar. The shape of it is quite unusual. The best way to describe it would be a theatre of the round but with only one row. Whilst this was not ideal it did create an unique atmosphere when a full audience was in which, after some getting used to, provided an interesting performing experience.

I performed a shared hour of stand up with fellow comedian Luke Smith (aka 'Frank Foucourt'). We ran it under the moniker of it being a 'Secret Show' – despite the fact this wasn't a theme in any of our sets nor did we recognise it in the show to the extent we were initially planning too.

The biggest compliment I could give the Pilgrim was their staff. From the moment we introduced ourselves to them they were immediately welcoming. They accommodated to our needs to the best they could and were incredibly supportive of the show. In my many discussions with the staff members before and after the shows it became apparent that they were excited by the prospect of being a fringe venue and took great pride in it.

We printed out leaflets for our show as opposed to fliers as we wanted to do something different. The leaflet contained a full on description of both our acts and the night as a whole. We handed out these throughout the day, our regular spots being in the Greymarket and on the Mile before going closer to the venue nearer the showtime.

At the start of our week stretch we started out with about six to seven audience members but these eventually grew to nearly thirty by the last show.

We made enough on the bucket to recuperate the printing costs of the leaflets – however I think we were quite shy in our approach donations. I think in the future a more confident attitude in asking will be adapted.

There was a basic soundboard already set up when we reached the Pilgrim. As someone who works in a variety of media jobs this was no problem for me but I feel even someone with limited knowledge could have learnt the basics with some training or assistance.

Due to our short time there we never really needed to be in contact with our Venue Captain. The only time we came in contact was for the clean up operation at the end in which our man was very helpful on what was a busy day.

Due to the size of the Pilgrim and our show not really bringing in a crowd that demanded a que system we found it easier to allow our audience to grab a drink and relax in the main bar whilst we prepared the performing area.

We needed to keep a few basic props in the Pilgrim which they were happy and able to accommodate in their kitchen – which had the added bonus of being an area locked off to the regular public. However, as a caution for any future shows who perform there who feel they would require a great number of props of any size this area is quite small. However, I did notice they also had a store cupboard for their electronics which I presume could also suffice if they were willing to offer it.

Whilst I don't think the Pilgrim is a perfect venue I do think it has some value as a performing area. It's location on Cowgate is its biggest strength being close to the Mile and plenty of potential footfall. The building itself also is a lovely environment and because of this has a natural welcoming feel to audience members.

However, what lets the venue down massively is its lack of a separate performing space. As already expressed in some of the reports sometimes it was a battle to perform in the same room of a busy bar – especially at the ends of the week were people were enjoying their weekend drinks. The only solution I could propose for this would be to only hold shows in there until a certain time before the bar got too busy as during the day there is little chance of disturbance.
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