3.30pm - Nick Hall: Szgrabble! (Venue Captain)

3.30pm - Nick Hall: Szgrabble! (Venue Captain)

Postby NickHall » 31 Aug 2016, 23:53

-- What kind of show usually gets programmed in this venue?

All types of comedy, stand-up, sketch, character, improv

-- Is it accessible to disabled people?

No - the room is upstairs and only accessible by stairs at the front

-- What kind of performances does this space suit?

Good for stand-up because of the noise bleed from the bar later at night, also very suitable for any other acts mic'ed-up. That said I performed without a mic during the day and it was fine. Nice sized performance area for double-acts or sketch acts, however no wings or area to go from onstage, apart from behind the bar. Also no locked storage area for props. It's a basic lighting set-up - a ceiling light and then we bought desk lamps.

-- How does the venue deal with queues?

The bar downstairs is suitably sized to allow an audience to queue from the bottom of the stairs, allowing you set up the room beforehand. However staff were not willing or able to provide front of house to direct the queue, so shows must do all this work themselves.

-- Any known problems with the venue? (eg leaks/damp)

The bar was quite badly run by the main owner, who runs a number of other bars across Edinburgh, including Sabor next door, and who we hardly ever saw. As I understand, certain assurances were made to PBH when they joined up that they would be looking to take full part in the Fringe experience, however this never materialised.

We were originally informed that the room upstairs would have to be completely cleared every night to make way for a club night, however this was never carried out in the end, owing to poor customer attendance and incompetent management (although the folding chairs were kindly stacked up by the last act). This incompetence was exhibited by the owner informing one of the acts halfway through the run that the shows were losing him money, this despite the fact that the only people coming into the bar were those coming to see shows. Overall numbers were good, owing to the hard work of the acts and the good location on Cowgate.

The biggest issue was the noise bleed from downstairs, particularly the last show at 11pm, when the bar turned into a (quite grotty) club night, a similar problem with Sabor next door. The owner seemed unaware that shows would be going on this late so perhaps this is a communication issue for next Fringe, if the venue's still taking part. If so, I would be wary about taking a slot at T-Bar after 9/10pm. However, if you had a slot like me (3.30pm) the noise was fine, and they were happy to turn it down if I asked.

The day to day staff were very helpful, although there was usually only one of them downstairs at any one time, which meant that empty glasses etc built up upstairs. Other issues included a lack of storage space; it was suggested we put things in the locked room next door at Sabor, however that came with its own problems, which their show reports will probably mention. There was some other storage areas in T-Bar but that came with its own risks; rooms full of rubbish, props being thrown out by accident, etc. The bar also had a disabled toilet at the back which would have been useful for customers, but was never fitted with a lock and was eventually closed up. Other nuisances include building work taking place downstairs during shows and the damaging of flyers due to water leakage.

-- What kind of venue is it outside of the Fringe?

A bar, although it had only just been opened this month. See further details above.

-- Are the venue staff generally available to help with emergency issues?

Yes but were limited in their English and what they could actually do to help. See further details above regarding lack of senior staff.

-- Does the venue allow us to get flyers and other packages delivered to there?

Potentially yes but the hours of the bar aren't great (not open before midday etc) so I would advise sending them elsewhere originally. Venue were happy to store boxes of flyers below the stairs during the festival.

-- Does the venue give us our own dedicated room within the building, or is it just a portion of the pub that is curtained off?

The room is separate upstairs- a door was built at the top of the stairs to prevent any noise bleed, although late at night it still comes up through the floor. The toilets are at the back of the room, although because no one ever came into the bar without wanting to see a show, there wasn't so much of an issue of people walking through shows. There was a disabled toilet on the ground floor but this had its own issues - see details above.

-- Stage dimensions in inches

There is no stage as such, instead you can move the chairs around to create the stage area you want. I would say it was a curved stage approximately 4m wide x 2m at its deepest.

-- Capacity of the room when seated

48 chairs were provided - a combination of the PBH and the venues. A handful of tables were also provided by the venue, which can be used for the sound desk, projector etc.

-- What's the (legal) extra capacity when standing?

No definite number as such, but I would say 70 maximum.

-- Is there a projector in the room? If so, what inputs does it have (VGA? HDMI?)

Acts provided their own. Although the bare white back wall behind the acts acted as a suitable projector screen.

-- What inputs does the audio desk have (XLR? iPod jack?)

Standard mixing desk provided by PBH. PBH also provided two mics and stands. Most teching was from the immediate stage left, although if a longer AV cable was sourced the tech could sit further away, behind the bar for example.

-- Is the venue 18+ only, do under-18s need an adult, or can anyone come in?

Although the venue serves alcohol I was never made aware that under-18s would not be admitted. This may however, be due to the dysfunctional nature of how the bar was run.

-- Is there any noise bleed during the show from any other places? Was it loud/distracting?

Yes for later shows. See further details above.

-- Is there any light bleed, eg from windows?

Yes there was some light bleed from the windows on the side but it wasn't too distracting, in fact it may have helped the room seem less oppressive. In any case, the bar were unwilling for us to put black sheets up to cover these windows.

-- Does the venue allow us to flyer their customers?

I was never aware of a customer being in the bar without coming to see a show, so I wouldn't know I'm afraid. I don't think they'd have a problem with it, but first they'd have to attract customers.

-- Anything else to note?

Some of these issues I've listed above could be put down to it being a newly opened bar, however I believe that poor management means these issues are endemic and will continue beyond the Fringe. That said, I believe T-Bar will probably be under new management by Fringe 2017 (it was under similarly different ownership in 2015).

In different or improved hands the venue could really flourish, as its in a lovely location on Cowgate with plenty of foot traffic and is a lovely room. Despite all of the above concerns, I would still give the experience 7/10 for a 3.30pm show, although other shows may have had a 3/10 or indeed 2/10 experience.
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