The Birmingham Footnotes Mean It This Time (8th-22nd)

The Birmingham Footnotes Mean It This Time (8th-22nd)

Postby Samuel120994 » 17 Dec 2015, 10:51

Mean It This Time was the sketch show from the Birmingham Footnotes Comedy Society (University of Birmingham) for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015. Unlike the last two years, this sketch show was on the free fringe, which, ironically, made money and turned out to be a great show. This was only added to by how much we liked Black Medicine as a venue.

Once rearranged, the downstairs seating worked very well as it created a more intimate feel for the show. Although technically in an alcove, the stage was in fact just about big enough for all the sketches to be performed. We had most of what a conventional sketch show would need - a backstage area and a PA system. It was especially useful to have the cupboard to store props, costumes and flyers in. However, there wasn't a lighting system for the shows as such (e.g. T-bars) but we managed to work around this, as it would have only been necessary for transitions between sketches. Furthermore, a longer and wider curtain would be nice, just so the "backstage" area is completely closed off from the viewing audience. In the future, it might be beneficial to give each of the shows a run-through of the PA as we found that we had to show some of the shows what to do regarding sound setup. We managed to utilise both entrances to the basement area fairly well - for example, we found it really beneficial to flyer/publicise to people upstairs and outside the shop just before the show started.

The audiences ranged from just filling up the front two rows of the basement to filling it to the point of nearly blocking access to the toilet (great for show rep, impractical for the coffee shop). When audiences were in, and once they knew the show was starting, they typically paid attention right through to the end, which made the Fringe for the performers that little bit easier. The only potential issue we had with the audiences was one (probably drunk) man with an enthusiastic attitude and a pair of well-exercised maracas, but the performers dealt with this well. We were very lucky with bucket donations, making over £500 total for the two week run. We always received some donations each night.

The staff could not have been more helpful. Dougal frequently went out of his way to help us, whether it was getting access to the cupboard or rearranging the room. On the whole we had no problems with the staff during the shows - as far as we saw, there were no incidences of staff interrupting the show whilst they continued to keep the coffee shop running. Chris O'Neill, the venue captain, was very helpful regarding equipment and advice in general about running a free show at the fringe.

On the whole, we found the venue very suitable for the show we were doing. With a good staging area and helpful staff, the sketch show was well received by audiences and that was only added to by Black Medicine as a venue for free fringe show.
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