16.15 Me Plus One - Improv With Two People (UpOneL)

16.15 Me Plus One - Improv With Two People (UpOneL)

Postby markcraig » 14 Jan 2018, 13:36

(Written September 2015)

Me Plus One - Improv With Two People
Cowgatehead UpOneL 16.15
August 8-29

First off let me say thank you to all involved in helping the Free Fringe run. I had an amazing time and it was down to all the people who chip in and help make it happen. Particular thanks need to go to our Venue Captain James, who was an absolute star throughout the month, often in the face of some pretty big hurdles.

The venue itself had its share of problems. The layout confused people, there was issues with which doors were and weren't allowed to be used as entrances and UpOneL itself got oppressively hot. There was one day that was particularly hot where I (stupidly) forgot to take a bottle of water onstage and almost collapsed due to the heat. Ideally we shoud have all put in together to get a fan of some kind, but hindsight is 20/20. In terms of positives, the location is pretty much ideal once you explain to people exactly where the entrance is, harder to get much more central. I was also very pleased with the people doing show's either side of me, as they were excellent at heping with bucket duty and making sure things were tidy each day.

My show was a two-person longform improv show, with a different guest every day. Overall I would say I was extremely happy with the content of the show and how it progressed over the month, with only two shows not coming together as I'd like. But such is the nature of improv and guest performers. Some of the performances are among the best I have ever done and I learned a lot about mysef as a performer and about the show going forward, so it was a hugely positive experience.

In terms of attendance, I feel I let myself down a little. I chose to flyer the show on my own, with help from my guests if they were available. Combined with the paid show I was part of and my increased involvement in another show (Improv Games at Chiquito) I definitely spread myself thin and didn't commit enough to promoting my show. I only averaged between 10 and 15 audience members, with my best day (not coincidentally also the aforementioned hottest day) having around 50. UpOneL was quite a long room, so simply asking people to sit near the front meant it never felt that empty, even though I never came close to filing all 75 seats. I did have one day with only two audience members - which was actually a fantastic show and experience - and two days with absolutely no audience, much to the disappointment of myself and my guests. These days both corresponded with days another friend of mine doing a solo improv show had to pull her shows, so perhaps there was just something in the air those days. I'd say that the majority of people coming to my show were attracted by the Wee Blue Book, which is an absolutely tremendous resource. It also helped that the Big Fat Fringe Programme had a two-person improv show listed as taking place in Cowgatehead at the same time as my show as part of the Freestival, so I got a few people wandering in looking for that.

In terms of the buckets, I was genuinely surprised and pleased by how generous people were. I may not have had the biggest crowds, but within the first four days I had made enough money to pay for all of my flyers and most people were parting with notes throughout. It's a great mark of how successful the Free Fringe has been that people now come to Free shows expecting to see a show as good if not better than paid shows and are willing to show that in their donations. I also had a few people who came back multiple times (one of the perks of an improv show) and continued to be so generous. A truly humbling experience, and as I live in Edinburgh year-round and had minimal investment, a profitable one too!

If Cowgatehead continues to be a venue for the Free Fringe in years to come, I think enough has been said and suggested that we all know what changes could be implemented to improve the experience for everyone. For myself in future Fringes I would love to do this show again and focus a lot more on promoting it, perhaps hiring people to flyer for me. I also would probably benefit from a smaller room as there are people much better at filling the space and I was very happy performing to even single figure audiences.

All in all, a wonderful experience. Thank you Free Fringe!
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