Caspar Thomas Magic & Mentalism (4pm)

Caspar Thomas Magic & Mentalism (4pm)

Postby Caspar_Thomas » 19 Sep 2015, 23:26

The Venue

La Belle Angèle is a nightclub tucked away between Cowgate, Chambers Street and South Bridge. It had been a nightclub until December 2002 when it was destroyed in the Cowgate Fire. Then, 12 years later, the venue was reopened for business. As such, the venue had been open for less than a year at the time of the Fringe.

La Belle Angèle’s location is incredibly central, which was a big advantage, I believe, with regard to attracting audiences. However, it can be difficult to find given that its entrance is not on one of the main roads. Rather, it is up an alleyway (Hasties Close) which runs off Cowgate, or down some steps from Guthries Street (which itself runs of Chambers Street).

Performance area

The performing area is that of the nightclub. It consists of a raised stage at the far end and a flat area in front of the stage which is large enough to seat 200 people. The entrance to the venue is at the back which meant that audience members who arrived mid-performance did not distract. We (i.e. the other performers and me) were also given access to a green room, which was incredibly convenient for storing some props, flyers, the Wee Blue Book etc. It also meant we had somewhere to get changed and set up. The only disadvantage of this room was that it was necessary to walk beside the stage and hence whichever performer was on at the time in order to get to it. The exception to this necessity was when the fire door in the adjacent corridor was open, enabling you to bypass walking by the stage.

Technical set-up

Lighting was provided for the stage (a general stage wash in my case) and I understand that some of the other performers bought some extra lighting which they used for their shows, but I was not involved with that. At least two staff members also helped me with the set up of my lapel microphone within the first week, which was extremely helpful and I’m really grateful for that. At least two stand up microphones were also provided by the venue, but these weren’t needed for my show.

After about 4 or 5 shows, due to the poor quality of my lapel mic (which I had provided myself) I decided to dispense with amplification. Also, I decided my audience sizes didn’t warrant it.

It was also very easy to provide entrance music for my show. I hadn’t intended this originally, but it turned out to be extremely easy to play music from any device with a regular headphone socket. So, because I had an entrance music playlist on my iPhone from a show I had done a few months earlier, I used that. The music system at the venue is great, so it was a little unexpected boon to the show.

Staff

The staff were welcoming, friendly and helpful. On the setting-up day someone was there to show us how to use and to discuss lighting and sound and ask what our requirements were. If there were any problems or queries there was always someone at hand who I could ask. But on the whole this wasn’t necessary given how smoothly things ran by the third or fourth day.

Advertisement/Marketing

I printed 5,000 flyers and 500 posters. I ended up using only about 2,500 of the flyers and 20 of the posters. I was the only one flyering/postering for the show, with the exception of some help on one day. Unfortunately I didn’t get a review, despite having requested a couple of the online reviewers to do so. I didn’t pay to go in the main fringe guide on the assumption that I wouldn’t recoup the approximate extra £15 per show that I would need in the bucket. With hindsight, I may well have recouped the money in reality given my audience sizes. As for flyering, I almost exclusively flyered on Cowgate (i.e. very close to the venue) and most of my success came from the hour to an hour and a half before my show started - picking up people who were at a loose end for an hour or so. Additionally I did a spot in a cabaret show, but I’m not sure this brought anyone to my show. As per last year, the most common reason for people coming to see the show was that they had seen it in the Wee Blue Book, followed by my having flyered them or them having heard about it through word of mouth.

Audience/bucket

I did 21 shows over the course of the run. My average audience size was about 30 (which compares favourably with 12 last year). I think the main reason for this increase in audience size was the venue’s central location. However, when you consider the venue seats 200, it never seemed very full to me! My maximum audience was 60 and minimum 17. As per last year, weekends were consistently better than weekdays and Saturday always resulted in the biggest bucket of the week. My average bucket size was £55 which varied from £25 (a Tuesday) to £105 (a Saturday).

The show itself

My show is a stand-up magic show which combines sleight of hand and mentalism. It was scheduled for 4pm – 4:50pm. There was a show immediately before and one immediately after. I use a very small quantity of props, so setting-up and packing-up before and after each show took very little time. In general I was very pleased with how it went as it became progressively more fluent over the course of the run. I feel very lucky to have been able to do it in this professional venue.
Caspar_Thomas
 
Posts: 4
Joined: August 2014
Location: London, UK

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