Abel Hartmann's Grand Guignol - A History of Violence: 21.45

Abel Hartmann's Grand Guignol - A History of Violence: 21.45

Postby jonthecelt » 17 Sep 2015, 22:22

The Venue
The venue is in the downstairs function room below the bar. Seating capacity approximately 30.

Performance area
Good amount of performance space, with single spotlight on the ceiling, and access to a projector screen, which we did not need. Three options on extra lighting - overhead lights, wall-mounted lights, and lights over the bar - were available upon request, which we also didn't need.

Technical set-up
The room had its own PA for sound and music, and we had no need for microphones. As noted above, one single spotlight, which was sufficient for our needs.

The staff at the venue were fantastic - always happy to help if there were any questions or requests, and very friendly. Several of them came to see the show, as well.

Advertisement / Marketing
We weren't in the main Festival Programme, but we were in both the WBB and the Theatre insert. We had a FB event set up, which I probably didn't utilise to its maximum effect. Main draw was through flyering, and word of mouth. From trying out various strategies, the best for us, given the venue's location and the time of our show, was to flyer the two hours immediately prior to the show - one hour in costume on the Mile, and then a second hour across the road from the venue, outside the Omni Centre. By 8.30/9pm, most of the footfall in front of the venue were people going home or going to the Tesco a couple of doors down, and so not a likely market for seeing the show - flyering by the Omni centre, and pointing people in the direction of the venue, proved more effective. By the end of the run, it was becoming apparent that we were beginning to get an audience through both word of mouth, and audience members actively seeking out our show, which was quite satisfying.

Audience / Bucket
Smallest audience = 0, biggest audience = 11, average audience = 6. Bucket varied from £5 to £36, with an average donation per audience member of £4.50. Overall, I'm quite satisfied with these figures - theatre is something of a niche on the Free Fringe; horror theatre, a niche within that niche; and the Grand Guignol, a niche within the niche, within the niche. As noted above, word of mouth and interest clearly began to grow towards the end of the run, with audience numbers being consistently above average for almost the entire week. We did have two no-shows due to lack of any audience, on the second and third Mondays, and a further show had to be cancelled on the last Wednesday, due to a technical issue with one of our props, which was integral to the show and couldn't be worked around.

The Show Itself
The show can best be billed as an "almost one-man show". My alter-ego, Abel Hartmann, takes the audience on a short history lesson of the rise and fall of the Theatre du Grand Guignol, one of the top tourist attractions in Paris during the 1920s and, in its heyday, world famous as the Theatre of Horror. To aid him in his story, Abel has hypnotised four lovely assistants, who he uses to demonstrate increasingly bloody examples of the terrible acts performed on the stage in Paris, using excerpts from the original plays written and produced there. By the end, there are no survivors - only victims...

Communication with Duncan, our Venue Captain, was very good. We met him at the get-in on the day before the Festival opened, and exchanged numbers; he was in regular contact the first few days, to check everything was ok, and we saw him often at the venue throughout the run.
There was, however, one minor issue, which was out of everyone's hands at the venue. Both the shows that had been booked for the 8.30 slot before us (Sea Wall and Dominion of Revelations) failed to show, without any warning or explanation. This left an empty slot in the venue, which did diminish the ability to retain an audience from one show to the next. When this became apparent at the beginning of the run, several of us at the venue discussed whether we'd be able to fill the slot between us, but none of us felt able to do it, given the lack of advertising and the sheer amount of energy it would take to run any of our shows twice each day. It is my understanding that Elise attempted to fill the slot with a stand-up comedian, but after one abortive effort on their behalf, with no audience in sight, the slot remained empty for the duration of the festival. I believe (from the description in the WBB) that Sea Wall were entertaining the possibility they may have to cancel their show, due to a "cast problem" - but to my knowledge, there was no communication from the to confirm this either before or during the festival. And I have no idea at all about why Dominion of Revelations did not appear in the latter half of the festival. As I said, however, no one who *did* perform at the venue can be faulted on their efforts to fill the space - we just got on and did the best we could.
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