5pm - Next Best Thing - Opium Upstairs

5pm - Next Best Thing - Opium Upstairs

Postby NextBestThing » 29 Nov 2015, 22:09

Space: ****
Location: *****
Staff: *****
Tech: ****
Reliable audience numbers: **


OVERALL - We had a brilliant second fringe at Opium, which only happened because of the Free Fringe, so again, a huge thank you to PBH. A fantastic stage in a part of town that can be relied on for good audience numbers, although the time meant a clash with the venue next door and confusion for where audiences thought they were going.

OPIUM BAR
Overall - EXCELLENT venue staff. Would confidently say that we have had the most helpful and friendly staff at our venue than any others we have heard of. They were incredibly helpful throughout the run, despite the fact that their venue is open 2pm-5am and therefore many of the staff were working crazy shifts. As we knew them all from last year, it was great to see them again and building that relationship year on year is definitely beneficial. We had problems with queues (detailed below)which the staff helped us with greatly.

PROS - Lovely venue upstairs with 40 chairs (which are put out and cleared daily by the venue staff) and plenty of high stools around the edges. There is also space to stand at the back, allowing a max of maybe 100 audience members. On our quietest days, we had around 5 audience members, on our busiest, up to 100 (this was crammed in and we did start turning people away). This was largely down to the location. It is on Cowgate - one street down from the Royal Mile; opposite the Cowgate entrance to the Underbelly; two doors down from Cowgategead and within spitting distance of Just the Tonic at the Caves. This central location in a busy thoroughfare, as well as the fact the show was free, meant that we were throwing in audience members right down to the wire.

Tech is brilliant - full lighting and sound rig. If you're taking a basic comedy show (no projections etc) they have more than you need. The tech is operated from the back, giving your technician full view of the stage. Our tech, Natasia, was great - contact us if you want her details! Deano, the tech guy at Opium is also really helpful in showing us the ropes.

CONS - Although the location and space are great, the time of our show was an issue for us. At 5pm the Jolly Boat show goes in next door. This is a show with an incredible following - it's been on at the same time and place for the last 6 years and this has definitely worked to their advantage. A queue formed from about 4:30pm everyday for the 5 o'clock show - absolutely necessary as the guys were turning people away daily, due to the numbers of people wanting to go. This meant that we struggled to control this queue of people, as it snaked right past the front door of Opium. As a result, audiences who had come to see our show often couldn't find us or joined the Jolly Boat queue as they got swept up in the tide (pun unintended). We think this had a direct impact on our own audience numbers, as Opium became a no-go area in a sea (pun intended) of punters gathering right outside the door. The Opium staff also felt the stress of this and noticed people's inability to enter their bar. My suggestion therefore, as part of the Free Fringe ethos of helping each other have the best shows we can, would be to have the show at Opium go in on the half hour i.e. 4:30pm rather than 5. This would mean that by the time people start queuing for the Jolly Boat, everyone coming for the show at Opium has found it, without battling to gain entry. Simply staggering start times would eliminate this issue.

TAKINGS
Our hats ranged from £5-150. Weekends were fab but the last week went out with a whimper, as school holidays ended and audiences diminished. This was felt across the fringe, so it didn't worry us.

REVIEWS
One reviewer in. The fact is that many publications still follow the big names and the main venues. We believe free fringe is about making good shows and entertaining audiences and if you do too, then you don't need to worry about reviews.

We had an excellent second fringe and are looking forward to being back next year. If anyone wants more of a chat nearer the time, with regards to Ed 2016, just send us an email and I’m sure either of us will be available to let you know more about our experience.
NextBestThing
 
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Joined: September 2014

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