Out On The World_Catriona Knapman_16.15_Opium Back Room

Out On The World_Catriona Knapman_16.15_Opium Back Room

Postby Catriona Knapman » 05 Sep 2016, 16:21

This was my first ever fringe show and first time with PBH Fringe. I am a spoken word performer – with a storytelling/lyrical style, I also cover quite a lot of political and quite serious topics using words music and printed images. I was assigned Opium Backroom. Once lighting was set up I felt that the space lent itself well to my concept.

- The venue – Good location on the Cowgate, lots of people passing by. Good spaces for performing and for audience to get drinks etc. I liked that it felt part of the buzz of the fringe and was easy to access at street level. No children/pushchairs etc, but older children/young adults were ok if they were with their parents and only there for the show.

- The performance area – It is a long rectangle space which is a bit weird at first, but I grew to really appreciate this format. I used photos which I could put up around the space and this worked well. There were also different types of seating which I thought were good. There was minimal stage space, but this turned out ok. The noise from people queuing for upstairs and in the bar can get quite loud. The good PA system helped here. I also felt it helped my learning as a performer deal and cope with background noise. So it didn’t bother me very much. It is something to be aware of though. I liked the space as I could put photos around the room and also I could see my audience and communicate with them, which is important for my type of show. A soft spotlight helped the atmosphere, but was happy it wasn't blinding and that I could see my audience and exchange with them.

- The team of staff at the venue – AMAZING. I was so grateful to the Opium team, they were kind, supportive, helpful. I had very little needs in terms of PA, but they were helpful with this. They also supported storing flyers, although could only access when a show was not on upstairs. But this is a tiny inconvenience.

- How you advertised your show - 5000 flyers, Fringe website but not the book, social media, blogging and reaching out to literary scene in Scotland, I was on a podcast and did countless open mics. I think what really brought in audience though were 1. the amazing Wee Blue Book and 2. word of mouth.

- How your shows went in terms of audience numbers – I had an average of 9. Weekends up to 20 0r 25 especially the second weekend. A couple of days where there were only 3 or 4. Largely audience numbers were decent given this was my first time. The venue was largely filled with comedy acts, so as a spoken word act I quickly understood I had a bit of a different audience. I didn’t pick many people up by flyering or at the door. I had decent audiences and I think this was largely through the Blue book and word of mouth, most people who came had chosen to see my show. I had a few people who dropped in, but most of them left half way though, a few came in mid-way then stayed, but this was rare.

- Your show itself - My show is a spoken word show, a journey through people, place and politics. I used a mixture of stories, poems, music and photos to share my journey of over 10 years living and working abroad. I did my own tech which was a bit clumsy – mainly switching tracks on an ipod - but this was ok given that I had minimal tech to do.

- Buckets – Not good the first few days. Once I started asking for a specific amount I was happy and managed to recover my quite minimal costs for show props/flyers/PBH venue space. I made a joke about paying for my flight over from Burma which I did not make back ;( but wasn’t expecting to make this back.

- Technical set-up at the venue – Supported by the Opium Team, this was very easy. Venue captain lent some equipment which was very kind of him.

- Admin & Communication process – Hal was supportive and helpful venue captain. His show was on before me which helped with the set up and raising any issues. Also found communication from PBH group clear and helpful.

- Any other learning points for anyone involved :
- Wee Blue Book really works.
- Spoken word shows need to be realistic about their audiences, especially when the venue has a lot of comedy acts. I think it is about targeting audiences and getting the right people in the door. Comedy is easier to attract a more random audience of passers-by. Spoken word doesn’t work like that. People who pop in won’t stay for the most part as it isn’t what they expected. I learnt to let people come and go and not get distracted by it.
- I put some energy into getting media in the door. I only got a few through, but good feedback and I was very happy with the reviews I did get. As a first timer this felt very worth the effort.
- Help out the other acts on at your venue – I enjoyed being part of the team and seeing how I could be a helpful part of the process. I think this made for a better experience. Largely everyone I met at the venue was very positive and helpful and as a solo act being part of this team, was a great part of the fringe for me.
- All in all I felt I achieved what I had set out to do. Make more links with Scottish spoken word scene (as I live abroad), perform, perform, perform and learn about performance in the process, get some critical feedback, understand more how the industry works, learn some new skills and have a few people interested in what I was doing as a writer and an artist. I now feel super motivated not only as a performer, but as a writer, to go out and create. So thank you PBH and Opium Bar for allowing me this learning platform. I will definitely be back. :D
Catriona Knapman
Posts: 1
Joined: August 2016

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