"Arrest That Poet!"

"Arrest That Poet!"

Postby dannychivers » 02 Sep 2014, 13:59

I was a bit worried about this space initially as it was a bit of a distance from the other venues, but in the end it all worked out fine.

The Centre staff were really friendly and helpful, welcoming people into the cafe area before the show then sending them up to the performance space once I was ready to receive go. It was also nice to be in a community mental health support centre rather than a bar or a cafe, it definitely added something positive to the experience and I was able to point out to people that the (very cheap) tea and snacks they were enjoying were helping to fund a local charity.

The space seated about 30 people comfortably, and we did manage to squeeze 40 in one night (though we had to drag in extra chairs and sit people on tables). The acoustics were good so I never needed to use the PA, which was great because I move around the stage a lot during my show! One night we only had 5 people in (of whom one turned out, inevitably, to be a reviewer), but usually we had between 10 and 20 people and several times we had 25+. People typically gave on average £3-£4 at the end of the show, although this was often because a few people had been extra generous, giving £10-20 each and so pulling the average upwards! The total in the bucket was usually £40 - £60 (with a low of £14 when there were 5 people and a high of £153 when there were 40), although anyone who gave £5 or more could get a free book or CD, so once the costs of these were factored in I was receiving £30 - £40 in net donations most nights.

The remoteness of the location probably did have an effect on audience size - I may well have had bigger crowds if I were more central - but this didn't stop it from being a really enjoyable run and a positive experience. It meant that the people who came REALLY wanted to be there...

The only problematic moment was on Sunday 10th August. The centre is usually closed on a Sunday, so they'd sent a part-time member of staff to open up for us. Unfortunately, he brought the wrong key and didn't have the phone numbers of any other staff(!) so both the previous show (Auld Reekie) and myself were locked out of the building. In the rain. Ash did his Auld Reekie show in the bus shelter, but I had a dozen people - too many to fit - and so we had to go on a bit of an adventure, ending up in the back garden of the Stafford Centre (luckily the garden gate was broken) where we squeezed the audience into a lean-to shed and I performed my show in the rain. It all turned out OK in the end - I was soaked to the skin but the audience seemed happy - but all the same, if you're performing here on a weekend you might want to double-check this doesn't happen again...
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