AJ Hill: AHOY! (Back Room) - 17:30-18:30

AJ Hill: AHOY! (Back Room) - 17:30-18:30

Postby AJHill » 10 Mar 2017, 19:10

This was my first time at the Fringe doing a half run. Opium was nearly perfect for my needs. I've split my report & reflections into sub-categories so it's easy for you to follow, or turn into a “choose your own adventure” report.

1. The Venue

Opium is a popular Alternative music bar situated on Cowgate which is one of the main thoroughfares of the fringe. This ensured good footfall and visibility.

It has a main bar area downstairs and two performance spaces; a larger room upstairs and a smaller room downstairs opposite the bar area.

2 .The Room

The smaller room downstairs can seat approximately 40 people. With space for 5x5 rows of chairs down one side, a room length bench down the other with tables and stools as well as a few tables at the back of the room as well*

**Please note, this was not booth seating as has been previously mentioned in earlier annual reports**

My performance included audience interaction. Moving around to chat to the audience/hand out props was slightly impaired by the shape of the room (fairly narrow and long). This shouldn’t be an issue for straight stand up or spoken word, however, and the shape of the room helped give the feel of a decent audience size with less than half the maximum capacity (which was really beneficial for lesser known act such as myself).

The room’s dim lighting gave a good conspiratorial atmosphere for a show about press ganging an audience into being part of my crew.

There was a back stage area (partitioned by the PBH banner) with a shelf second mic, mic stand and the mixing desk. This area was good for storing bags etc during performances.

Noise bleed from the main bar area was at times noticeable (even with the curtains closed), but, mainly occurred when the upstairs show’s audience exited the venue.

3. The Bar Staff

The bar staff were fantastic; friendly, welcoming, and extremely helpful. On the first day of my run I got lost in the city and ended up arriving later to the bar then desired. The staff had already put some of my flyers out on the side for me, which was heartening to a panicked performer. I also lost my lead to connect my phone to the mixing desk and a staff member kindly gave me his cable.

For a first time free fringer I really couldn't think of a better crew to give on-site assistance and a friendly greeting. I made sure they got a portion of my bucket everyday (more on bucket takings below) because they were extremely hard working throughout and deserved recognition for this.

4. Flyering

As mentioned the venue was on Cowgate which meant good passing traffic, however, I found that some festival goers I had tempted into my show were mistakenly going upstairs for “the comedy show” I recommend getting a sign to differentiate downstairs shows. We were also next door to the Jolly Boat and as AHOY! was pirate themed too people often assumed we were with them.

This resulted in a 30 minute optimum window before the show to flyer, which was an ample, if slightly rushed, amount of time to attract an audience due to Cowgate's pedestrian traffic.

5. The Audience/Bucket Collections

I managed to get an audience in everyday with numbers varying between 6 and 40. Buckets (we used a treasure chest) varied between £2.50 (and a couple of pints) to £80. The location and time of the show helped with audiences and takings greatly.

6. Conclusion

Opium is a decent festival venue: good location, helpful staff whom I want to thank once again for putting up with me for two weeks!

The room is great for intimate shows, with only a few, easily tolerable, draw backs. If you get offered a slot in this room I highly recommend taking it. We had a lot of fun and I am grateful to PBH for the opportunity.

Special mention also goes to Tom Short who helped out with my show EVERY SINGLE DAY and kept me sane :D
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