The Selkie - A Song of Many Waters (Silk Middle)

The Selkie - A Song of Many Waters (Silk Middle)

Postby fayroberts » 19 Feb 2017, 16:10

Venue: Silk Middle
Show Time: 18:20
Shows: 7
Average audience size: 17
Max audience: 25
Average bucket take: £45.70
Average donation/ head: £2.69

This was the first time I'd performed in Silk, and I am immeasurably grateful to those who shared their experiences from the previous year, so that we were all able to band together and do things like putting maps of the venue on our flyers, etc., as it's a long way out from the rest of the main Fringe. The advantage there, however, was that the kind of crowd in the Grassmarket were generally not looking for rowdy comedy, so being able to promote a quieter show of storytelling mixed with poetry and music was actually a strange advantage, even in the final week of the Fringe when I was, personally, exhausted. For the first time in my Fringe experience I hired flyerers, and I'm very glad I did as my only other crew were my partners, who took it in turns to do sound tech for the show.

If I ever perform in Silk again, I will ensure that I invest time and effort in individual waypost signage so that it's clear where people have to go when they enter the building, and I would encourage anyone else to do the same, or team up with other shows in your room to do so. Silk is not set up to be a performance venue of the kind that gels well with Fringe theatre or spoken word audiences at least.

The storage facilities in the venue were limited to a cloakroom that we were only allowed to enter with the assistance of staff who were often reluctant or unable to do so, resulting in delays in retrieving equipment. The storage facilities, moreover, were not available during "the weekend" - this included Friday as well as Saturday and Sunday. There is nowhere to leave flyers in the venue. After being used to The Banshee Labyrinth, I was shocked at the attitude of the staff both during the get-in and during the course of the run. They were clearly unhappy, and often unwilling to help.

The Middle room was large and with a strange acoustic. It was completely exposed to the bar and to the corridor that people would use to navigate to the building's toilets - this was less than ideal! There was nowhere to be backstage, so the sound technician was often completely visible during the show. One of the spotlights flickered on an off at unpredictable intervals, and the staff showed no interest in making this work any better. The sound equipment was good, but we had to supply our own cable to be able to play anything. Again, having been spoiled by The Banshee Labyrinth, and also being used to sharing equipment with other performers, I was shocked to turn up and not be able to play anything without borrowing from the show before us as a one-off favour. Throughout the show, which is a quiet and atmospheric solo piece, the staff behind the bar talked loudly, filled ice buckets with abandon, and generally thumped and clattered without much care for the atmosphere (although I was told off for talking quietly to an audience member while the show after me was setting up, which seemed an inconsistent attitude, to say the least).

The show before us consistently overran, and especially so on their final show, when we were already stressed because the gear had been moved. In fairness, they were always pleasant to us, and were able to take a complex-looking set off the stage and to pieces silently and very swiftly! (The power supply had also gone missing from my microphone kit on that final show, so some of the performance was doubtless lost on some of the audience, which was a shame as it was being filmed!) The show after us consistently came in early and made noise, one of the actors being keen to do pre-show stretches in my eyeline, which was very distracting. Not only would they do this, carrying in their large amount of equipment loudly, but they would talk at the bar through the final 15 minutes of my show, and would hassle my technician when we were trying to take down. This was doubtless due to there being no adequate backstage for a theatrical company.

I was both pleased and surprised by my audiences, which were larger and more appreciative than I would have imagined. Only one day was disappointing, when I had an audience of two people who were there to see the show, and a couple who only wanted to kiss and talk loudly at the back. There was no effort by the bar staff to move them on (though luckily they left after a while). One of the two "proper" audience left halfway through and I was left with one man who made no reaction throughout but was keen to tell me afterwards how much he enjoyed it (but had no money). However, since many of my peers in the building had complete no-show performances, I consider myself very fortunate indeed!

If I were to have my time over again I would have explored exactly what was required in terms of sound equipment beforehand, and provided signage for the room, as well as gathering a bigger crew - I wouldn't want to be a completely solo performer in that venue as there are so many things to be some in parallel when getting in and out since we have no ready access to the storage facility. I would also have been much more assertive with the staff, requesting that the light be fixed and the bar be wuiet during performances if at all possible. I would also have invested in some kind of curtain to block the space between the pillars to avoid distractions, with "QUIET PLEASE, PERFORMANCE IN PROGRESS" signs on the bar side of it. I would also have been far more assertive with the shows either side of me regarding get-ins and get-outs.
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Joined: August 2012

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