Egg - Room 2, 2.15pm, Theodora van der Beek

Egg - Room 2, 2.15pm, Theodora van der Beek

Postby tdbeek » 31 Aug 2017, 12:44

Show Report - Egg (theatre - tragic comedy about one yolk who hatches into a human world and has to try and find a place to belong)

This year was my first at the fringe. Last year I tried to come but was too late to apply to PBH - I got offered a 60 seater C venue and all they asked for was £4000 as a guarantee of 40% ticket sales. I could pay £1500 tomorrow, and the rest within 2 weeks. I had two sleepless nights before deciding it wasn’t (even vaguely) possible.

I was so happy to be a part of it this year. On the map Bourbon Bar looked far out of the old town and I thought it might be hard to get people to, so I had a big tutu egg costume made and a sign that said ‘Welcome to the Egginburgh Festival’ for flyering. All in all, I felt so much better about being with PBH, without the financial pressure to fill the room. I arrived for the set up and everyone was lovely. Ethan and Kyle from the venue gave us their mobile numbers in case we ever needed to contact them, which I thought was very amenable. It was in great condition and had good sound but offered some challenges for my show which was designed to be in a black box theatre. (Room 2: the view of the stage is of the DJ booth where the sound is managed from- right, and built in padded seat that goes right round the corner (left). There are two white round tables fixed into the floor by the seating, you can shift them a bit but not move them completely.) The ceiling is a series of arches with lighting - several people described it as ‘womb-like’, but I think that was because of the content of my show.

It was nerve wracking not having a rehearsal to run through the show. I was going to treat the first show as a rehearsal for me and Andy, my stage manager (who I had only met that morning), but as it happened 15 people turned up. I was surprised how big the audiences were. On my third day I had 46! One of them was a reviewer from Broadway Baby who gave it 3 stars - it was quite fair, she said the sightlines made it difficult to see. The show had some dance which happened on the floor which I was still working out how to do on a higher level, and with the unexpected crowd this was an issue. Next time I will make sure I’ve worked sightlines out beforehand - of course I realise Edinburgh venues are not going to be as well equipped as theatres, especially if they’re free. A few days later The Scotsman came and gave it 4 stars, and included me their ‘Best Free Shows’ article - an incredible result and very lucky, it must have helped people find it. In the end 720 people came over 23 performances, and I got £1101 in my bucket. Plus some Cuban pesos and 50 roubles.

I met some amazing people; the Bourbon staff were fantastic, as were the other people in shows at the venue: Lord (James) Farr, Callum Stewart, Jeanette Bird Bradley and Dave (literally the best magician) to name a few. It was great to feel like part of a community and share stories about our good and bad shows with each other. Since I had come up on my own that was invaluable. Dave gave me some really useful advice about my bucket speech which definitely helped people cough up more. At first I was shy about asking for money, but the more confident you sound the more people give.

Andy my Stage Manager was brilliant, and with permission from the venue worked out loads of different lighting states that helped make the show good. My show has lots of props and costumes and every day we would work out a better way of doing something. In the 3rd week some of my friends came up and said it was better than when they’d seen it in a theatre.

The first time on stage it hit me that I was in this vulnerable position - being a free show the audience might not care about the performance, they might be just there to get out of the rain or pass the time before something they actually wanted to do was on. My show’s a tragic (deadpan) comedy, so sometimes at the beginning when I got an audience that didn’t make any sound I would think they hated it, throughout the month I learned that this wasn’t true - they were often a more reflective audience that thanked me more on the way out. I had 3 men fall asleep at points, but even one of them said he ‘loved the show’, so you never know what people are taking from it! I honed the skill of performing to the best of my ability regardless of the reaction I was getting. This invariably made the reaction better. I also realised the difficulties of putting my show on in that room were just a matter of perspective - once I changed from thinking ‘this can’t work how I want it to’ to ‘how can I make this work?’ it started working, and people started complimenting the use of space and saying how perfect the room was for the show. That was a big lesson that I will take with me. In the same way, Dave and I both referred to the sound bleed in each of our shows - when his audience clapped and it was an appropriate moment I would thank them as if the applause was mine, and he said when I started singing he joked to his audience that they’d come to the wrong show. This is what I think the fringe should be about - making what you have work and giving people an entertaining experience that they’ll remember. Even if they were asleep for some of it.

I’ve learned so much, had an amazing time and met some wonderful people. Thank you PBH, I do hope you’ll have me back! x
tdbeek
 
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