20.00 - Planet Caramel: Hot, Sexy, Kind and Desperate (R2)

20.00 - Planet Caramel: Hot, Sexy, Kind and Desperate (R2)

Postby MangoLimbo » 16 Sep 2017, 14:02

Bar Bados is a pop-up venue for the Fringe and consists of a tropical-themed bar downstairs and 5 performance spaces upstairs. Our show was a very prop and tech-heavy sketch show and we performed in room 2. The bar and the venue space don't really interact with each other so it's entirely up to the performers to get the rooms ready for the Fringe, maintain them during the month (performers need to clean the rooms of rubbish every day) and direct audiences to the right room. This lack of co-operation between the bar and the venue space could often prove a little difficult. This venue for some reason became the only one I came across to insist that members of the public empty any liquids they were carrying before entering which definitely acted as a deterrent to audiences. The security staff in general were pretty threatening and unwelcoming and seemed to have very sporadic working hours – there were nights when they were totally absent which seemed to defeat the purpose of them existing. There was also a ban on acts flyering people in the bar although this didn't prove too inconvenient as customers attracted to the bar itself didn't tend to up for seeing free shows.

Having the performance spaces actually called 'Bar Bados' this year (as opposed to 'Cowgatehead' last year) I think definitely helped folks to find the spaces better but it's still quite a confusing venue to find. In order to find the spaces you need to take a sharp left turn once you enter Bar Bados and head up some stairs and through a landing space. Audiences normally find the space in the end but be prepared to direct audiences a lot. This year there was a big board outside with all the shows listed and the route to the show rooms once inside was heavily postered but it still feels very makeshift. Maybe investing in a few more professional looking signs wouldn't hurt. There was a last minute change with the venue space this year as Bar Bados rooms 4 and 7 ended up being moved to Black Market. This change was not reflected in the Wee Blue Book and it ended up being largely the job of performers in Bar Bados to let confused audience members know of this change. The only publicity of this change was on posters inside the performance spaces. I think more of an effort could have been made to publicise this on the front of the venue alongside the list of the other shows. This also often meant that these confused audiences could be poached by shows in Bar Bados as they wouldn't be able to make it to Black Market in time.

It was clear the performance spaces hadn't been touched since last year apart from once at Hogmanay. An organisation called the 131 Northside Savage Club had taken over the place for what looked like a real swell gathering (I'd recommend a Facebook stalk) and had neglected to clean the place afterwards. It was up to a small group of performers to tidy it up from Wednesday until Friday the week before the shows started. This was by no means an easy job and ended with some very dusty lungs. It proved very difficult to round up all the acts to help with this clear up effort and most of the work was tackled by a very small core group. I would recommend giving acts assigned to this venue in future notice far in advance that it requires more effort to set up than most venues and that they'll be needed to help out from the Wednesday before the run starts. All communication was very last minute this year. Unfortunately we couldn't remove the offensive graffiti that these people had left and covered a lot of it with posters as best we could. On a positive note it did mean that we had complete control over how we wanted the rooms to look. All that is provided by PBH is a PA, a stage, a mic and a mic stand so expect to contribute towards buying some desk lamps to light the stage. We should also state that the door to our venue had a habit of falling off, often mid-show and this wasn't a problem confined to our room...

Once the Fringe was actually up and running I think our room worked really well for us. We found having the room set up with the stage lengthways against the wall opposite the entrance worked best with three wings of seats divided by the two big pillars in the middle of the room. We ended up seating around 60 people this way with the option of confining audiences to the middle section if the audience was especially small. Our numbers ranged from about 10 to 80 with an average of around 30. This set up also allowed for quite a lot of extra space at the back of the room and allowed space for our props and tech person at the wings of the stage.

We performed in Opium the past two years so got very used to a proper raised stage with wings and a lot of lighting and sound capabilities so getting used to having no back stage, minimal PA and lighting only by desk lamps took a bit of getting used to as a sketch group. I think it ended up benefitting us quite a lot though as we felt a bit more able to interact with the audience and definitely ended the run as more confident performers. There is also a very handy storage room at the back of two of the rooms in this venue perfect for storing our props. There is quite a big issue with noise leakage. Since last year room 2 has been made smaller with the addition of room 5 with only a thin piece of plywood separating the two. We were quite a loud show (mainly due to our tech) and even with two duvets added to cover the plywood we still got complaints from the adjacent room.

I'd beware of Saturdays at our time slot in this venue – they can be incredibly unpredictable and ended up being some of our worst shows. Cowgate is frankly terrifyingly busy at this time and generally populated by some pretty aggressive drunks. Be careful who you flyer!

Having said this, the venue is excellently located and very easy to flyer for. We had two of us outside the venue on Cowgate and one on Grassmarket flyering for 90 minutes before each show and populated the room nicely. There's a good concentration of PBH venues nearby so a good flow of people looking for free shows. It is also definitely worth exit flyering the other shows in Bar Bados. This actually ended up being our best year for bucket takings and by far our best for money per person.

Overall a pretty decent venue – just be prepared to muck-in and do your bit quite a bit more than in most PBH venues!
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